The weird, twisted Catholic cult of suffering

August 18, 2012 • 4:06 pm

Guest post by Grania Spingies

A friend drew my attention to this on Facebook. It’s an excerpt from the children’s section of the Irish Catholic publication Alive! that describes itself as an attempt to evangelise for the Church in a new way. It probably doesn’t have a readership anything like what you’d expect in a country that is, according to the most recent census, 84% Catholic: Alive!’s circulation  is somewhere between 240,000 and 380,000.

That’s probably a good thing given this:

Link to edition

You can read about Maria Goretti (1890-1902) here and here.

I don’t think much commentary is needed: this speaks for itself. The problem isn’t so much the gruesome nature tale, for a great many beloved children’s stories contain death and violence – even in the Disney versions. It’s the tone of approbation of dying a violent death for Jesus, or perhaps the idea that the only reason an eleven-year-old girl would resist being raped would be out of a sense of religious piety. But that tends to be what you get when religion makes a virtue out of suffering.

[Note for non-Irish readers: “bold” in Ireland typically refers to naughty behaviour – here evidently used as a euphemism for rape.]

87 thoughts on “The weird, twisted Catholic cult of suffering

  1. They forgot to include the rest of the story: Maria’s sister Colleen. Colleen was only 8 years old and had not made her Holy Communion. Unlike Maria, she did not like to go to church.Colleen saw what the older boy did to her sister, and so the older boy gave her sixteen cuts, 3 scrapes, and a kicks. They did not rush her to the hospital because she was already dead. And, because Colleen had not had Holy Communion and died in her sins, she is now burning in Hell, too.

    Colleen shows us that even young kids can be damned. Hope you enjoy the holidays!

    1. Sastra, respectfully, did you make this up? i.e. was it intended ironically and I missed it? I ask because I can’t find any reference to a Colleen Goretti in Wikipedia or any linked articles.

      1. I find it hard to believe that back in that time, an Italian girl was named “Colleen.”

      2. I will try to find a link to the German text I had to read at school (note for non-Germans: In G. you have religion as a class your whole time in school until you leave the respective tax church after age 14 in most federal states and 15 in Bavaria and Saxony, nowadays often not-baptised children and those of immigrant minorities have to attend, too!).
        There was something quite clear as to another child who was not attending sunday mass – and he/she (my memory is not precise on that) burned in hell, of course.

        1. In England we had Religious Education (one period weekly). This was in the sixties at a grammar school. But IIRC, even then we didn’t think of it as a ‘proper’ subject. I don’t think there were any exams in it.

  2. Rape is such an ugly word. They wouldn’t want people to be calling priests who molested young boys rapists. Maybe they could throw those stories in their childrens corner as well.

    1. Does this mean that Grand Papa Ratsy will make it all okay by canonizing all the kids who’ve been sexually exploited by priests? Think of it, armies of living saints, bingo! just like that. Jeebus would be pleased.

      And think, too, of the convenience: instead of all that trouble about having saints’ relics under every RC altar, a priest can celebrate mass on the naked body of a living saint instead. How very Wiccan of them!

      I am so sick of the RC church and its perpetual posturing and attempts to corner the market on moral instuction! I could vomit.

      1. NO to that.
        They are not DEAD.
        The Maria-Goretti-legend makes a saint out of children killed while being virgo intacta.

  3. Wow! How low can one stoop to push a political ideology? This fully justifies Richard Dawkins’ claim of child abuse!

      1. The same thing I do with every issue of Alive thats comes to my door. Save it all til the winter and use it to help get my fire going. Burns well so it does.

    1. Jesus Christ on a bicycle. Un-fricken-believable.

      Now if it hadn’t been for her devotion to Jeebus, she’d still have been alive. Shaken, but alive. Makes the title of the publication kinda ironic, because what she actually is, is dead.

      But I see her attacker ended up, after he came out of the slammer, as a monk of sorts. Maybe they figured he was pre-qualified. (Okay, I know that was a low blow 😉

  4. Seriously, I thought you had to perform one demonstrable miracle in your life to be considered for sainthood? What miracle did this kid perform? Refusing to be raped?

    1. No, it’s OK now — if you don’t fit in a miracle while you’re alive (say you get killed or something), then you can go back and pick it up later after you’re dead. In fact the only mandatory requirement for sainthood now is to come from a region or socio-economic group where the Catholic faith needs a boost. That really helps. Even excommunication can’t trump that.

    2. In the absence of a bona fide witnessed miracle, the Catholic church is not, and never has been, shy of inventing one. They do so love a canonisation. Helps to draw in the crowds and sell trinkets.

    3. Actually the requirement is a couple of miracles after your death; however, being killed for your faith, a martyr, is considered equivalent to one miracle.

      The church’s ability to find or not find miracles or even martyrdom is often political. For instance Oscar Romero a Catholic archbishop of El Salvador who was murdered in his church while saying mass after speaking out against the government death squads is not recognized as a martyr by the Catholic church some 30 years later (he is by many of the local populace and by some non-Catholic churches). But the bishop’s way of supporting justice for the poor (a view he acquired only after becoming bishop) is not popular with the current Vatican.

      1. It would appear that this particular Catholic Bish was a genuine good guy, it must have taken a great deal of courage, more than I have, to speak out as he did. He probably knew that he would be murdered but spoke out anyway.

        I suspect that the Church’s power in that area is dependant upon it remaining in the government’s good books. The RCC have never sided with ordinary Catholics against evil tyrants, why should they when the sheep keep turning up to be shorn anyway?

          1. Greetings,

            I don’t think either of you understand the concept.

            It doesn’t involve killing others – it means being killed for one’s faith.

            And cults don’t count.

            This story was one circulated to promote Christianity.

            Kindest regards,


  5. There are also two articles on Symphysiotomy, a barbaric surgical procedure designed to preserve the life of an unborn child, which was commonly practised from the late 16th century, but became far less frequent from the late 19th century, once the risk of maternal death following c-section decreased, thanks to improvements in hygiene and surgical procedure.

    Not so in Ireland, where the practise continued in Catholic-run hospitals. It is estimated that 1,500 Irish women unknowingly and without consent underwent symphysiotomies during childbirth between 1944 and 1992.

    Responding to criticism Rosemary Swords for ‘Alive!’ writes “there is no evidence whatever that the Church mandated this procedure, nor any link between it the Church’s teaching on marriage or procreation. This allegation seems to have been manufactured out of the simple fact that in Ireland the hospitals were Catholic, and nuns who were also
    qualified nurses were in attendance. Such journalism is not good enough.”

    Certainly, some journalism is not good enough.

  6. Should’ve been re-titled, “Kids’ Basement”.
    I vaguely recall being a youngster and leafing through a thick paperback copy of “Lives of the Saints” that I found on the household bookshelf. It appeared to be filled with stories as this: noble martyrs, male and female, dying horrible deaths in horrible ways for God and Jesus. Quite bizarre. It was another one of those fuzzy, subliminal hints you get when you’re young, that something is truly wrong here.

    1. As heartening as I found that result, I’d be very wary of believing it as a representation of how or what the Irish think or believe. While the church has been badly damaged here, an awful lot of people won’t allow changes in the education system, which is overwhelmingly Catholic. It’s still very hard to get a secular education here and people seem to have the idea that Catholic morality and values are separate from clerical Catholicism. Very few still attend church regularly but they’ll have church baptisms, first holy communion and so on, and this gives mother church the ability to cling on to the institutions of education, health and caring.

  7. It’s funny reading that now as it brings back memories of growing up in Ireland. Stuff like this was all around you. Martyrs and hair shirts.

    Happily, none of it ever really took. I think because my maternal grandfather was Protestant, though not really religious, who converted to marry only. His cynicism towards Catholicism was absorbed by my mum who passed it on to us.

    I remember well one primary school outing, when we were taken to see the mummified head of Oliver Plunkett in Drogheda. It was a lovely sunny day, but we had to wait in the chilly cathedral listening to the edifying tale of his martyrdom. Good times.

  8. “[Note for non-Irish readers: “bold” in Ireland typically refers to naughty behaviour . . ..]”

    Oh, OK. Now I get it.
    When I was in Catholic grade school, the nuns would castigate us with: “You BOLD and brazen article!”
    One nun was so “Irish” that she recounted to us how the English tried to raise their flag on Iwo Jima, but our boys wouldn’t let them.

  9. So here we have a young girl who refused do what she knew was wrong, refused, on pain of death, to bow to being raped, prized her purity above all, appealed to her assailant by stating exactly that, and all you can see here is the religious cloak of it all. That’s pathetic.

    I’m not Catholic and I don’t know if I can even call myself a Christian any more but she’d be my hero, even saint. And I’d tell her story to my daughter, and if I were in the same situation, powerless and about to be abused, I’d want to respond in the same way.

    You lot would probably only admire her if she’d pulled some fantastic flying Zena moves and kicked her assailant through the wall.

    1. I’m just remembering back to when I was student working in a restaurant. The restaurant owner used his position of power to coerce the student waitresses to have sex with him. If they refused, they were not likely to keep their jobs for long. Which ones would you have admired, the ones who played strategic or the ones who took a principled stand?

      1. Well quite obviously the ones who kicked the assailant through the wall while uttering some devastatingly clever quip like “I won’t be back.”

        I mean, that’s just the kind of people we are!

      2. I’m not sure of your point, but let me ask this:

        If some of those women went along to preserve their income, would you condemn them? Think of them as morally inferior?

        I certainly would not judge them.

        1. But Jay, why would I condemn someone if, in some instance, they do not evoke in me admiration or gratitude?! Personally, I kept my virginity to marriage but if I put myself in the shoes of those waitresses, I couldn’t say for sure if I’d caved in or taken a stand against the restaurant owner, but I can say with certainty that I’d have greatly admired and felt very grateful to another waitress if she’d taken a stand, broken his hold, set a precedent and paved the way for others to do likewise. And my gratitude and admiration would be all the greater if it had cost her her job. And if the waitress union decided to make a little memorial to her and perhaps gather some bucks to help her out, I’d do my bit for sure. I won’t be deterred if the waitress union was religious or communist or even Catholic, because that, there and then, is the right thing to do.

          Similarly, I don’t begrudge Maria Goretti’s community the act of honouring her like they did. Anything less is just cynical.

          1. Yeah, yeah, with the waitresses you’re talking about a job, you can always get another crappy waitressing job. But personally I wouldn’t criticise the waitresses either way, if they thought the job was worth it to them, any more than I’d criticise the streetwalkers who do it all the time for money.

            On the other hand, you can’t get another life. If Maria Goretti lost her life because the church had brainwashed her into thinking her life was worthless without her virginity, that sucks. And that’s the picture the church is painting, never mind ‘she was only 11 years old and terrified’, they prefer ‘she nobly chose death because she loved Jesus so much’. Or maybe because the church had her so terrified of hellfire. This is supposed to be good?

            I’d say the church is just cynical in using her fate as a ‘just so’ story.

    2. Beachscriber said:
      “You lot would probably only admire her if she’d pulled some fantastic flying Zena moves and kicked her assailant through the wall.”

      Just what kind of audience do you think you’re addressing here?

      And you would tell this disgustingly horrifying story to your daughter? For what purpose? To induce nightmares?

    3. Who’s Zena? It’s spelled with an X. 🙂

      As it happens, I feel very sorry for Maria Goretti. That doesn’t make me any more tolerant towards the Catholics for using her posthumously as an example to suit themselves. We’re making fun of the CC’s and their plaster saint, not of the real Maria.

      Still and all, she would have been better off to have gone along with the guy. A quick read of the links suggests he was a bit retarded and may have been impotent so may not have compromised her precious virginity anyway.

      1. “Still and all, she would have been better off to have gone along with the guy.”

        You don’t know this, and neither did she. According to the history, she had fended off his advances a couple of times before. Stop blaming the victim.

        “A quick read of the links suggests he was a bit retarded and may have been impotent so may not have compromised her precious virginity anyway.”

        This is just baseless and crude speculation, and again not something Maria would have known. Why bring it up?

        1. Why bring it up? Because martyrdom is a stupid thing to hold up as a virtue in circumstances like these. When a gun is to your head, or a knife at your throat, and all that is at stake is your virginity or your pride or (as in the case of POW’s who think they’re expected to resist torture) a symbol of national pride, it is better to submit and hope to make the aggressor pay later. Catholics and Muslims love martyrs, and it is stupid.

          1. Nothing that you wrote addresses my question. I asked infiniteimprobabilit why he made the (frankly unsupported) claims that the assaulter was mentally disabled and/or impotent.

            1. Just following links from Wikipedia – the assailant said (at times) that he never completed the rape and (if this link works:) “,6208423”
              “he failed to rape her less for her resistance than because he was impotent”.
              From the same article “Alessandro Serenelli, a sexually inhibited 20-year-old, had twice unsuccessfully tried to seduce Maria before…”

              Now that is from a disputed account, but I didn’t just invent it. Though I did transmute ‘sexually inhibited’ into ‘suggests he was a bit retarded’, which was maybe unjustified.

              However, in saying Maria would have been better off (i.e. alive!) if she’d gone along with her assailaint, where in that was I blaming her? Only in ouigui’s tiny mind. She was in a situation where every choice was bad.

              It is indeed (reputedly) true that she’d fended him off twice before, so she may not have realised he was going to snap this time – so she very well may NOT have intentionally ‘chosen death’ on this occasion. Martyr by mistake. Um. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

              I’ll state this again: my sceptical/cynical attitude to the Catholics’ plaster saint has nothing at all to do with my sympathy for the poor 11-year old girl in this awful situation. I hope that’s clear.

              1. Again, I’ll point out that you don’t know for sure that things would have turned out better in the end if she had gone along with Serenelli. Right then, at that very moment, sure, she would have avoided being stabbed. Maybe it would’ve happened 10 minutes later when he couldn’t complete the deed (if in fact he was impotent or sexually frustrated); or a day later when she threatened to tell her family; or a month later after several more assaults. Or maybe not at all.

                And yes, saying things like “she would have been better off…” *is* shifting the blame for her death away from her murderer, where it should squarely be. For people who have experienced rape, sexual assault, or other violent crime, this pattern of after-the-fact rationalization (“She shouldn’t have had that last drink. He should have walked home with a friend. Well, she *was* flirting a lot.”) is pointless, hurtful, and/or offensive.

                I get that you intend to criticize the Catholic church’s use of the Maria Goretti story; its emphasis of the nobility of both virginity and martyrdom; and that Maria unfortunately believed all that crap. That stuff deserves to be roundly attacked.

                But when you question Maria’s actions as a victim, casually use slurs like “retarded” (unfounded or not), and cap it all off with a personal insult… well, that’s not especially convincing nor classy.

              2. (damn WP’s flaky editor!)

                “saying things like “she would have been better off…” *is* shifting the blame for her death away from her murderer, where it should squarely be.”

                Huh? She’d have been alive. You’re saying she would NOT have been better off? Or what? How does that let her murderer off the hook?

                Stop reading things into it that I didn’t say, huh.

    4. It’s the first time I’ve encountered the story. I find it very moving and I think the worse of you if it leaves you cold. Neither am I the least bit impressed if you just feel sorry for her. If you can’t respect and admire her for her stand, for the precedent she set, then yes, you may well ask what kind of audience I’m addressing.
      Your calling the story just disgusting and horrifying reveals a sad shallowness.

      And, yes, I would, at an appropriate age tell the story to my daughter. I want her to know that I’d admire and support her if she a moral stand in the face of abuse or oppression. I don’t know about you, but I admire people like Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Beyers Naude, Rosa Parks (if you need an American example).

      And why on earth would you begrudge Maria Goretti’s community the natural and good practice of setting her up as a hero, of making a plaster sculpture of her?! Why would you make fun of that?

      Also, the last point that infiniteimprobabilit makes really just shows again an inability to distinguish between a moral and a strategic stand. That is aside from how pointless it is to do the hindsight thing thing.

      infiniteimprobabilit, you have an apt name there for someone who’d go

      1. That last paragraph was not meant to make it in there. I was going to say something about how pointless it would be to bring all sorts of probabilities to the story, like the guy being retarded or impotent – or other stuff you think she should have known in order to have had a better tactical response.

      2. You’re missing the point big time. You should also maybe look up what “making fun of” means in a dictionary, because that doesn’t happen anywhere in my piece.

        For a start, the official version of the story is made up by the Church from hearsay. No-one actually knows what the poor child said or did in her last minutes.

        Second, yes, it is pretty disgusting for the Catholic Church to try to turn the horrific and brutal slaying of a child into a Moral Lesson.

        Third, my criticism of the Church for capitalizing on the misery of others has nothing at all to do with how I might feel about the helpless child whatsoever.

        Seeing as you clearly have trouble comprehending it, let me spell it out for you. People who experience rape, whether they try to resist at all costs or try to do what it takes to survive are experiencing the worst trauma of their lives. What is despicable and immoral is a religious institution that extols death over loss of virginity and concocts a morality tale out of it to be inflicted on young children.

        1. Great response, Grania. I couldn’t agree more, especially with your last sentence. Thank you for today’s guest post and for your many contributions to this website. The time and care you take here is greatly appreciated.

        2. Grania, thanks for your frank response.

          My “making fun” reference was to what infiniteimprobabilit said: “We’re making fun of the CC’s and their plaster saint, not of the real Maria.” I thought that was clear, but I also thought it was perfectly clear from my first comment that I was criticising both your attitude to Maria and your attitude to the Catholics calling her a hero.

          For your starters, quite the contrary, it seems there were plenty of first hand accounts to draw on, including the testimony of the dying girl who publicly forgave her assailant. Besides, you can’t have your cake and eat it. Either you accept that there is a reliable account of what happened or you accept that you have no basis for calling her saintification unjustified or opportunistic. From the reading I did, it seems the Church bowed to a popular groundswell of opinion about her after some reliable reporting was done.

          Re your second point, it serves you well to ignore what motivated the girl’s response, how she showed the courage of her convictions, and to characterise it simply as a brutal slaying. That way, you avoid having to concede that it is perhaps Maria Goretti who gave the “Moral Lesson” as you call it. Let’s imagine, just for a sec, your dropping your guard and stating it thus: “… yes, it is pretty disgusting for the Catholic Church to try to turn Maria Goretti’s courageous stand for her convictions, for her purity, for her dignity, into a Moral Lesson.” How does that sound now? If you ask me, it’s a bloody miracle the Catholic Church did the right thing and saintified her.

          Re your third point, why do you call her a helpless child like that? Sure, she couldn’t defend herself physically, but that didn’t stop her from taking a courageous stand. You should show respect and admiration, not pity.

          As to your last sentence, firstly, given that she couldn’t have known he’d really try to kill her or that she’d actually die as a result, you can’t say it was a virginity or death choice. Secondly, your characterising her rape as a mere loss of virginity makes me wonder … I don’t get it: on the one hand you talk of how traumatic it is, on the other, you’ll have me imagine her saying, “Ah well, it’s only my virginity …”

          It is also worth saying that it is at best a glaring historicism for you to apply your modern values to a girl living over 100 years ago and to expect the same individualistic sexual values you’d consider the norm today. Also Her responding as she did “for Jesus” cannot be understood as a personal favour to him as given out of fear, or suchlike. For example, here in South Africa we sometimes say “… for Mandela.” It is not a call to do something for him personally, it is a call to do the right thing for his sake, to make his sacrifice, his stand worthwhile.

          I also want to know how do you get to say that religion makes a virtue out of suffering? That doesn’t make sense to me. It makes me doubt if you know what a virtue is. Longsuffering (a kind of patience) would be a virtue, but not suffering itself. One can show virtue in how you handle suffering, but not simply by suffering. And there many relevant virtues here. The first one that usually comes to mind is patience, but there are also courage, resilience, grace, hope, defiance, fortitude, humour and resourcefulness. The only way I can imagine what what you say making some kind of sense is if someone turned virtues into rules and put longsuffering at the top. But virtues aren’t rules, they are skills of relating and they moderate each other. Depending on the situation, longsuffering is useless without defiance or discernment (knowing where to draw the line). That’s how the virtues work.

      3. “I want her to know that I’d admire and support her if she a moral stand in the face of abuse or oppression.”

        And, if your daughter were faced with a life-threatening rape situation and she chose a strategy to stay alive instead of “taking a moral stand”, would you be glad she was still alive?

        You don’t get to dictate to another person, even your own child, what choices she makes when faced with a life-threatening crisis. Maybe she’d rather have the rest of her life than “make you proud”. L

        1. “[I] don’t get to dictate …” That is so unfair! I don’t see how anything I have said implies that I might command my daughter to take a moral stand at the expense of her life. A moral stand is by its nature something that comes from the heart. It cannot be commanded or demanded. This is not a right / wrong issue or even a matter of meeting expectations. Some people rise above our expectations, set higher standards for themselves than we expect, take unprecedented stands, and those are the people who become our heroes. Heroism is not something you can expect or demand and I can’t understand why you’d imply that or suggest that I was implying that.

          1. You did state that you wanted to be sure that your daughter knew that you would admire and respect her if she choose being murdered instead of raped.

            That isn’t a lot different from dictation to a daughter that wants the respect and admiration of a parent. Your statement also implies that if she choose to be raped your admiration and respect would be silent.

            Linda’s comment to you isn’t the least bit unfair and, apparently, from your comment that I am replying to you are still of the opinion that a dead daughter is preferable to a raped daughter.

            Both you and the christian religion are sick.

            1. I didn’t say that but I did say I’d admire and support her if she took a moral stand in the face of abuse, so I gather you equate that with choosing to be murdered. Could you explain to me how you manage to do that while avoiding the classic logical fallacy that seems evident there? (I actually referred to it in my reply to Grania, though not by its name.)

    5. Well, the religious cloak of it all is what is being sold to children.

      Not “She refused to go along with the boy because no means no”, but “She refused because she loved Jesus so much”

      It is a horrific story…I am not sure I would tell this to a young child.

  10. That “Kid’s Corner” article is beyond reprehensible.

    On the bright side, I finally know why my dad has always used “bold” as a synonym for “bad.”

  11. I’ve long thought the Catholic church confused compassion with masochism- it’s the dark side of their piety that Hitchens discusses in his stuff on Mother Theresa.

    That the story treats the attempted rape as not inherently traumatizing but only as jeopardizing the girl’s relationship with God/Jesus is also reprehensible. Catholic sexual morality says little about one’s relationship with nature or others, only about one’s relationship to a etherealized, rarified deity.

    (Only on this thread did I discover the Catholic church won’t consider Romero a martyr?? Say what??)

    1. Thank you. This is what pisses me off–Maria was canonized because she wanted to stay pure and virginal, because apparently just not wanting to be raped isn’t good enough for Jesus.

  12. What about all those children raped by personnel of the catholic church? Several of them committed suicide because of that. Did one of these kids ever got his or her image cast in plaster? Were there ever prayers or incantations or whatever for those poor victims of brutal catholic bestiality?

  13. A creepy thing I see about this story, is it’s emphasis. It’s not about avoiding the trauma of rape, it’s about preserving virginity, a major Catholic obsession.

    1. Not exactly.
      It is about blaming the victim.
      And to make especially little girls waste time and brain activity in the try to live up to church morals, and to get a PTSD-like “freezing-“(dissociation)-reaction toward the many things which can go wrong in reality.
      So much, that effective precaution and the fact that she could wish or dislike things and situations are left out of the realm of thinkables.

  14. Has no Catholic ever wondered what God was doing while a little girl was trying to defend herself from rape and murder?

    1. When I thought of this question I knew already what would bring me in deep trouble, and therefore I did never ask it.
      And as soon as I had officially left church, the idea of a god “who” could do or do not anything was no question anymore, just a bad idea. And I began wondering why anyone could stay a member of one of those churches since people are no longer being burned on the stake for leaving.
      Have no answer still for the latter one.

  15. Most certainly, the would be rapist and eventual murderer, was a catholic also (unless of course, he was from Belfast and was one of those horrible protestants). After the murder, he went to confession, said a couple of Hail Mary’s and is now in heaven along with his victim. I bet she’s happy about that.

    1. Oh great, it’s worse than I thought:

      “Serenelli later became a laybrother of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, living in a monastery and working as its receptionist and gardener until death peacefully in 1970.”

      1. I’m half surprised he hasn’t been canonized. I must admit, though, that I imagine “canonization” in very literal terms, i.e., John Paul II’s and Mother Teresa’s corpses were shot out of a cannon.

  16. I don’t think much commentary is needed: this speaks for itself.

    You should have stopped there. It is indeed an odd telling. The rest of your paragraph, however, reads like clutching at straws to criticize Catholicism. The Wikipedia details on the subsequent life of Alessandro Serenelli, on the other hand, are quite movingly related.

      1. Yes, I agree. Her response was an act of faith which succeeded and made the world a better place. But don’t tell that to this lot. They have no idea what faith is – think it’s only about God.

  17. We can’t do anything to help the dead girl, or indeed to further harm her. For me, the practical moral issue is the effect of the story on living children. If you resist sexual assault to the point of death, you are saintly. Conversely, if you do not, you are morally less worthy. I’m sure many a paedophile is comforted by the suggestion that his victims are complicit.

    Or maybe Beachscriber can extract some other moral for the juvenile audience?

  18. correction: I should have written “his or her victims” in the Irish RC context – some of those nuns were abusers too.

  19. Here is a similar story from Afghanistan involving a 14-year-old girl and the Taliban, except the Taliban don’t repent, have no respect for the girl’s gracious response. This girl is a hero, a precedent-setting leader, a saint. This is another one I’ll tell my daughter about but I suppose you lot are going to find this a sick story too. Notagod’s probably going to tell me it’s like telling my daughter I’d prefer to have her bombed by the Taliban than than alive.

    Here is the girl being interviewed:

    Here is a transcript by a friend of mine:
    Interviewer : So why do risk your life to raise you voice?

    Malala: Because I thought that my people need me and I shall raise my voice, because if I didn’t raise my voice now, so when will I raise my voice?

    Interviewer: Some people might say you are 14, you don’t have any rights…you just have to listen to Mom and Dad.

    Malala: No I have rights. I have the right of education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go market. I have the right to speak up.

    Interviewer: But what if you give that advice to a girl who may not be as courageous as you, and she says, ‘Malala I am afraid, I just want to stay in my room.’

    Malala: So I’ll tell her that don’t stay in your room, because God will ask you on the day of judgement that where were you when your people were asking you, when your school fellows was asking you, and when you school was asking you that I am being blown up. When your people need you, you should come up, you should come and you should stand up for their rights

    Interviewer: If you were the President of the this country how would you handle the Taliban

    Malala: First of all I would like to build so many schools in this country, because education is the must thing. If you don’t have educated people so the Taliban will come to your area. But if you have educated people they will not come.

    Interviewer: Well educated or not. The Taliban come with bombs and guns. How do you handle that? Do you still talk to them or do you call in the army? What do you do?

    Malala: First of all I would like to talk to them…

    Interviewer: What would you say?

    Malala: I would say that what are your demands, what do you want?

    Interviwer: ‘We want you to shut down the school is what they’d say

    Malala: So I’ll tell them that don’t shut our schools because school… I will… I will …..

    Interviewer: ‘You’re 14, you have no idea what you are talking about we are going to shut down your schools!’

    Malala: So …give me a second. So first of all I will, I will show them Koran, what Koran says and the Koran didn’t say that girls are not allowed to go to school …..

    1. Apparently this girl now lies in hospital as a result of a Taliban attack and I hear they have said they will get her next time.

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