23 April 2010

Abuse

As time goes by, it becomes clear that in every single country where the Roman Catholic church has a major foothold there has been sexual abuse of children by priests. These are men who are supposed to have committed their lives to God and all that goes with Christian mythology - meekness, loving one's neighbour, obeying a Christian moral code that extends way beyond the ten commandments. I feel extremely sorry for all those thousands of priests who have lived blameless lives, serving their religion and their congregations with selflessness, humility and exemplary moral standards for they are now tainted by their peers' cruel exploitation of vulnerable kids over very many years.

There are bad men in the world - paedophiles, rapists, men who are out to gratify themselves with little thought for their victims. We know this. And we might expect such men to appear in different guises - lecherous taxi drivers, raincoated stalkers, egoistic businessmen in flash cars but you wouldn't have expected so many of these bad men to appear in the garb of priests - Men of God.

I can hardly imagine what it must be like to be haunted by memories of sexual abuse. To grow up with feelings of self-loathing, guilt, overwhelming anger and mental confusion. The scars will be deep and long-lasting. I don't suppose you ever truly get over something like that.

Thinking about this issue, certain supplementary questions have occurred to me...

1) How much longer will the Italian government collude with the Catholic church in Italy to cover up that country's legacy of abuse by priests?

2) Yes, children have been sexually abused but what about adults? Grown up Catholics - both men and women - have been vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by priests. Will vigorous investigators ever explore this avenue?

3) Sexual abuse is horrifying but there are other forms of abuse that should invite proper review - physical abuse and systematic humiliation for example. Tales of despotic Christian Brothers and cruel nuns are legendary in Catholic schools and other institutions. Just because such abuse wasn't sexual doesn't mean we should wave it by as if it were ultimately tolerable.

4) Shouldn't the Catholic church ditch the requirement that priests should live pious, celibate lives? Why can't they marry or take partners? Very obviously, existing regulations have helped to provide a fertile climate for sexual predation by priests.

5) Why would anyone continue subscribing to a religion that has provided a previously impenetrable veil behind which such terrible things have happened? A church should be a place of peace, comfort, refreshment, enlightenment - not a place of perversion, wandering hands, evil collusion.
(c) Sean Delones New York Times 2002
Top (c) Don Wright Palm Beach Post 2002

13 comments:

  1. Some would say the priesthood is a natural haven for homosexual men and paedophiles who wish to try and chastise their perversions. It obviously doesn't work.

    Same with the 'monkhood' in Thailand.

    If a family have a 'depraved' child he's ushered into the order asap- I think possibly the same thing happens with middle-class families in Europe.

    Women aren't allowed to be anywhere near a monk in Buddhist culture even when they give their offerings (monks have to wait for people to make merit- don't think they mean that way though...)but there have been a few rape cases over the years that have been exposed. How many more male and female rapes that haven't?

    However everyone sanctifies Buddhism especially in the western world but the evil Catholic church is easy meat for atheists and unGodly people with an agenda also.

    Never mind Puddo, I'll pray for you, you have done some good things in life so I'll pray for you and my Buddhist buddies have told me you won't be returning as a cockroach either...so good news...

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  2. The Catholic church set its tone back in the 3rd century when women were blamed for all the evil in the world by priests looking for a reason for their own human failings. Isn't this the same crap the Muslims are spouting these days? i.e. Earthquakes are caused by wanton women?

    We women need to be like Lucy Lawless' Xena. Slap the stupid dudes in robes around and tell them to learn to live with having balls, like real guys do.

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  3. YP,I wish that I had the courage, in this public arena, to answer this in the way that I would like,but I don't. I know the fecundities of the google search engine too well. Simply to say, well done for raising it and that it is a problem that transcends more than the Catholic church...x

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  4. The Catholic church, and probably many others - I think there is a big difference between actual religion, believing in "something", and the Church(es).
    I have never really understood why people who believe in this "something" (call it/him/her God ...), feel the need to listen to the Church (call it Catholic, call it otherwise). And even less so now.
    Let's hope at least now The Vatican puts its house in order.

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  5. This is a big distinction to make, Brian. YP has heard me say similar things, myself. As you say, there is a huge difference between personal spirituality, religiosity and the established Church (of whatever ilk).Sadly, the world in general tars all with the same brush, the issues become clouded, the waters become murky and it isn't just metaphors that become muddled! I suspect that there never will be a setting of houses in order - whatever barriers come into being, those with such urges will, tragically, find new routes and, conversely, in the processes of safeguarding stictures the innocent will be found guilty.

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  6. I think the blame is squarely on the shoulders of the last two popes, John Paul and Ringo or whatever his name is. Their denials, stonewalling and cover-ups of sexual abuse are certainly a huge contrast to their obsession with other aspects of sex and reproduction.

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  7. Great post! As for why people continue to believe in a religion that's so tarnished - - what was that the Jesuits said? "Give me a child until he is seven years old and he is mine for life." It is very hard for Catholics - and others who have had similar religious indoctrination - to give it up: they know they'll go to Hell if they do. Now me, I was indoctrinated by an atheist - my father - - and that worked too! Even though I think he was right and there IS no God.

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  8. J.BOOTH I had never thought about Buddhist priests that way. Fascinating parallels. And I am so thankful that I won't be coming back as a cockroach. If I could choose one animal to return as it would have to be a buck rabbit for obvious reasons.
    JAN BLAWAT It's not earthquakes that wanton women incite - it's volcanoes! Here in the UK we have to be so P.C. when we talk about Islam but as far as I am concerned every religion there ever was has probably caused more harm than good.
    STEVE ...But what do you think?
    "E" I know that - of all my regular visitors - you are very likely the one who has wrestled with religion more strenuously than all the rest. It is a shame that you feel unable to fully speak your mind around this issue but I think I know where you are coming from.
    BRIAN A useful question to ask. If you really believe why must you couch that belief in institutional terms? Why not follow your beliefs in private? The truth is that religion is often more about social status than deeply held beliefs.
    MICHAEL Good point. They can get on their high horses about abortion and contraception but claim they're "not in" when questions about abuse arise. A huge contradiction.
    DAPHNE So what you are saying is that The Communist denied you the opportunity to visit Sunday School and perhaps win a book about Daniel in the den of lions? Good on him! Can you imagine him as an angel now - at God's right hand - conversing with the other seraphim and apologising for his atheism on Earth? Didn't think so!

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  9. The last question is one that my husband and I discuss quite a bit. We bring up more questions than answers. If a group or institution specifically teaches that abuse and exploitation is wrong, and yet have members who perpetuate it, should one abandon the group or try to change it from within? Is it possible to change it from within?

    There is one reason why we stay with the specific parish that we do, and it has nothing to do with a fear of damnation, but a desire for community. It might be easy enough for one to recommend that we find our community elsewhere, but I'm not convinced that's the best course of action. Our particular community, fortunately, is a little off-beat.

    I often try to stay out of these online discussions because they're better done in person, where there's more accountability and acknowledgement of each other as human beings, not caricatures. Also, as E points out, there are the "fecundities of the google search engine."

    For that reason, this friend across the pond will follow suit with an initial for a signature.

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  10. P.S. To clarify, I did not mean to imply that there wasn't acknowledgment (this time spelled correctly) of each other as human beings in this discussion. I just prefer these kinds of discussions in person.

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  11. Just wanted to agree with the others who have already said what a great post this is.

    And what about that fuss yesterday about the foreign office e-mail suggesting amongst other things that the pope may care to open an abortion clinic whilst he's over here. I thought it was funny - but apparently I am supposed to be outraged. Actually - I would put forward a case to suggest that whilst he is here he should be arrested for covering up child abuse all these years.

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  12. The Catholic Church is full of sinners both lay and clerical.I never understood people that would leave the church because one of its members has sinned, even if the sin is grievous. Most priest aren't sexual predators. I think the abuse by priests should be made public and they should be summarily removed. Unfortunately the sex issue has always been a bugaboo within the church and the bishops were loath to address is until recently. We had a situation in our parish about 15 years ago, same old story of a voyeur priest that was shuffled from parish to parish until it came to light and he was removed.Faith is a funny thing and I am happy that I have it in my life It is all about love, reconciliation & redemption.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.