Of course there are numerous reasons that people don't like the Vatican, and rightfully so. There is the whole pedophilia scandal, but I've talked about that before. There's the stealing babies scandal in Spain, but I've talked about that as well. There's the way they preach against the use of condoms despite the spread of AIDS, and the way that they are bigotted and hateful towards homosexuals. All of those things are excellent reasons to hate on the Vatican, but I wanted to tell a little story of my own. I am lucky enough to never have been abused by a priest nor do I have AIDS. I am not a homosexual nor was my baby stolen from me. I can however relate to another insidious aspect of the Vatican which is not often talked about, but to me demonstrates that as an institution they believe in nothing they preach.
When Catholics are approached with the terrible scandals that their church has to apologize for, they have a certain way of sidestepping the issues in order to protect the "integrity" of their sacred institution. Well the nuns that stole babies from liberal mothers in Spain were terrible, of course, but the Pope never sanctioned such a thing. They were misguided, maybe a few of them were bad people, but you can't say they reflect on the entire church. The pedophilia scandals were horrible, agreed, but they were the actions of a few, they just wanted to protect the name of the institution, not all priests are rapists you know. You can't judge the entire insitution by the actions of those bad eggs. And sure the Pope tells people not to use condoms, but what do you expect? He's a Pope, not a scientist or a President! He tells people to abstain from sex too, but if people are not going to listen to him about that then they'll not listen to him about the condoms either right? It's not like condoms are illegal or anything! Same goes for gay rights. The Vatican can keep them out of the clergy and not let them get married in their churches, but after that you can't blame the Catholic church for the state of gay rights in your country.
Now I know very well that each and every one of those arguments is flawed. But let's suppose for a moment that it was true, and that the Vatican as an institution has clean hands on all of these issues. Let's say that, despite its (albeit monumental) cockups, the Vatican still believes in charity and wants the best for its followers. Let's say that it is grossly misguided in some respects due to its antiquated views that have not yet caught up with modern times. Why do I not believe that? I have a story from my own family that leads me to believe that it is not the core of the institution itself that is fundamentally good, but rather there are a few good people thinking they're in a safe place when in reality they are tangled in a spiderweb.
I know that taxing religious institutions in the US is something atheists talk about but that many theists think to be a silly issue, especially with regards to the Catholic Church. Tax what, donations? Sure they make money in their private schools, but they have to pay for the living expenses of their teachers, they do a lot of charity work, it's silly to consider making a poor sweet old nun file a tax return!
While that is also a flawed argument, it is still not relevant to the fact that, in Rome, the Vatican owns a shitload of apartment buildings. And no, they don't pay the yearly taxes that everyone else pays on their property. Mario Monti tried suggesting they do, but I'd like to see if he manages to get that one past Parliment. One of the buildings that they own is the one that my grandmother lives in, as she has for the past thirty years.
In her contract, my 88 year old grandmother has a fixed rent, and as luck would have it she is also living in a prime piece of real estate. So of course, what does the Vatican want to do? They want to get rid of her so that they can rent it at 3 times the amount she is currently paying. Therefore, for the past three years, they have been trying to boot my grandmother out on her ass.
First they took away her ability to watch satellite TV, despite the fact that it is her right as an Italian citizen to have access to television. They called her repeatedly, attempting to make it uncomfortable enough for her so that she might leave on her own. She didn't budge, it being far too difficult for a woman in her late eighties to undertake a massive move.
So they took her to court in an attempt to evict her, despite the fact that they do not have a legal leg to stand on.
My grandmother has been paying legal fees for the past two years, fighting the Vatican for her right to live in her home. She has been terrified, for the past two years, that she would have to find another place to live, throw away all of her posessions because she would not be able to bring them with her. She has been selling her books, her furniture, because she does not trust the legal system to be fair when under fire from the Vatican's legal team. So far the law continues to be on her side, but she lives in fear that her luck will run out and that she will have to leave the home she shared with her husband and find somewhere else to live. She has never, in thirty years, been late on her rent. She has never, in thirty years, been a nuisance or complained about a single thing. But they want more money in the bank, so the old lady's gotta go.
Does these sound like the actions of an organization with charity in mind? Keep in mind this is the Vatican itself, not some rogue priest that got a touch of the greedies. The Vatican is trying to kick an elderly woman out of her home to make an extra buck, and they don't even pay a cent in taxes on the property to begin with.
The glaring hypocrisy of it all is they don't pay taxes or contribute to our society, but they think they have the right to dictate how our society should behave.
Because of the Vatican's influence, divorce is very hard to come by in Italy. Because of the Vatican's influence, there are few research institutes that can carry out stem cell research. Because of the Vatican's influence, IVF laws are also restricted. And we have it pretty good, considering that in Ireland you can't even get an abortion.
This, to me, indicates the true motives of the Vatican's exsistence are power and money. I agree that there are some nuns and priests that truly join the church because they have stars in their eyes, they want to help others and think that it is the best way to do it. But I see them as people who go and work for what they think is a charity, but in reality is a corrupt company that is robbing their doners blind. I do not refute the fact that there are idealistic and good people that are part of the Catholic Church, but I think that it is rotten at the core.
Those that really want to do good in this world will find a way to do so, with or without the Vatican. To those that have amassed power for themselves in the Holy See, I think that it is time for them to get the fuck off their high horse.
Either start contributing to society in a meaningful way, or disappear to your private independant state. You will not be missed.