It seems that not a day goes by without updates and new reports on the sexual abuse scandal and subsequent cover-ups in our church. In the USA, new allegations keep appearing from yet another diocese. The sexual abuse of children by clergy and religious became national news in Canada with the 1988 reports from the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland. Reports of other abuses spread like wild-fire. Our government and churches have been dealing for decades with the aftermath of the Residential School abuses. In 2009, Antigonish Bishop Raymond Lahey made head-lines when his lap-top was seized at the Ottawa airport and found to be filled with child pornography. Ireland, Belgium and Germany have joined the countries reeling from allegations.
The heart says, “enough…I don’t want to hear anymore!” But the mind knows that we need to keep our eyes and ears open to this gruesome and unthinkable reality. Rape of any kind belongs in the category of the gravest and most disgusting of sins. It is a violent act of power and control. When children are raped or molested, then I hope there is a special seat in a very hot place for the perpetrators. (I am sure that God is more forgiving and compassionate than I am.) And, when the violence is committed by those who claim spiritual authority over us, then it is all the more inexcusable and disgusting.
We must keep airing this dirty laundry for all to see. We must ensure that the perpetrators and those who knowingly protected them be brought to justice. And we must ensure that necessary support and compassion is given to all victims.
As a lay woman in the Church, this is what I refuse to do…
- I refuse to defend my Church in light of this scandal.
- I refuse to defend or stand by guilty priests and bishops.
- I refuse to give my money to support the legal costs incurred by this criminal and immoral behaviour.
The fall-out of this evil is that all Catholics are tarnished and affected. If we are all, together, the Body of Christ…then our rotting limbs are making us all sick. Mistrust of the clergy and religious hurts priests, bishops, sisters and brothers of integrity. The legal consequences are bankrupting dioceses and religious orders, draining money from good works done by faithful women and men. Clouds of suspicion hang over any adult who works closely with children and young people, making it difficult to form healthy relationships.
And the good news of our faith has been buried under the corruption and sin.