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God Help Us

April 15, 2010 - John Stack

 A big story in the news lately has been new revelations from the Catholic Church about the handling of sexual abuse cases. For the last 10 years, the catholic church has been reeling from sex abuse problems. Many priests who were accused of abuse were not prosecuted, handed to prosecutors or fired, but were just transferred to other parishes. In these new parishes, the priests just kept up their immoral behavior. Over the last 10 or so years, the Catholic Church has done a lot to change this. No longer are priests just moved along when abuses are discovered. They have been extremely proactive in gettingin front of much of this and cases of offending priests have dropped to nearly none today. So, kind of bad news, then good news. But that’s not the whole reason they are in the news today.

 

                The one big glue holding together the church was the belief that no one at the top were aware of the abuses and such. I mean, if the pope – supposedly chosen BY GOD HIMSELF – had been aware of any of this, how can the church truly sustain itself? Its like we find out that Jesus Christ had a Ponzi scheme running or the prophet Muhammed had a couple of girlfriends on the side. When a whole religion is based upon the complete infallibility of its leaders, what happens when they aren’t square with their flock? Currently, evidence has come up that somewhat implicates Pope Benedict – who at the time was cardinal Ratzinger – in being somewhat complicit in this whole sordid affair, at least with a couple of cases. The church has come out and condemned those who had committed these sins, as well as those who abetted their crimes. But, when it reaches all the way to the top, the church has been acting more like a corporation trying to preserve its public image than accepting responsibility or admitting failures. One of the pope’s closest advisors even likened it to being worse than what the Jews have been persecuted for. Many in the Catholic realm have been been saying it’s a conspiracy by the liberal media (never heard that one before) as well as supposedly blaming the problem of sexual abuse on Catholic priests.

The thing is, it IS a big problem.  Most abuse is done by  a family friend, a family member or someone the victim knows. A priest can fall into 1,2 or 3 of these groups. But, how many other single groups have access to as many influential children they trust so implicitly? When I was a kid in the early 70’s, was there another group held in higher esteem and moral clarity than a catholic priest? Not only young boys, but one of the most heinous priests prayed upon deaf boys! This happens to be the case that is causing such uproar. It is murky as to when Cardinal Ratzinger received info on this priest, and what steps he did to look into it. The priest died before he could be laicized and was buried as a clergy member.

One might claim that the church rules in such a situation cause cases to be delayed for long periods of time. That the church is very large and they have to deal with a lot, with not enough resources. I say, Too Bad! If your child had a complaint about a priest who was supposedly abusing your child as well as others, I wouldn’t be happy with waiting 10 months to have no information and the priest was still working at the church with children.

                Now it comes to light that many priests were sent to other COUNTRIES rather than face charges in their homeland! One priest was sent to Brazil in 1970. In 1993, the Xaverians for whom he worked settled an abuse case from 1959 for $175,000. But, they did not stop him from working, or working with children. In 2003, he returned to Italy, but returned to Brazil in 2008. The person who was abused saw a picture of the priest with small children and alerted the church. The church pulled him back, and he now only works with sick and elderly priests. The problem seems that the church will act, but only when forced to do so. The church has claimed that many of the priests have repented and are now cured.

One of the problems many victims and victims advocates is the way in which many of the inquiries by the church were done. They were done in secret, and anyone who let on the investigation was ongoing were subject to immediate excommunication! The church claims that this is only to keep the case confidential, and to make the process work better. But, this also can easily be seen as an avenue for great corruption! As priests were moved around from parish to parish, and country to country without informing parishioners or authorities, it is easy to see why victims and the like won’t just take the church’s word for it that they did it for completely benevolent reasons.

Now I do believe the Catholic Church can be a great institution. I have many practicing Catholics in my family. They surely do a lot of great work that wouldn’t be done without their resources. I think most of the laity would be less up in arms if the Church took more of a proactive stance in admitting their past problems, straighten up their investigations to better mirror those of secular law and to weed out the rest of the priests they still have in the fold who have been either convicted or admitted to abuses.

By the way, the Catholic church continues to refuse to ordain homosexual priests. But, the church has spent a lot of time and money in protecting and continuing to employ hundreds of priests who are obviously homosexual. Is it some catholic ‘don’t ask – don’t tell’ policy?. Or is it that the church leaders continue to believe themselves to be infallible and won’t admit when they have actually ordained homosexual priests?

 

 
 

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