May 24, 2009

Catholic Doctrine Facilitated Child Abuse

I wanted to see a day or two pass without thinking of the tragic Catholic child abuse scandal in Ireland. I really did. But then I read a heartbreaking op-ed in The New York Times by John Banville, and once again, I just can't get it out of my head. Here is how Banville concludes:
Ireland from 1930 to the late 1990s was a closed state, ruled — the word is not too strong — by an all-powerful Catholic Church with the connivance of politicians and, indeed, the populace as a whole, with some honorable exceptions. The doctrine of original sin was ingrained in us from our earliest years, and we borrowed from Protestantism the concepts of the elect and the unelect. If children were sent to orphanages, industrial schools and reformatories, it must be because they were destined for it, and must belong there. What happened to them within those unscalable walls was no concern of ours.

We knew, and did not know. That is our shame today.
It is not my claim that Catholic doctrine, or even religious belief itself, caused this to happen. That would be far too simplistic. However, I believe it is fairly clear that religious belief facilitated this and continues to facilitate similar atrocities today.