The recent revelations that football coaching staff and their supervisors at Penn State University have been up to the Catholic Church’s old tricks has devastated victims of Catholic Church enabled child rape as much as the community directly affected by the crimes and their repercussions.
The fact that Penn State was able to do the right thing in this situation (at last), highlights for us how very wrong, cruel, self serving, heartless and avaricious is the position taken by Catholic Bishops, Cardinals, priests, and communities the world over. Not to mention the Paedophile Protector in Chief himself.
The revelations about Penn State have sparked a nationwide outcry over a single sexual predator with eight known victims (though likely many more), with arrests of those guilty of both the child sex crimes and the criminal conspiracy to coverup those crimes, plus sackings, and a determination to prevent this ever happening to other children. And despite a short lived, very Catholic, attempt by parts of the community to ignore the real victims and honour the criminals as victims of injustice, overall there has been a very encouraging focus on the poor choices made by those in positions of privilege and responsibility, which clearly recognises that anyone who makes such choices, not just once but year after year, is undeserving of both.
Yet when the Catholic Church is repeatedly exposed in ever greater detail as a criminally negligent institution which protects its reputation and considerable wealth at the expense of innocent children, despite a salacious delight in scandalous revelations, there has been no outcry. Where is the public condemnation of the fact that, instead of addressing the widespread crimes enabled by a system which could have been designed to encourage abuses of power, and the deliberate, callous coverup of those crimes, the Catholic Church has been allowed to get away with more outrageous lies, excuses, and denials, more systematic obstruction of justice, ongoing endangerment of children, a continuation of the coverup and worst of all, a continuation of the freedom from proper supervision or regulation which allows these crimes to flourish unchecked? At least Penn State has put a stop to the abuse but the Catholic Church is still a paradise of support, protection and enablement for child sex predators.
Surely the problem in the Catholic Church is more serious than in Penn State.
Just in terms of sheer numbers, the Church problem is huge. Thousands, probably tens of thousands of child rapists instead of one. Many millions of victims across centuries instead of eight or more across decades.
In terms of the damage done to victims, there is also an additional layer of spiritual abuse, plus the truly vicious re-victimisation of survivors of clerical child rape in order to bully, threaten, and intimidate them into keeping the full extent of this dirty secret hidden from view. There is also the complete denial of the essential assistance and emotional support which can make such a difference to how well or if a victim is able to recover. The Catholic Church is even able to, in many, many cases, set victims’ own families to attacking innocent and vulnerable children purely because the horror we had the misfortune to be unable to escape threatens the local Bishop’s comfy and respectable retirement or possibility of further advancement within the Church, and all the power, luxury and privilege that comes with it. On top of all the other abuses we suffer, this abandonment by our families, our communities, our spiritual leaders, everyone supposed to look after us and value us, is likely to be the final, unbearable straw that breaks us.
Those of us who have survived everything the callous Catholic Church throws at us in their attempts to destroy us, see that Penn State victims are valued by their community. Their suffering is recognised and mourned. There is a determination that no other children shall suffer in the same way, which is so important for recovery. The community flocks to a candlelight vigil to offer support and understanding to victims.
It is absolutely wonderful that Penn State victims, that any victims are treated with respect and consideration, and this is what we sincerely wish for all victims. Yet it reminds us of how very badly we are treated, and brings to the surface the childhood damage that forces us to believe we are not worth helping.
We see the support for the Penn State victims and are reminded how our suffering is nothing, the sacrifice of our lives is nothing, our experience is less than nothing in the denials that it ever happened. Under the insane teachings of the Catholic Church, we are made to feel guilty for the crimes committed against us, no matter how innocent we were. So we naturally see this support for Penn State victims and conclude, even though we may know better consciously, that we do not receive any assistance, we are ruthlessly attacked and ostracised, blamed and threatened, because of some fault, some essential worthlessness in ourselves.
Surely the world can see the injustices, the crimes, the immorality of the Catholic Church, and yet nothing is done.
It must be because we are undeserving of help, protection or assistance. We are not worthy of recovery, which is why no-one insists the Catholic Church pay for the support services we so desperately need. We are not worthy of justice, which is why the majority of priestly predators escape justice through loopholes, statutes of limitations, or with the weight of the Church’s obscene wealth to buy them delays and technicalities to last until they are too old to stand trial, or to bully lawmakers into abandoning many already difficult attempts to enforce the law, or to grind impoverished victims into silence or suicide.
Those who have not seen first hand the true “compassion” the Catholic Church offers to victims of its ambition and greed might imagine the Catholic Church could learn from the excellent example set by Penn State.
But the Catholic Church doesn’t want to learn.
And it certainly doesn’t want to act.
The Church hierarchy has no intention of doing the right thing by victims. It has no desire to be moral, just, compassionate, or understanding. It has no intention of reversing the very great evil done to us, or helping us to recover. It will not introduce child protection measures to ensure no other children suffer in this way, but it does want to take credit for having done so, and also to arrogantly and falsely claim to be a safer environment for children than anywhere else.
This will not change unless change is forced on them.
There are only two groups of people that can force change on the Catholic Church hierarchy.
Ordinary Catholics can speak in the only language the Church hierarchy understand. Money. Catholics who know about the crimes committed by priests, Bishops, Cardinals and the pope himself, and yet continue to contribute financially are giving their explicit approval to the policy to encourage and coverup crime, protect criminals at great expense, deny assistance to victims and endanger additional children. By bowing to Church pressure to keep quiet, to not speak about known abuse, to not question appalling decisions and policies, and to swallow and even repeat the disgraceful lies and excuses used to obscure this issue and hide the real guilty parties, ordinary Catholics encourage the Church hierarchy to believe it can weather a short term PR problem and continue its criminal activities unchallenged forever. The Penn State example will hopefully help to clarify for these people just how obscene and immoral the Catholic Church’s approach to this issue really is.
Lawmakers in every country are the other group that must take some responsibility for forcing change on this issue. Lawmakers have the power to require both appropriate scrutiny and absolute compliance with new, stronger laws to protect children against sexual exploitation by powerful adults. Such laws should remove the ability of organisations to act in their own best interests at the expense of child safety, and offer all children the same standard of protection, no matter which predator, or which abusive organisation they may be exposed to. Naturally laws need to be enforced to be effective.
The example of Penn State shows it is absolutely possible to put a stop to sexual crimes against children despite a comprehensive coverup of these crimes and an hierarchical culture that respects position, privilege, wealth, reputations and careers above the rights of children not to be raped. The elements that make this example so different from the appalling behaviour of the Catholic Church hierarchy are a genuine commitment to real change, not just deceitful PR spin, respect and understanding for the victims who have been let down so badly by those they had every right to rely upon, and a willingness to address the cause of the problem.