Forgetting the Sexually Abused Children: The Church’s Strategy 

It’s odd that anyone should be surprised at the current sexual child abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church. It should not be surprising because for anyone who knows the history of the Church, rampant sexual abuses of all kinds were quite commonplace for centuries. During the Middle Ages the Church had absolute power over people, and the people had no power at all to do anything, nor anyone to complain to. One can only imagine the lurid events in convents, monasteries, abbeys and other houses of God. That clergy went on doing this until the present time is only natural.

Gabriel Wilensky

The trouble for the Church is, these days the environment outside the Church is different. A priest can no longer do as he pleases with the boys in church because these days the child can speak out without fear of being flogged by his parents, or bringing shame to the family, or excommunication, or even a visit to an Inquisition dungeon. So, the only difference between now and the 14th century is that now there’s an open press, a somewhat liberal society, and an inexorable distancing from religion and thus from the despotic yoke of the Church.

“It’s odd that anyone should be surprised at the current sexual child abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church. It should not be surprising because for anyone who knows the history of the Church, rampant sexual abuses of all kinds were quite commonplace for centuries.”

But no one should expect the Pope to do the right thing now, namely defrock these pederast priests and hand them over to the civil authorities for prosecution, because that is not what popes do. No, popes do not have the interests of Justice and the victims in mind, they have the interests of the Holy Church in mind, and that means thinking in the long term. And when it comes to thinking ahead and thinking of what will be best for the Church in the long term, the answer is always demurrals, delays, silence, and stonewalling for decades—even generations—until there’s no one alive who lived through the events in question, and the events are forgotten by all except some historians. By the time they narrate the events in history books, the people are so detached that the stories sound almost quaint. It’s like stories of the massacres perpetrated by Catholics in the name of religion during the Crusades or even the Religious Wars. Or the tortures and persecutions of the Inquisition. Who is revolted by these things these days? We would if they had just happened. But we are not because they happened so long ago that we tend to view them in the same way as the barbarous actions of any people in antiquity. This is the strategy of silent popes. It has worked wonderfully for the Church in the past. It’s up to right minded people today to prevent it from working for them again.

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