A few days ago, it was reported that the man chosen to head the Vatican’s morality brigade, suggested that priests guilty of child abuse commit suicide rather than suffer the pains of hell. Actually, the language he used was ‘would be better off’ – as though the welfare of the priests was of substantial concern to him.
An interesting comment from a man who knows full-well that suicide is a mortal sin in itself. And given that, as a priest, he’s supposed to abhor violence of any kind. But I digress…
Today, we hear about a woman whose confidentiality was breached by a bishop, no less, when she’d made a complaint about abuse from a priest. In her own words, she said that her complaint was handled in a manner that demonstrates the church’s “priority is not the people, it’s the priesthood.”
What is it about the Catholic Church that makes it behave as though nothing is wrong, when all the world is up in arms about the child abuse scandal, and the conspiracy within the church to cover it up? It took too long for the Pope to make a public statement about the investigation in Ireland. And the statement, when it finally arrived in the form of a letter, was substantially underwhelming. It castigated the bishops in Ireland for hiding the abuse and apologised to the victims for what they’d suffered and moved right on to asking for forgiveness. It said nothing about punishing the bishops for their behaviour. Nor about the priests who were simply moved to another parish when it was found they were abusing childred.
Moving them on, I should point out, suggests that those bishops didn’t disapprove of the abuse at all.
Since then, in Australia, there has been one story after another emerge about how complaints made by victims of abuse have been undermined by the very people within the church who are supposed to be investigating the complaint. In Victoria, multiple cases of misconduct have been leveled at the ‘The Melbourne Response’ for such idiotic behaviour as notifying priests when a complaint had been made against them – giving them time to cover their tracks. I might add, this is not a luxury enjoyed by other people accused of crimes under investigation by the police.
The tradition of cover-up and secrecy employed by the Vatican in response to this issue has proven in recent times to be a strategy aimed entirely at protecting the church. Of course, there are many, many priests out there who are blameless in this matter, and who have performed decades of good works – but in a way, this entire issue only undermines everything they’ve done.
Because nothing in the Church’s response so far has placed the victim at the centre of the issue. Compensation, if it comes, is hard-won, after years of struggle. Too many victims have given up entirely – or simply decided that fighting the system only forces them to live daily with the pain of the original abuse, which they would rather not.
The principal of secrecy was always to protect the priesthood. Only recently has the Pope stated that all future accusations of abuse be notified to relevent law enforcement. Only recently? What was it about the estimated 30,000 cases so far that made him change his mind? Did he count up on his fingers and toes the number of priests that had actually been disciplined – or perhaps even excommunicated by the church? (Although they are apparently happy to excommunicate women who are ordained as priests – but again, I digress.)
The Catholic Church offers believers the promise of salvation from earthly sins resulting in everlasting life – two promises, I should point out, that they never have to prove they can deliver. In return, the congregation turns up, makes donations to pay priests and generally contributes to the world’s biggest corporation with whatever they can afford to part with. The fact is, the Church cannot survive without the congregation – but the congregation can survive without the Church.
In modern commercial parlance – only an idiot would treat its customers with so much contempt and expect to continue a viable business for long. That the Church is more concerned with protecting their own while allowing children (and adults) to suffer endlessly is shockingly shameful. The Pope, and all others like him should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, and address this dreadful imbalance immediately.
But of course, why would they? It’s not about the people at all, is it?