Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yet More Child Molesting Clergy

In the last few days, it has become very apparent that the phenomenon of Roman Catholic clergy molesting children was not just an oddity that took place in a few North American parishes.

I see now that the Pope is saying "sorry" to his flock in Ireland with a Pastoral Letter.

This has been bubbling about for close to twenty years in North America, and the incidents that are being described go back as far as the 1950s. Entire generations of the faithful have been lied to and deceived by the church hierarchy which is known to have actively covered up the tracks of its pedophiles and protected them from the legal prosecution that would have befallen them had the law caught up to them.

At this point, anything like an investigation that originates in the Vatican will have no credibility whatsoever. It is already clear that the Vatican hierarchy has moved in the past to protect its own from the consequences of their actions, after so many decades, one can only imagine the degree of organizational rot that must pervade the entire structure. Coverups, deceit and lies all in the name of protecting the "reputation" of the Church are guaranteed to be corrosive to the organization itself.

Instead, If the Pope truly wants to make a clean break of things, and re-establish his Church's moral authority, he should open the doors of the Vatican's archives (all of them!), as well as those of every diocese of the church to a public, legal investigation by a third party such as Scotland Yard or Interpol.

The goal of such an investigation? To describe the activities not only of the Church's pedophiles, but also the actions of the church hierarchy with respect to those abuses. Further, the perpetrators must be brought to account for their actions - in both the courts of secular law and the Church itself. The results of that investigation must be fully public, and the consequences for those identified must also be public - anything less would smack of further coverup and protectionism. This may be a massive bloodletting within the Vatican hierarchy, potentially going all the way to the top, but it must happen in order for the Catholic Church to reclaim any sense of moral validity in the years to come.

At this point, the reputation of the Church is so besmirched with the taint of sexual abuse and coverup that it is hard to take any of its moral teachings seriously. To rail against civil rights for GLBT people whose actions are about living in society in peace with those whom they love when your entire organization seems to have become the world's largest pedophile ring seems more than just a little hypocritical.

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