May 25, 2015

Bishop: The Catholic Church Will Outlive the Victims of Its Crimes

English: The Big Miner at Ballarat in Victoria...
The Big Miner at Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As many of you are probably aware, the Catholic church is under fire once again for...well...the usual reason. Australia is the location this time, and hearings are underway to uncover the scope of their crimes and subsequent efforts to conceal them. The Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse has been holding public hearings to evaluate claims put forward by survivors of child sexual abuse perpetrated at Catholic institutions.

The news coming out of these hearings so far is beyond appalling, and they are far from over. Anyone still wanting to deny the conspiratorial nature of clergy sexual abuse is likely to have a difficult time doing so as more information emerges. This story is definitely one to follow.

Something in Jane Lee's recent post in The Age grabbed my attention and will likely grab yours. According to the testimony of Andrew Collins, he met with a representative of the church, Bishop Paul Bird in 2013 to request financial assistance in the modest amount of $252. According to Collins, this was just too expensive for Bishop Bird.
Bishop Bird told us that if the church had to pay that amount to every survivor, the church would go bankrupt. Bishop Bird told us that we were intent on destroying his church. He said 'Andrew, you need to understand something, the church has endured for thousands of years and in another 40 years or so, you people will all be dead and all this will be forgotten about and the church will endure for thousands of years more'.
How many billions does the Vatican have? If they would go bankrupt from paying every survivor of clergy abuse $252, there must be far more victims than anyone is aware of around the world.

And maybe there are. After all, it sounds like Gerald Risdale may have molested "every male child between the ages of 10 years and 16 years" who attended the Catholic school he supervised in Ballarat! And sadly, it sounds like he was far from the only offender. According to Peta Carlyon's article for ABC News (Australia),
Ballarat was one of the most horrific sites of abuse and it was revealed that in 1971, all male teachers and the chaplain at the St Alipius primary school were molesting children.
All male teachers and the chaplain. Just let that sink in for a moment. Maybe there really are enough victims of clergy sexual abuse that paying them each a couple hundred dollars would bankrupt the Catholic church.

Assuming Collins' statement is an accurate recollection of his meeting with Bishop Bird, I have to ask just how callous this bishop must be to tell someone in Collins' unfortunate position that his ridiculous church will outlive him. So much for the Christian compassion about which we are always hearing!

The Royal Commission's hearings have been receiving at least some coverage abroad (although not nearly enough in the U.S.), so it will be interesting to see what sort of findings emerge and whether they will have an impact. I am starting to think that secular governments around the world may need to give some serious consideration of how best to protect their children from the Catholic church. In the meantime, I renew my call on Pope Francis to end child sexual abuse by his clergy.

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