Perhaps the saddest post…

My post today is very short. And when you read it I think you will be sad too. It’s at https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/exclusive-survivor-explains-decision-leave-vaticans-abuse-commission
I am sending it today because it may well appear in the Catholic newspapers, and I think we need time to study a full account.

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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 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Perhaps the saddest post…

  1. Geordie says:

    I am sad but not surprised at the article I have just read. The Roman Curia lives in its own world and appears to treat the rest of mankind with contempt. The Pope makes fine statements but he doesn’t follow up his statements with appropriate actions; this is true in all areas not just abuse. The bishops sit on their hands because they do not wish to rock the boat. They don’t seem to notice that the Barque of Peter is taking in water at an alarming rate. This is not the Church of Christ.
    The real Church is in the pews; good people who follow Our Lord’s teaching and have great devotion to Our Blessed Lady. They accept Christ’s teaching when He says: “Do as they say but do not do as they do”. Their fidelity plus the devotion of good priests to Christ is a great support to the likes of me. I hope they don’t give up in despair. We need each other.
    May God bring peace to the survivors of abuse.

    • G.D. says:

      Well said Geordie. Agree wholeheartedly.

      Only thing i would question is the role of the Pope. How could he ‘force’ them to ‘obey’ without becoming a ‘dictator’? ‘Lording’ it over others, and going against the teachings of Jesus, would that be of any lasting good? Others would still do what they do now, and certainly revert back when this Pope is no longer with us.

      I think Francis is leading by example. He, through the love of Christ he embraces, knows they need to voluntarily ‘repent and believe in the gospel’ (as all we ‘sinners’ do of course!). I think Francis is praying & living for a change in ‘hardened hearts’ that the church become more able of witnessing to Christ’s Way.

      As you say the (real) church is still alive & active, witnessing to God’s works. But now, with the Pope’s encouragement & example, most in the ‘pews’ are no longer blinded by the glitter and glamour of egotistical self serving career ‘clericalism’ from on high.

      It seems to me to be a reflection of the wider social climate of the present day. Where the (real) church is witnessing to the world the values the Pope is preaching & embodying.

      ‘Signs’ of separating the sheep from the goats becoming obvious, maybe? But even goats are loved by God, and can repent!

    • Quentin says:

      You may be interested in further information on this issue. It is at https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/examining-crisis/vatican-abuse-commission-expresses-frustration-australian-royal-commission.
      You will note there some comment on Pope Francis and the part he plays, or does not play. And some interesting comment on the state of Canon Law in this issue. It is written by a commentator well experienced in these matters.

      • G.D. says:

        Didn’t realise the Pope could ‘at the stroke of a pen’ change the situation by legislating. …….. ummm.
        Wonder he doesn’t?

        But, if ‘bishops were instructed to obey civil reporting laws, and that instruction was extended to the rest of the world’ it’s then obligatory to report anyway, i would assume.
        Is there any real need to change, and then invoke cannon law? By doing so relying on ‘writ’ rather than conscience and obvious correct moral choices?

        To wit ….. It’s obvious to perpetuate immoral acts (any act that causes suffering to another) is wrong. But legislation, secular or religious, doesn’t change the people that do, or the situations in which it happens.

        And when (so called) leaders who set immoral example, and legislate for such, those who ‘rely’ on them follow.
        Immorality from on high is rife, and spreading by example. (Look at this government, look at the many dictators who ‘lead’, look at Trumpism). Legislation is one tool used to perpetuate that, and exonerate it.

        Must admit my bias …. when it comes to ‘legislation’, religious or (so called) secular i’ve never trusted it much; it can be used to serve the inclinations of the legislators too easily. And used by the ‘legislators’ to impose their will.
        I choose to rely on facilitating humane sensibilities, common sense justice where love governs, from the hearts and minds of people (morality?) by example. …… Come what may!
        Is that not what Jesus did?

        It’s the old ‘spirit & law’ conflict, i guess – Spirit should govern both but it isn’t so in the hearts of many.

        And so ….. we pick up our cross …..

        Maybe that’s why Francis chooses to not invoke ‘law’ and suffer the slings and arrows? Or maybe it’s just a cop out? I think it’s the former.
        The latter would be so much easier.
        But i only conjecture, not assert.

  2. Horace says:

    The thing that worries me is that the term “child abuse” is never properly defined:-
    It may refer simply to reprehensible behaviour – being angry with and shouting at children; or ‘corporal punishment’ which was the norm when I was at school (I came in for a fair share myself) or activity which is clearly criminal in the law of the land!

    • ignatius says:

      That’s a good point Horace, you will search in vain for a definition. Despite the fact that chaplaincy work leads me to deal with Diocesan Safeguarding staff, I still have no idea what the term actually covers, I’ve been trying to find out for a year or so now and am told the definition has to be kept as a broad one.

  3. Geordie says:

    G.D.
    Your loyalty to the pope is admirable but I think it is misplaced. You go for the former; I go for the latter. It is not the only occasion the pope has sat on the fence.

  4. Peter Foster says:

    In the light of our own experiences with victim inquiries, it is not surprising that the Vatican has stumbled. However, instead of hand wringing, we should regard it as a complex and serious problem to be solved.

    We in the UK are fortunate to still have robust institutions: Parliament, the Press and the Judiciary which are able to moderate the perverse outcomes of victim enquiries whose dysfunction, together with that of the flurries of preceding activities, has been amplified by an unconstitutional political authority gifted to vociferous victim support groups.

    Nominally the Vatican is a city state but it lacks effective corresponding institutions. It is the seat of a top-down religious organisation with an opaque structure, (dicastery is not in my Oxford Dictionary), with its own code of law. It operates worldwide in many countries with different, and sometimes inimical, legal and cultural frameworks. No wonder that in addition to an ignoble self interest there is a genuine fear of losing control. To insert a victim body into this structure needs a revision of Canon Law and requires both diplomatic and administrative skills and understanding.

    How this could be done should be an open work in progress by our bishops and laity with a constructive investigation and specific recommendations taking account of worldwide circumstances rather than endless self righteous moaning.

  5. galerimo says:

    Thank you Quentin – the material does require serious attention as you suggest.

    Sorry to hear you are feeling sad about it. Not an emotion I share. I left sad behind on this matter many years ago.

    I think Marie Collins was very naive to expect anything other than what she found.

    Our faith community came together an hour before our regular weekly mass to hear how each one was going with the work of the current Royal Commission into “Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse”.

    4,445 known cases were investigated in the Australian Catholic Church and it was established that 9% of clergy were identifiable as perpetrators (from the Commission’s work) in the State where I live.

    Some points Raised at our gathering from the Catholics in the pews were the following;

    – Continue to call for the return of Cardinal Pell from Rome to appear in person before the Royal Commission.

    – No reporting of abuse to any member of clergy or hierarchy – go straight to police.

    – Vigil of Prayer to offer reparation to God and victims for these terrible offences of our Church.

    – Collections to be taken outside church before mass and no financial support until a satisfactory outcome is reached into dealing with allegations of Clergy sexual abuse of minors/vulnerable people.

    – Continuing to use church for sacramental ministry in a safe way.

    Generally the mood was despairing and people spoke of cases that were known personally and which would never be reported to the commissioner – in line with loss of catholic faith practice.

  6. John Nolan says:

    One example of a ‘victim support group’ which was not only vociferous but also corrupt, money-grabbing, unconcerned with natural justice, but sadly influential, was the US organization SNAP which was finally exposed only last month (until then the National Catholic Reporter had supported it, and I would be wary of using that particular organ as a source of impartial information).

    US dioceses made blanket out-of-court settlements without thorough investigation of the facts, and a not inconsiderable proportion of the money was creamed off by SNAP and its hired attorneys. One of the latter actually confessed to his amazement at how easy the pickings were.

    As well as the precise nature of what constitutes child abuse (a point raised by Horace) and the ‘perverse outcomes of victim enquiries’ (a point raised by Peter Foster), it is rarely made clear in reports such as those in the NCR whether allegations are ‘historic’ or current. That is important since we need to know the scale of the problem in the present day Church in order to establish how effective are the measures introduced by Cardinal Ratzinger fifteen years ago.

    We still have a free Press (for now) and an independent Judiciary, and it was the Press which exposed the disgraceful conduct of senior police officers who were prepared to make prejudicial comments based on the accusations of a serial fantasist. And they’re still at it, as a recent public comment concerning the late Sir Edward Heath illustrates.

    Whatever might have been the case in the past, it is difficult to imagine a present-day victim (genuine or no) not complaining directly to the police, since he or she is bound to be taken seriously. If, in the past, those in authority (bishops and heads of religious institutions) turned a blind eye to abuse, it is highly unlikely that they could be convicted in a court of law. In the case of Cardinal Law, a Grand Jury concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a criminal offence.

    Bashing the Curia (particularly by those who know little about it) is too easy. And if you’re into conspiracy theories, how about this one? Since most of the alleged offences were homosexual in nature, and there is a ‘gay mafia’ in the Vatican, it is they who are obstructing proceedings. Implausible? Of course it is, but then so is a lot of the stuff that is being bandied about. The more emotional an issue is, the more important it is to keep a clear head.

    By the way, the Dicastery was the court of justice in ancient Athens. Its use to describe a Congregation of the Holy See (which is distinct from the Vatican City State) appears to be comparatively recent.

  7. Hock says:

    I leave myself open to contradiction but I have seen nothing in the wider media about this situation with the Commission. I have yet to view the catholic Press this weekend so it may be reported on there but there seems to be a marked lack of interest otherwise.
    No room for complacency though especially as two separate items in the past week have made the news in print and on TV which both, yet again, are painful for Catholics and reflect badly on the Church and its total lack of Christian ethos.
    The first of these was how the Catholic Church in the UK engaged, apparently very willingly, in the sending of orphans( and sometimes not even orphans, viz. parents alive but struggling to cope,) in the wholesale emigration of vulnerable children to Australia. A ‘trade’ that did not finish until 1974 !
    Worse still was when they arrived there and the worst place they were sent to was a Catholic institution that sentenced many of the younger children to a life of abuse of all kinds and a life akin to slavery.

    The second incident to receive publicity (but not for the first time,) was that of untold numbers of bodies, and body parts, found in the garden areas of a former Catholic Home for unmarried mothers in Ireland. The statistics are truly horrifying and in one report it states that an estimated 800 children died in a period from 1925 to 1961 and yet only one burial was confirmed.

    It could be that the reason for the apparent disinterest in the Commission failures is that this is of such little consequence in the bigger picture of the child abuse the scandals of which are being constantly unearthed ( literally,) and in which the Catholic hierarchy were complicit.

    i do wonder if we are in danger of being so overwhelmed by the sheer and unrelenting volume of it all that we are at risk of ceasing to care any more.

  8. Geordie says:

    Hock
    The Marie Collins’ resignation from the Commission is in the Catholic Herald on-line. Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith has written an article on the subject.

  9. Martha says:

    It was also in the Daily Mail (apologies) online on Ash Wednesday

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-4271744/Abuse-survivor-quits-popes-panel-Vatican-stonewall.html

    Abuse survivor quits popes panel over Vatican stonewall
    Frustrated by what she sees as Vatican stonewalling, an Irish woman who was sexually abused by clergy quit her post Wednesday on a…

  10. Hock says:

    Geordie and Martha,
    Thank you for the clarification although I have to say I could not find the ref; for The Catholic Herald and the fact that this was ‘reduced’ to on line articles rather than the main sources of news seems to prove my point that the levels of abuse are now so widespread that it scarcely amounts to news any more.
    This should be a matter of shame but I suspect that it is more a matter of ‘relief.’
    The well known phrase of ‘Unfit For Purpose’ applies to the Catholic Church structures which also by bitter irony means that nothing will alter much, if at all. It is impossible for anything truly meaningful to be introduced. The structures just don’t allow for this course of action to be even implemented and therefore enforced.

    • galerimo says:

      Thank you Hock for your post. I agree.

      With reference to your earlier post there has been major media attention here in Australia to the case of children being sent from the UK to Australian institutions.

      The former chair of the ABC, Mr David Hill was such a child and gave a heart rending deposition to the British independent enquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) – well done UK in opening up the issue.

      Not a sound from the leadership but on 4/5th March the Association of Catholic Priests (Ireland) issued a statement on both the resignation of Marie Collins and the remains found at the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam.

      I can find no seeds of hope among any of it but I better keep looking.

  11. Geordie says:

    I think it was Cardinal Pole who warned Rome in the early 16th Century that if it didn’t reform itself, the Holy Spirit would do it for them. And He did.

  12. ignatius says:

    Galerimo,
    I agree with you about naivety, as if the whole thing will come meekly forward and confess its guilt. Also that the way forward is to bypass the clergy completely and go straight to the police, even so, as the recent botched police investigations demonstrate, there is no easy answer.

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