Helen brought up the question first and it started making me think. “Why is it that the Church hierarchy all over the world say exactly the same thing and act in exactly the same way whenever there are allegations made against their priests?”
Well I have pointed out previously that all victims of abuse speak with exactly the same vocabulary as each other, whether the abuse happened 60 years ago or whether it happened last year. When describing the abuse, I suppose there are a limited number of words one can say, the priest stuck his penis up my arse or the priest put his penis in my mouth and there is only one way of describing the absolute horror of living with yourself in the years afterwards. Whichever country you take the victim from their testimony and the psychological aftermath is always recorded in a very, very similar vein.
However on the other side of the fence, the Church do not need to always say and do the same thing whether in Australia, America or England. You would think at some stage some branch of the hierarchy would find enough strength and goodness in themselves to agree with the victim and try to protect them. But no, there only line of defence is to plead not guilty and fight the charge with every penny they have.
So what is the engine that drives these very similar actions of defence. Some people think that these Bishops are reading from a rule book put out by the Vatican, telling the Bishops what to say and do under given circumstance. I am sure this is wrong. The Vatican in its own antiquated and distracted way want an end to this abuse and in fact have shifted the onus for this abuse onto the shoulders of the Bishops. Well for a start I think there are two engines driving this look alike defence. One is the international rule book of the Insurance Companies; insurance and the law governing it is more or less the same in whatever country of the civilised world. It is the Insurance Companies that are calling the tune and the Bishops and Hierarchy have to dance to it.
Which all makes me wonder at these Insurance Companies and the dioceses, when did their relationships start and why? Some dioceses in America started insuring themselves against clerical abuse as early as the 1930s. They must have known then what we all know now, so why was this pattern of clerical abuse covered up for 60 years or more. Some people think it was to protect the good name of the Catholic Church but I think it was for something a lot more sinister.
We al know the Church does not care a jot about the victims of abuse, it pays up when it is forced to and it apologises profusely all the time but when it comes to real and prolonged pastoral care for victims it just shies away, it is not interested and certainly it does not care. All the dioceses can see is cost and cost is all they care about. The cover up was nothing about protecting its name, it was just for keeping insurance charges down.
The Insurance Companies are not daft, their actuaries work out the odds of incidents happening so that fees can be worked out in direct proportion. So if the number of incidents are low, the fees are low and the Bishops best way of managing the system is moving these errant priests around so that no allegations stick and for the persistent victim, a few bob is slid across the table providing a gagging order was signed. This was how it was 15 or 20 years ago, the bishops were quids in and the Insurance Companies were being defrauded and the fees controlled. But we are in a different era, the internet rules the roost. A man picking his nose in Los Angeles can be heard in London. The Church can no longer escape from the mess they have made of so many young lives.
However some insurance companies are starting to fight back after this illegal cover up was discovered and are now refusing to give a defence against allegations. There is a case pending in America against the Diocese of Montana where the insurance company is refusing defence services and in fact has filed a federal lawsuit for millions of dollars against the Diocese.
There is also another engine driving the Church to act in very similar ways around the world when defending allegations of abuse. The clerics of the Church or at least 95% of them were brought up in exactly the same way. From the Pope down to the newly ordained priest, they were all captured and captured is not to strong a word for their preparation, they were all captured at 11 or 12 years of age and put throught he same process and then spewed out into the real world at 24 or so years of age, emotional wrecks. Their emotional development, that thing most of us learn as we drift through our teenage years and on into our early twenties, which helps us understand what is acceptable behaviour, is stopped at 12 years old. At 24 they have not a clue how to behave as a formed human being. They are totally emotionally immature and that immaturity stays with them all their lives. They cannot see the harm that is inflicted on young abuse victims, they are viewing the problem from a 12 year old conscience. In their book Sex,Priests and Secret Codes, Thomas Doyle, Richard Sipe and Patrick Wall spell out this massive problem. Tom Doyle is a Dominican priest and Richard Sipe and Patrick Wall were Benedictine monks and between them they know more about this subject than the rest of the world put together. Their book is a must for anybody interested in this subject.
As an example one of the priests interviewed in the McAlinden case in Maitland-Newcastle diocese in Australia, where the now dead McAlinden is accused of abusing scores of young girls in his ping pong career round the Antipodes, said that he did not know what all the fuss was about, they were only young girls 10-12 years old, they would soon get over it. In his career of about 30 years as a priest McAlinden was passed about between parishes and institutions as far apart as New South Wales, Western Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. His superiors knowing his form, the original rolling stone. The police enquiry which has been continuing these last 15 months and looks like it is nearing its conclusion with the public prosecutor girding his loins for a high profile visitation to the dock. It looks as though Monsignor Lynn of Philadelphia’s legacy is quickly taking shape.
So there is a new slant on the inner most thoughts of that very dubious organisation we call the Catholic Church. I hope you continue to think about this problem.