“With the touch of a stranger’s hand innocence turns to shame/ the spirit that dwelled within now stands out in the rain”.
With the touch of a trusted servant’s hand, in many cases a priest’s, that innocence was violated and the stain was indelible.
The clerical sexual abuse of children is beyond words but I’ll have a go because I feel compelled to do so. The assault of both the body and mind of vulnerable little ‘creatures’ is evil and this evil was further compounded by the fact that the perpetrators were people who should have known better.
I wonder how both the perpetrators and the victims slept in their beds at night but my main concern is with the latter. What about children who cried themselves to sleep in both religious institutions and the family home where they were supposed to feel safest? What about those children who lay in wait, wracked with fear, anxiety and a totally misplaced sense of shame? Fear that was instilled by bribery and blackmail and shame that should have lay solely with the perpetrators!
Children by infinite stretches of imagination should never, ever have to satisfy the grotesque sexual desires of anybody, never mind a priest. Thus their protection should be paramount.
I welcome audits and examinations, albeit they’re very late for a lot of people. However, I’m not so keen on statistics, because statistics fail miserably to collate the fear, pain, anxiety/trauma, helplessness, hopelessness and brokenness of individuals. These children were robbed in the greatest sense of the word.
My main concern is with the victims but what about the perpetrator? In my opinion they were dealt with both inadequately and inappropriately by in most cases “a bunch of bungling Bishops, cardinals and indeed by the Pope himself”. It is ludicrous that some of these perpetrators were shipped out in a ‘hush hush’ fashion, thus allowed them to inflict themselves on many more unknowing victims to be. The mind boggles and the body shudders.
Maybe I’m being too emotional about this. Now there’s a fault hard to find in many of the spokespeople for the Catholic Church. A few individuals merit credit.
I am weary of soft-spoken media -trained cautious calculating dulcet tones. If ever a subject needed a ‘fire and brimstone’ response it is the subject of the cruelty and abject depravity of clerical child sexual abuse. The protection of children should have overrode the protection of the Church.
Finally the Pope’s response to this matter has been disappointing to say the least and the sending of a Papal letter falls way short. Indeed it highlights the gulf of feeling between hierarchy and victims. As the CEO of the Catholic Church he should have come to Ireland as an acknowledgement of the wrongs done and the feelings of victims (Queen Elizabeth II comes to mind though in this case no invite should be necessary).
By doing so he would have personally acknowledged the feeling of deep hurt and anger felt by survivors/victims who were abused by staff of his Institution i.e. the Church.
By not doing so, he has done a great disservice, firstly to the victims, secondly to the many good priests, many of whom have been left uneasy in their vocations and finally to the Catholic faithful in Ireland who have been so badly let down!
To the survivors may you find peace. To those for whom the burden was too much, may you rest in peace. To the perpetrators, may justice find you.
Dermot Bradley (address suppied),