Voiceless Victim

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

Unholy Silence of Church leaders

Last week a documentary titled Unholy Silence was aired in Australia. It detailed Australian church leaders covering up child sex offences by their priests, and examined two suicides resulting directly from a priest’s abuse, and the callous re-abuse of his victims by church leaders.

The Australian media and the general public were horrified by these revelations.

But not victims. We may have found this program grueling, emotionally draining, even traumatic to watch. Some may have been overjoyed to see a glimmer of truth come out at last. But we were not surprised by the horrors that were revealed.

Because we have lived this horror all our lives.

Every victim of catholic church enabled and covered up child sex crime suffers as these two brave young men suffered. Tragically, they lost their battle, but tens of thousands more are still suffering, still battling to survive. And countless devastated families look on in horror, helpless, and suffering their own trauma.

And catholic church leaders could not give a damn.

They never protected vulnerable children when it counted because children are simply too unimportant, too powerless to even acknowledge in their narcissistic, misogynistic, deluded, entitled, power obsessed world.

And when abused children turned to those who had told them all their lives that they were holy, loving, compassionate and moral examples to us all, those holy men revealed themselves to be as bad, if not worse, than the monsters they protect.

They lied to us. They lied about us. They called us liars when we told the truth. They gloated that no-one would believe us over them. They demanded we shut up and suffer in silence. They bullied and belittled and blamed and ignored us. Some beat us, threatened our lives or our family’s safety or livelihood, or their standing in the catholic community. Some even repeated the crimes we sought rescue from.

They knew these were horrific crimes. They knew we were telling the truth. In many cases they knew without a shadow of a doubt and in extensive detail. They knew their esteemed criminal colleagues would attack other children.

But they didn’t care.

And they certainly didn’t report them to police.

Not ever.

They protected their colleagues, their organisation, their reputations and their assets.

Because all of these are far, far more important to church leaders than the safety, even the lives, of innocent, expendable children.

But the suffering doesn’t end for victims.

In their efforts to evade their legal and moral responsibility to those they have grievously harmed, church leaders also inflict continual media reminders of our suffering, to further undermine our fragile sense of self worth and security.

Can you imagine how it feels to have your voice silenced, overpowered, shouted down by the PR bullies of the church constantly telling lies about you and your most devastating experience.

“We are doing everything possible to help victims”

“We co-operate fully with police”

“We take child protection seriously”

“We welcome a full investigation”

“Children are safer in a catholic church than anywhere else”

“Most victims are happy with our response”

“We are no worse than anyone else, actually we are better”

“Its all an anti Catholic conspiracy”

“We advise victims to go to the police, we can’t report it for them”

“We report these matters to the proper authorities”

Church leaders never voluntarily report their colleagues’ child sex crimes to police or child protection authorities.

Church leaders never willingly co-operate with either police investigations, civil trials (in those jurisdictions where they are not unfairly protected from being sued by legal loopholes) or judicial inquiries. Evidence is only ever extracted either by whistleblowers or by determined use of full legal powers to enforce even the most meagre level of co-operation.

Church leaders offer nothing but meaningless words to protect children from predators. Most church leaders can produce copies of internal documents which express a laudable desire to protect children, but these are designed primarily to deflect criticism, contain few real or effective actions, and even those are almost never implemented, or implemented in a way that protects the organisation rather than children.

Church leaders protect their criminal colleagues from justice. They obstruct, delay and undermine police investigations in every possible way. They commission heroic and monumentally expensive legal shenanigans to snatch any possible chance of justice from courageous victims prepared to be brutalised by the criminal court process in order to protect other children from sharing their suffering.  All too often such devious strategies are successful, not only in inflicting untold additional misery on victims and their families, but also in ensuring serial child rapists walk free to rape again.

Church leaders callously endanger children. They keep known child sex offenders in positions of respect and authority, and with access to children, unless and until there is a determined complaint from a previous victim that they are unable to dispose of quietly. When they do remove rapists, it is only to silence complaints, not to protect children. They then foist these predators on new communities, often with a new identity and an unblemished reputation, moving them interstate or overseas if necessary to avoid detection. They do not warn the communities exposed to such dangerous criminals about the danger to their children, or restrict the dangerous criminal’s access to children.

Church leaders do not voluntarily help victims, and any help that is given is delivered in such a way as to inflict maximum additional damage. Known victims of known predators are never offered any form of assistance to heal, under the pretense of sensitivity to victims’ feelings and need for privacy. Yet this sensitivity is glaringly absent when any victim has the audacity to realise they have a right to heal and a right to ask the organisation which caused their harm to contribute to the healing process. Staff dealing with victims are frequently hostile, aggressive, defensive, misleading, bullying, or blaming, and treat victims as the problem and the church as the real victim. This callous mistreatment is partly a result of a defensively toxic internal culture and at least partly a deliberate attempt to discourage the dozens of other, silent victims of each predator from thinking they may actually be helped if they speak up about their abuse.

This appalling re-abuse, coming from the very organisation which abused them, an organisation which repeatedly claims to be so compassionate and to be doing everything possible to help them, could easily prove the final straw for already fragile victims.

Such atrocious behavior from an organisation which stridently demands generous tax breaks on the basis of its charity and contribution to the public good is a travesty, and, in many instances, illegal.

Yet for decades, centuries, the abusive culture fostered by The Church of Child Rape has been allowed to flourish, as the lucky ones who have not been targeted by priestly predators avert their eyes or otherwise avoid facing the unpalatable truth.

The only thing church leaders were not lying about was that for decades no-one did believe broken victims of horrific crimes against the word of polished pretenders we have been indoctrinated into thinking of as infallible, an example to all, and incapable of lying.

But now, after the growing body of evidence coming to light in recent years, and the after the damning revelations in Unholy Silence, we know some part of the horrific truth, not just about the repeated rape of little children, but also the equally damaging criminal coverup of those crimes, and the lies told to hide the coverup. Surely they can no longer pretend it is not happening.

And so the question everyone in our society must ask themselves is, do you care enough about children, about your fellow man, about the health of society as a whole to put an end to the widespread and systematic rape of vulnerable children by those in positions of authority over them? And the widespread and systematic criminal coverup of those crimes in order to protect a wealthy and influential organisation at the cost of untold suffering and the early deaths of many thousands of Australian children and their families?

Do you?

Because the system of leaving this issue in the hands of the criminals who prey on children, and the criminals who protect them, is not working. It is so very, very far from working.

The very least victims can expect from a just and democratic society is that we make the effort to discover the full truth of this issue via a national Royal Commission. Why not send the bill to the obscenely wealthy catholic church, since their criminal behavior, hiding of evidence, web of lies and coverup, and refusal to lawfully co-operate with police and other investigations has made such a step a necessity.

Perhaps if the church were paying the bill we would also see less of the distractions, evasions, delays and use of high priced lawyers to undermine the legal functioning of official investigations, that has been seen so consistently in other countries.

At present we have been tossed a toothless Parliamentary Inquiry in a single state, struggling under terms of reference cooked up in consultation with the church’s chief coverup artistes.

An inquiry without the skill to properly cross examine the practiced liars of the church, without the powers to compel such a secretive and lawless organisation to actually comply with legitimate requests for documentation, and without the resources to research the mountains of evidence of routine criminality already available from local criminal court cases, overseas inquiries and other sources.

Such a cave-in to the demands of an arrogantly influential cabal demonstrates only that our politicians have nothing but contempt for the suffering of thousands of Australian children. Contempt similar to that of the pompous princes of the church who dictate our politicians’ decisions, and who gloat in private over their effectiveness in demolishing victims’ attempts to achieve some measure of respect and of justice.

But we do not have to settle for this pathetic excuse for an investigation into a church that is raping, re-abusing and killing our kids.

A Royal Commission with full powers to compel the wealthy, defensive, influential, secretive, criminal church to finally reveal the contents of its secret files on its crimes against children is the very, very least victims, living and dead, deserve.

Every child in this country also deserves that we use the knowledge gained from this and other investigations to implement a range of vitally necessary law reforms to ensure that the catholic church, or any other organisation, religious or otherwise, can never again get away with such horrendous crimes against our most precious resource.

Our very future.

Our children.

Please sign a petition calling for a Royal Commission into sex abuse in the catholic church and other NGOs.

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3 responses to “Unholy Silence of Church leaders

  1. Gloria Sullivan July 20, 2012 at 12:42 am

    On the front page of the Denver Post today (7-19-12) was. a huge picture of the new arch -bishop. with 2 young children, ages 6 and 9, just the age the Catholic. Priests. (pedophiles) groom these age children, for their sexual abuse escapades, they have all covered up for millennium(s)

    We as a PEOPLE. had better get our. PRIORITIES RIGHT AND DO IT NOW. THIS EVIL IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. IN A UNIVERSITIY OR A CONGLOMERATE OF A SO -CALLED CHURCH THROUGHOUT THE CATHOLIC WORLD

    Where is the OUTRAGE. ?????? thst they say nothing and DO NOTHING TO PUT A STOP TO THE. ABUSE OF CHILDREN BY CLERICS…EVEN JESUS SAID TO PETER ” GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN”!

  2. JohnB July 20, 2012 at 7:13 am

    With the Bravehearts organisation holding back on releasing a petition with 30,000 signatures calling for a Federal Royal Commission whilst at the same time claiming they are re-igniting their call for a Royal commission while they are receiving funds from and working closely with the Catholic church we are seeing the depth of the deception and hypocrisy that has developed over the years coming to the fore.

    I emailed the following this morning to Barney Zwartz of the Melbourne Age

    Just wondered if it was time to have a place where actual survivors had a place in the mainstream media to be heard rather than constantly hearing from those who claim to be our spokespersons.

    It is interesting to note the difference in style when survivors write; their emphasis is on the damage to society and children whereas mainstream media and victim spokespersons have focused on the false notions of perpetual and irreversible harm as a result of childhood trauma (if that were the case none of us without exception would be capable of healing if we are to be honest in the appraisal of our own life experiences) and an unhealthy obsession on the sexual aspects of the abuse a person has suffered.

    When coupled with the facts of the inability of the church and its hierarchy to respond appropriately these type of articles become an advertisement and a warning to others to not speak out. It is time for that style of editorialising to be consigned to the waste bin of history as they only serve to send a message to survivors that it is safer to be silent.

    Do you think the Age would consider publishing a series of articles from the victims perspective without the obligatory fascination for portraying survivors as being incapable of providing genuine input into this social travesty. Interestingly you will find that their commentary does not focus obsessionaly on the sexual aspects of their abuse rather they focus on the social, political and moral aspects together with the abuse of trust they encounter when dealing with groups and entities who claim to be speaking on their behalf.

    We are beginning to see emerging in the mainstream media at last a focus on the legal, moral, social and ethic aspects rather than hearing repeatedly of the internal religious arguments that have predominated in the past.

    How would I go about seeking this type of support for victims from the Age?

    rgds
    JohnB

    • voicelessvictim July 25, 2012 at 3:30 am

      John,

      I certainly hope Bravehearts is not holding back such an important petition, and will ask them to forward it to the Federal Government asap.

      As far as the media is concerned, it can be an emotional roller coaster to engage with them. As long as you are willing to grin and bear the occasional misspellings of names, misquoting, quoting out of context and the sensationalisation of your input, it should be possible to get more victims’ voices heard, particularly at the moment.

      And The Age seems to be the one newspaper in Australia that is currently willing to investigate properly, to tell the truth and to risk the catholic church’s petulant attempts to punish them for reporting with honesty instead of obedience.

      It will always be harder for an individual victim to be heard over the PR stunts and manipulations of the church, and the comments of the “victim’s spokespersons” you mention.

      One time when an individual victim is the main focus is when talking about their own experience, either of abuse or of coverup.

      Apart from that all you can do is try to make and maintain professional relationships with key journalists, offer timely responses to current issues, and be succinct and punchy. You may also enjoy more success as a representative of a victim support self help group, even an informal group, than as a lone individual victim.

      We victims are a single interest group and will be most unlikely to be given our own space in the mainstream media, such as the Sunday Telegraph column dedicated to the pompous and intolerant ramblings of Cardinal Pell.

      I agree that victims have a lot of insight into this issue and a lot to contribute to any discussion. The catholic church is determined to silence us and bar us from involvement precisely because we are so knowledgeable. And because we will focus specifically on the things that will deliver actual improvements and concrete change, rather than a PR smokescreen that ensures the superficial appearance of change is achieved, whilst maintaining the church’s secrecy and freedom from responsibility, accountability or the requirement to comply with the law.

      However we can make our own media opportunities through websites and blogs, comments on media articles, letters to the editor and opinion pieces. Keep trying, but keep in mind what is acceptable to the media, and work within that range. This blog often deliberately steps outside that range, but sometimes we really have to tell the full unpalatable truth, especially if we want to counteract the fog of self deception and denial of reality pumped out by the catholic church hierarchy.

      VV

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