Clerical abuse – CH Leader

The following leading article from the issue of 29 May 2009 is reproduced by permission of The Catholic Herald. It is the voice of the newspaper and thus anonymous

The official executive summary of the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is literally sickening. No one without a heart of tungsten can read this sorry account of generations of child abuse, sexual predation, near starvation and cruel and arbitrary physical punishment and feel no shame.

We are all tainted: every good Catholic, every good priest, every good bishop, every good pope is sullied by what was done or tolerated by the Catholic Church. We are the universal Church and the sin of one is the sin of all. We are ashamed of the Crusades, we are ashamed of the Inquisition – yet for both of these there was at least a kind of mistaken rationale within the context of the time. There is no rationale whatsoever for wanton, institutionalised and sustained cruelty to the young and poor. 

How was it possible for the main culprits – the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy – whose lives were sworn to the Gospel, to act over generations in a way that is about as far from the spirit of the Gospel as it is possible to get? How could the heads of these orders and the Church authorities not only overlook but positively collude with these scandalous activities by protecting them through a conspiracy of silence? Both the orders are headquartered in Rome, and it seems certain that the situation was known to the Vatican, and even to previous popes. It has happened before. The widespread sexual abuse of African nuns by Catholic priests, about which several reports were made to the Vatican throughout the 1990s, was only dragged into the open by the National Catholic Reporter in 2001.

We are not talking about an aberration by a handful of wicked people acting in defiance of the Church. Sadly, we are talking about a deep cleft in the ranks of the Church itself. 

The report exposes a culture which hides behind a clericalism which is prepared to protect vicious behaviour at the expense of defenceless innocents, many of whom carry their scars throughout life.

We have heard much recently about dishonourable financial activities by Members of Parliament. But even the most flagrant have been mere peccadilloes compared to the behaviour of those involved directly with this scandal, or indirectly by concealment. The call from Parliament has been for a root and branch reform of corruption. We are entitled to call for a root and branch reform of a corrupt clericalism which can stamp on the Gospel, protected by silence and the misplaced loyalty of Church members.

 

Quentin writes: This leader is pretty strong stuff, but, in my view, is fully justified by this shameful affair. You will find the full, official Executive Summary here. You may well want to contribute additional points, and of course you are at liberty to disagree with any part, or indeed all, of the CH’s view.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Church and Society, Moral judgment. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Clerical abuse – CH Leader

  1. claret says:

    It makes one ashamed to admit to being a Catholic. To be a Catholic carries with it an automatic element of disgrace.
    Even today the Church fails to face up to the questions of who, or why , this happened , but rather focuses all its attention on prevention without a cure, and is of the opinion that this is sufficient!
    What was it , or indeed is it, that attracts paedophiles, cruel abusers, to become clergy? What do they see in the Catholic structure that attracts them to find a ‘home’ there for their cruel and sadisitic practices?
    The obvioius one is that they will be protected by the organisation if their crimes are discovered but there must be something deeper than that.
    These questions need an answer and that answer needs acting upon to eradicate it. It may need to be faced upto that one source of this is a so-called celibate clergy. We don’t see the same problems in the C of E and its institutions.
    A further question is why this abuse seems to be confined to the ‘Anglo’ Western Church. Is this an Irish influence that has spread from Ireland with an all powerful Irish clergy to America and the UK where the same power , and its abuses, were encouraged and even co-ordinated?
    Even now I am not convinced that the Bishops have recognised the enormity of what has happened. The tremendous harm that has been done to those many good lay Catholics who believe in Christ but must feel as though they have been duped by a clergy who do not share those beliefs. (Isn’t there a Bishop in Eire today under investigation for even more recent cover ups?)
    Their failuire to act , over decades of known abuse, strikes at the heart of what we are supposed to believe.
    How can clergy beleive in the Gospel and still do / did the things that are now coming out on a country wide scale? They cannot believe in the Gospel therefore why should anyone? Part of their sadistic pleasure must have been their ability and willingness to deny Christ while making a pretence of doing the opposite.
    Just as in the MP expense scandals we are now seeing and hearing of are giving rise to a movement to bring grass roots electoral reform, and voters are demanding a bigger say in that reform, then these reports about child abuse must act as a catalyst to take the power of the Church away from the Clergy and give it to lay people, but don’t hold your breath.

  2. chauffer says:

    An honourable Editorial from what was so often a remarkable rag, obsessed with false accusations, at the start of the decade.

    The historical dimension is rather pertinent when we hear of clergy paedophilia being all but dismissed as a ‘modern phenomenom’ which wasn’t properly understood during the 1950’s!!!

    Cardinal Newman was perfectly clear about how to procede with the problem:

    “Confess it now. Cry halt. Intervene and protect…do not sink deeper into a pit of degredation and horror by remaining silent and acquiescent. Your silence will make you an accessory to that unspeakable predation of God’s little ones.”

    (cited in a letter to the Irish Sunday Independent – 6/1/05)

    In the recent past, victims were disbelieved because of widespread cultural incredulity, as much as confederacy, or cowardice within afflicted congregations.

    I now fear that the same climate may again take hold (has it not done so already) post-Nolan and related guidelines which by their own worthily self-conscious admission remain bunches of largely unread and mostly unrecollected pages stapled together; and which may or may not afford greater protection for children at parish level – depending upon the calibre and mentality of many parishioners who – let’s remember – often remain bewitched by beloved priests long after their convictions for unimanginable offences, however stark the evidence.

    Such offenders may have an atheistic outlook in the face of traditional damnation or, perhaps more likely, embrace an atrocious sense of delusion, in carte-blanche salvation for their level of service within the Church.

    My own belief is that vicarious atonement for individual sin has bred diminished responsibility which should be explored at the seminary.

  3. To my mind there is an aspect of this leading article which requires more emphasis. What happened in Ireland is a symptom, and we need to look for a cause.
    I believe that this is ultimately to be found in an institutionalised flaw in the structure of the Church. While the basic elements are to be found in Scripture it does not follow that every aspect of its structure has grown and been adapted in a way which is beyond criticism. For example the charisms of St Peter’s successors do not have to be exercised by a centralised and detailed government administered through an overblown Vatican civil service which – like all civil services – can be a closed shop more dedicated to self-service than to apostolic service. It does not follow that our bishops, who are not delegates of the Pope but hold their office directly from Christ, should in fact be treated as delegates.
    At the parochial level we rightly regard our priests as sacred ministers – Christ for us in our locality – but at an organisational level they have leadership responsibilities symbolised by Christ washing the feet of those he serves. This stance of humility at every level within the Body of Christ is what should be institutionalised. But in fact what we have are the discredited remnants of a medieval monarchy which, in common with some regretted modern dictatorships, does not have to employ natural justice in dealing with alleged false teachers, claims a de facto infallibility where none exists, maintains, relying on people’s ignorance of history, that it has never changed, and protects itself through secrecy bolstered by discipline and pious platitude. Only a root and branch reform of this corrupt clericalism which is endemic and longstanding in the Church can bring us closer to the face of Christ, and check abuses that range far wider than those reported from Ireland.
    Anyone who would like a full documentation of this might care to ready my “Autonomy and Obedience in the Catholic Church” which is available at very low prices from Amazon.

  4. Michael Mahoney says:

    Heretics were burnt alive for the good of souls. And we, like them, all sinners, sullied by the sin of Adam need to save our souls. Everyone’s sin is our sin and we can never be punished enough to atone for the guilt. We may be forgiven, but satisfaction still has to be made. This life is but a brief moment before the purifying fires of purgatory or the everlasting flames of hell, better then to mortify our sinful flesh and turn our backs on this sinful world while we still have time. That was and for some still is the Catholic culture, a convenient cloak to justify the sadistic actions of the weak, the self -righteous and the psychopathic.

    Why should we be naively surprised at the abuse and cruelty inflicted on children in the care of the Irish Religious Orders in the fifties and sixties. Does the wearing of a clerical collar, attendance at Mass or the saying of the Rosary make us different from the rest of humanity, where great cruelty is inflicted on children by their own parents, where husbands beat up their wives, attendants at care homes bully and abuse the elderly and handicapped, and the police officers, prison guards and the soldiers of the civilised democracies rape, torture and kill the innocent. Are these the things that only heathens and atheists do.

    Clericalism is an excuse, not a reason. And, newspapers do not have voices. People with names do and should be prepared to sign what they say.

  5. Newspapers do have a collective voice as you may see by looking at the leaders of any newspaper. And they take responsibility for it. A leader writer may be asked to produce draft material, which may or may not be used, or it may be substantially modified. If you want to take direct issue with a leader, write to the editor.

  6. Trident says:

    “How can clergy believe in the Gospel and still do / did the things that are now coming out on a country wide scale? They cannot believe in the Gospel therefore why should anyone?”

    Clarence’s question is understandable, but I remember an old book of apologetics in which someone claimed that there was only ever one good Christian, and he was crucified. To which came the reply “If you believe that, then it is your duty to be the second one.” I thought that was a good answer.

    I don’t think that taking the power from the clegy and giving it to the laity is very promising. Either there would be chaos or the laity would soon ossify themselves into similar intolerances and abuse. But if the Irish scandal is a catalyst for the reform of ‘corrupt clericalism’ then at least some good can be salvaged, I am only sorry that the Church should need such a boot up the backside to get back to the Gospel.

  7. John Candido says:

    This abominable and explosive report into child abuse within Ireland, as well as many other reports of abuse around the world, has several potential lessons for the Roman Catholic Church. Firstly, it highlights the stupidity of an authoritarian, monarchical, and feudal church located within the modern world. Secondly, the unjust use of its authoritarian power to control the laity and minimize their potential employment for ecclesiastical governance. Thirdly, the use of its authority to exclude women from the priesthood from about the end of the twelfth century, according to recent research in the United States. Lastly, the idiocy of imposing celibacy on all Catholic Priests within the western rite of the church as well as outlawing forms of birth control on the laity.

    One need only reflect on the horrific levels of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse of children within the Irish church and other parts of the world, to know that change is coming. As each day passes, the integrity of the Roman Catholic Church is inevitably being whittled away before the eyes of both believers and non-believers alike. The church needs massive ecclesial and theological renewal if it is going to survive the 21st century.

    For this to occur, she needs to rediscover and reaffirm the primacy of the individual conscience, both inside and outside the church. Secondly, she must relax celibacy and invite women to the priesthood. Thirdly, she must embrace all of the documents of the Second Vatican Council without reservation. Fourthly, she needs to invoke a Third Vatican Council that can affect the devolution of power as well as other much needed reforms that would contemporize the church, such as a new theology of sexology which is informed by modern research. Fifthly, she needs to invite a broad cross section of the laity to help it make balanced decisions on a permanent and equal basis. Lastly, she needs to truly believe that the secular informs the sacred, by incorporating modern science and humanities from University research into its theology and philosophy. To do nothing is to invite disaster and its own inevitable demise.

  8. John Candido says:

    I am going to stick my neck out and predict that Pope Benedict 16th, being a poor administrator of the Roman Catholic Church as Pope, vis-à-vis the reappointment of anti-Semitic Bishop Richard Williamson, and a poor past administrator as Prefect of the CDF on the issue of clergy sex abuse, will probably fail to provide adequate leadership to the Irish church in its time of need. I can see him closing ranks, misusing his authority and stumbling around the Vatican looking for an anathema that he can throw at any recalcitrant journalists. I predict that His Holiness will continue to protect pedophiles and their supporters in the Vatican, and keep the church in its present state by refusing to countenance any change whatsoever. It’s a recipe for schism but being the lover of the ecclesial institution that he is, this is the risk that the Pope is prepared to take.

    As prefect to the CDF, he has been a staunch supporter of any priest accused of sexual abuse and has supported the 1962 secret Vatican document called ‘Crimen Solicitationis’. This secret document has been the ‘wisdom’ of the church that has guided bishops around the world whenever sexual abuse has appeared within their diocese. It has led to some clerics absconding to the Vatican for protection from legal authorities and finding a willing accessory after the fact in the Vatican. You might be thinking that abuses by priests have occurred before 1962, so why take any notice of this document? This document has been a method of controlling bishops who might want to do the right thing in future by ordering them to maintain discipline with Vatican policy. It is mind bogglingly disturbing and abhorrent.

    The Roman Catholic Church has got millions of children in its direct care and to show how antediluvian they are to the modern world, they do not have a child care policy that you and I would expect any self-respecting organisation would have as part of its set of policy documents. But why have a modern child care policy when you have had Crimen Solicitationis in every diocesan bishop’s filing cabinet, written in Latin and locked away from the preying eyes of their parishioners since 1962? If you have been wondering why the response of every diocese in the world to the sexual crimes against women and children has been strikingly similar, look no further than Crimen Solicitationis for the answer. This sordid and morally bankrupt secret document has directed every bishop to place the church first in every instance against any allegations of sexual abuse towards any of its priests, and in effect place the church above the law of the State.

    It orders the defence of all accused priests by admitting nothing to outsiders, obfuscating any evidence, and not in any way helping legal authorities. The effect is to be as secretive and as uncooperative to the police as possible. All bishops were not to acknowledge the pain & suffering of the abused, to threaten to excommunicate anybody who reveals abuse to anybody outside a diocese, and shift the offending cleric to another parish by pretending that nothing happened. Does any of this sound familiar to you? Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the CDF has used the policies contained within Crimen Solicitationis to help him & Pope John Paul to deal with the multiple sexual abuse scandals around the world. We all know how successful the both of them have been.

    My ardent hope is that Benedict will prove me completely wrong and display some real leadership. He could do this by producing a proper child care policy that the entire church must follow. Repeal the secret document called Crimen Solicitationis and any subsequent documents that have succeeded it in as urgent a manner as possible. Commands all bishops or priests that are accused of pedophilia, physical abuse, or the rape of any adults, to cooperate with the authorities and face trial in a properly constituted court of law. And that the churches immediate and absolute priority must always be with those that have been criminally assaulted and with those who are investigating these crimes. Every new policy provision relating to child care, the prevention of the abuse of children and adults, and the duty of the entire church to obey the law of the State, must become important parts of a revised Code of Canon Law. Here’s hoping and praying!

  9. There is a good article on Crimen Solicitationis at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimen_sollicitationis

    It contains links to several relevant documents, which I think should be read in conjunction with John Candido’s comments above. In particular you may find John M Allen’s commentaries on the question useful. Allen is is a reliable, objective source.

  10. claret says:

    John Candido’s analysis does not conform with what is printed in the document. if one makes the assertion that it is secret then any accusation can be made of a ‘secret document’ because of it being secret.
    In the UK , at least, any accusation of criminal behaviour now has got to be referred to the civil authorities and from my reading of the document this document does not override that.
    The accusations made by John candido are a repeat of the TV programme ‘Sex and the Holy City’ that was filmed a couple of years back.
    Its banner headlines leading to the production of the programme were not supported when it was shown.
    My remarks are on no way any kind of ‘apologetics’ for what has gone on in the Church ( see my opening comment at the first of the posts on this topic.) I am sickened by it but the stuff being written by J. Candido is more akin to the Da Vinci Code conspiracies than reality.
    After all, late as this report from ireland is, and there is another report, even worse than this one, to follow, there is no suggestion that the Church hampered either investigation in any way.

  11. Horace says:

    The following quote comes from a discussion in America about sex abuse by clergy (unfortunately I cannot recall the author or source)
    “The trouble with the Catholic Church is that it regards [sex abuse] as a sin to be forgiven rather than as a crime to be punished.”

    To me this just about sums up the problem (shocking though it is) and is more believable than accusations of widespread, endemic corruption or even an “institutionalised flaw in the structure of the Church”.

    There are other related questions which could be susceptible to scientific evaluation; for example:- Is a propensity to child abuse simple criminality (sin) or is it a form of psychiatric disorder?

  12. John Candido says:

    My apologies for placing an inaccurate and rather lazy post on the 31st May. It was lazy as I did not bother reading what is purported to be an English translation of Crimen Solicitationis on the internet, and compared this non examined lithe impression, to negative comments about it on other websites. One source that I used to view but not read Crimen Solicitationis was http://www.usao.edu/~facshaferi/secretarium/crimensollicitationis01.htm . When presented with such a website, you do not really know if the document is in fact what it claims to be, i.e. an accurate English translation of the Crimen Solicitationis from the original Latin. You tend to take it on its merits assuming that it is what it purports to be. I am not saying that what is on this website isn’t Crimen Solicitationis or that it isn’t an accurate translation from the Latin.

    However, my perception of the document was informed by a 2006 BBC Panorama report called ‘Sex Crimes and the Vatican’ and can be viewed at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/panorama/5389684.stm . I assumed that this report, and several others that I could find coming from BBC Panorama on the same issue, was accurate, reliable, and balanced. Unfortunately it was neither accurate nor balanced, and unhappily in my case, it certainly was persuasive. Most people know that lazily relying on the integrity of the internet can be a hazardous enterprise at the best of times, especially if you are rushed and fail to do an adequate level of objective thinking and rigorous research.

    However, I do stand by my comments on the need for the reform of the Code of Canon Law on issues of child care, and the importance of the Roman Catholic Church to cooperate with legal authorities whenever any of its clergy are accused of serious offences. I also stand by my intuition that Benedict XVI will be an inadequate and conservative leader, who will probably resist any change to the Roman Catholic Church. Canonically, theologically, or in matters of discipline and ecclesial governance, he will maintain the status quo with some minor exceptions, to the abject detriment of the faith. I stand by and will not make any revisions or detractions regarding my first post on Second Sight. Thank you to Quentin de la Bedoyere and to ‘Claret’ for their replies and input. Sincerely and respectfully yours, John Candido.

  13. The quality of John Candido’s posting above will explain why I take such pleasure in hosting Second Sight.

  14. Frank says:

    That was a handsome apology from John Candido. I am a little baffled that such an obviously intelligent reader and writer could ever assume that a TV programme on the Catholic Church would be anything other than biased? (Perhaps this shows my own bias!)

    The Irish scandal is appalling. Equally scandalous, though not often discussed, was the Catholic vote for Hitler in 1933 and their subsequent endorsement of him. There is that in Catholics that is drawn to a strong, charismatic leader-figure who is also authoritarian and Right-wing; this can have dire results.

  15. giton says:

    I agree with most of the sentiments expressed in the comments. However, I would like to add a little perspective … not a counter-argument but a plea for the axeman to pause awhile.

    Whilst abuse of children and young people most certainly took place in both Ireland and the UK, and is to be utterly condemned, there have been instances where allegations of abuse have been false and that there are people whose names and reputations have been sullied wrongly and, even worse, who have been wrongly imprisoned.

    I would ask readers to check out the work of Florence Horstman-Hogan in this area in the Irish Republic and, in the UK, the work of FACT (Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers).

    I have particular interest in this area as I was falsely accused of abuse in a Catholic institution which housed, for the most part, young offenders. My case was ‘investigated’ by lazy police officers and prosecuted by the CPS. Both were ‘on a roll’ with many successful prosecutions. When my case eventually reached the Crown Court, after two years, it was dismissed even before a jury was sworn. Even the prosecuting barrister agreed I should not be tried and I was found Not Guilty on all counts. Nonetheless, my solicitor, QC and myself had to do investigative work which the police should have done, my health suffered and I have never really recovered from the ordeal.

    It is my understanding that the Irish situation was that one had only to make an allegation against a priest, nun, religious order or worker and that was enough to gain compensation. No proof of abuse was required. This seems to me to be contrary to basic common law and natural justice. I would go so far as to state that the Church, far from defending child abusers, ignored the rights of some religious and others in order to retreat from this scandal. Indeed, my own plea to a Bishop, now Archbishop, went basically unheeded.

    I know well a priest who was accused of abuse of a vulnerable adult. There was no court case because the complainant was not considered ‘reliable’ as a witness. The priest admits having had a relationship with the woman but says it was mutually agreed and long-lasting. He acknowledges his failures in his own vows and duties as a priest. Nevertheless, the system now in place and promoted by the Church after the Nolan Report condemns this man to what is an ‘everlasting’ state in which the woman, egged on by another, is harassing him. His Bishop says his hands are tied!

    There is a very good piece by the late Avery Cardinal Dulles SJ on the subject of clergy abuse and I would ask readers to check it.

    I have no problem whatever in condemning abusers of children, young people and the vulnerable but there are sometimes two sides to a story.

  16. Giton’s story is no doubt the sort of instance which led to the absolute confidentiality of the Church’s internal forum – which Crimen Solicitationis addressed. Unfortunately the confidentiality required seems to have led to the incorrect assumption that alleged crime should not be referred to the civil authority. Yes, there is always a temptation to jump on the bandwagon and so incidental, but not trivial, injustices, such as Giton describes, are likely to occur. But can we think of a better way?
    Frank’s remark about the dire results resulting from a Catholic tendency to favour charismatic authority figures is well taken. I do hope to write a column on conformity at some point; it is a difficult but very important topic.

  17. chauffer says:

    I’m not sure if Second Sight subscribers are particularly familiar with the graphic novel genre but ‘The Least Among Us’ by Martin O’ Shea examines the complexity of this phenomenon through the fictional episcopate of a befuddled bishop.

  18. Juliana says:

    With regard to false accusations of abuse…the remarkable and holy Father Michael Hollings was destroyed by such an accusation as you probably all know.

    Moreover, the statistics released about a month ago in the British press concerning false accusations made against teachers were staggering. Only 2% of these were accurate; the rest were mischievous or worse, but teachers are suspended while enquiries are carried out and their names are not witheld, so 98% of the accused will carry the whiff of suspicion and yet be not guilty. This is a percentage to make one ponder.

    What giton mentions is also extraordinary…that no proof of abuse is needed in the Irish case; simply an accusation after which financial compensation followed. That is food for thought too.

    I hardly need to add that of course I find this whole abuse problem appalling, shaming and shameful in the Catholic Church in Ireland and elsewhere and do not excuse it, but if false allegations have been made then that too is alarming and shameful.

  19. giton says:

    Quentin replies … “Yes, there is always a temptation to jump on the bandwagon and so incidental, but not trivial, injustices, such as Giton describes, are likely to occur. But can we think of a better way?”

    One way in which we could improve the situation is to not allow situations where multiple accusations are considered ‘evidence’. This is so old a cry that it makes the blood run cold in my veins. We have had the Witch Trials in which, if enough people made an accusation then that was evidence enough and the so-called witches perished. We have with us a modern version of this and the only way to stop it is to insist on innocence unless PROVEN guilty – a notion which has, regrettably, gone. I know that there are difficulties in historical cases of finding actual and factual evidence but this must be insisted upon if the collective voices are not to damn by their volume alone. This may mean that some guilty go free but Increase Mather adapted Fortescue’s statement and wrote, “It were better that Ten Suspected Witches should escape, than that the Innocent Person should be Condemned.”

    We must return to factual proof as evidence.

    I personally know of two people who died prematurely because of false accusations. But, of course, I can’t prove it!

  20. tim says:

    An accusation of appalling crime requires just resolution. It is shameful that accusers have been automatically disbelieved: it is no better when they are automatically believed. But the normal rule, that it is better that 10 guilty men go free than that one innocent man be punished, may not do here. In these cases, whenever a wrong verdict is given (whichever way), horrible injustice is inflicted. What to do?

    But I differ from John Candido about Benedict XVI. In that matter, I think the burden of proof is on him, and that he has not met it. I any case, we must pray he is proved wrong.

  21. chauffer says:

    “I know that there are difficulties in historical cases of finding actual and factual evidence but this must be insisted upon if the collective voices are not to damn by their volume alone…we must return to factual proof as evidence.”

    There’s no way in which ‘factual proof’ can possibly be produced in cases where the abuse of minors has occurred decades ago. Neither is it mere “volume alone” which produces convictions but patterns in the experience of victims of the same perpetrator. Sure, there’s scope for conspiracy but usually a serial predator will leave a trail of disparate victims over a long period of time.

    Let’s remember that a minute number of offences result in courtroom justice as it is although ultimately the truth of the situation is know only to the accuser and accused – however the judicial process is nowhere near as dumb or flimsy as Nolan’s detractors tend to imply but a daunting experience for the few victims who dare to report sexual crimes.

  22. Frank says:

    Giton has my deepest sympathy. But where is the ‘factual proof’ he requests, in a case that possibly took place years before. It is often a case of one word against another; and in our modern society the pendulum has well and struly swung in favour of the child. If the verdict is ‘not proven’ a grave injustice might be done to the minor; if it is accepted but without any proof, a grave injustice might be done to the adult.

    Juliana mentions Fr Michael Hollings; the same thing happened to Archbishop Pell of Sydney, Australia; and to an elderly Jesuit from Stonyhurst of my acquaintance. The ignorant public thinks ‘There is no smoke without fire’ even when a case is rightly thrown out of court.

    Perhaps this requires a specialised police unit, trained not to look for ‘good statistics’ but to seriously investigate the truth of an allegation. I was told that the Lancashire police force that targeted Stonyhurst College was full of freemasons. True? or another conspiracy theory?

  23. Juliana says:

    Frank…according to Stephen Knight (now deceased) who wrote “The Brotherhood” in the 1980’s, the police force is full of Freemasons, full stop! So nothing would surprise me.

  24. claret says:

    I served in a UK Police Force for over 30 years and ALL the senior officers in my Force publicly stated , in writing, that they were not Freemasons.
    I knew with any certainty of only a handful of Freemasons in the Force and was never approached to be one. I cannot recall a single incidence in all those 30 years where Freemasonry was even a peripheral issue, except where I ‘counselled’ a Constable that being a Freemason and a Catholic was incompatible. He gave up Freemasonry.
    It would be naive to think that their Freemasonry did not impinge on Freemason Police Officers but I never witnessed any clear evidence of it.
    I hope my catholicism influenced how I conducted my duties.

  25. RMBlaber says:

    Is it necessary to be ‘ashamed’ for The Crusades or The Inquisition? I am ashamed of neither, just as I refuse to ‘apologise’ to anyone for Britain’s past involvement in slavery. Ezekiel 18 is the appropriate Scriptual justification. We are all responsible for our own sins – not for anyone else’s, and certainly not for those of someone in another country and at another period of history.
    Can I be held responsible, in some collective sense, for the errors and omissions of fellow Catholics, or fellow Christians? How far back do you want to go? Tomas de Torquemada? Alexander VI? No, I think, frankly, this is nonsense.
    Those who _do_ bear responsibility for child abuse within the Church are (a) the abusers themselves; and (b) those who could have prevented them from continuing their abuse, but chose instead to cover it up.
    Refusing to wear a hair-shirt, or beat one’s chest, over something that is not one’s fault, is not shirking one’s responsibility, or belittling anyone’s suffering, or minimising the moral seriousness of paedophilia, or anything of the kind. Nothing can take away the pain that all those children, now grown up, went through. The least we can do is stop offering them a spurious, Bill Clinton-style, ‘I-feel-your-pain’ pseudo-empathy.

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