Voiceless Victim

A survivor of clergy child sexual abuse speaks out for those who can't speak for themselves

What the Pope’s promises are worth

How encouraging for Catholics around the world to see this week’s headlines that the Catholic Church is going to be taking action against the thousands of paedophiles in its ranks.

Finally.

The only problem is, the Pope doesn’t use the word action the way the rest of us do.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that English is not his native language. My local paedophile protector, smug Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, also suffers from the same distortion of meaning.

Or, in other words, he tells the same lies.

Now before any Catholic apologists dismiss my opinions as anti-Catholic hate filled rhetoric, I actually have first hand experience of the emptiness and meaningless of the promises from both the Pope and Cardinal Pell.

Or, in other words, I am one of the hundreds of thousands of victims they have been lying about and to.

This is not the first time action has been promised on this issue. You would expect, if they were not lying, that victims would have seen some meaningful change by now.

Nope, nada, nothing, nil, zip, zilch, rien.

But hold on, with so many victims, surely it would take a while for the “action” to reach them all.

Except that no victim has seen any evidence of such action.

And they have been making these same promises for a long time. Possibly for the last 2,000 years.

I first became aware of these promises in 2008, when His Greediness invaded my home city for his four yearly recruitment drive paid for with the taxes of those who never wanted him to come. Or in Catholic speak, World Youth Day 2008.

I won’t go into details here about the appallingly insulting and abusive treatment handed out to victims who dared to get in the way of the taxpayer funded promotional activities at that time. But the Pope did promise action in his “apology” to the world media about victims.

As did Cardinal Pell, who had been spinning the same lines, quite successfully, for some time.

While they were satisfied with promising “action”, or their version of it, I took action.

I reported my abuser to the local police.

The police investigated my abuse, arrested the criminal predator involved and handed the case over to prosecutors.

But back to the Pope and Cardinal Pell. After all this time, nearly 2 years now, have they contacted victims to apologise? Have they introduced programs for victims to access counselling and other support without being re-abused? Have they turned their secret files on abusers over to the police? Have they removed known abusers from contact with children? Have they informed communities when known sex abusers are in their midst? Have they even admitted individual instances of abuse occurred, to help victims move on with their lives and recover from the incredibly destructive coverup by the Catholic Church?

No. No. No. No. No. NO.

Maybe they’re working on this stuff and we’ll see it soon?

No sign of that. No talk of specific real actions. Just more talk of “action” as a general, non specific, can’t hold me to any particular promise type of action.

But they haven’t done nothing.

They’ve conducted a review of Towards Healing, a local program introduced to divert victims first from going to the police, and now they can no longer get away with that, to prevent them from launching civil suits and talking to the media. The review consisted of a few very minor changes to things that they would not be able to get away with anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, Towards Healing reads very well. I was in tears the first time I read the document. At last. The Catholic Church understood about victims’ suffering and were going to do something about it.

Except that victims who had been through the process reported just how abusive it really was, and how begrudgingly their insultingly meagre assistance was offered.

It would be really hard for an intelligent person who knew anything about victims’ suffering not to conclude that, in practice, Towards Healing deliberately preys on victims’ vulnerability to ensure the majority of victims never come forward, and that those that do are shuttled into a secretive internal process that leaves them feeling even more powerless than before, and too emotionally devastated to seek other forms of redress.

And they are forced to give up all legal rights before they can receive any assistance at all.

Let’s hope the Pope doesn’t take heart from Cardinal Pell’s success in getting away with the Towards Healing scam and decide to introduce it around the world.

In my own case, the Catholic Church have not even acknowledged my existence, but have been very busy sparing no expense in support of my abuser. The first thing they did when contacted by the police was refuse to speak to detectives and immediately hire a top criminal defence lawyer who specialises in the worst criminals, drug barons, murderers, and serial child sexual abusers.

They have hidden files from police, which were found in the roof of the Church after the police executed a search warrant. They kept the key Church witness unavailable to speak to police for most of last year by sending him overseas. They have been completely unco-operative and only comply with police requests when absolutely forced to.

And they have been trying to exploit every possible legal loophole to avoid being held responsible, and at the same time, ensuring the process is as devastating as possible for me.

One of their manoeuvers was finally successful.

Just this week, after psychologists found he was mentally unfit to stand trial, my abuser was released from his charges.

There is no official record of him being an abuser, allowing him to pass criminal checks undetected.

He is not required to undergo treatment to reduce the likelhood of him re-offending.

He will not be under any official supervision.

He is not prohibited from being employed in roles with access to children.

Communities will not be informed he is a danger to children.

Should any of his other victims come forward, there is no possibility of a prosecution proceeding to trial.

And, most frighteningly, he can commit as many more offences as he likes for the rest of his life, secure in the knowledge he is immune from prosecution.

Now lets contrast that reality, the Catholic Church’s handiwork, with the Pope’s latest promises this week.

Recalling his meeting on Sunday with victims of predator priests in Malta, the Pope said: “I shared their suffering and, with emotion, I prayed with them, assuring them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations (and) to bring to justice those responsible for abuse”.

I leave the final word on the subject to those who speak, not just for one person’s experience, but represent tens of thousands of victims in the US.

A victims’ group in the United States rejected the remarks saying: “When the pope promises ‘action,’ what he means are ‘policy tweaks’.”

“He’s making verbal promises, and will soon make written promises, neither of which will have much impact,” Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said in a statement.

“We want the Vatican to take concrete action to really protect children, like firing corrupt bishops and establishing a website with a database of the names of those who have molested children,” Blaine told AFP.

“We want the Church also to support reforms of secular laws that shield predators.”

What are the Pope’s promises worth?

I think you know the answer.

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