Easter should be a time of renewal and hope. Yet this weekend found the Roman Catholic church mired in its deepest crisis in recent times over its handling of child abuse by paedophile priests.
Opinions regarding the scale of this crisis have become dangerously polarised. At one extreme the Vatican public relations machine has continued to maintain that this is a case of “a few bad apples” and that paedohpilia is no more common in their ranks than the public at large. (In St Peter’s Square yesterday, Cardinal Angelo Sodano dismissed the crisis as the “petty gossip of the moment” and Pope Benedict made no reference to it.)
Conversely, there are those who maintain the Catholic church offered a unique environment for paedophilia, which became institutionalised through a culture of suppression and denial. This was especially the case in Ireland, where the response to a rising tide of serious allegations was particularly sluggish. Archbishop Rowan Williams unwittingly fuelled the cynical response many have about Roman Catholicism in particular and organised religion in general by suggesting the Church in Ireland had “lost all credibility”. This was deeply hurtful to all those who work tirelessly to live out their Christian vocation. He should have chosen his words more carefully. Despite recent friction in Anglican-Catholic relations, he should recognise that all churches are fighting the same battle against secularism and the erosion of Christian influence.
By the time you finish reading this, 15 children will have been abused; In the next five minutes, 30 more; Within the next hour, 360 more; And by tonight, close to 8,000+ children will have suffered from abuse, 5 of which will die. Child abuse has increased 134% since 1980 and is now considered a worldwide epidemic. The high jump in child abuse deaths and the shocking increase in statistics highlights the frightening lack of public knowledge.
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It May Just Save a Child's Life!!