The Catholic Church lies about child rape. Not occasionally. Not accidentally. But deliberately, and every time it’s representatives or apologists have anything to say on the subject.
The Catholic Church is not still learning about this issue. It has been “dealing” with child rape for the last two millenia. Over that time it has repeatedly and consistently chosen to sacrifice millions of innocent children to unbearable suffering in order to protect its own reputation and wealth.
When something terrible like child rape is as much a part of an organisation like the Catholic Church as old men in funny dresses and bad hymns, at any point in time the hierarchy can choose to do one of two things:
They can close their minds, emphatically deny it happens, cover it up and attack the victims who challenge the false image of the organisation.
They can open their minds, listen to victims, do everything possible to help them, try to learn from the experience of both offenders and victims, and take effective action to prevent recurrence.
The Catholic Church is callously, ruthlessly, arrogantly committed to the first option, as they always have been, while pretending to implement the second option. This deceit is particularly harmful for victims, who are desperate to see the changes the Pope and Bishops claim credit for, but have absolutely no intention of allowing to occur.
Lie No 1: Priests and other religious are celibate, and therefore safe to be around children.
Many, possibly most, Catholic clergy are not actually celibate. At least not in the form most people understand by the term celibate – chaste, or non sexual. Celibacy is a ridiculous, deceitful and dangerous prohibition stemming originally from mercenary motives to save money on support of the spouses and offspring of clergy, and to ensure any inheritance remains firmly within the Church’s grasp. Celibacy is retained to this day both to protect the Church’s wealth and to justify the myth of Catholic clergy being special, more holy, and above the baser concerns of ordinary mortals.
The insistence on celibacy tries to overpower and demonise humans’ essentially sexual nature and forces clergy into habitual deceit and guilt about their sexuality, distorting any natural urges and feelings, and resulting in sexual encounters being surreptitious, dangerous and thrilling.
The inability to openly admit their sexuality, and the prohibition from engaging in sexual activities makes coercive, non consensual and abusive sexual relations, where there is less chance of their disgrace being revealed, far more attractive than consensual relations between equals. The ideal prey are those who are powerless, easily intimidated by authority, likely to accept the blame themselves and less likely to be believed. It is no accident significant numbers of Catholic clergy force themselves upon the vulnerable, the abused, the very young and the disabled.
While celibacy is not the cause of criminal sexual abuse, it is a condition which encourages such crimes by those who believe themselves entitled to prey upon the defenceless, and offers them unquestioned access to large numbers of victims.
Far from being safer, celibate clergy should never be allowed to be alone with children. Not all of them abuse children, but enough do to make this a very serious safety breach.
Lie No 2: The Catholic Church has learned from the mistakes of the past, things have changed and there is no need for further discussion of this issue.
The two Philadelphia grand jury reports clearly demonstrate that this is absolutely not true. The first report detailed the total lack of any child protection measures and the routine sacrifice of the safety of child victims to “the good of the universal Church”. The second report clearly showed that claims to have improved in this regard were patently false. While there had been talk by US Bishops about new procedures and a more responsible, less criminal, attitude, the evidence demonstrates these claims should be regarded in the light of a smokescreen to disguise the complete lack of any effective action.
While there is not as much concrete evidence in many other jurisdictions, this is because there has not been the political will to investigate properly in order to hold the Catholic Church responsible for its own actions. Philadelphia is not the exception, it is merely an example where the Church’s veil of secrecy and deceit has been pulled aside most effectively. In other jurisdictions, where evidence has been unearthed despite the Church’s best efforts to conceal it, such evidence almost universally supports the view that this systemic problem has in no way been addressed, at all, let alone effectively.
Lie No 3: The Catholic Church has child protection policies in place.
The Ryan report into the Dublin diocese noted that until recently the safety of children was not just neglected, not just the lowest priority after protection of the Church, members of the hierarchy and criminal sexual predators, child protection was not even considered at all. Almost as if we were too insignificant for the entitled and self absorbed princes of the Church to register our existence.
The Pope and Bishops are now claiming to have child protection measures, though any such claims are necessarily vague. An example I am personally familiar with is in Australia, where the Catholic Church has created the position of National Director of Child Protection. Her efforts are restricted to posters and cards promoting awareness of Catholic churches as a safe environment for children. These items are distributed to all parishes, but the Director has no authority to ensure parishes even use them. Which is probably a good thing. Posters claiming to be a “safe church”, unsupported by any actual child protection measures, are more likely to enable abuse than prevent it. Like claims to have learned from the mistakes of the past, claims to have child protection measures in place are all about appearances, with little or no basis in fact.
Lie No 4:
a) The Catholic Church reports criminal clergy to the relevant secular authorities.
No, they don’t. Ever. In fact, any Bishop who reports one of their “sons” to the local police is likely to be in huge trouble from the Vatican. More trouble than the criminal predators who have destroyed so many innocent lives. A particularly nauseating example is the 2001 letter from Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, then the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy gloatingly congratulating a French bishop for not reporting a priest to the police. This high level approval for defying local law enforcement and keeping evidence of crimes a secret, was reportedly communicated to Bishops around the world, with Pope John Paul II’s knowledge, to reiterate that such behaviour was official Church policy. New documents are constantly emerging which reinforce that this determination to avoid the interference of law enforcement in what they see as an internal Church matter, was, and still is, official Church policy.
b) The Catholic Church co-operates with police inquiries.
No, they do that even less than they inform police about their child rapists. Documents have recently emerged explaining in shockingly clear terms the policy to hide evidence from police, and their self righteously obstructionist tactics are well known to anyone involved in law enforcement and the justice system.
Whenever law enforcement uses the measures available to them to overcome Church conspiracies to conceal evidence and obstruct justice, Church leaders squeal in horror and pretend to be the victims, claiming to be above scrutiny, above investigation and essentially, above the law. In my own case in the last two years the Church spared no expense or effort to delay and obstruct police and prosecution efforts, and the detective in charge assured me that this happens routinely in Catholic Church child sexual abuse cases. A view that was confirmed by the most senior police in this field.
Lie No 5: The Church removes rapist priests from access to victims.
No, they don’t. They never have. They will remove them from a community that is starting to understand what is going on and is demanding action. Then they knowingly inflict the danger upon a new, unsuspecting community. Frequently in a different state or country and rebirthed with a new name. Where what usually happens is new children are raped and abused. This occurs as frequently with rapists who have been convicted and served time in jail as with those the Church has managed to keep out of jail.
The two Philadelphia grand jury reports recently demonstrated this conclusively. After the first grand jury report and the “changes” implemented nationwide by US bishops, the Church claimed smugly to have removed all rapist priests from active ministry, and that children and communities were safe.
Then, after children continued to be raped, the second grand jury report identified dozens of rapist priests still in active ministry. Priests that the Church had known about but not removed from access to new victims.
Lie No 6: Canon Law has stringent provisions, sufficient to deal with this issue
Canon Law is written by the Church hierarchy to protect the interests of the Church hierarchy. Which is exactly what it does.
What it does not do, on the rare occasions when it is actually used, is protect innocent children from being raped, help victims to recover, prevent rapists from attacking new victims, or deal with this issue honestly, compassionately, or effectively.
Canon Law protects criminals, hides them from view, allows them to ruin huge numbers of lives, encourages them not to face responsibility for their crimes, forgives them without requiring them to stop committing these crimes, lies about their true nature and the fact they are a danger to children, and neglects, abandons and re-abuses the innocent victims, while inevitably adding to their number.
Lie No 7: Church officials care about children and can be trusted to do the right thing
The Ryan Report into Catholic Church child abuse in Ireland (2009):
“ Cases of sexual abuse were managed with a view to minimising the risk of public disclosure … This policy resulted in the protection of the perpetrator. When lay people were discovered to have sexually abused, they were generally reported to the Gardai. When a member of a Congregation was found to be abusing, it was dealt with internally and was not reported to the Gardaí. The damage to the children affected and the danger to others were disregarded. … The desire to protect the reputation of the Congregation and institution was paramount…sexual abusers were often long-term offenders who repeatedly abused children wherever they were working. Contrary to the Congregations’ claims that the recidivist nature of sexual offending was not understood, it is clear from the documented cases that they were aware of the propensity for abusers to re-abuse. The risk, however, was seen by the Congregations in terms of the potential for scandal and bad publicity should the abuse be disclosed. The danger to children was not taken into account.When confronted with evidence of sexual abuse, the response of the religious authorities was to transfer the offender to another location where, in many instances, he was free to abuse again.”
The Murphy Report into the Dublin Archdiocese’s handling of sexual abuse claims (2009):
“The Dublin Archdiocese’s pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse … were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The Archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the State.”
Philadelphia Grand Jury (2011)
“As terrible as all the criminal depravity was[in the Philadelphia Archdiocese] the grand jurors were just as appalled by the cynical and callous handling of clergy abuse by the Philadelphia hierarchy, up to and including the Cardinal.”
Lie No 8: The Church helps victims
If by helping victims they mean bullying them into terrified, shameful silence, exponentially increasing the damage caused by their abuse through unbelievably callous and inhumane treatment, stripping them of their rights, treating them as worthless liars and money hungry troublemakers, undermining their fragile self esteem in every possible way and doing everything possible to ensure they either suffer in silence and never recover, or commit suicide, then yes, the Church is “helping” victims.
Right now the Church is still attacking, undermining, shaming, blaming, neglecting, ignoring, abandoning, exploiting, tricking, bullying, intimidating, and threatening victims and putting them through fresh hell in every possible way. Every deceitful Vatican PR stunt not only tries to hoodwink the gullible and drown out the truth, but also has the added benefit of inflicting enormous additional harm on already devastated victims. The only thing the Church is not doing to victims, has no intention of doing to victims, is truly helping them.
Lie No 9: It is only a case of a few bad apples.
The true numbers are horrifying and will never be known. Especially not if the Catholic Church has their way and is able to get past this aberrant outbreak of public scrutiny and get back to the unquestioned secrecy they prefer.
But it is not a few bad apples. There are strong systemic reasons that draw rapists to the comfortable, protective arms of mother church. But the Catholic Church also takes normal children and young adults, and while moulding them into Catholic religious, emotionally, physically and sexually abuses them, erasing any chance of healthy functioning until the majority are nearly as twisted as those training them. The Catholic Church also hides the predatory nature, personality disorders and/or psychosexual immaturity of those the Church tells everyone are beyond question. It excuses, enables, encourages and rewards criminal offences, and offers the support, advice, and admiration of fellow predators, and the misplaced and self serving loyalty of the rest of their morally compromised colleagues.
It only takes one person to speak up about the crimes going on right underneath everyone’s eyes that they are all pretending not to see. But those brave individuals are not usually found in the Catholic Church, which has no use for honesty and a determination to do the right thing instead of what is best for the Catholic Church. So while not all Catholic priests and religious are rotten to the core, if you examine closely the shining apples of the Catholic Church, in most fruit you will discover a squishy moral softness, a tendency to give under pressure, and the distinctly rotten smell of compromise and complicity.
Lie no 10:
a) The Catholic Church is being unfairly targeted over this issue
Actually it is the child victims who have been unfairly targeted. The Catholic Church has consistently acted in a manner that is deceitful, abhorrent, predatory, neglectful, self interested, disgraceful, avaricious, morally repugnant, and most of all, criminal. Any other organisation that behaved in this manner would have been publicly disgraced, severely punished and subjected to onerous restrictions, if not outlawed.
b) Anyone who raises this issue for discussion is anti- Catholic
Most people who are interested in establishing the truth about this subject are anti-child rape, not anti-Catholic. The fact that anyone who is anti-child rape by default must be at odds with the Catholic Church hierarchy’s position, is more revealing of the Church’s guilt than of anything else.
If the Church was acting to prevent child rape and repair the damage of the past, instead of claiming to be doing this while actually doing the complete opposite, then a call for transparency and effective action would not be contrary to the Church’s interests or be seen as a threat to the Church.