Monday, May 25, 2009

Contemplating Life Under the Protection of the Pope

As an institution, the Catholic Church is a strong and forceful advocate for life. Thus, abortion is morally reprehensible. Birth control is wrong. The death penalty is murder.

As the protesters made clear when President Obama was speaking at the very Catholic University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana last week, life is what matters.

Unless you are child in the protection of a Catholic orphanage or reform school in Ireland. Then your life is worth very little, in the eyes of the church.

Last week, an Irish commission into the abuse of children by Catholic clerics released a report documenting the horrors inflicted by priests and nuns on children.

Rapes. Scaldings. Beatings. Molestations.

It seems that Dick Cheney's advocacy of waterboarding pales in comparison to the tortures inflicted by the religious on defenseless children.

And the Catholic Church's torture of children went on for decades. The report covers the abuse that occurred from 1930 to 1990.

Protecting the potential life of a collection of cells matters very much to the Catholics, but after you draw that first breath, you're apparently on your own. For much of the last century, if you were an orphan child in Ireland, or an altar boy in America, your life could have been ruined by the sadistic torture inflicted by some of the strongest pro-life advocates in the world.

To me, as a mother and as a Catholic, life matters. Especially the life of a living, breathing child.

It remains incomprehensible to most outside of the Vatican how protecting a collection of cells matters more than protecting the powerless children the Church had assumed responsibility for. Yet when contemplating life under the protective watch of the pope, that's what we see - the fetus is more revered and protected than the child.

The Vatican has no statement to make on this issue at this time.

Some interesting links about this issue include:

A Washington Post story with this to say:

"The 2,600-page report, which capped a nine-year investigation, said rape and sexual abuse were "endemic" in boys' institutions funded by the state but run by the church."

The Irish Times provides some statements from some of the victims - and here's just three:

"– A brother tried to rape me but did not succeed, so I was beaten instead.

– Taken from bed and made to walk around naked with other boys whilst brothers used their canes and flicked at their penis.

– Tied to a cross and raped whilst others masturbated at the side."

The London Times reports that:

"A whole chapter is devoted to a Christian Brother given the pseudonym of John Brander — real name Donal Dunne, who was convicted in 1999 of his crimes and given a two-year prison sentence — which describes his progress through six different schools where he physically terrorised and sexually abused children in his classroom.

The report says that his career, while shocking in itself, illustrated the ease with which sexual predators could operate within the educational system of the State without fear of disclosure or sanction."

The church is always quite vocal on the issue of abortion - witness the demonstrations against President Obama in South Bend last week - but today remains silent on the issue of its abusive priests and nuns. Perhaps after years of focus on the topic of pedophiles in the priesthood, the Vatican would like to change the subject and feels silence is the best approach.

The pope's silence continues the tragedy, however, because silence implies support for the policies of its employees.

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