Catholicism: Nothing less than institutional evil


Catherine Deveney has a really insightful article on the Catholic child abuse and subsequent coverup in Scotland. One key line reads …

one cardinal is not the crisis. Thousands of abused children around the world, and an institution that silences them: that is the real crisis. The church claims child-protection policies have been in place in Scotland since 1999. Judge them for yourself in the following stories.

Be warned, you will need a bucket handy, you will probably want to throw up as you read this …

Pat McEwan

says he fell prey to a paedophile ring of priests. His main abuser, his parish priest, encouraged Pat to visit him, then appeared to slip into a trance. Pat shook him. “I’ve just been talking to Jesus and he says would you like to go to heaven?” said the priest. Then he asked, “Do you love your mummy?” Yes Father. “Do you love your daddy?” Yes Father. “Do you love me? Because this is our little secret and you mustn’t tell your mummy or daddy or you will go to the burny fire.”

This was the 1950s. Parish priests were honoured guests in Catholic homes. The priest arranged for Pat’s devout mother to visit Carfin Grotto, leaving Pat with a priest friend of his. Pat remembers watching through the window while his mother disappeared into the grotto. As soon as she did, the priest turned to him. “I want you to do for me what you have done for your parish priest,” he said. Then he raped him. Afterwards, he tried to quieten the child’s tears before his mother returned. “God doesn’t like boys who cry. Be a soldier of Christ.”

Could it get about worse? Yes it could …

Pat approached the church in the late-90s. He never once asked for money. Instead, he sought counselling, a spiritual retreat – and acknowledgement. “This has always been about justice.” He enlisted the support of Alan Draper, a child-protection expert who had worked for the church in the mid-90s. Draper had left, unhappy with the bishops’ persistent refusal to take appropriate action. Now, he accompanied Pat to a meeting with Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell. In their accounts both Pat and Draper say that the bishop’s solution to the horrifying tale was simple. “Pat, he’s an old man,” he said. “Please let him away with it.”

Pat produces a file of letters, not just from the bishop but from his safeguarding team. The tone is frequently hostile, as if “safeguarding” in the diocese is not so much about protecting victims as protecting the church from victims. In one, Pat is berated for telephoning the office. “Could I please ask,” writes diocesan safeguarding adviser Tina Campbell, “that if you wish to make contact with any member of the diocesan safeguarding team, this is done by letter and not on the phone?”

In 2010, Pat approached O’Brien. Despite being the most senior Catholic in Britain, O’Brien said he could not interfere in Bishop Devine’s area. Draper subsequently wrote to Devine on Pat’s behalf in February 2011, asking him to meet them both. He refused. Pat, he insisted, should meet him alone. “If he were to be accompanied by yourself or anyone else, the meeting would be cancelled,” he wrote. “I take it that I have made myself clear to you on this matter.” At the meeting, Devine rounded on Pat. “You are nothing but an alcoholic,” he said.

“All Pat wanted,” says Draper, “was for the bishop to say, ‘Sorry, we believe you.'”

There is more, a lot more, some truly harrowing stories, if you want to know what is really going on, then you need to read it.

the real victims are the powerless and voiceless. Many live lives they feel are tainted and will never wash clean.

Many shoulder the guilt and shame that belongs to their abusers.

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