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Friday, November 27, 2009
The Clerical Abuse Scandal and What it Teaches Us
The latest devestating report on the sexual abuse of children within the Roman Catholic church, this time concentrating on the Dublin diocese, raises many issues.
The collusion of church, state and police force in the systematic and long-standing cover-up of child rape is shocking beyond belief, but is on another level merely an example of the horrors that absolute power creates within human society.
The difference however between this case and say the Nazis or Chairman Mao, is that here we have an organisation supposedly endorsed by God. Let's ponder that for a moment.
It's clear that the most vile and sickening abuse of children was carried out over decades, perhaps centuries, with the full knowledge of all levels of church hierarchy. This must therefore include God's supposed emisaries on earth -- successive pontiffs. The question begs to be asked -- what type of a deity would allow his ambassadors to preside over crimes which are, let's face it, pretty much as horrific as humanly possible, effectively carried out in 'his' name?
According to biblical accounts, God intervened at various points in history, ostensibly to make examples of 'sinners.' Are we to understand from the lack of divine intervention that sexual abuse of children is actually OK? That hey some people might not like it but it's done by men of God so just grin and bear it?
Or might it not be rather more sensible to conclude that this gigantic paedophile ring, masquerading as a religious edifice divinely capable of moral guidance, is merely a complete man-made sham?
Whichever of these possibilities is correct, we also need to ask exactly why anyone continues to attend mass, to listen to the mind-boggingly hypocritical moralising of this deeply degenerate and corrupt organisation. Would we be happy to respect the thoughts of Gary Glitter on child-care? Then why would anyone wish to heed the ramblings of elderly opinionated bachelors on such subjects as sexual morality, contraception and abortion?
This church with it's preposterous rituals, homophobia, sexism and criminal condemnation of the humble yet life-saving condom apparently intends to brazen out the most awe-inspiring paedophile scandal in history. Nothing is going to change other than the most basic 'safe-guards'. That means priests remaining compulsorily celibate (other than converted Anglicans -- hypocrisy anyone?), the idea of women priests some sort of inexplicable blasphemy and the mere appearance of 'his holiness' on a balcony a cause for flocks of fawning pilgrims rather than angry protests and demands for disbandment of this smug and irredeemably corrupt organisation.
We can only imagine the mental and physical suffering endured by thousands of children at the hands of these depraved perverts masquerading as men of God. We can only recoil in horror at the thought of those brave enough to come forward being ignored, punished and betrayed not only by the church supposed to protect them, but by the police and the political establishment. We can unearth endless sickening horror stories for years to come, but the question is, are we going to learn lessons from this vast religious abomination?
One lesson everyone should agree on is that absolute power must never again be placed in the hands of any organisation, whether political or religious. Another should be that religious faith must be an entirely private matter -- not organised by some group who 'know what God wants', not indocrinated into children purely because their accident of birth made them a mormon, a jew or a roman catholic.
Not much about religious belief can be proved. But one thing this sorry episode does prove is that organised religion is even more open to sexual, financial and moral abuse than secular organisations and should at best be discouraged.
The notion of raising children in one particular branch of one particular faith is every bit as preposterous as raising a child solely to be a plumber or a botanist. It supposes that young people are incapable of making the 'right' decision on the supernatural and must therefore be indocrinated at an age when their minds are unquestioning and naive. It also supposes that there is only one 'correct' way to worship a deity and if you don't get it exactly right you're going to the bad place.
It was exactly this type of superstitious notion that caused thousands of doubtless well-meaning parents to entrust their children to an organisation who proceeded to abuse them in the most depraved manner imaginable, then compounded the crime through denial and cover-up.
This must never happen again. When a representative of the roman catholic church seeks to pontificate on a moral issue they must be openly challenged. What right have they to advise anyone on morality? Why should anyone ever listen, attend or respect anything to do with this organisation?
Additionally we should discourage the religious indoctrination of children. As societies we rightly shield our children from alcohol, sexual activity and the pressures of career choice until they are well into their teens. Why should religious belief be any different? Have the courage of your convictions -- let them decide when they want to.
As the 'clerical abuse' scandals all too painfully illustrate, keeping children away from these supposed men of God is actually a form of protection.