Child sex abuse within the Catholic Church has been in the news this week with fresh allegations of widespread abuse and cover up in the Netherlands, following on from very similar situations bringing confidence in the Church to breaking point in Ireland and Germany. I did say I would be focusing on the trivial at the moment, but two very different approaches to this painful issue have caught my attention this week.
On Wednesday, Rev Federico Lombardi issued a statement on behalf of the Vatican in which he said that, although abuse in the church is “especially deplorable”, child abuse is wider than the church and focusing on the church alone would not truly depict the problem.
I don’t know if I am the only person who thought this statement looked far too much like an attempt to minimise the seriousness of such a consistent pattern of abuse and cover up that it is apparent that it is a deeply ingrained aspect of the sub culture of Catholicism.
Frederico Lombardi also said that the church’s response had been “prompt and transparent” – really – since when exactly? The extent of the deception and cover up that has been seen so far has been described by commentator Lucetta Scaraffia as similar to “omerta” – the Mafia code of silence used to hide serious offences.
Yesterday, the Archbishop of Vienna (brave man) suggested that priestly celibacy could be one of the causes of the sex abuse scandals to hit the Catholic Church. In an article for Thema Kirche, his diocesan magazine, Christoph Schoborn called for an “unflinching examination” of the possible reasons for paedophilia within the church.
Schoborn’s position does seem to have more integrity than the “it happens everywhere, you know” response. All churches, whether Catholic or not, should recognise that abuse is as common, if not more, so in “Christian” contexts and resolve not turn a blind eye or to shirk responsibility.
(I know I said blogging would be light or trivial but I woke up early, this was on my mind and blogging is a great distraction from ploughing through a heap of interminable marking!)