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Viewpoint from Rev Henry MacCarthy 18/06/10

The Price of Hubris!

 Rev Henry MacCarthy
St Peter’s Catholic Church, Gorleston
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Most people are aware, the Catholic Church world wide, has been receiving adverse press coverage. The reason for this bad coverage arises from a spectacular own-goal by the Church over the paedophile scandal!
This tragic fact has only fully come to light in recent times, when increasing numbers of people who were abused as children by priests have come forward to tell of their awful sufferings. On previous occasions when these children tried to complain about what had happened, they were simply not believed! There was climate of secrecy in the Church, which forbade the reporting of these attacks and the offending priest was usually moved to another parish, which did not solve the problem.
In the last 20 years there has been a growing awareness in the world that the Church has a serious problem on its hands with a small number of its priests. But the Church would not admit this. There was a total secrecy with refusal to give reporters any real information about what was happening. This, in the end, only made matters worse as more information leaked out from various sources and the seriousness of the problem became apparent.
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Finally this year, Pope Benedict, agreed to meet some of those who had been abused and this has led to the Vatican taking a much more open, positive and proactive response to any paedophile cases now reported to it.
Effective measures have now been implemented in the Church in this country and a vigorous procedure, (which of course, cooperates with the National CRB checks), to ensure as far as possible that children and vulnerable adults are not subjected to abuse in the Catholic community. While not completely watertight, this is a vast improvement on the previous situation.
All of this is very sad as I believe the Catholic Church, despite its failings, is still an immense source for good in the world and I pray that the Vatican has learnt a certain humility through all of this, to be more open and transparent in the future.
But this is also a time for Catholics, myself included, to be more sensitive and alert to child abuse wherever it occurs and contrite for what has happened. I hope this will be an opportunity for renewal in the Church as a whole
All of this is bad enough but the real victims of all this hubris are the abused children who have suffered immense trauma from what has happened to them and are still suffering. No one would listen to or believe them at the time. Now, I hope and pray that they will experience healing, peace of mind and justice in their lives as people, are listening, at last!