Let me tell you a story. Until the age of 19, I was a theist, a God believer. Now I’m an atheist. But before I left God, I left the Catholic Church and there were two reasons for that.
The first was that as a homo, the Catholic Church aren’t exactly big supporters of me and my fellow LGBT people. But the second reason was the rape and torture of children by Catholic clergy or more nicely known as the Catholic Church’s Child Abuse Scandal.
This week, I watched the film, Spotlight. It details the investigation by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team in uncovering the large amount of abuse committed by Catholic clergy and the systematic cover up of that rape and torture by the Church.
In November, The Washington Post published an article that reported that the film’s portrayal of the abuse scandal has once again made the Catholic Church uncomfortable.
And so it should.
In the Washington Post article, it was reported that Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl wrote that other systems like the public school system should copy what the Catholic Church has done since the scandal was revealed in massively improving the standard of child protection.
Except the Church has a few exceptions that make them a special case compared to other institutions like the school system.
The first is the fact that as an organised religion and the largest Christian denomination on the planet, the Catholic Church makes the claim it is the sole authority on morality because it has the sole and unchallengeable truth from God. I’m not sure what type of morality they are following if covering up the worst crime committed is a priority over the safety of children.
The second exception is that the Catholic Church appears to claim that is has been successful in ending the scandal, except it hasn’t.
During Pope Francis’ US tour last year, he made a speech to bishops in Philadelphia and he said: “The crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors cannot be kept secret any longer. I commit myself to the zealous watchfulness of the church to protect minors, and I promise that all those responsible will be held accountable.”
However his and the Church’s actions are not so quick to follow up on those words.
In 2001 Pope John Paul II imposed the maintenance of how the Church will deal with the crime of child abuse by clergy with a Pontifical Secret. This means that all allegations of the sexual abuse of children by clergy was to remain secret. Pope Benedict in 2010, eight years after the scandal broke imposed further restrictions through the Pontifical Secret.
In 2014, Pope Francis said that he would continue the zero tolerance standard for child raping clergy that Benedict had upheld.
Except that standard never existed.
By the Catholic Church’s own figures from their UN representative for the Holy See prove that the Zero tolerance is closer to 66% tolerance because between 2004 and 2013, only 848 out of 2,573 priest were defrocked. That means that more than two-thirds of priests who has credible allegations of child abuse, and child rape were allowed to remain as priests as long as they had no contact with children and lived a life of prayer and penance.
Just to clarify, that means the Catholic Church has not only allowed these child rapists and torturers to remains as priests, it has also allowed their existence to remain a secret meaning they they cannot face justice.
And with regards to the World’s favourite, Pope Francis, he could abolish that Pontifical Secret today. Right now. A Pontifical Secret is the Church’s highest form of secrecy and is comparable to a permanent silence. And the Pope has the full authority over it. He can change that anytime he wants and he has not. He and the Church are still protecting the men who have raped, and tortured and forever scared innocent children who were brought to the church by loving and well-intentioned parents and they have been betrayed. And are still being betrayed right now.