Sunday, May 06, 2012

Catholic Church Priests to Abuse Victim: "You never got to like it?'"

Having followed the worldwide Catholic Church sex abuse scandal since the lid first blew off of the Vatican orchestrated cover ups in Boston a decade ago, I thought I had heard just about every sick, outrageous claim possible from the lips of Catholic Church bureaucrats seeking to protect child rapists, but the Irish Independent has a story that takes the prize.  A sex abuse victim was interrogated by three priests - one of whom is now Cardinal Brady, the senior Catholic cleric in Ireland - after he reported being molested and had his inquisitors had the perverse audacity to ask the boy whether he come to the point of liking the sexual abuse.  The implication being, of course, that somehow the victim had either brought the abuse on himself or had enjoyed it.  Yes, it's pretty unbelievable, but in my estimation par for the course with the Church hierarchy which seems more morally bankrupt with each passing day.  Here are some story highlights:

'You never got to like it?" That was one of the remarkable questions put to Brendan Boland when he was interrogated by priests in 1975 after reporting to the Catholic Church his sexual abuse at the hands of Fr Brendan Smyth.

"You never got to like it?" The question itself is abusive. It serves no obvious good purpose. I sought an explanation for it last week, but was told only that the entire exercise was intended "to gather evidence against the criminal priest". 

A spokesperson for Cardinal Sean Brady, who was present as a priest at that investigation in 1975, told me that Brady "did not construct those questions or ask those questions". But he was there and he signed off on them (as plain "John" and not "Sean" Brady). 

"You never got to like it?" Being abused, that is. The answer that Boland gave to the three priests was an absolute "No". 

It was a question that might do-in the head of any victim of repeated violence, never mind the head of a teenager at puberty. What possible implication could there have been if he had answered "Yes"? That he shared the blame for his own rape? The undercurrent to this question, with its hint of erotic humiliation, raises a question about the institution that framed it, and about the nature of dominance and power within the organization itself. 

The three priests who interviewed Brendan Boland knew full well that child sexual abuse was happening in Ireland. If others were not speaking about it because of fear or ignorance, what was the excuse of church authorities who knew of actual abuse? 

Were Brady and his colleagues not dismayed when, one month after their own interview with victims of abuse, the Irish bishops published a highly significant and lengthy pastoral letter entitled Human Life Is Sacred? 

For nowhere throughout its 72 pages is sexual abuse mentioned. Nowhere are the clergy, religious or faithful to whom it is addressed alerted to the blasphemy and danger of child sex abuse that bishops knew was damaging some children's lives. 

Many other subjects were set out in that major pastoral, which some saw as a political intervention aimed against reform of the civil law. The bishops warned about abortion, "the contraceptive mentality" and sex outside marriage. They spoke earnestly of love, "certain kinds of sex education", the evils of drink in family life, celibacy, social justice and even euthanasia.  But the hierarchy made no specific reference in their 1975 pastoral to one phenomenon of which they, at least as much as anyone else, were aware. Child sexual abuse. Why?

[S]ex abuse is fundamentally about the abuse of power, and not just about sex. The exercise of power within their church remains a problem for Catholics. Already this year we have seen a Catholic headmistress closing her door in the face of a pregnant teenager and the Vatican censoring priests for their mildly dissenting views.  Last week's BBC documentary hit home partly because the reporter involved is the nephew of a priest, and most of those who appeared in it are ordinary Catholics or ex-Catholics living on both sides of the Border. If some media are engaged in a witch hunt, the BBC was not. Most media are merely reflecting the concern of the majority of Irish Catholics, who in theory are as much a part of the church as is any cardinal. 

Meanwhile,  Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, one of the few voices of decency within the Church hierarchy has called for an independent investigation of clerical sex abuse.  No doubt, Martin is not winning any brownie points in Rome.  But he seems to be one of the few members of the hierarchy that "gets it" in terms of the evil that has been done and the guilt of senior members of the Church hierarchy who not only allowed the abuse to happen but who went to great lengths to cover it up. Here are highlights from the Irish Independent:

One of the highest ranking members of the Catholic Church in Ireland has called for an independent investigation into past allegations of clerical sex abuse.  Archbishop Martin said a commission should be set up to examine all accusations against paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

"I know it's not fashionable to talk about commissions, but I believe an independent commission to investigate the activities of Brendan Smyth, as to how he was allowed to abuse for so many years - north and south, church and state," Archbishop Martin told RTE.  "I believe that would be in the public interest."  He said it was the least Fr Smyth's victims deserve.

As I have said many times before, I do not understand how any decent moral person remains a member of the Catholic Church.  Whether members of the laity want to admit it to themselves, a portion of every single dollar given at the parish level makes its way to support the bishops and ultimately the Vatican.  That's right, a part of every single dollar.  Those who give to their local parish are supporting the filth that makes up so much of the Church hierarchy.

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