By Beverly Stevens, REGINA Editor
It’s entirely natural. Catholics are confused and angry.
The Church in the USA, Latin America, Germany and now the UK is almost hourly in the headlines for appalling sex crimes.
Some of these accusations reach to the very top: Pope Francis is now under fire for ignoring sex abuse victms in his Bueons Aires diocese, to include the on-camera rape of deaf mute boys. The former nuncio to the USA is calling for the pope’s resignation, and has gone into hiding for fear of his life. And the US federal government has for the first time in history gotten involved just today, investigating all Pennsylvania dioceses.
The nearly-unbelievable horror of all this is bound to dismay Catholics. After all, the Vatican and the world media have been working overtime for five-plus years to teach everyone to love this cuddly pope bear. Many Catholics were overjoyed to see how the mainstream media gushed over Francis, because it gave them the chance to be popular again with their non-Catholic friends and relatives.
Now that the underbelly of the teddy bear is showing, reactions of shock, disbelief and denial are common – and many appear on REGINA’s very active Facebook Page. We’d like to address these, one by one:
- BUT THIS IS A WITCHHUNT: ‘The accusers are anti-Catholic’. Some may be. Others are certainly not – given that many of them are ex-seminarians and current priests. Regardless, we have an obligation to investigate.
- BUT THIS IS JUST AN AMERICAN PROBLEM: ‘It’s due to America’s corrupt culture’. This is a favorite trope of anti-American types, but it’s dead wrong. In recent months alone, we’ve heard from Chilean victims ostracized publicly by the Pope (who later recanted) and 48 seminarians in Honduras who made public a letter on sex abuse after they were ignored by Church authorities. Then there’s Germany (with more than 3000 victims), Ireland and the UK, where revelations about the Oscott seminary have just surfaced.
- BUT THIS IS SCANDALIZING PEOPLE OF WEAK FAITH: Probably true. But not at all a reason for the cloak of silence to re-descend over all this. Why? Because it’s Catholics’ silence – and our money – which enables this horror.
- BUT A LOT OF IT IS UNSUBSTANTIATED AND TALKS ABOUT ALLEGED CRIMES OF LONG DEAD PRIESTS: ‘These reports contain misinformation or innuendo.’ This is just another form of denial. Just because a predator is dead, doesn’t mean that the accusations are untrue. Also, the evidence that bishops consistently cover up and abet these crimes is pretty overwhelming. If anything, it is under-reported. If most Catholics had ANY idea of the hundreds of horrific emails we have read from victims, they would realize that less than 1% of these stories are finding its way into the news.
- BUT THIS IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ATTACK ON THE POPE: Catholics love their ‘Papa’. When their ‘Papa’ turns out to have clay feet, it’s like being betrayed by one’s own father. No, this continuing stream of filth is not at all politically motivated. Witness the PA state attorney general who is a staunch liberal, and defender of ‘gay’ rights – a former Pope Francis stalwart if we ever saw one. And the ‘conservative’ PA Republican party, currently stonewalling a measure that would open a temporary window for victims over age 30 to prosecute their tormentors. Then there’s the fact that the main Chilean victim accuser is openly gay. This is coming from across the world, and across the political spectrum. It is real. And it is criminal.
- BUT POLITICIZING THIS ISSUE WILL LEAD TO ATTACKS ON THE CHURCH: Only if the Church fails to get cleaned up, as in Ireland today where most Irish people hold the Church in contempt after ongoing revelations of abuse. Rome has ignored the abuse there in recent years, and law enforcement appears curiously unwilling to prosecute.
- BUT NO OTHER INSTITUTION IS HELD TO THIS STANDARD: ‘Only 2% of abusers are priests. Most abuse happens in families’. Well, aside from a) this is a US-only statistic and b) that as Catholics we should want the Church held to the very highest standards, here’s something else to think about: what would happen if the single most embedded institution in the world were to be co-opted for criminal enterprises, globally?
Sex and drug trafficking deliver enormous profits.
The Church is everywhere. It reaches into poor areas of the world where people are desperate for money, and selling young people into slavery is common. (If you think this is far-fetched, consider that multiple-predator ‘Cardinal’ Theodore Mc Carrick was on Catholic Relief Services Board of Directors for YEARS and made many trips to poor countries where he was housed among young seminarians.)
The Church is not the same as anything else. It is a unique, extraordinary institution. It exerts influence at the highest places in governments around the globe. It even issues its own passports; no other religions in the world do that.
The potential for horrendous corruption – especially in the age of the internet which makes moving funds super-easy — is huge.
The evidence of Church corruption is crystal clear; almost every time we turn around, it’s there, across many countries. In big cities. Small towns. Rural dioceses.
Faithful Catholics aren’t buying the spun narratives anymore and are letting this be known by their bold posts on social media and by their lack of donations to Church fundraisers.
We need, as Catholics, to demand that our hierarchy and the Pope do their jobs. If they do not, we have a duty to with-hold funds and publicly demand their removal.
We also have a duty to support law enforcement on this.
End of Story.
No ‘buts’ about it.
By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Michael W. Pendergrass. – This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 010916-N-3235P-001 (next). Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8167815