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Report of Child Abuse in Irish Industrial School Published
May 21, 2009 6:03 PM   Subscribe

The Irish Comission to Inquire into Child Abuse published their full report documenting systematic abuses by Catholic-run industrial schools and schools for the disabled. Collecting data from over 1,500 witnesses, including survivors, government officials, and school staff, the report includes more than 70 years of incidents. It also documents the history of the laws that supported the schools. The executive summary damns both Church organizations and government for the abuse, but gives no names and falls short of recommending criminal proceedings.

Reactions: Survivors are angry the report fails to name the people involved. Donahue claims distortion. Irish legislators debate a 2002 settlement. Newly-installed English Archbishop Nichols: "And I'm glad it's a scandal. I would be very worried if it wasn't a scandal."
posted by KirkJobSluder (78 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus wept.
posted by tommasz at 6:09 PM on May 21, 2009


falls short of recommending criminal proceedings

Sounds about right.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:15 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jesus wept.

The only problem with that verse is the verb tense.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:34 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The executive summary damns both Church organizations and government for the abuse, but gives no names and falls short of recommending criminal proceedings.

Praising with faint damns?
posted by DU at 6:39 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The executive summary damns both Church organizations and government for the abuse, but gives no names and falls short of recommending criminal proceedings.

Judgment lies with the Lord!
posted by yeloson at 6:42 PM on May 21, 2009


I wonder what the intersection of the set of people who are genuinely surprised by this and the set of people who are agnostic or atheist looks like. Maybe enough for a basketball team?
posted by adipocere at 6:48 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I frequently refer to the Catholic Church as the biggest pedophile ring in the world. Once upon a time, my friends thought I was just trying to epate them. I argued that the criteria are there: the chain of responsibility. The deeply embedded culture of abuse from the seminary (and even before - altar boys!) through long careers, high up the hierarchy. The coverups. The shifting of the guilty around various locations to further the abuse. The coverups. It is systematic and I'd argue systemic. Celibacy plays a role, but that's only part of the story, and does not explain (or excuse) it all.

The more such stories come out, the less my friends protest at my description, and the more they agree.

The Catholic Church is the biggest pedophile ring in the world.

If the shoe fits, wear it.
posted by VikingSword at 6:55 PM on May 21, 2009 [12 favorites]


To take a long view, I think Ireland's problem (and more like the Catholic Church's problem) with child abuse is a bit like the US' problem with slavery. These problems carry a heavy moral weight, that a great wrong has been committed and was allowed to continue by complicit silence for far too long. Coming to terms with the severity of the wrongs committed is a very long, drawn out and painful process, but eventually progress is made. The Catholics in Ireland also have a difficult relationship with the majority religion, and they do understandably have an underdog mentality there, as does the South in the US since Reconstruction, and both have struggled with poverty, which makes progress among those groups more difficult. Not that it's right, however. People should be prosecuted, and the Church desperately needs to clean house. I don't see it happening anytime real soon, unfortunately.

And not that we're really past it, either, but step by step we do get a little further along. Unfortunately, I don't think the Church under Benedict is all that into real reconciliation for past sins of the Church, and progress will be difficult, even though he apologized and called for prosecutions. But there is hope. In 1992, John Paul II apologized for the Catholic Church's persecution of Galileo in 1633. Took about 400 years, but it turns out they discovered the earth is not actually the center of the universe.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:02 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


To engage in my personal axe-grinding. Donahue's response is crap. The 1908 law under which these schools were chartered placed strict limits on corporeal punishment, and required that it be carefully documented. His demand that only penetration should qualify as sexual abuse is an ugly rationalization, and ignores the fact that both church organizations and governments chose to cover-up the crimes rather than deal with scandal.

DU: Praising with faint damns?

Pretty much. The recommendations in regards to survivors basically boil down to:
1: Build a pretty memorial as a permanent apology.
2: Government officials and school staff should think long and hard about their misdeeds.
3: Provide counseling and family tracing services.

Which strikes me as rather weak given the weight of the accusations they document. "Yes, our government was involved in thousands of extremely serious criminal acts perpetrated over 70 years. So let's employ architects, psychologists, and librarians! Brilliant!"

Now, I couldn't find fault with their recommendations regarding future practice and oversight. Which, to grind my axe even further, this is a cautionary tale of what can happen when you give religious institutions with the power to bully the government the keys to a social service. It's not like the U.S. is entirely spotless on this. Jim Crow included legalized industrial slavery until well into the 20th century.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:06 PM on May 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Related.
posted by mullingitover at 7:06 PM on May 21, 2009


I think the fact that the Catholic Church's response to the report was to praise the abuser priests for their courage in confronting what they did, without reference to the victims, is a pretty good sign that the organization is unrepentant as a matter of policy and does not intend to act to end the abuse or hold accountable either those who committed it or those who facilitated it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:06 PM on May 21, 2009 [13 favorites]


The real scandal here and elsewhere is that secular authorities were often complicit in hiding such abuse. The CC was in many cases above the law. That was true in the U.S. (especially in places like Boston) and still true to some extent in countries where the CC influence is particularly strong.
posted by VikingSword at 7:08 PM on May 21, 2009


I am shocked that an organization which has the world's most infamous torture device as its emblem would be associated with abuse.

Seriously though, at what point does the church have to be disbanded for racketeering?
posted by mullingitover at 7:11 PM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


I can't understand why my relatives always seem sad about me leaving the Catholic Church.
posted by Scoo at 7:13 PM on May 21, 2009


The Catholics in Ireland also have a difficult relationship with the majority religion, and they do understandably have an underdog mentality there,

Wait -- Catholicism is a minority religion in the Republic of Ireland?

The Church managed to cut a deal whereby their liability was limited to 125 million, a fraction of the total reparations which will be paid. The Christian Brothers sued and won to have the names of the abusers suppressed. The Irish Government is essentially enabling the suppression of and subsidization of a vast criminal conspiracy by the Catholic Church, the Christian Brothers, the Sisters of Mercy, and their associated hangers-on and gang members. As one of the victims says, some of the perpetrators are sick, all of those who helped cover up are criminals.
posted by Rumple at 7:14 PM on May 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


Judgment lies with the Lord!

Except when judging gay people. Then proclamations and condemnations are in order - all to protect the children and family values, of course.
posted by VikingSword at 7:16 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Catholic Church has much to answer for to which it has chosen to remain silent. I am Episcopalian so I have never believed in the Catholic Church's inviolability etc. yet they were a large religious presence and something to respect. With their total denial of child abuse within the church they have become a joke. They totally lack credibility. The Nazi pope is no help. He was never qualified for this job. It appears to be too big for him. Sad. Sad for the Catholics and sad for all Christians as their failures bring everyone down. The Catholic church needs an adult leader like Obama, someone to talk truth, not talking points. The Nazi Pope is the worst thing the church has faced in years. What a failure.
posted by caddis at 7:20 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The executive summary damns both Church organizations and government for the abuse, but gives no names and falls short of recommending criminal proceedings.

That's because they're looking forward, not back. What are you, some kind of extremist?

--

Anyway, a giant organization of people who supposedly don't ever have sex? Hard to see any problems coming up with that. Back in the 1960's some psychologists experimented with psychoanalyzing priests:
[Bovet] suggests that many clergy would benefit from psychotherapy during their training. This was attempted in Mexico when in 1961 a group of 60 Benedictine monks underwent group and individual psychoanalysis. However, of the original 60 monks taking part in this experiment, only 20 are still monks ; and of the 40 who have left the monastery it is reported that "there are some who realized that they were really called to married life" (Lemercier, 1965).

The Papal Court answered this "threat" the following decree: "You will not maintain in public or in private psychoanalytical theory or practice, under threat of suspension as a priest, and you are rigorously forbidden under threat of destitution to suggest to candidates for the monastery that they should undergo psychoanalysis" (Singleton, 1967).
posted by delmoi at 7:21 PM on May 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think the fact that the Catholic Church's response to the report was to praise the abuser priests for their courage in confronting what they did, without reference to the victims, is a pretty good sign that the organization is unrepentant as a matter of policy and does not intend to act to end the abuse or hold accountable either those who committed it or those who facilitated it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:06 PM on May 22 [+] [!]


Eponysterical!
posted by nightchrome at 7:24 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Catholics in Ireland also have a difficult relationship with the majority religion, and they do understandably have an underdog mentality there.

what
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:27 PM on May 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


Judgment lies with the Lord!

Except when judging gay people. Then proclamations and condemnations are in order - all to protect the children and family values, of course.
posted by VikingSword at 7:16 PM on May 21 [+] [!]


Did you switch to the sword after you ground your axe all the way down, Mr. Viking? This is post is about abuse in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
posted by resurrexit at 7:31 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


In related news, one in ten (of 5000 priests) enjoy regular sex with women.

The remaining 90% presumably can't get over their Catholic guilt enough to let themselves go & simply enjoy the moment when getting down & dirty.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:31 PM on May 21, 2009


(either that, or they prefer the company of altarboys)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:33 PM on May 21, 2009


Apparently, the Nazi connections of the current pope have been undergoing closer scrutiny since his visit to Jerusalem. It appears that something more sordid was afoot than the "only tangential" connection line peddled by the pope, at the very least, it seems the Vatican spokesman was trying to minimize the pope's Nazi connections, which blew up when the lie was exposed. Regardless of the Nazi thing, this is a pope that's singularly tone deaf. The trail of missteps is amazing. The recent Jerusalem visit was a disaster. The Holocaust denial priests being welcomed back. The slurs against Muslims. The condom idiocy, homosexuality viciousness, and general desire to drag the world back to the middle ages is something that has backfired very badly.

To me it parallels the Bush disaster. It's as if Bin Laden picked America's president G.W. Bush for maximum damage. And Satan picked Pope Benedict XVI for maximum damage to the Catholic Church. I mean... a murky Nazi past and sordid positions today - it's straight out of central casting. You could not ask for a better villain. Satan works in mysterious ways. Maybe not so mysterious.
posted by VikingSword at 7:38 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


The interest groups working to legalize marriage for gay couples have been laying the groundwork for more than four years, lobbying lawmakers and funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to their campaigns. And last week they began running television commercials in three of the state’s largest media markets promoting same-sex marriage as an equal rights issue.

Their opponents, who are just beginning to organize, say they feel outgunned and underfinanced.

...

The state’s Roman Catholic bishops have been somewhat distracted, too, having focused their lobbying energies this session on defeating a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to bring civil claims, and have appeared unprepared for the battle over marriage.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:41 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did you switch to the sword after you ground your axe all the way down, Mr. Viking? This is post is about abuse in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Oh pardon me, so sorry, you are right, the pen is mightier than a sword, even a Viking sword.

So, pray tell, what is the position of the Catholic Church in Ireland when it comes to homosexuality?
posted by VikingSword at 7:42 PM on May 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


The Catholic Church is the biggest pedophile ring in the world.

Trenton, N.J. (SatireWire.com) — Under a new law designed to protect minors, local police departments will now be required to inform residents any time a known Roman Catholic church moves into their neighborhood.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 7:46 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a Catholic I can't help but say: how this hell does this stuff happen? Seriously. And I wonder what portion of the priests responsible for abuse in American churches were Irish? Can we all just agree to blame the Irish here?

This is one of those issues where I wish Bill Donahue would just stop being the apologist and say, 'Yeah . . . yup . . . man, that sucks. You guys blew it. Suck.' But he could never do that. He's to Catholics what Abe Foxman, Rush Limbaugh, and Jesse Jackson are to Jews, Republicans, and blacks, respectively. He's become a useful idiot for forums such as this, which lessens the credibility of those articulating legitimate claims of bias or antagonism towards the group he ostensibly represents.

Unfortunately, now all of the national bishops' conferences (the quasi-governing body of the national/regional Catholic churches worldwide) have swung into overkill and if you volunteer to do ANYTHING at a parish, you have to take this Draconian, ridiculous training program. Thank you, bishops' conferences, for generalizing a particular problem (male clerics having sex with adolescent young men) into "ANYONE CAN BE A MOLESTER. ANYONE." where all the molesters in the cheesy videos are women and the targets are four year-old girls.

Please.
posted by resurrexit at 7:50 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, pray tell, what is the position of the Catholic Church in Ireland when it comes to homosexuality?

So are you saying homosexuality has something to do with the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church?
posted by resurrexit at 7:59 PM on May 21, 2009


Thank you, bishops' conferences, for generalizing a particular problem (male clerics having sex with adolescent young men) into "ANYONE CAN BE A MOLESTER. ANYONE." where all the molesters in the cheesy videos are women and the targets are four year-old girls.

Talk about missing the point. So, the problem is "male clerics having sex with adolescent young men"??! Hmm. I guess all the countless cases of pre-adolescent children raped, and even more of them tortured (as in this Irish case, where the torture didn't necessarily have anything to do with sex), don't exist? And no girls suffered? And for that matter, women were not taken advantage of?

Then again, that's par for the course for the apologists. After all, what concrete measures did the CC take to address the problem? So far, it seems they've decided that they'll bar any gay person from the priesthood, and it'll start with questioning all candidates - a sort of "tell and be gone" policy. Good luck with that solution. You'll get rid of all the honest gay people, and admit only the deeply closeted and the skillful liars who are going to be the most likely abusers anyhow. Homosexuality on the brain indeed, somehow the CC can't shake off its barbaric past.
posted by VikingSword at 7:59 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


The church was founded on fraudulent terms anyway. Read up on early church history. The church became what it is not because of Godly Grace, but by political machinations, lying, backstabbing, power-consolidation, and simply gobs of shitty evils both small and large.

The entire thing is absurd when you really begin to grok its scope. We're talking a history of nearly two thousand years of some of the most vile depravities, a history of nearly two thousand years of repression, a history of nearly two thousand years of looting and taxation in the form of tithes.

People are strange.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:00 PM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


So are you saying homosexuality has something to do with the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church?

Hmm, is that what you think I was saying? Think harder, my meaning was quite, quite clear. Oh, and the CC position on homosexuality certainly enters into this, don't you think?
posted by VikingSword at 8:03 PM on May 21, 2009


This is post is about abuse in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Therefore we must *never*, *ever* mention any of the Catholic Church's abusive positions on any other issue, because that would be going completely off topic, wouldn't it? Because the Roman Catholic church's attitude towards sexuality of any sort, both in Ireland and globally, really don't have any bearing on this issue, do they?

Oh, wait a minute. Maybe they do? And if so, then it actually wouldn't be off-topic at all, would it? Simply a matter of you trying to shut someone up?

Did you switch to the sword after you ground your axe all the way down, Mr. Viking?

Do you think he might have been taking lessons in axe-sharpening from you, resurrexit? You might speak with more authority on this issue if your user name wasn't a reference to what the Archbishop Dr. David Jenkins once referred to as 'a conjuring trick with bones'.

Unless your user name reference is a subtle clue to what's going on in your trousers. In which case, I sympathize and apologize.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:06 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sigh. I know this is a grave moral failing of the Catholic Church as an institution, and therefore the correct way to refer to it is as an institution, but I do just want to remind people that there are lots of smaller parts of the Catholic church out there, from dioceses to parishes to individual people, who are appalled by this and who actually do a lot of good in the world.

I'm an atheist/agnostic now, but I was raised Catholic in a parish for which I still have a lot of respect. Not only have there never been any allegations of any child molestation (admittedly setting a low bar), but, in no particular order:

-never once did I hear anything 'political' from either the priests, the parish establishment, or the parishioners (i.e. pro-life screeds, etc.)

-back in the 1980s, some members of the parish, with assistance from the parish, illegally housed refugees from the El Salvadoran Civil War, in which U.S.-backed right-wing death squads terrorized supporters of the popular left-wing political movement. A pretty courageous example, I must say, of really living by Christian principles

-I didn't even know this until my mother told me, but our parish goes out of its way to be gay-friendly, and numerous gay couples celebrate Mass there. This post inspired me to visit the parish's website, and it really does seem to be true: "Following the example of Jesus, we value the diversity of gifts in all people and all are welcome."

-just in general, the church draws its membership from a liberal community (my hometown usually goes about 80-20 Democrat in presidential elections), and it really reflects the values of my town rather than 'the Catholic church.' I've always felt like my parish is often in opposition to the values and general direction of the Vatican, or the Church as an 'institution,' and manages to be a good thing for the community and a small though significant force for good in the world.

You may ask why anyone who has the liberal values I've described above would participate in the Catholic church, since even a liberal branch is tied, and therefore, tainted, by the general scandals. And really, the reason is just tradition. If you've grown up in the Catholic church, understand the customs and traditions that are common to all Catholics wherever they are (the progression of the Mass, the music, the ritual), that's hard to let go. If it's been your community for your whole life, there's a strong pull drawing you back, even if you are gay, or pro-choice, or atheist (my mother has recently had a crisis of faith and realized that she does not believe in the divinity of Christ or a personal god, yet she still attends church from time to time because she believes in Jesus's message, likes to see friends, hear the music, etc.), and it's important to recognize, I think, that even in an entity like the Catholic church, commonly described as authoritarian and monolithic, there are people like that, too.

So yes, this is about 'the Catholic Church.' But on some level, that church is not one thing, and it's sad that the institution's behavior in recent years has (a) been so appalling and (b) casts a pall over all the individual good lights in the church.
posted by notswedish at 8:06 PM on May 21, 2009 [13 favorites]


Quick, someone call Terry Eagleton! We need him to explain why this decades-long conspiracy to abuse children and protect the perpetrators from any consequences whatsoever shouldn't be judged by irrelevant standards like morality and legality! Also I am curious as to whether a state-sanctioned pedophile ring is more like a ballet or a symphony.
posted by No-sword at 8:12 PM on May 21, 2009


In related news, one in ten (of 5000 priests) enjoy regular sex with women.

My uncle used to be a priest. Once I went out to lunch with him, and the topic turned to some problem in my love life (I must have been 18 or 19 then), and he just started telling me all these stories about his past relationships, etc., from when he was not only my age, but in his 20s, 30s, 40s (when he was around 45, went to Peru as a priest on a missionary assignment and came back as a newly minted layperson, but married to his now wife of 10+ years), etc. He was talking perfectly nonchalantly, "this must have been 1976, when I was living with Maria..." and so I just took that cue from him and nodded along, but the whole time my mind was screaming, "but what about teh celibacy????"
posted by notswedish at 8:13 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe some good things have been done under the auspices of the Catholic Church. Fine. And maybe the bureaucracy shuffling clergy about had some tense conversations and some unpleasant moments of doubt while they punt another pedo-priest to a new parish. I'll be sure to cry some extra tears for those middle managers bishops who had to make the tough choice to sell out real flesh and blood kids in exchange for some potential future harvest of mythical souls saved by the "greater good" of keeping these child-tormentors out and about for just a few years longer.

But please do not attempt to play that game where "the institution" gets credit for the good stuff, and "individual bad apples" take all the blame for the bad stuff. Most especially, do not try this when the individual bad apples have a fairly broad distribution throughout the barrel, and there's a systematic coverup going on by not-directly-child-abusing apples. If the group wishes to take credit for the good, it must take credit for the bad, as well. If it wishes to blame only individuals for the atrocities committed, then individuals must also be accorded the good deeds, not the Church.

The Church does not get it both ways.

In some sense, this is the game religion attempts to play with us from the beginning — God is responsible for all good, and anything which does not fall under that gets chalked up to the Devil, human failing, or "it might seem awful now but you just don't get God's plan." It's a con, and a very old one. If you want to give the group power in your mind, fine, do so, but pass along the responsibility, as well.
posted by adipocere at 8:25 PM on May 21, 2009 [19 favorites]


Thank you, bishops' conferences, for generalizing a particular problem (male clerics having sex with adolescent young men) into "ANYONE CAN BE A MOLESTER. ANYONE." where all the molesters in the cheesy videos are women and the targets are four year-old girls.

I am so fucking tired of this bullshit canard. Here is the relevant section of the official study carried out by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice. 59% of the victims were between the ages of 10-14 when the victimization began, 26.7% were 15-17, and the rest were 9 and younger. As you can see, the vast majority of the victims (and let's recall that 20% of those included in the study were female) were still in elementary school, and therefore, unambiguously, children. Sixth, Seventh, Eighth grade boys don't get called "young men" unless they're being reprimanded, patronized, or referred to by apologists for child rape.
posted by moxiedoll at 8:35 PM on May 21, 2009 [10 favorites]


God is responsible for all good, and anything which does not fall under that gets chalked up to the Devil, human failing, or "it might seem awful now but you just don't get God's plan."

Especially the last part. How did a lot of the abuse happen anyway? What were some prime techniques for persuasion? That's right, "god's will". Those kids are taught to obey god's will, and the interpreter of god's will is the priest. So what can the kid do, when the priest tells him it's god's will? You see, sometimes god's will comes at the end of a priests dick - it's all part of a plan. One wonders how exactly do the subscribers to the "it's all god's will" explain the good that will eventually come out of child abuse? How does that child's agony translate into something good down the road, and that's why god allowed it?
posted by VikingSword at 8:39 PM on May 21, 2009


But please do not attempt to play that game where "the institution" gets credit for the good stuff, and "individual bad apples" take all the blame for the bad stuff.

The way I see it, "the institution" (composed of a whole lot, possibly a majority of the very-high-ups at the church and their conscious supporters in the church) does gets blame for the bad stuff. It's the few individual good apples who get credit for the good stuff.

It just saddens me that this giant scandal casts its shadow over those good apples, many of whom I know and respect.
posted by notswedish at 8:48 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those good apples willingly choose to be a part of a corrupt institution.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:16 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


The entire thing is absurd when you really begin to grok its scope. We're talking a history of nearly two thousand years of some of the most vile depravities, a history of nearly two thousand years of repression, a history of nearly two thousand years of looting and taxation in the form of tithes.

Well, to be fair, most of the world was pretty fucked up for most of that time. It's only been, what, the past 200-300 years that things have even approached what we would consider basic decency. Depending on where you live and your ethnicity.
posted by delmoi at 10:41 PM on May 21, 2009


Vikingsword, are you saying that the abuse of children is the same condemning homosexuality or are you saying that abuse of children is not as bad (or perhaps worse) then homosexuality. In addition, with regards to your comment about .....condemning homosexuality to protect 'family values'; does it mean its ok to abuse children in the school system, as long as there are no acts of homosexuality?
posted by Prunedish at 10:56 PM on May 21, 2009


It's only been, what, the past 200-300 years that things have even approached what we would consider basic decency.

In the United States, today, the Catholic Church has put a temporary stop to trying to buy laws to oppress gay people, just so that they can buy laws that keep them from getting sued by those they once sexually abused as children. That's all kinds of Fucked Up, possibly as much as when the Catholic Church collaborated with Nazi Germany.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:07 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


VikingSword, I am no apologist for Ratzinger (I SO width his name was hyphenated), but it would have been impossible for a youngster in Nazi Germany to opt out of the Hitler Youth, even for a future pope. His Nazi connections are pretty much that he, like all other youth in Germany at that time was a member of the Hitler Youth- that and that he's an evil fascist bastard who is head of an evil, fascist, holocaust denying, misogynist, backward looking organisation.
posted by mattoxic at 11:21 PM on May 21, 2009


Prunedish, I think you've got Vikingsword all wrong. I can't speak for him, but it seems as though he's referring to the tendency of apologists for the Church to dismiss the whole child abuse scandal as a series of "homosexual affairs with young men" - and that therefore the problem was caused by homosexuals in the priesthood, and that therefore the solution is to crack down on gay catholics. You probably haven't come across this particular argument (since it's all kinds of fucked up) but if you read Catholic blogs and news source comments you trip over it every day.
posted by moxiedoll at 11:23 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


VikingSword Hmm. I guess all the countless cases of pre-adolescent children raped, and even more of them tortured (as in this Irish case, where the torture didn't necessarily have anything to do with sex), don't exist?

A point that bears repeating. Sexual abuse is not the only kind of abuse various authorities put children through, and it's not even the worst kind. It's just the kind that the most fuss is made about, for some reason.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:27 PM on May 21, 2009


Anyone who saw the Magdalene Sisters (whose Wiki page has been updated to reflect its role in instigating, to some extent, this report) will not be in the least surprised about this.

In fact, I happened to see the Magdalene Sisters in Spain, which has its own twisted relationship with the Catholic Church. The professor who showed us the movie revealed a particularly vicious entanglement of church and state that occurred under Franco: women who gave birth were not given anesthesia because the blame for original sin was placed at the feet of women and birth without pain relief was their punishment.

I find it so hard to reconcile a Church that offered liberation theology (though of course this was later distanced from the official Church) on one hand and this ridiculous policy on the other--basically at the same time in history.

The Catholic Church has a difficult relationship with women (who, it should be noted, were rarely raped at these institutions but often treated in horrific and spectacularly sadistic ways), with the state (there are far too many instances of the Church co-existing with repressive regimes), and with the powerless (it all too often sides with the powerful).

In Ireland, these elements combined for decades of abuse--and while the victims can never be made whole, it would be a relief to them, I'm sure, to know that the Church will not perpetuate the mistakes it made in Ireland. I doubt they'll be getting that relief any time soon.
posted by librarylis at 11:35 PM on May 21, 2009


I find it so hard to reconcile a Church that offered liberation theology (though of course this was later distanced from the official Church)

The Vatican never approved of Liberation Theology and suppressed it fairly viciously once they realized how widespread it was becoming.

And what's this about Ratzinger having deep Nazi connections? I mean, I don't for a second believe that someone who went along with the Hitler Youth rather than refusing at danger to his own life can be said to be an ultimate moral authority, but I was under the impression that he just went along. Was it deeper than that?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:46 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


No - the CC does not get a pass because of some good people at the bottom.

Rather the good people at the bottom should get the hell out from under the despicable behemoth - and continue to be good people but now disassociated from an institution which has and continues to willfully inflict unconscionable suffering upon so many within their terrifyingly large sphere of influence.

The CC has ignored evident abuse and rather continued to support child abusing facilities. It has also - following decisions at various levels, on various occasions - moved known child-molesting priests between parishes without warning or sanction. It knew recidivism rates - and rewarded the offending priest with a new and suspecting crop of victims. It has refused to admit culpability in these actions. No matter how reprehensible the individuals actions in violating the trust given them has been, the relentlessly behaviour of the church to not only fail to address the issue but actively perpetuate it is a crime orders of magnitude larger. And, to me, it seems irreconcilable with any idea of a spiritually fulfilling institution worthy of being indulged with notions of being salvageable or "not all bad".

Extending beyond the systematic child abuse, other platforms such as forbidding birth control are unbelievably dangerous - the west gets to pretty much ignore them while for the developing world in which the RC missionaries are proselytizing, this means the loss of very basic - and effective - methods to protect against things such as AIDS and unwanted pregnancies. Then there's the virulently anti-gay stance...

The crimes of this organization - measured by the suffering it has inflicted through its criminal behaviour (child abuse), criminally negligent behaviour (covering up and abetting the abuse), and the often dangerous moral codes it enforces on its adherents - are staggering.

If the devil exists, there's a certain neighbourhood in Rome where he can always find someone to high-five.
posted by sloe at 11:52 PM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


Weakland says he didn't know priests' abuse was crime, Milwaukee. PopeGuilty see ratlines or search FTR at spitfire.
posted by hortense at 11:55 PM on May 21, 2009


No - the CC does not get a pass because of some good people at the bottom.

More to the point, the problem is that some of them are too good at the bottom.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:00 AM on May 22, 2009


No - the CC does not get a pass because of some good people at the bottom.

More to the point, the problem is that some of them are too good at the bottom.


Child rape: It's hilarious!

Sigh. I know this is a grave moral failing of the Catholic Church as an institution, and therefore the correct way to refer to it is as an institution, but I do just want to remind people that there are lots of smaller parts of the Catholic church out there, from dioceses to parishes to individual people, who are appalled by this and who actually do a lot of good in the world.

Yeah, and keep bulking the Church out with the money and numbers it uses to protect criminals, through the courts and the threats of retaliation at the ballot box.

Seriously, if systematic torture and rape of children over a period of more than a half century isn't enough to make people think twice about supporting an organisation with their time and money, what the fuck is?
posted by rodgerd at 1:13 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It would never have happened under British rule...
posted by the cuban at 2:48 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really. I read this and think, how do people still claim a special connection with God and keep a straight face? I mean, either it's hokum, or whatever message God is giving isn't so clear, or it's a bit easy to ignore when the very people God wants as his earthly messengers decide the pleasure of poking a choirboy is a worthwhile trade off for the pain of eternal damnation.

When the most senior Catholic cleric was a member of an organisation that went on to slaughter millions of innocents you've really got to question the value of this special connection to God.

It's not looking too flash from where I'm sitting. And in case anyone thinks I'm doing down the majority of honest, law abiding religious folk, I'm not. I happen to think you'd still be great, conscientious people without a supernatural entity whispering saintly advice into your ears.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:40 AM on May 22, 2009


mattoxic: "... but it would have been impossible for a youngster in Nazi Germany to opt out of the Hitler Youth, even for a future pope..."

Many young people in Germany did just that. They formed groups like the Edelweiss Pirates, Kittelbach Pirates, Roving Dudes, Swing Kids or Leipzig Meuten and here's a great quote about just some of them (from a leading Nazi)...

"Every child knows who the Kittelbach Pirates are. They are everywhere; there are more of them than there are Hitler Youth... They beat up the patrols... They never take no for an answer." (source)

They defied the Nazis. Many paid for their defiance and were hanged or sent to concentration camps.
posted by xpermanentx at 3:49 AM on May 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


Here's a very good article by Colm Tóibín on sexual abuse and the Catholic Church in Ireland.
posted by Mocata at 4:10 AM on May 22, 2009


the cuban: It would never have happened under British rule...

Must... not... feed... troll...
posted by nfg at 4:31 AM on May 22, 2009


Child rape: It's hilarious!

posted by rodgerd 3 ¾ hours ago [1 favorite +]


no comment.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:10 AM on May 22, 2009


Thanks, mullingitover. I'd seen that film, and thought of it again when I read this story. A very powerful film.
posted by paddbear at 5:41 AM on May 22, 2009


At least the sexual abuse my catholic high school covered up involved a lay person...
posted by Mick at 5:53 AM on May 22, 2009


notswedish: In related news, one in ten (of 5000 priests) enjoy regular sex with women.

Future mother in law is from a smallish town in Hungary. It's pretty much accepted wisdom that the priest in any given town is getting more tail than the (equivalent of the) hot quarterback / eligible bachelor / etc.

This doesn't surprise me, the parents of one of my college roommates were an ex-priest and ex-nun...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:55 AM on May 22, 2009


I recently asked my own mother why she no longer goes to mass. She said this was pretty much the start of it.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:04 AM on May 22, 2009


holy shit, that web design would convince anybody that there is no god.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:10 AM on May 22, 2009


Sexual abuse is only a part of this story, and the homosexual chatter above is a complete derail. We're talking about systematic abuse, violence, humiliation, for thousands of kids, over decades. One boy was made to lick the shit off the priest's boot in public for Christ's sake. This is about power and how fucked up power structures can be, not about teh gay.
posted by fcummins at 7:31 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Vikingsword, are you saying that the abuse of children is the same condemning homosexuality or are you saying that abuse of children is not as bad (or perhaps worse) then homosexuality. In addition, with regards to your comment about .....condemning homosexuality to protect 'family values'; does it mean its ok to abuse children in the school system, as long as there are no acts of homosexuality?

I am saying that the sick, cruel, backward and bigoted position of the CC on homosexuality is part and parcel of this abuse. As moxiedoll said - the CC apologists basically see the abstract "evil" of homosexuality as fully explaining child abuse (as if no other harm was done than male priests having sex with adolescent boys - as one poster here put it, hilariously and rather predictably). This reasoning is encouraged by the CC - note, that the one thing they did in response to this crisis is to mandate that homosexuality is now grounds for automatic exclusion from the seminary. As if that's the root of the problem - priests who happen to be gay.

If the response of the CC to this abuse, is to point fingers at gay people, then how can this problem be possibly solved? It can't, because homosexuality is not the problem. To affect a cure, you must first stop misdiagnosing.

As long as the CC continues to demonize gay people and homosexuality, the abuse of children will continue. The CC position on homosexuality is not the only factor, but it is a critical one.
posted by VikingSword at 11:22 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


fcummins is absolutely correct in saying that sexual abuse is only a part of the story. I knew about that already and I wasn't shocked, really, by the report. I'm glad these events have been officially recognised, however, because for many years the adults who came forward to say that they had been treated in these awful ways were derided as fantasists or people out to make a quick buck in compensation.

What really shocked me in the report was the economics. Many of the larger institutions were run at a profit. The Irish State paid a capitation grant per child incarcerated in these institutions. The institutions managed to avoid spending this money on things like heat, food, and proper educational opportunites. Instead, the childrens' education was neglected and "vocational training "actually consisted of work making rosary beads and other marketable items. The report notes that the work was chosen to benefit the institutions rather than the children and their training needs. The upshot was that institutions were a net contributor to the coffers of the orders running them. This was child slavery. The report goes on to say that the monies were sometimes used to fund other parts of the educational system under the control of the orders. That might not seem so terrible - but what the orders were doing was exploiting the most vulnerable people in society in order to support the respectable sons and daughters of respectable people. It corrupts the whole enterprise, in my view, and gives the lie to the notion that they "did a lot of good".

Furthermore, the system promoted the detention of children in these institutions - the more of them there were, the bigger the capitation grant. It's well documented that many children were detained in for the most trivial of reasons.

That fact, in particular, makes the Donohoe response all the more shocking. I am shocked that he has the gall to call the children - children - locked up in these places "delinquents" and "miscreants". Of course, he has no problem with children being cold and hungry and sexually assaulted, as long as it's not "rape". It makes we wish I hadn't lost my faith so I could console myself with the belief that he's going to hell.

It should be noted that no-one in the Irish Catholic Church actually in Ireland has tried putting out that kind of statement. They wouldn't dare, now.
posted by tiny crocodile at 11:31 AM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are there examples of relatively well-run systems of juvenile detention before 1975 or so? It seems like they all suffered from the same selection problem: they attracted people who wanted access to and control over children who had no one to protect them. Is it just that many more children were placed in detention in Ireland than in other places?

I'm asking this sincerely, not in some attempt to defend the Catholic Church.
posted by palliser at 11:39 AM on May 22, 2009


Rather the good people at the bottom should get the hell out from under the despicable behemoth - and continue to be good people

I would argue that at this point, anyone who willingly calls themselves a catholic is NOT a good person. I would argue that any person who has ever walked into a Catholic church, and seen the wealth squandered, while people are starving, and not walked right back out in disgust, is not a good person. The New Testament is pretty clear, the name you call yourself isn't anywhere as important and what you do in God's name.

Also, at least 10-20% of the required german youth were able to avoid joining the Hitler Youth, if we believe the wikipedia, so no, the Nazi Pope doesn't get a pass on his cowardice.
posted by nomisxid at 1:07 PM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are there examples of relatively well-run systems of juvenile detention before 1975 or so?

What is so magical about 1975? The Magdalene Asylums have been around for over 150 years.

posted by caddis at 1:21 PM on May 22, 2009


Much as I despise the CC, I would not go so far as to say that "anyone who willingly calls themselves a catholic is NOT a good person." I think most are good people. That said, one would hope good people in face of evil so great, and so omnipresent, would make their voices heard, and would take concrete action. Start with withholding financial support unless deep reforms are undertaken immediately. A good Catholic, when seeing that his/her church stands for unequivocal evil on a massive scale, must take action. Let us however, not hold Catholics to standards we would not hold anyone else to. I seem to recall we voted for G.W. Bush twice - the second time especially unforgivable, since his crimes were by then well known (and saying "we", yes, I include those of us who did not vote for the monster, but who did not do much in the way of concrete action to oppose the great evil that was GWB's presidency).
posted by VikingSword at 1:48 PM on May 22, 2009


This stuff is still going on, right now, in America, in teen tough love boot camps and emotional growth boarding schools and wilderness programs. Not so much the sexual abuse (though there is plenty of that) but the forced labor, the corporal punishment, the humiliation and the profit-making from it. All are there.

Tens of thousands of kids are in these programs. Will we wait another few decades and then say some sorries?
posted by Maias at 2:01 PM on May 22, 2009


Anybody further interested (especially in the effect that Irish abuser priests have had specifically on America) should check out An Irish Tragedy by Joe Rigert. Extremely well researched, fascinating, appalling, it also, unfortunately, highly repetitive and full of hack-worthy prose. However, it's worth wading through some of the less professional sections to get a good idea of the scope of the damage done.
posted by Football Bat at 5:29 PM on May 22, 2009


How a a conspiracy of silence allowed the torture and abuse of hundreds of thousands of children to go on for decades:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/23/opinion/23banville.html?em

That is why in my post above, I called on Catholics to speak out, ceaselessly, until the church hierarchy changes their vicious ideology.
posted by VikingSword at 8:36 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


All the concessions, compromises and accommodations that had to be made for this inquiry even to take place as it did make me despair of the prospect of any truth or reconciliation regarding America's war in Iraq and the treatment of the prisoners in its war on terror -- despite your current president.
posted by moody cow at 1:13 AM on May 24, 2009


An abuse victim spoke out about his ordeal on Questions and Answers last night. Very powerful, very upsetting.
posted by minifigs at 7:47 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


On Irish radio, American Bill Donohue vehemently denies that there is anything of particular import in the Ryan Report, and that the tone of reporting on it constitutes an attack on the Catholic Church.

minifigs, that video you linked to is indeed powerful. It made me weep the first time I saw it. Michael O'Brien performed a heroic deed right there, though I doubt he would acknowledge it as such.
posted by NortonDC at 10:59 AM on May 31, 2009


an attack on the Catholic Church

It's statements like this that make me question the motives behind the new blasphemy law that was all over the news a few weeks ago.
posted by minifigs at 2:05 AM on June 2, 2009


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