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Quote of the Day: Churches That Value Protecting Their Reputations More Than Abused Children

value children over dogma

The egomaniacal and rapacious drives of a molester who blots out all sense of right and wrong, brutally disregarding the pain he is causing children, have often found a parallel in churches bent on protecting themselves at the expense of thousands of victims. That disregard is a malignancy in the church . . .

If religion or any institution depends on the sexual exploitation or subordination of children or women, then it is better that such institutions should cease to exist. If it is a question of the survival of the institution of the church versus the survival and safety of children, then our allegiance clearly must be with children.

— Dan Barker, Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children, Freedom From Religion Foundation, 1988

Betrayal of Trust is now out of print. You can read the book in its entirety here.


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    Michael Mock

    You ever wonder if the Pope regrets taking the job? Does he wake up some morning and think, “You know, I could have been a parish priest in some backwater town and none of this would be my problem…”

    As far as the institution goes, I think it’s time — past time — to burn the whole thing down and salt the earth.

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    I think I know what you mean but this is everyone’s problem!

    I’m thinking of the various priests in my own childhood (both my parents were Catholic converts). Statistically, one or two of them might have been abusers (I’m not going to speculate about which ones because appearances can be deceptive). . . and, as we now know, all the others (same with Catholic priests all over the world) were under strict instructions from above to never, ever report clerical abuse or suspicions of clerical abuse to the police. I daresay a fair number of the latter took the view “This is not my problem!” While children were being raped.

    As for the laity, quite a few of them nowadays (my mother being one of them) say, indignantly, “But we didn’t know!” They know now. . .and far too many of them are still there,still being loyal, still trusting the priests (because they are priests), still putting money in the coffers. And, in addition, they have the brass neck (Brit expression) to whine about how THEY are victims because the outside world is criticizing.

    This organization should be shut down. But who could shut it down? The only thing that is going to make any kind of difference is if practising Catholics all over the world leave. No more money in the coffers, no more time spent cleaning the pews/doing admin, no more sending their kids to Catholic school, just leave: completely. Many people have done exactly that; far too many haven’t.

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    Unfortunately, alot of the laity knew. I was on an airplane to Rome with the choir to sing at the papal mass for St Theresa’s elevation to a “doctor of the church” in 1997. The bishop was, to his credit, cleaning out the predator priests from the dioceses and turning them over to civil authorities. One such priest was from a prominent Charleston family, so the choir members were chatty. Most of the oldtimers knew that Fr so and so was handsy with the altar servers and they knew to not leave their boys alone with him. So members complained, and the old bishop just reassigned the priest to a parish at the gates to the Naval Base where the membership was mainly naval personnel that cycled out frequently. Perfect grounds for the predator and it kept the native Charlestonians happy. I was gob smacked at their attitudes more than anything else. Even as a kid in 1950’s 60’s my mom would warn my sis and i about which priests and nuns to stay away from. So yes, the laity knew or suspected unless they were very naive or suffering from cognitive dissonance.

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      I think a hell of a lot of them ARE suffering from cognitive dissonance but that is no excuse. They are adults who stood by whole children were being assaulted. If they actually didn’t know then, they definitely know now (unless they are in the advanced stages of dementia.) Being naive is not enough; let’s face it, far too many religious folk ARE naive! Why else are they there? Lots of magical thinking and a deep desire to avoid responsibility. (“I’m handing it all over to God”, “The priest/pastor/rabbi/imam advised me to. . . ” etc).

      The more I read and hear of religious people re abuse, the deeper my contempt grows. I left the Catholic Church when I was 21, disgusted by the misogyny, the homophobia, the ridiculous attitudes about contraception, the way it has openly supported fascist dictatorships. . .and let’s say, what with the revelations of child abuse and cover-up that have emerged since, plus the revelation that they deliberately lied to people in Africa about condoms and the HIV virus, well, nothing has led me into feeling I should have stayed. This organization is evil.

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Bruce Gerencser