The church and child abuse

May 29, 2009

A recent report by the Irish government documents decades of mental, physical and sexual abuse of thousands of children in the care of the Catholic Church. But Eamonn McCann asks if the Church will ever really be held accountable.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid MartinDublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

TO DISCUSS the scandal of child abuse in the Catholic Church without factoring in the role of the Vatican is to miss the main point. Irish Catholics had been told in advance, by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in his Holy Thursday homily, that the contents of the report of the commission of inquiry published yesterday would “shock us all.” But we may doubt whether all were sufficiently prepared for what’s emerged.

We are set for days of discussion of the different levels of culpability of priests, bishops, diocesan authorities, the institutional Church, society at large. Pope Benedict will likely issue a statement expressing dismay and distress. What he won’t do is accept any share of the blame.

Benedict will take the long view. It has been well said that while other institutions measure the passage of events in months, years, decades, the Catholic Church sees the world in a perspective of centuries. Benedict knows there’s nothing new in what’s been brought to light by the inquiry under Mr. Justice Seán Ryan. He will be confident that this, too, shall pass.

We used to be taught as children that the fact that the Church had survived all manner of scandals down the ages was proof positive that it was the One True Church. Benedict knows the history and will see yesterday’s headlines as another trial to be overcome with God’s help.

The oldest known instruction to Church officials, the Didache, dating from the second century, commands, “Thou shalt not seduce young boys.”

The earliest recorded gathering of bishops, the Council of Elvira, in 309, spelt out 81 Canons, of which 38 dealt with sex. Among those excluded from receiving communion were “bishops, presbyters, and deacons committing a sexual sin,” “those who sexually abuse boys,” and “people who bring charges against bishops and presbyters without proving their cases.”

Why would the Church have mentioned such things had they not already become problems?

Celibacy has had something to do with the proclivity for sexual abuse. Constrained to express their sexuality in secret, furtively, some have tended towards abuse of the vulnerable. When all sexual pleasure is deemed abominable, perversion and excess become nebulous concepts.

The Pope, custodian of Church teaching, is chief enforcer of clerical celibacy. So strongly is he committed to celibacy, he has seemed at times to suggest that the rule is part of the Magisterium, the infallible teaching of the Church, not open to amendment, ever.

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AGAINST THAT background, the suffering of children can be seen as part of the price to be paid for proclaiming Truth in a world stained by sin. It is not that Benedict or any of his bishops are not genuinely anguished at the thought of the agony of the innocent. But viewed in the context of the grand narrative of heaven, for them, this isn’t a decisive consideration.

The first U.S. prelate granted a personal audience with Benedict following his 2005 election was Cardinal Bernard Law. Three years earlier, Law had resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston following revelations that he had systematically, over a number of years, moved predator priests from parish to parish, never alerting parents to the danger in which their children were being put.

Law’s case sparked a huge scandal. The Vatican had been bombarded with demands to explain why he was being retained in the ministry.

Yet this was the man Benedict chose personally to honor 12 days into his papacy. Whether with conscious deliberation or merely by instinct, he was making a point. The same approach emerged in his response to the report three years ago on abuse of children in Ferns, Wexford. In a 271-page document, retired Supreme Court judge Frank Murphy identified more than 100 allegations against 26 priests.

He found that, in turning a deaf ear to the pleas of the victims while hiding the abusers from the law, the diocese had been following standard instructions from Rome. Responding, Benedict described the behavior of the priests concerned as “incomprehensible” and declared that they had “devastated human lives and profoundly betrayed the trust of children.” But as to the finding against the Vatican, not a word of explanation, much less an apology.

In Ferns, as elsewhere, Church control of schools was key to the predators’ access to children. “That fairly leaps out of the Murphy report,” commented Mary Raftery, whose 2000 documentary States of Fear sparked the firestorm which the Church hopes will soon now die down.

Says Colm O’Gorman, one of the victims of Ferns’ adherence to Vatican policy: “We still have a situation where an institution that was so entirely negligent in how it addressed child protection in the past, has full legal responsibility for child protection in the majority of Irish schools…The State needs to do more in Ireland to take on that responsibility.”

But there isn’t a mainstream party North or South which would risk the wrath of the Catholic hierarchy by making any such move.

The topmost and implacable priority of Benedict’s Church is at all costs to retain control of the formation of the next generation of Catholic children.

It acknowledges the sin while resolving to retain the occasion of sin. It has no firm purpose of amendment. Priests may be prosecuted, bishops may resign. But the buck stops with Benedict.

First published in the Belfast Telegraph.

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Eight-year-old trans-girl barred from Catholic school

From Andrea B.
By Staff Writer, • May 19, 2009 – 15:17

A trans girl has been barred from attending her Catholic school in Omaha, Nebraska, after officials objected to her wearing girls’ clothes.

The eight-year-old, who has not been named, was prohibited from transitioning at St Wenceslaus school.

“The child is welcomed to come, but it would not be acceptable to change the child’s gender and present as a girl,” said Omaha Archdiocese’s Chancellor, the Rev Joseph Taphorn.

Taphorn added that as the girl had already attended the school for three years as a boy, her new appearance as a girl would not help foster a good learning environment for other pupils.

The girl has been supported by her parents, who have decided she must live openly as a girl, rather than being forced to dress as a boy for school.

Speaking to, the girl’s mother, a devout Catholic, said: “She’s been a girl since the beginning, everything about her, the way she dances and skips around and the things she’s attracted to. It’s more than toys and clothes.”

“One night, she said, ‘Every night when I go to bed, I pray my inside will match my outside. But it never happens,'” she added.

The girl will now attend a public school in the autumn where she will be permitted to dress as a girl.

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More Women Hating from the Catholic Church and its Minions

Imagine my surprise this morning when I read an Op-Ed piece in the local newspaper regarding a Catholic Woman Hating organization promoting the boycotting of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

What the fuck?  The Catholic are pro-breast cancer.  Now I know they are one of the major forces of superstition based misogyny and take the inferiority of women as a core belief.  That they do not thing women should have reproductive freedom and all that but organizing a boycott of the ubiquitous Pink Ribbon.  Tell mehey aren’t serious.

Why that is akin to being pro-breast cancer and I had a hard time believing that even Catholics would stoop that low.

But according to the following op-ed piece that is pretty much what they have done.

Norman Roberts: A pro-life Catholic supports Komen
11:54 AM CDT on Friday, May 29, 2009

As a committed pro-life advocate, I find myself in an awkward dispute with the Catholic Pro-Life Committee, an organization I normally support. You see, I am also an enthusiastic supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a group that does a great deal of good in raising money and advocating for research, prevention, early detection and treatment of breast cancer. I was recently dismayed to learn the Pro-Life Committee is cooperating in a scandalous campaign to discourage Catholic support for Komen.

Continue reading at:

Susan G. Komen’s big sin was giving money to Planned Parenthood, an organization that does far more for women’s health than provide abortions and birth control.

But the Catholic Church  has never been long on empowering women and this is not the first nor will it be the last outrage perpetrated in the name of the invisible imaginary sky daddy

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In A Different Voice

One of the benefits of being anarcha -feminist autodidact is that I tend to thumb my nose at academic authority figures who tell me that I shouldn’t pull material from lots of sources.

Yeah right.  We are supposed to recognize the only possible relevant material written about our lives by the “transsexual” or “transgender” in the title.  Since we’re such a bunch of sick freaks nothing written about normborns could possibly be relevant.

So imagine my surprise when I opened a Carol Gilligan book I bought at Half Price Books titled In a Different Voice and read the following on page 14:

These observations about sex differences support the conclusion reached by David McClelland (1975) that “sex roles turn out to be one of the most important determinants of human behavior; psychologists have found sex differences in their studies from the moment they started doing empirical research.” But since it is difficult to say “different” without saying “better” or “worse,” since there is a tendency to construct a single scale of measurement and since that scale has generally been derived from and standardized on the basis of men’s interpretations of research data drawn predominantly or exclusively from studies of males, psychologists “have tended to regard male behavior as the ‘norm’ and female behavior as some kind of deviation from that norm” (p81) Thus when women do not conform to the standards of psychological expectation, the conclusion has generally been that something is wrong with the women.

That’s a pretty profound paragraph right there and is a variation on things I have been saying for 40 years.  I sussed early on that we were being considered mentally ill for things considered normal in women.  I also figured out really quickly that I was being treated as “the perfect transsexual” because I was this cute young girl and not some 45 year old father of two who may well have been suffering the same hitting of the wall where one either changes or suicides.

That one is a form of beauty skin privilege that creates credibility based on conformity to expected appearances rather than according to actual internal feelings.

We get labeled as deviant for the same behavior considered normal in women born female.  Why?  Because we are evaluated against male standards.

In 1969 when I was going to a bunch of psychiatrists that the social workers were sending me to as part of an attempt to get government funding for SRS the doctors I saw wrote these glowing letters saying I was an ordinary pretty Berkeley girl/woman and wasn’t the least bit psychologically disabled.

Which was pretty much the truth.  I was resourceful enough to make my way across the country and find one of the few public health clinics treating transsexualism anywhere in the world (in 1969) all the while living on pennies as a hippie radical.  Disabled I wasn’t.  My main problems at that point often had to do with being undocumented, an alien in my own country.

That aside the fashion magazines women buy reflect the same appeal that gets turned into AGP by the psychiatrists at CAMH and Northwestern