One would have thought that out of everyone, the Catholic Church would understand the Easter Message. Rebirth, sacrifice to absolve sins. One might also assume that given the bad press the Catholic Church has been getting recently, it might have taken the opportunity to follow these themes.
I am, of course, referring to the ongoing, and growing, child sex abuse scandal.
They could have admitted responsibility, fronted up to their issues and addressed them. This might then give the church an opportunity to grow after the events. To be reborn, if you will. And while I’m not particularly keen on a zombie Pope, it’s painful watching the Catholic Church lash around, in its death throws. Someone needs to put them out of their misery.
But rather than taking responsibility, and fronting up to a problem that’s been described as “systemic“, the Church has continued with its tactics of misdirection and avoidance. The latest developments are nothing short of shocking.
Let’s start at the top. The Pope, himself accused of shielding abusers in the Church, avoided the topic entirely in his Easter Sermon. There were mentions of profound crisis facing humanity and the need for a “spiritual and moral conversation”. I’ll offer a tip here, if you genuinely want a “spiritual and moral conversation” avoiding the topic at hand yourself is not conducive to triggering an open conversation. But perhaps that’s the point. I doubt many other people feel like we need a conversation on this point. We know what the individuals is wrong, and we know they should be punished. We know the actions (or inactions) of local, national and international Church leaders were wrong, and should be punished. The average person on the street does not need to discuss these issues, they need action to be taken. And that goes doubly for the victims.
Taking a step down, The Pope’s personal preacher, Raniero Cantalamessa, decided to compare the current position of the Church to anti-semitism. To quote from the sermon, which was published in full on the front page of the Vatican’s NewsPaper:
The use of stereotypes and the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism
It should be noted that Father Cantalamessa was supposedly quoting a letter from a “Jewish friend”, however I’m yet to meet any Jewish person who would compare the atrocities committed in the name of anti-semitism with the fair and justified accusations being levelled at the Catholic Church.
At a time when the entire Church should be grovelling for the world’s collective apologies I find it one of the most tasteless remarks ever uttered. Even the apology stinks of self-righteousness and arrogance:
If I inadvertently hurt the feelings of Jews and pedophilia victims, I sincerely regret it and I apologize
If you, like me, are still getting the impression that the Church isn’t taking the sex abuse scandal seriously, then the latest remarks should really seal the deal. Cardinal Angelo Sodano said the following:
The people of God are with you, and they won’t let themselves be influenced by the gossip of the moment, by the attempts being made to strike the community of the faithful
In one sentence that concisely sums up the Church’s position on the matter Cardinal Sodana called the somewhat proven pedophilia scandal “gossip” and then claimed that the accusations, mostly coming from victims who were abused as children, are attacks on the “community of the faithful”. Quite frankly, the “community of the faithful” could do worse than completely distancing themselves from an institution that seems to entice, groom and protect pedophiles. If there is a God, and if he/she/it/them does pass final judgement, one would imagine that the Catholic Church and its associates would be at the sharp end of a swinging axe. And don’t think you’re safe because you weren’t directly involved, considering this is a God that is willing to punish us all for “original sin”, guilty by association seems to be in season.
Over the last few weeks the remarks coming out of the Church sends out a message that suggests a number of things. Namely that they still aren’t taking the allegations seriously, and that there is some ongoing attempt to discredit and splinter the Church through such allegations. The Church will never get through this problem until it faces up to it.
One might ask where the Catholic Church might start if it were to clear its ranks, purge the offenders and the conspirators. Well, one of the most sickening cases of child abuse was a case of Father Lawrence Murphy, who for almost 25 years abused deaf children. He was the only one they could communicate with, and he took advantage of that, and their trust. Father Murphy died in 1998, so he’s off the hook. So how about the person who hid him in the Church? The person who allowed him to continue to work with children. The person who was head of the Vatican department who dealt with Child abuse claims during that time. Who was that again?