A blog for the socially and politically conscious, written by a young, gay activist who strongly believes in equality and justice.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Sins of the father

This being Easter and all, I thought it was high time this column turned its attention to the Catholic church and its peculiar take on pastoral care. Allegations of child abuse within the church are nothing new, but the sheer cynicism of the organisation as allegations continue to emerge has taken many Catholics aback. And the allegations will continue, have no doubt of that. Perverted priests who preyed on innocent children were an embarrassing inconvenience to the church hierarchy, which hushed it up and transferred paedophiles to new diocese where they could once more abuse with impunity those they were supposed to be caring for. When Jesus allegedly died for the sins of man, I can't help thinking this might not have been what he had in mind. Any claim that the church was unaware of what was going on can be treated with the scorn it deserves. Bishops, cardinals and Pope Benedict himself, in his former incarnation as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, have been involved in gagging children as young as eight and paying out hush money to avoid legal prosecutions. The congregation of the doctrine is merely a modern term for the Inquisition and its role is defined as "to promote and safeguard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world." That would, presumably, include pederast priests fiddling with small boys.

In 2009 the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse concluded that "the Dublin archdiocese's preoccupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid-1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church and the preservation of its assets. "All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities." And these are the people who presume to lecture us on morals? What did they think? That it was a mistranslation from the Latin - "Molest me father for I have sinned"? In its usual up-front and honest way, the church and Il Papa himself issued an apology this week. But then, with the unseemly haste of a Donegal cleric in pursuit of an ice-cream van, it tried to turn the tables and say that the claims were a conspiracy whipped up by us verminous journos in the fourth estate to tarnish the good name of the church. I dunno, one hack writer churns out a rubbish pot-boiler about murderous albino monks and Mary Magdalene and Jesus having a sprog and all of a sudden everything's a conspiracy. Just for the record, the dictionary definition of conspiracy is as follows: "an evil, unlawful, treacherous or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud or other wrongful act." That sounds an awful lot like what the church has been doing for the last half-century and more. Let he who is without sin and all that...

Still, Easter is the time for repentance and forgiveness. Personally, I've always thought that giving up chocolate for a few weeks and then bingeing on Easter eggs was a bizarre way to worship. That's not religion, it's an eating disorder. But in the spirit of the season, it is to be hoped that members of the church hierarchy will lead by example - and give up their jobs. And, speaking of unrepentant Catholics who moved to another job to avoid prosecution, who should loom into view this week with a general election beckoning but Britain's own war criminal extraordinaire? Yes, that's right. Blair come on down, the price is right!  Blair turned up in his old stamping ground of Sedgefield on Tuesday to do to Gordon Brown exactly what he did to Iraq. It was a bit like Josef Mengele giving you a character reference. One thing's for certain though - Blair didn't give up lying for Lent.

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