Over the last few years the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has gone into a virtual free fall as government investigations of sex abuse of children and youths by Catholic clergy has revealed a moral cesspool of previously unimagined scope. Now, a government commission in Australia is poised to begin a similar type of investigation and many expect that similar horrific details will be exposed and, once again details will likely reveal that the Vatican helped orchestrate the cover ups and coddling of sexual predators. Personally, I left the Roman Catholic Church over a decade ago and joined the Evangelical Church in America - which I highly recommend to Catholics in search of a new church home - because I felt literally dirty and amoral being a part of a church so morally bankrupt at an institutional level, especially since a portion of each dollar dropped into the local parish collection plate helps to financially support the foul and malignant Church hierarchy. A piece in the National Catholic Reporter (hardly a favored publication at the Vatican) looks at the situation in Australia and traces responsibility back to Rome. Here are some article excerpts:
The Catholic church in Australia is about to be put under the spotlight of the most sweeping inquiry into child sexual abuse ever conducted in this country.
Describing child abuse as "vile and evil," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said a national royal commission will examine the treatment of children in all churches, charities and private bodies. But it is clear that a major factor in her decision has been the mounting public outcry at ongoing scandals involving Catholic personnel and procedures.
These scandals include:
- Recent suicides of victims of sexual abuse by priests;
- Allegations of children dying in the care of Catholic institutions;
- Ongoing arrests and convictions of priests in relation to matters involving child sexual abuse;
- New allegations that some church authorities failed to report abusive priests;
- Claims by police in two state jurisdictions -- three states are currently conducting their own inquiries into child abuse in institutional care -- that existing church protocols fail to address the long-term interests of victims and that the Catholic church, in the words of one detective, "covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the church."
"Beyond the evidence of abuse," Gillard told a press conference, "there is also cause for concern that other adults who could have done something to make a difference to the lives of these children didn't do what they should have done, either by becoming complicit in people being moved around, for example, or by averting their eyes and by acts of omission."
If what is to come proves extremely gut-wrenching for the Catholic church, it only has its leadership to blame: At a national level, the bishops were slow to respond to the mounting evidence of clerical sexual abuse through the 1980s and 1990s; at an even more senior level the Vatican has stymied the national response that eventually did emerge in the Australian church.
In 1996 the [Australian] bishops also undertook to commission a study into the factors inside the church that might produce abusive clergy. . . . . . It found that clerical sexual abuse was a "direct consequence" of the failure of the Catholic church to treat men and women equally. "As long as the culture of the Church does not put men and women on a basis of true equality, then women and children will remain vulnerable to abuse," it argued.
[I]t did find that the pattern of abuse was the "complete opposite" of that found in the general community, with boys more likely to be victims than girls. . . . . it did acknowledge a consensus among those consulted in the study that the "arresting of human psycho-sexual and psychological development accompanied entry to the seminary or religious life directly from secondary school."
By implication, "Towards Understanding" was arguing that the culture of clericalism should be fundamentally reformed. Not surprisingly, the report was never made public, never acted upon in any serious manner, and, like a similar report into the priesthood -- with similar findings -- commissioned by the U.S. bishops in 1971, effectively buried.
What had happened between 1996 and 1999 was a meeting in Rome in 1998 in which 13 of the 38 Australian bishops attending the Synod for Oceania were summoned by Vatican officials responsible for matters of doctrine, clergy, worship and the sacraments, bishops, religious orders and Catholic education. Three weeks after the meeting, a summary of its deliberations, known as "The Statement of Conclusions," was presented to all the Australian bishops to sign. Under the circumstances, they had little choice.
The statement referred to a "crisis of faith" in Australia and presented a blueprint for responding to it. The church "does not create her own ordering and structure," that blueprint insisted, "but receives them from Christ himself." Many of the subsequent prescriptions laid out in the document entrenched the clerical culture "Towards Understanding" was to criticize. The statement also, by implication at the very least, dashed any hopes the bishops might have harbored that they were free to act in ways they saw necessary to respond comprehensively to the problem of clerical sexual abuse.
[I]t is no longer 1998, the royal commission has bipartisan political support, and the Australian public expects answers. Perhaps that will be enough to tilt the balance -- even in Rome.
As I have stated before, Pope Benedict XVI belongs behind bars for his role in the systematic burying of efforts to address and stop sexual abuse of minors. As the head of the then name Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - it was formerly called the Inquisition - he was aware of all of the abuse and effective worked to cover it. Of course, it must be noted that John Paul II who some farcically seek to see canonized - was fully involved in the cover ups and criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice all across the globe. These men are two very foul individuals. They deserve no respect and absolutely no deference of any kind. The same holds true for far too many of the Church's bishops and cardinals as well.