How they get away with it, again and again and again


The headline (just one of many such in recent months) reads “Predator priests shuffled around globe”.

The story that goes with said headline is appropriately gut-wrenching, heart-scalding, and just plain horrendous.

But if you really want to know how they get away with such god-awful things, you may want to read this.

And also this.

And then you may want to consider the following:

They do not give a rat’s ass about the laws of humankind, other than how to bend them so that those who presume to speak for the laws of God will go on getting away with all the things they do.

They oppose abortion and birth control because those might interfere with the steady flow of new Catholic tithe-payers. Excess births mean more guilt, more shame, and more souls to be picked on in ways that benefit the church, but destroy the souls in question.

They oppose homosexuality for pretty much the same reason. Heaven forfend that two people whose love does not lead to procreation should ever be happy, let alone together! What kind of example would that set for all the excess children? Especially if some of them end up being adopted by such couples? Would they then feel the need to “sacrifice” themselves to the church, to “offer up their lives to God”, at painful cost? Of course not! No, better to taboo all such contact, except in the closet context of, say, a monastery, a seminary, or some other place where it becomes a furtive, shameful, guilt-ridden thing, to be spoken of only in whispers in the confessional, if at all.

They slut-shame the victims of the abuses that clergymen commit, so that those victims will not come forward in time to get the abuser arrested and carted off to jail. This is remarkably easy to do when the victim is a small, young, malleable child or teenager. It’s a lot harder to do to a vocal, self-confident, fully grown adult, which is why you seldom hear about any cases of clerical sexual abuse of persons over 18. Not that they don’t happen, only that the victims don’t fit an optimal profile: too young to fully comprehend what’s going on, often too small to defend themselves, and too mentally malleable to challenge the abuser or the abuser’s warning not to tell. The victim will grow up feeling that s/he was somehow to blame, because s/he “tempted” the “celibate” abuser in some vile, abominable, indecent way that caused him to break his vows.

This is all very convenient for the abuser, who can then go on “giving in to temptation” for as long as he wants, and never pay the consequences. By the time the victim is old enough and knowledgeable enough to realize that s/he has been criminally violated and that there is something to be done about that, the violator will be out of the law’s reach. And possibly out of country, too, since the most abusive priests are the ones who get moved around the most.

And all of this is facilitated by the church hierarchy, by its prudery and its myriad unhealthy taboos around sex. And also by its preference to hang on to bad clerics and move them to new parishes, rather than purging them. Priests are “ordained priests forever”, instead of being granted licence to preach only for as long as they are competent. They are required to be celibate, which covers a multitude of “sins” which are, in fact, crimes. They are not permitted any healthy outlets for their sexual urges, or their spiritual ones for that matter; the authoritarian structure of the church itself sees to that. Anyone who speaks out from a libertarian perspective is reprimanded or silenced; the Liberation Theologians get treated very differently from right-wing cults such as the Legion of Christ (which proved to be a notorious sexual-abuse ring) or Opus Dei (which is overtly fascist). When a right-wing priest like Marcial Maciel or “saint” Josemaría Escrivá can enjoy so much privilege (Escrivá’s writings, in particular, have been instrumental in helping to cover up sexual abuse cases), it’s safe to say that the church itself enjoys special immunity, considering itself above the law. Sexual abuse is readily facilitated by the church on all fronts.

And above all, it is facilitated by the fact that the pope, the Catholic hierarchy, the Vatican, everyone who has the power to do something, to change something, would rather do nothing and change nothing. Because to do that, to make church doctrine subject to change, would be to admit that they are fallible, and that goes against Pius IX’s doctrine.

They cannot and will not mend their ways. All they can and will do is what they are doing right now: shifting blame, and shifting predators around, and sweeping the resultant mess under the rug time and again. The shame of the victims, combined with statutes of limitations, makes it possible for them to get away with it all.

When you realize that statutes of limitation, which they have actively sought to keep in place, are as dear to the church hierarchy as the power to move abusive priests around (rather than defrocking them, which would remove them from ecclesiastical protection, and letting civil authorities deal with them in the truly appropriate way), then you will stop asking how they manage to keep getting away with the murder of young people’s souls.

You will, however, have to ask why they are so far above the law as to have the power to change it–or not permit it to be changed–to suit their own agenda.

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