Saturday, March 27, 2010

Child Abuse and The Catholic Church

On reading through some pages of this blog I had felt that some more light hearted posts, jocular even,  were needed to counter-balance the   topics that are weighing the blog down rather heavily towards the dark areas of life. However as a catholic, ignoring the current  international  media outrage at the still breaking child abuse scandals, would be rather feeble, so levity is postponed again.

Early on in my day job maybe some 40 years ago, I recall  one Saturday morning having to attend an East London court to seek bail for a priest who had been accused of abusing two boys. Locals were incensed and pick axes were being raised - the police said that  they would need to meet me   for my own protection in what used to be called a Black Maria.  Bail was granted ( I doubt that it would be  today)  on condition that the man only left his institution to see a psychiatrist and even then I had to accompany him.

The (essentially complusory for me to attend too)  psychiatric sessions  were illuminating. The man's childhood in a country town was so far as I could discern, subject to  such oppressive family and social  restrictions, that his emotional development was stunted around the age of puberty. The result was  that as an adult his maturity as regards interpersonal  relationships was akin to that of a 13 year old boy.

Not only were  his inclinations  towards  forming attachments to people of about that age but also he seemed to find normal adult social friendships virtually impossible. The damage that was caused to him at 13 was thus passed on and worse, to the next generation of 13 years who fell within his sphere of influence. That he was a priest of course meant that the sense of outrage felt by those he affected could bedirected towards the Church yet in truth as the sessions with the psychiatrist revealed, their hurts and his evil actions had their origins in the roots of the society in which he grew up  as a child too. Men and women should be able to resist their self centred temptations but  when they/we fail to do so the consequences can be devasting for the innocent.

Where the Church is, fairly in my view, criticised is where it seeks to hide those in its ranks who commit such deeds or worse where it enables such men to repeat their crimes elsewhere. Of course all instittutions tend to  try to keep secret, actions of which they are ashamed or those which they believe will damage their reputations.  However the Church is a moral leader and inspirer. It calls on the huge qualities within each of us to come to the fore,  for the self centred  parts of mankind's character to be reined in and for Love to prevail so when it acts as badly as  other ordinary  institutions  we are all let down and the Church then has to face being pilliored.

 Let us hope it  in all humility picks itself up and learns so that it is better able to teach.

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