Tough Talk From Dublin
During a lecture at Marquette University last week (reported in America, “Signs of the Times,” 4/18), the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, known as a tough talker on the topic of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, talked tough. He described, among other things, the inevitable results of a clerical culture that refused to take basic precautions against abuse (one priest’s residence featured a swimming pool open only to children), the difficulty of “bringing an institution around to the conviction that the truth must be told” and the benefit of government-sponsored audits, something resisted by many bishops and religious superiors.
The most surprising admission was this: “...with perhaps two exceptions I have not encountered a real and unconditional admission of guilt and responsibility on the part of priest offenders in my diocese.” The inability of many abusers to feel remorse has been well documented. Some psychologists note that the two most prevalent traits among abusers are narcissism and grandiosity. The narcissist cares only about his own needs; others exist simply to gratify him. The grandiose person acts as a kind of Pied Piper, easily drawing children into his terrible orbit. Archbishop Martin’s comments make clear that these malign pathologies run deep and that the church is, in many places, still resisting a complete truth-telling. We need more bishops to speak the truth as bluntly and frequently as Archbishop Martin has done.
Goldstone Reports Again
Depending on one’s view, the distinguished South African jurist Richard Goldstone has either once more demonstrated the honesty of his thinking or has cravenly capitulated to Israeli pressure. In an op-ed article in The Washington Post on April 1, he admitted that if he had known what has recently been revealed by internal Israeli investigations, the U.N. report he chaired on Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, a 2008 military campaign against Gaza, would have been different. Israeli officials, who have heretofore reviled Goldstone, praised him and played his statement as if it were a renunciation of the report’s conclusions. The former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, went so far as to contend that “if in the future we have to defend ourselves against terror...there will be no way to deal with this terror other than the way we did in Cast Lead.”
But Goldstone later told the press that, with one exception, “as presently advised I have no reason to believe that any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time.” According to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, the internal Israeli inquiry cited by Goldstone “by no means absolves Israel of all grave allegations regarding its conduct.” Among the issues still deserving scrutiny, the group said, “are the levels of force authorized; the use of white phosphorous and inherently inaccurate mortar shells in densely populated areas; the determination that government office buildings were legitimate targets; and the obstruction of and harm to ambulances.” In addition, because of lack of Israeli cooperation, the Goldstone team was never able to look into Israeli policymaking. For these and other reasons the U.N. process ought to continue.
At the same time, Hamas, the governing party in Gaza, needs to be held responsible for its use of rockets against Israeli civilians and for failing to conduct investigations of alleged war crimes on its side.
Budget Cuts Hurt Women
Many proposals to cut federal spending on entitlements tend to gloss over a significant fact: entitlements benefit women—particularly the nation’s poorest women—to a much greater extent than men. The reasons are obvious: women on average earn less than men but live longer. Single parents, who are overwhelmingly female, must stretch their incomes across decades as they rear their children. Many women with young children work part time, and employers seldom offer health insurance or other benefits for part-time work. Wage parity, which would help women and children enormously, still would not close the gaps produced by longevity and childrearing. Here is the problem: since entitlements disproportionately benefit women, cuts in entitlements disproportionately harm them.
Consider Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poorest, sickest and/or most disabled Americans. Women make up three-quarters of the adults covered. That totals 17 million women between the ages of 18 and 64; most are pregnant or have children under 18. Few voters realize that Medicaid finances 41 percent of all births in the United States. These are births among the poor. Medicaid also covers 43 percent of all nursing home spending. These entitlements are vital, not just for the poor and not just for women, but for a healthy society.
Unlike abortion, these services are authentic women’s health issues. As such they ought not be cut even to reduce the deficit. Other expenses—administrative duplication, for example—should be cut and are already being removed through the Affordable Care Act of 2010. A clear link between women and entitlements is crucial information for the ongoing debates about the budget and deficit-reduction.