Please don't let this issue die

By Carol Oliver
July 2, 2019

Thank heavens, I am not religious. Which is not to say that I don't respect those people who are. We are all entitled to our beliefs, and many religions have played a huge and positive part in the lives of individuals and societies for centuries.

But right now - despite news fading rapidly into the ether - I remain scandalised by the widespread abuse and cover up by religious figures around the world.

It's bad enough to hear about one abuser in a family or community, but the depth and breadth of abuse in the Catholic Church is unforgivable. So when the Pope says he's ashamed of the church's failure to adequately address "repellent crimes", I go into a giant cringe because it appears to be too little ... and way too late.

Of course, he is not personally to blame and I am sure he's probably a good bloke. But because the institution of the church created and covered up these crimes, and because he is the leader at this time, I find his responses too polite and vague. It seems to me he had the chance to re-energise respect and allegiance for believers by rooting out perpetrators so that, by example, the church could uphold its own laws as well as those of society.

Maybe one question worth asking is when did all this criminal behaviour come to the Pope's attention? Don't think I am not sympathetic to the Pope and innocent priests around the world. His position in all this is not of his choosing. Except ... well, it is. All leaders are expected to lead in whatever circumstances occur. The "repellent crime" is, at the human level, vile and outrageous. Survivors have suffered well beyond the crimes that were committed and have had to publicly "out" themselves in order to bring the crimes to the attention of authority.

The serious issues now include the problems that seem to exist at a moral and institutional level in the church. Those issues seem to command little attention. I find that sickening. Hopefully, the stench from this scandal will lead to change. My disgust is based entirely on the view that anyone who deals with children has a responsibility like no other. No one is more vulnerable. Teachers, doctors, coaches, mothers and fathers all carry a particular responsibility. But the church bears a double-edged responsibility exactly because it is a church. For people who run around moralising about how others should lead their lives to then abuse anyone, let alone children, is about as criminal, sick and disgusting as anything I can think of. And sadly, while I hated the news reports that highlighted these crimes, I now think that no news is bad news because nothing will be done.

Other institutions like banks and industry organisations also break the law, but eventually they are held accountable. Yet the good church continues to rate itself above us all, with its call to its spirituality as a hedge to inspection.

No, it says, sins that are reported in confession cannot be divulged. Imagine if they did have to be reported? It's clear that the mystical repentance system that appears to take away the burden of guilt would die a natural death. This, of course, would take away priestly power. Who would attend confession - and why?

It is all so undemocratic, so locked into the Middle Ages, so out of touch and unable to calibrate itself in the modern world that I suspect, and hope, it won't survive.



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