Friday, April 09, 2010


"One redeeming factor is that it would appear that the victims involved are of Polish descent and their respect for the priesthood and the Church has made them refrain from making these allegations public or laying a criminal charge against a priest. Had this happened elsewhere there would be every danger that charges would have been laid long ago with all the resultant scandal." - Bishop Joseph Windle of Pembroke, Ontario

The cynicism on display here is blunt and ugly; 'fortunately he picked children from a priest-ridden community and the parents know their place and understand the reputation of priests and church is more important then their children's pain and terror.'

There is no recognition that the abuser probably made the same calculation when he chose his victims that the hierarchy is making when they congratulate themselves on being able to keep his crimes hidden.

The Church's primary defense has been that this kind of abuse is widespread in this sinful modern world and focusing on that by priests is unfair, but of course the issue isn't the abuse, it's the institutional response to that abuse. Other organizations facing similar scandals have responded with alacrity, fired people, informed the police and expressed remorse quickly and without attempts at minimization or attacking the victim.

The Catholic Church's response has been marked by evasiveness, entitlement, resentment, arrogance and a disturbing tendency to view the rape of children as a minor moral peccadillo - certainly not important enough to risk their standing.

This is a church hierarchy that has piteously decried the modern world's increasing secularization and the creeping erosion of their power and influence - but it is those very changes that have finally allowed their drifting, dwindling followers to challenge an institutional culture that seems to view them as property. In the past the Church has manifestly depended on their unchallenged authority over their flock to keep horrific crimes hidden and unchallenged.

As their followers become less priest ridden and reflexively deferential, it becomes harder to sweep scandal under the rug.

UPDATE from Andrew Sullivan:

Celibacy is part of the problem, but deeper still is the authoritarianism.
It means no accountability for enormous power. That guarantees, in this fallen world, abuse of power. It is this abuse which is integral to the systematic nature of the sex abuse. Which is why Benedict's assertion of even more rigid Papal and centralized authority compounds rather than addresses the core problem.
So, no, K-Lo, greater fidelity to that authority and whatever it says and does is not the solution. It helped create this problem. And this problem means the rape and abuse of thousands of defenseless souls and bodies. The church can either grasp this nettle and restore the spirit and openness of the Second Vatican Council, or it can curl up in its authoritarian cocoon and die of a collapse in moral authority.

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