Easter is the holiest time of the year for Christians – this year has been special for all the wrong reasons as well, though. The recent stories around what appears to be institutionalised failings in dealing with accusations of and cases of Child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in different parts of the world are the sort of things that make any decent people – Catholic or Protestant, believer or non-believer, recoil in horror from the initial breach of trust and then the ongoing failure of the institutions and organisations involved to deal effectively with the offenders.
The fact that some of the stories also allegedly involved a department of the Church that was the responsibility of the current Pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, makes the whole situation so much worse. The Pope himself has commented on the affair; the institution of the Vatican, on the other hand, seems to have made a total mess of every aspect of the business, and one can only hope that the legal authorities in the countries in which these crimes have taken place can get enough evidence together to pursue the whole business through the legal system, and clean house where the Vatican has failed to do so.
Because it is essential that this business IS cleared up as soon as possible; the victims need justice and if at all possible what compensation and restitution can be offered. The Church needs to be able to show that it has acted, and needs to be able to start regaining the trust of ALL Christians. Whilst I continue to have Faith in Jesus Christ, and faith in the Anglican Church as an institution, my trust in the institution of the Catholic Church – not, I should add, individual Catholics – is currently being sorely tried.
I feel that the Archbishop of Canterbury didn’t go far enough in his recent comments, particularly after the Pope parked a few Ecclesiastical Tanks on the Lawn of Lambeth Palace in the issue of women Bishops in the Church of England. But that, as they say, is another story.
For me, any cover-up is unacceptable; the Roman Catholic Church can not pretend these things didn’t happen; the current sight of senior Vatican officials doing the equivalent of standing there with their eyes and ears closed, hoping the whole thing will go away, is the most un-edifying and un-Christian thing that could possibly be done, and I hope that if proof of cover up and conspiracy is found, all responsible will be bought to justice.
There is a Biblical precedent which I hope that the abusers and their apologists will bear in mind. Matthew 18:6, to be exact. The King James Translation – still the best, as far as I’m concerned – says it wonderfully.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
There we go. Millstones, anyone?