"If it is painful for you, think what it does to us."
For a number of years I have heard a number of versions of that expression when the topic of rape for children comes to the fore and not only of Catholics. While the Catholic Church is once again in the spotlight this week and has been on and off for decades, maybe even centuries, it does not stand alone.
A few years ago my old high school sent a letter to alumni who allowed sexual abuse of students. It was not alone. The Chicago School System had child abuse at its schools, just like LA and other cities. To a greater or lesser extent, like many other schools, none of them Catholic: St. Paul's, Choate-Rosemary Hall, Exeter, just to name a few. Horace Mann in New York had 62 cases. "Me" and "mini-me", compared to the Catholic Church of course, but not in terms of damage: the non-Catholic child suffered as much as the child in CCD or PSR.
In most cases, people who love these institutions – from school alumni to members of the laity council – share it when it's painful for you, think what it's like for us & # 39; with outsiders. And then continue with their lives as if nothing had happened.
Child abuse is bad; being aware of it and doing nothing to stop it is horrible.
My old high school recently admitted to cases of child abuse and rape that first occurred more than thirty years ago. They spent the next two years investigating the extent of the claims and sending letters dripping from remorse (written by a national PR firm) to alumni and parents. Not once in those two years have they written about a plan to prevent future abuse.
They used a number of the same lawyers who had been hired by the Catholic Church in Boston, the subject of the movie Spotlight & # 39; They applied some of the same tactics to those first victims: delayed reactions, threats of brutal cross-examination in court, controversial settlement negotiations, calling statutes of limitations – effectively defeating the victims until they broke up and gave up.
The good news: the school eventually did the right thing. It settled with 40 victims and offers them long-term therapy and support. The better news: they finally have a detailed plan to prevent future abuses, something they should have done 30 years earlier.
The problem of pedophilia is not limited to the Catholic Church. But because of its size, because of its centralized authority from Rome to the US, Europe, Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand and other countries and because of its claim of ultimate morality, the Catholic Church is much more hypocritical and dark.
Every organism, from the smallest plant to the largest carnivore, has an enormous desire: to continue to live and to continue the species. Organizations do the same.
That explains part of the idea behind "If it is painful for you, think what it is for us." As any Christian will tell you, Christianity does not promote abuse of children; it promotes the protection of children. "Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven," said Jesus. It is a feeling that echoed through all religions. Correspondingly, pedophile priests are aberrations of superior morality; the church itself is good and noble. In order to preserve the overarching mission, the Church leaders instead of purifying these priests, have transferred them to other parishes, sent them to the therapy and / or retired. What they did not do was send them to prison.
At the same time they protected the pedophiles, they fought the victims with their hands in court. The victims were again mistreated.
Now imagine a different approach. Imagine all those who protect children, rather than the institution. Imagine that pedophile priests are murdered, publicly tried and sent to prison.
Imagine that parishioners hold their church accountable and leave it or stay and give donations to other charities until the church protects children. Imagine parishioners saying out loud to the pedophile priests and the bishops, archbishops and cardinals who covered them. Imagine that Pope Francis does more than talk; Imagine that he does not drink church leaders who do not drink or excommunicate the ethics they preach.
Imagine Catholics no longer have to say – never again – "If it is painful for you, think what it does to us."
Contact Henry Briggs at [email protected]