A needed rant about child abuse, Catholicism, and why no religious belief is ever more important than protecting kids from being raped.

Warning – it’s about child abuse. Don’t read it if that’s going to affect you.
 
It affects me. As a human being it affects me. As an ex-Catholic, ex-Christian it affects me too. Hence this rant as an ex-Catholic human who has heard things this weekend that have shaken her even though she’s not surprised by any of it. I used to believe some weird religious crap. Just as weird as that in fringe groups but respectable weird that we’re not even meant to call weird because it’s part of a big and old religion. Some of it was also dangerous crap. Mea maxima culpa. I’ve repented of course, but my sin of sometimes crap behaviour following on as a direct consequence of crap belief would be applauded in a catholic confessional rather than absolved. Such was my desire to follow my sincere faith.
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They didn’t call the police when there were multiple accusations of child abuse against priests. They just hushed it up and moved the priest somewhere else.
 
Why those sentences?
 
I’ve been listening to descriptions from the report on Catholic child abuse in Pennsylvania. It’s very, very disturbing listening and just when you think it can’t get worse it gets worse. It wasn’t just isolated. It wasn’t just individuals. It was a collaborative effort. Priests being organised as child abusers with the cover up including other priests, bishops, even cardinals – none of whom are offering to resign for their actions against the wellbeing of children.
 
And then the Catholic League of America steps in and tries to debunk the report calling it an “obscene lie” that priests raped children – I’ve heard some of the cases in the report. Plenty of penetrative rape. And even if they were groped or forced to perform oral or abused in other ways, so bloody what? It’s still action that deserves immediate and total condemnation, not immediate pussyfooting around with worrying about exact definitions of the word “rape.” And then the Catholic League boss tries to make out that homosexuality is to blame for the child abuse. What kind of total bastard is he?
 
But it’s not just Pennsylvania where such awful things happened and where men who supposedly served a god of love did those things – and other such men allowed them to continue.
 
It will be every state of the USA. It will be elsewhere too.
 
It was in the United Kingdom. We’ve all heard some of the stories of the dreadful things that happened here.
 
I thought closer to home. I thought of Basil Hume, who was head of the Catholic Church in this country. I thought of Ampleforth, where he had been head. I thought of the child abuse there and how Basil Hume pretty much certainly knew about it. At least according to newspaper reports of 2002, 2005 and 2017. I thought about how he hushed it up and moved priests to protect the institution of his church. We’ve known all about this since at least the 1990s.
 
I thought of him especially because he was born about one mile from my home. There’s a statue of him in the centre of Newcastle. Oh, the temptation to make a placard saying “I hushed up child abuse” and hang it on the statue. I walk past that statue and don’t think of a holy man whose example is good and whose books I read. I now think of a man who put the reputation of his religion above child welfare.
 
It’s not just a Catholic issue either. These things happened in many churches including Protestant ones of which I was a member.
 
Undoubtedly things have improved. There are lots of laws now that have to be obeyed. Child protection laws imposed on churches and all other institutions because it’s morally right to legally get people to protect children from sexual abuse within those institutions.
 
Here’s something the Vatican said in its belated response, made after pressure from the USA, to the report on abuse in Pennsylvania: “The Holy See also wants to underscore the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements.”
 
Note: The need to comply. NEED. That is, if someone confesses to the priest that they’re abusing kids than it MUST be reported to the civil authorities for the sake of the children. No religion should be given any leeway in this matter. While I believe in freedom of religion I also believe that basic human rights invalidate any part of religion that would hide away child abuse for any reason whatsoever. No God is into protecting powerful “priestly” men who behave as monsters.  If your religion is more important than human rights – and the rights of children not to be raped or abused or brainwashed or sent to gay conversion treatment (like the ex-Mormon I was listening to the other day who got sent for it at BYU) then your right to freedom of religion should be precisely zero.
If the teachings of your religion protect rapists over children then I don’t give a flying f*** how much you want freedom of religion.  You don’t deserve to have it.  Children are more important.  They can’t protect themselves either and presumably your supposedly all-powerful (and compassionate) God can.
 
Even the Vatican underscores this need. The Vatican. Which has always taken great care to put confidentiality in the sacrament above the safety of children. The Vatican says there is a NEED to comply with laws.  If the law says to report child abuse, report it.  No questions asked.  Don’t say your religion and God need protecting more than the child.  Don’t you ever dare to say that.
 
At bloody last.  The Vatican tells priests to comply with the law.
 
But personally I doubt it will happen. I can’t see many priests breaking the “sacramental seal” in order to stop kids getting raped. As every single priest I’ve ever talked to about it said of themselves, they would rather go to prison than break the seal and protect children.  I’ve talked with nuns who say it would be a far more grievous sin to break the sacramental seal of confession than to prevent child rape.  I have to say – as an ex-Catholic who knows how many of her previous beliefs were nasty – that any God who would arrange the “one holy church” that way is evil and not worthy of worship.
 
As such I would say their sincerely believed religion has, at least in this way, turned the whole lot of those priests into monsters.  I was a kind of monster too because while I hadn’t thought about the confessions of child rapists I believed in that sacramental seal.  It was taught so I believed and at the time couldn’t have seen any other alternative.  Basically, in some ways my need to follow religion turned me into a nasty bastard.  As time goes on I am more and more thankful that I no longer believe such things.

Any man who hears the confession of a child rapist and would put children at risk of being raped again in order to protect a religion deserves no respect whatsoever as a person claiming to be from a religion of love and holiness. None. Then they may hear, “I raped another child.” They still did and do nothing. For the sake of religion.

 
In what possible loving world can anyone think that’s right?
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