"He shall take two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer it as a sin-offering; but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, so that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel." Leviticus 16:7-10 (NRSV)
(Azazel is thought to be a desert demon of some sort).
"When he has finished atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness." Leviticus 16:20-22 (NRSV)
This is the origin of the scapegoat.
It is ironic indeed that this grotesque ancient ritual was visited on the Jews in Germany under Adolf Hitler.
It lives in infamy as the cause of the holocaust.
It has reappeared in the modern world as blame.
During the 1980s right wing politicians scapegoated liberals and gays - making use of the fear surrounding AIDS - for political advantage.
Now we see the Vatican trying to scapegoat homosexuals in order to deflect the blame for the child sexual abuse scandals.
It is significant that Pope Benedict XVI was raised in the Hitler Youth.
(It is obvious to everyone except the Vatican that the cause of the child sexual abuse is their own policy of celibacy).
Fortunately most Christians find these suggestions ludicrous.
But there is always a minority that will take them to heart and persecute the innocent.
Will they see the truth before the Church is destroyed completely?
(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.)