Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Clerical paedophilia

Briefing: two sobering stories, from the US and Ireland, from Damian Thompson's blog. The situation in the UK seems not to have been as bad as this.

An American journalist, William Lobdell, who decided to reverse his decision to become a Catholic, writes:

I discovered that the term ‘sexual abuse’ is a euphemism. Most of these children were raped and sodomised by someone they and their family believed was Christ’s representative on Earth. That’s not something an eight-year-old’s mind can process; it forever warps a person's sexuality and spirituality.

Many of these victims were molested by priests with a history of abusing children. But the bishops routinely sent these clerics to another parish, and bullied or conned the victims and their families into silence. The police were almost never called. In at least a few instances, bishops encouraged molesting priests to flee the country to escape prosecution.

I couldn't get the victims' stories or the bishops' lies — many of them right there on their own stationery — out of my head. … the children were so innocent, their parents so faithful, the priests so sick and bishops so corrupt.

An Irish journalist, ex-priest Peter de Rosa, writes:

Between 1985 and 2006 when I was living in Ireland I wrote numerous press articles on child sex abuse by Catholic priests. I prophesied that it would lead to a crisis of faith worse than at the Reformation and the final payouts to victims would lead to an economic meltdown.

If anything should prevent the beatification of John Paul II it is his Great Silence on this issue. His condemnations of so-called lay sins like contraception came out fast as salt from a salt shaker. But he never could bring himself to put together the two words “priest” and “paedophile”.

The cost to the Irish Church alone is unfathomable. Try to imagine the unimaginable. Suppose a paedophile-ring in Belfast, all Protestants, had targeted Catholic children.

Pretending to be devout converts, they insinuated themselves for years into Catholic life as sacristans, teachers and youth workers. When senior Protestant clerics learned about this, instead of going to the police, they covered it up to save face.

When the media highlighted this vile scheme, the Pope immediately expressed his utter disgust. Irish Bishops went ballistic. They demanded of the British PM a public enquiry into this obscene violation of Catholic children.

The true story is far more sinister. For decades, Catholic children were sexually tortured not by outsiders but by pervert priests who sometimes broke the seal of confession to do it. Some abused altar boys just before or after mass.

The Vatican knew and was silent. Many bishops knew but seemed to say, they're only children; they have no rights. The “Church” was more important than children.

They weren’t really bothered with investigating these appalling allegations. They didn't - as honest citizens should - report the rapists to the police. On the contrary, they secretly moved them from the parish where they’d committed rape to another where they raped children again.

Christ's so-called shepherds reversed his teaching. They tossed the lambs to the wolves.

Why not clear the whole mess up once and for all? Every priest known to have sexually abused a child should be dismissed and forbidden to say mass ever again.

I'd go further. Any priest who is sexually involved with a woman should be laicised, too. Because what is really at the basis of this terrible calamity for the Catholic Church is that Rome demands celibacy of its priests but not chastity.

Until Pope Benedict faces up to this, we shall merely substitute one priestly problem for another and the agony will go on and on.

1 comment:

John Kearney said...

Peter de Rossa hits on a very important point when he says the Church does not teach chastity to its priest. I have never been content with asking young people to take up sexual abstinence. I have always favoured the word chastity as the word to offer young people. Chastity is something positive. We are chaste not for the future but her and now for the sake of God. Chastity is a virtue living within us. Priests are men like everyone else and subject to the temptations of everyone else but the Church has in the past failed to come to terms with celibacy in this sense of chastity. Many priests therefore saw it as an impostion rather than a grace. Yes, they could tell you all the social reasons why a priest should not marry but it was not something positive in their lives. Let us pray the Church has learned from this.

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen