Thursday, 26 November 2009
The Sins of the Catholic Fathers
Today marks the release of another report, resulting from the investigation of child sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin. The report details some heinous and grotesque crimes perpetrated priests. However, the direct abuse of children by dangerous individuals can hardly be blamed on the church as a whole can it? No, but what the whole church hierarchy should be shaken by and is guilty of is callously and deliberately putting protection of its own reputation above the safety of children. The tactics used do not stop at the well known cover-ups, sheltering of the guilty from the secular authorities or even the fascilitation of the individuals to continue committing these offences. The church has gone as far as heaping further injury on the victims, knowingly smearing and slandering them in the community and threatening them with hell if they cause trouble. There is good evidence that the knowledge of the problem and these tactics for dealing with it which put protection of the church as the highest priority run right to the top of the institution. These problems are also sadly far from unique to Dublin or Ireland, they are global and are inherent in the structure and policy of the Catholic church.
The civil authorities in Ireland are also far from blameless, when abuses were reported to them victims were often told they were lying without investigation or the concerns were simply passed on to the church to deal with internally. The civil authorities should never bow the authority of a religious institution, especially considering their track record and power. The investigations are well overdue and are largely a result of pressure from growing numbers of victims who have had the courage and desire to protect other innocents and spoken out.
So what should come out of all this? Certainly the Catholic church should not be trusted to reform its self, indeed they continue to show where their priorities are and that is not with children in their care. Civil authorities must take these problems seriously. Hopefully with raised awareness victims will be more willing to come forward and denounce those who have harmed them. Any accusations should be investigated in a fair but through way and anyone guilty should be prosecuted and removed from contact with children permanently.
For more information you can search on the net for any related terms. Also worth a reading up on is the documents known as "crimen sollicitationis" and "De delictis gravioribus" in which Ratzinger states that "Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret.".
Here is a link to a Panorama program on the issue.
The Guardian have an analysis of the latest report here.
Another documentary, Sex in a cold climate.
From the Irish Times:
Church used don't tell approach.
Commission finds church covered up child sex abuse.