The Irish Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Book claims victims of clerical abuse are afraid to speak out
"Polish victims of clerical abuse live in a climate of fear and are afraid to speak out against their maltreatment, a new book has claimed. The book, Be Afraid: Victims of Paedophilia by the Catholic Church, examines 27 cases of alleged abuse and accuses Catholic bishops of ignoring abuse allegations.Warsaw-based Dutch journalist Ekke Overbeek said Polish abuse victims were afraid of going public because of the continued prominent place the Catholic church occupies in Polish life. Slowly the issue is being addressed in the Polish media Overbeek said it took a “lot of patience” to convince his interviewees to speak out. “You have to have a lot of courage to talk about it, especially in small towns. I saw for myself how two victims were treated. It was not pleasant.Polish bishops hit back at Overbeek’s book, saying it was “like Swiss cheese: full of holes”.
Bridget Mary's Response:
The Catholic Church's hierarchy blames the media, the victim, then when the bishops are sued, they pay out enormous amounts of money in settlements. The local diocese declares bankruptcy, parishes close, schools close. And so on. ,But neither the bishops nor the Vatican wants to deal with the elephant in the living room! At the heart of the entire debacle is the spiritual abuse of power that is rooted in clericalism, a special system of priviledge and deference to the priests and bishops that associates them with power over the holy and power over the people. We need a major structural change and a renewed church where all the baptized are called forth to use their gifts in service of the church and world. Women priests and married priests in egalitarian, inclusive communities are one part of the answer to the enormous change that is needed.
Tragically, in the case of pedophilia, we have witnessed a pattern from the top down of cover-ups of sexual abuse including the horrendous crimes of rapes of children and youth all over the world. Civil authorities and Catholics in the pews have been reluctant to hold the hierarchy accountable and to challenge the bishops for their intimidation and abuse of power. The press has reported the scandal. The Vatican has resisted changes that would bring accountability and transparency. We must be the movers and shakers in our faith communities. Living Jesus and the Gospel today demands no less of us. Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp, www.arcwp.org