Monday, December 19, 2011


The Dutch Catholic child sex abuse has been out since Friday but the Catholic blogosphere is strangely quiet. Again we must face the draining of a cesspool of corruption going back to the forties. What went wrong that such evil should spread through the Church? How did it happen that Bishops and religious superiors should fail to deal effectively with this horror? How are to undo the hurt and the damage? At least had a post about it:

Serious questions need to be asked by both liberal and conservative, 'progressive' and traditionalist Catholics about how our Church allowed this to occur. Partly it was the industrialisation of care: the attempt to answer the social problem of large numbers of parentless or homeless children on an industrial scale. This attempt was also an attempt at social engineering treating children as mere parts of a machine that could be trained and disciplined to fit in. Typically it was underfunded and became a dumping ground for the less successful religious and teaching staff. This model created a 'killing ground' for pedophiles and other disturbed individuals. The damage could've been lessened if those in authority had listened and acted with greater integrity and effectiveness. Instead disastrous decisions were made to ignore, to hide and to deny what was going on. That is not just immoral it is criminal. 

Why then the silence from the Catholic blogosphere when there was so much comment when the Irish reports were published? Was Ireland worse? I don't think so. The Norwegians have a scandalous history in their handling of the Lebensborn: children of German and Norwegian parents who were also ill-treated and abused.  Why the silence on these cases?

Perhaps there still remain blindspots that need correction, biased positions that need to be confronted. Perhaps there are those who wish to see these issues in simplistic terms as belonging only to one class, e.g. 'homosexual pedophiles', or one people, e.g.'Irish Clerical sexual abuse', rather than a worldwide evil, a cancer that is eating away at mankind and corroding civilisation and especially the Church, from within.


Brother Charles said...

You are right brother about the deafening silence, and the challenge it reveals. Thanks for the strength of your words today.

A blessed Christmas to you!

Tom said...

Bro. Charles - a holy and blessed Christmas to you!

Anonymous said...

Br. Forde,

During my research into Roman Catholic institutionalized child sexual assault, I learned that in 305 A.D., at the Council of Elvira, this Canon was created: "71. Those who sexually abuse boys may not commune even when death approaches."

Since then, and in due time, the predators bubbled up to the top of RC hierarchy, and our Church's leadership became predator-friendly, to the point where today, likely 2/3 of all bishops worldwide are guilty of shielding child predators from the full force of civil and criminal law.

This did not begin in the 40's, not did it first become a problem in the 40's. This embedded practice has gone hand-in-hand with every RC presence for over 1,700 years.

The only way to obliterate the problem is to obliterate the problem: physically remove every predator priest (~20,000 around the world), physically remove every bishop that has ever shielded a predator or placed the scandal in our Church of greater importance than justice for a victim. Finally, we must remove all of the predator sponsored and predator-friendly Canon laws against women and married priests (read: WITNESSES).

The problem is broad, deep and systemic. These so-called "men" with their twisted and compromised integrity and values have created our Church's theology and dogma. If the majority of our leaders are "off-kilter," our theology must also be "off-kilter," at least for those that blindly accept what they are taught.

We need external forces to come in and help us clean house. Getting rid of Ratzinger and his kind will result in only 1/3 of our existing bishops remaining, and we'll also be short 20,000 predator-priests, no real loss with any of them. The remaining "innocent" members of the College of Cardinals will then be free, finally free, to reform and rebuild our Church. We can then again thrive without this Evil continuing to lead our Church.

1,700 years is enough.

Tom said...

Anonymous - I don't usually publish anonymous comments as I think that if you do not have the manners to identify yourself then you do not deserve an answer. In this case though I will give the benefit of the doubt.

Yes the problem has always been with us - Elvira was an early attempt to deal with the evil of pedophilia and the abuse of the vulnerable. It isn't just a Christian problem it infects all societies and any institutions that operate within them without taking care.

I don't know where you get your figures from. According to the man in charge of investigating the charges against clergy who are reported to Rome he has dealt with about 3000 priests since 2000 - not all are equally dangerous. Nor are all bishops equally guilty of of covering up abuse.

There is no evidence that this problem has always and everywhere been of the same magnitude. It varies over time and with the culture.

Our theology has not been formed by the abusers and their protectors but by our saints - often the ones who fought against evil within the Church. Benedict XVI is a reformer - if you can't see that then you really are being blinded by anger.

Remember that the vast majority of clergy have no involvement in this. Some Irish dioceses and religious orders have had NO allegations made against them. This evil is not as widespread as many would have us believe but it remains an evil to be dealt with. Since about 3% of abuse involves clergy or religious were does the other 97% of abuse occur? Who is guilty of that? It is often not strangers but family members and friends.

Remember that the Church was and is established by Christ - no outside authority can reform her - only the Holy Spirit can do that and it's an on-going work. After all what society is free of abuse? What social class or group is unaffected? What authority is there that is not tainted? The Church experiences this because it is part of society.

Above all remember our Lord's injunction: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone".


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