A new report from Ireland, specifically from the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, has detailed the cover-up by the hierarchy of the Catholic church which was perpetuated for decades, a “scandal on an astonishing scale”.
The report, which took three years to complete, said the archdiocese had an “obsessive concern with secrecy and the avoidance of scandal” and had “little or no concern for the welfare of the abused child”.
Apparently, there were four archbishops in the archdiocese during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and none of them ever reported the abuse to the authorities. The really shocking fact, albeit consistent with religious theology, is the following:
Church authorities used the concept of “mental reservation”, which allows senior clergy to mislead people without being guilty, in the church’s eyes, of lying.
In other words, in order to protect themselves while at the same time maintaining the moral high ground, the Church re-defined the word “lie” so that it didn’t apply to the bishops and priests guilty of lying.
It’s one thing to heap scorn on the men of cloth who actually committed the abuse RAPE OF CHILDREN. I think we can all agree that not one of those priests can honestly claim they acted morally.
However, what is really galling is the hypocrisy of the archbishops hiding the criminal and clearly immoral nature of their priests from the authorities, without any concern for the boys and girls being raped, while at the same time redefining morality for their exclusive use while hearing confessions of admitted liars in their congregations and passing judgment and requiring penance for their “sins”.
This report only covered the three decades referred to, so one can only imagine what life in the hands of the Irish priests was like for even hundreds of years prior to that. And, since the same scandal has been uncovered in the US and elsewhere, this is a global, pandemic cancer on the Catholic Church that has to have been there for a long time. It should also not go unnoticed that the report only deals with the Archdiocese of Dublin. The rest of the country has not been investigated – yet. Given that the report details the actions of only some 42 priests, one can only imagine the number of priests involved throughout the country, and the number of victims.
When a social institution as extensive and pervasive as the Roman Catholic Church, an institution whose authority is derived from its supposedly Christ-instilled sense of morality, allows such a systematic, widespread and horrific breakdown of the very morality it preaches, it is clear that such a collapse didn’t take place over mere decades. It’s hard to determine exactly what contributed to this, but it seems somewhat self-evident that an institution that has such a moralistic and clearly perverse view of human sexuality, one that does not allow its leaders and officers the normal human outlet of carnal relations, is just asking for a scandal such as this. Such an institution, by its very policies, has to attract the pedophiles, the sexual outcasts, the aberrant humans who do not fit in with normal society. What better place for a pedophile or sexual deviant than a men’s club surrounded by secrecy and ritual, with the history and political and economic power to protect one’s predilections, not to mention ready access to gullible victims?
It’s in times and circumstances like this where it seems that society should really start asking itself some hard questions, such as – Is religion really a force for good, or are we just deluding ourselves?
I’d love to see the day when the church comes out and says “All that talk about God? Disregard it. None of it’s true. There is no god. But you people who have been slavishly devoted to the church, you can still accomplish outside of church the same things you’ve aspired to in the church. Just continue to stick together, keep your eye on the good of humanity, treat your neighbor like you’d want to be treated, and the world will be a better place.”
I’ll see you at next week’s spaghetti dinner. It’s in the basement of the former Church of the Holy Trinity. We’re all getting together to plan the next charity drive.
No clergy allowed.