In the recent wake of yet another child abuse scandal, Pope Benedict XVI spoke out strongly, condemning the unconscionable actions of predator clergy. He said that while it is the duty of the Church and her followers to protect children, “unfortunately, in different instances, certain of its members went against this commitment and violated rights.” One wishes, though, that he would do more than simply ‘speak’ on the matter.
This latest outrage centers on the findings of the Murphy report, a study commissioned by the Irish government. It deals with child abuse in the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin. The findings are deeply disturbing. The report found that there was rampant abuse of children since at least the 1930s. Most complaints were entirely ignored by the upper echelons of the Catholic clergy and, perhaps most shockingly, the police as well.
The Murphy report comes on the heels of the Ryan report (also known as the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse), which concerned itself primarily with children’s institutions run by Catholic orders and funded by the Irish government. The abuse in these places was described as systematic, consisting of severe beatings, forced sexual acts (both hetero and homosexual), starvation and humiliation. The report found that these Catholic institutions treated the children like slaves. Like in the Murphy report, it was found that government officials turned a blind eye to the suffering of the children.
Recently the Archdiocese of Boston admitted that three of the priests cited for terrible abuses of children had served time in churches in the United States. The sexual abuse scandal that broke out under Cardinal Bernard Law, then Archbishop of Boston, is still fresh in the minds of most Americans. The horrific practice of shuffling predator priests from parish to parish, even when their abuses were well-known to their superiors, was, and for all we know still is, commonplace.