The Catholic sex abuse scandal: a victim’s view

Analysis: The Catholic sex abuse scandal, a victim’s view – Published on People’s World, by Martin Cleary, december 11, 2009.

When we think of Ireland we often think of green fields, friendly people and good music. But the recent reports, commissioned by the government and running thousands of pages, of the behavior of the Catholic Church paint a much darker picture. It was well known by those of us who had to attend Catholic-run schools that there was a sinister aspect to those entrusted to teach us.

I myself was a student in Ireland from 1959 to 1972; during all of that time I was taught by the Christian Brothers, the sect of the Catholic Church most represented in the documents. Our lives consisted of beatings, humiliations, derogatory comments and sexual abuse. The overwhelming power of the Catholic Church was so great that parents could only watch their children being abused and were powerless to say or do anything. The reports released by the investigative authority document sexual and physical abuse-even multiple murders-at the hands of those entrusted to protect and care for the children of Ireland. 

The authority of the Catholic Church in Ireland was and is so great that they could literally get away with murder and no one could stop them. The element of fear penetrated the whole country; people would not speak out for fear of offending the church, which could with a quick word from the pulpit destroy a whole family and excommunicate those who dared to stand up to it. Maybe someday in the future somebody will come up with an approximation of the numbers of parents, especially mothers, who committed suicide or drank themselves to death rather than deal with the pain caused to their children by the Catholic Church … //

… Until just recently, victims could not seek any help for years. First no one would believe them, or would call them liars and claim that they were somehow just out to destroy the work of the great church. If you were unfortunate enough to get a Catholic psychiatrist you could end up locked away in an institution with a diagnosis of madness. In other cases, if your counselor was of a different religion, he or she would usually use this experience you had as evidence that your church was evil and you should join theirs.

Friends and family would turn the other way in shame; it’s a good word to describe the feelings of the victims of the Catholic Church torture squad. Unfortunately my readings have shown that it’s not just the Catholic Church; just about every religion on the planet has this problem to a greater or lesser extent. People become brainwashed by their church and will overlook the most horrible acts committed in the name of God, even allowing their children to be sexually abused and murdered.

What was the purpose of the Catholic Church policy in Ireland? Total domination of people mind-body and spirit? During the Iraq war I was watching the reports of Republicans quoting the Bible as justification for what the war was all about. I watched the Muslims using their book to justify their own war. I listened to some Jews quoting the Old Testament as justification for getting rid of the Palestinians. It seems everybody needs a book to justify their actions. History is full of people using some religious belief as a justification for committing the most terrific acts of violence against their fellow human beings.

The American Constitution set up a separation of church and state; the founding fathers realizing that the religious organizations could pose a grave threat and attempted to be very clear in the Constitution that they would not support any one particular religion but that every man was free to believe whatever they wish. Somewhere along the line this has become lost. Presidents are terrified of not subscribing to some form of Christian belief.

As a victim of abuse by one church I can only say that when people give up the freedom to think for themselves, and blindly accept the teachings of some individual or institution, they have become extremely dangerous. (full text).

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