The Catholic Church Should Burn

Aribeth Zelin

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I kind of wish all religion would burn.

What God would be stupid or malicious enough to give the enormous power to represent His Will to a creation he designed to be corrupted by power?

One not worth believing in.
Well, but that's not all religion, albeit most of it. Otherwise, I agree with your sentiment.
 
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Katheryne Helendale

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Innula Zenovka

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Over 4,000 allegations. Is this just in the UK? Holy hell! And I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg worldwide.
Tip of the iceberg in the UK alone, I fear.

Everyone back then was aware this kind of thing went on, to my mind, though perhaps not on the scale it did. A bit like domestic abuse and sexual harassment.
 

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I'm tempted to say that the only thing that has changed is that we now seem to care more that these atrocities are happening and are willing to take action to stop them. But I do wonder if the modern sharing of information has had a galvanizing effect. Instead of hushed whispers of neighborhood gossip, we're seeing the horrors detailed in black and white, out in public.
 

Innula Zenovka

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I'm tempted to say that the only thing that has changed is that we now seem to care more that these atrocities are happening and are willing to take action to stop them. But I do wonder if the modern sharing of information has had a galvanizing effect. Instead of hushed whispers of neighborhood gossip, we're seeing the horrors detailed in black and white, out in public.
At least in the UK, the police, Crown Prosecution Service and child protection agencies are far more prepared now to believe and support complainants than then they were, I think. So, too, are juries.
 
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It's not just the Church, there are missing stairs in just about every organization, but only religion grants the reputation and authority to protect the guilty to this extent.
 

Innula Zenovka

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It's not just the Church, there are missing stairs in just about every organization, but only religion grants the reputation and authority to protect the guilty to this extent.
The only way we know about historic sexual abuse cases is if victims overcome their feelings of embarrassment, their fears of not being believed, and whatever else has deterred them from making a complaint, and if they're prepared to revisit very painful and distressing memories and potentially go through the ordeal of giving evidence at a trial.

That depends, to a great extent, on the approach the police and prosecutors take to allegations of historic sexual abuse and to what -- if any -- efforts they make to encourage victims to come forward after all this time.

The article suggests that the true scale of the problem has begun to emerge in the UK only since 2014, as a result of changed investigative and reporting practices:

The national operation coordinating claims of non-recent child sexual abuse began in 2014 and is called Operation Hydrant. It began after the Jimmy Savile scandal prompted more victims to come forward.

Since Hydrant’s launch, 7,000 suspects have been identified, with 11,346 allegations of attacks received from 9,343 victims, all concerning sexual abuse of children. Some claims date back to the 1940s.

Of the alleged offences, 47% were not investigated by police, in over a third of these cases because the suspect was dead. In a fifth of discontinued claims, suspects could not be identified. More than one-third of the allegations resulted in convictions at court, with 6% resulting in acquittal.

The conviction rate comes despite cases from long ago being harder to investigate because of fewer, if any, forensic clues.

Most revelations of historical sexual abuse involving the Catholic church in the US seem to arise either as a result of civil actions brought by the victims or because of investigations (internal or external) of how particular dioceses have in the past dealt with complaints about abuse.

So without knowing what sort of scrutiny other organisations in which adults have unsupervised access to children are handled -- not only other churches but also non-religious organisations like schools, children's homes, youth groups, parts of the entertainment business and so on -- I don't know how we can say one way or the other.

Certainly it's become very clear in the UK -- and it's something that people were generally aware of, though it wasn't much talked about -- that the sexual abuse of children is, or was until quite recently, most certainly not a problem confined to the Catholic Church in particular or to religious organisations in general.

Rather, it's been happening in any organisation where adults in positions of trust and authority have unsupervised access to children.

Maybe in the US it's different, and abusers tend to seek access to children primarily by seeking positions of authority in religious organisations, and eschew the opportunities offered by schools, youth groups, children's and foster homes and so on, but I honestly don't know how we can tell without knowing a lot more about investigatory practices and prosecution policy, and I doubt that information is available for many states even, let alone nationally.
 
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In the US people in school environments have so little organizational and social protection that there have been some really transparent retaliatory accusations that included things like the teachers abusing kids AND forcing them to worship Satan... and they were taken seriously. There's also been cases where the accusations turned out to be dead on, of course, and there's certainly means and opportunity if someone has a motive.

But when it's "men of the cloth" they are assumed innocent, and even when the facts are out it can take a huge campaign to get any kind of action taken.

That's what I'm getting at, religion provides a shield against accusations that other organizations don't.
 

Zaida Gearbox

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While we're all busy hating on the Catholic Church - I think I've shared it before, but I'm sharing it again. A few years ago, I saw a statement issued by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) that two of their priests who were serving some place like Pakastan had been defrocked because they were found to be pedophiles. I heard about it on the other side of the fucking planet because that is how seriously ROCOR took it - that these two men should not be able to just go insert themselves into another jurisdiction and carry on what they'd been doing.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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In the US people in school environments have so little organizational and social protection that there have been some really transparent retaliatory accusations that included things like the teachers abusing kids AND forcing them to worship Satan... and they were taken seriously. There's also been cases where the accusations turned out to be dead on, of course, and there's certainly means and opportunity if someone has a motive.

But when it's "men of the cloth" they are assumed innocent, and even when the facts are out it can take a huge campaign to get any kind of action taken.

That's what I'm getting at, religion provides a shield against accusations that other organizations don't.
Yes, but what figures exist, whether at national or state level, concerning the investigation and prosecution of allegations of historic sexual abuse, what steps are law enforcement taking to investigate these allegations, what's the policy on prosecution, and what steps are the authorities taking to encourage victims to come forward?

The point of the article is that here in the UK, at least, it's only really been since police forces started coordinating their investigations and sharing information through a national police clearing house, and the Crown Prosecution Service issued particular guidance on how to prosecute these allegations, that the sheer size of the problem started to become apparent.

The authorities needed to make special efforts to encourage complainants to come forward, and have detailed plans for how to handle the cases when they did. That's why we now start to realise what was going on.

Unless similar efforts have been made in the US (and I don't think they have) then, to my mind, we simply don't know the size of the problem of historic child sexual abuse in the US, so any general conclusions the people draw from the partial and fragmentary information that is available are likely to be very unreliable, surely?
 
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Unless similar efforts have been made in the US (and I don't think they have) then, to my mind, we simply don't know the size of the problem of historic child sexual abuse in the US, so any general conclusions the people draw from the partial and fragmentary information that is available are likely to be very unreliable, surely?
I apologize for not being able to quote statistics that don't exist, but I'm talking about the public reaction to allegations. The public response to allegations of abuse inside and outside religious organizations has been dramatically different.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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I apologize for not being able to quote statistics that don't exist, but I'm talking about the public reaction to allegations. The public response to allegations of abuse inside and outside religious organizations has been dramatically different.
Yes, but unless someone actually makes an allegation it's not going to be investigated in the first place, so how does anyone know how an organisation handled such allegations 20 or 30 years ago unless someone comes forward now and their complaints are properly investigated?

Roy Moore, remember, had enjoyed a long and successful career in the public eye, despite the fact that plenty of people in Alabama seemed to be aware that his behaviour, at least when he was in his 20s and 30s, around young teenage girls was pretty questionable, to say the least -- it came to light only when he ran as a candidate in the special senatorial election.

Want to bet on what we'd discover if someone were to run a thorough investigation of how allegations concerned the sexual abuse of minors in institutions run by the state of Alabama -- schools, children's homes, institutions for young offenders, and so on -- were handled by the state authorities back when the 30-year-old Roy Moore was making a nuisance of himself around underage girls in shopping malls (and allegedly sexual assaulting/raping some of them) and no one did anything? Want to bet on how complaints about the sexual abuse by staff of minors detained at the Mexican border are handled nowadays?

Similarly, look at allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of adults in the media and entertainment industries, and what's transpired as a result of #MeToo -- people working with them seem to have known what Roger Ailes and Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey were like but few, if any, complainants came forward until very recently.

I remember back in the 80s and 90s being assured, when I was asking as part of my job, about how schools and colleges run by the Inner London Education Authority (as they were back then) handled complaints of sexual harassment or abuse of students and staff, that they didn't need a written policy because they never received any complaints, so there couldn't be any particular problem. I remember my reaction to being told this, too, as probably did several of the people I was interviewing.

Maybe the US and UK are very different in this respect, and sexual predators abusing positions of trust that give them unsupervised access to young people tend, in the US, to be found primarily in religious organisations and communities while in the UK they've been active in secular institutions too.

Personally, I rather doubt that, but we're not going to know one way or the other unless someone makes a particular effort to investigate how complaints were handled back then, and that won't happen unless something makes it happen, like a police investigation as a result of a complaint about historic abuse.

What steps, if any, are the authorities in your state taking to encourage people who say they were abused in state and city institutions as children some 20 or 30 years ago, or more, to come forward, and how are the complaints handled and prosecuted if they do come forward?
 
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Yes, but unless someone actually makes an allegation it's not going to be investigated in the first place, so how does anyone know how an organisation handled such allegations 20 or 30 years ago unless someone comes forward now and their complaints are properly investigated?
I guess I'm not expressing myself well, because I'm not talking about how an organization hides an allegation that doesn't become public. I'm talking about public response and media reaction when it does. Particularly towards teachers and child-care workers compared to priests. Which one can have their career basically destroyed by mere allegations? Which one gets repeatedly forgiven by their congregations?

I will grant you that the State provides a similar protective cover. So does wealth.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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I guess I'm not expressing myself well, because I'm not talking about how an organization hides an allegation that doesn't become public. I'm talking about public response and media reaction when it does. Particularly towards teachers and child-care workers compared to priests. Which one can have their career basically destroyed by mere allegations? Which one gets repeatedly forgiven by their congregations?

I will grant you that the State provides a similar protective cover. So does wealth.
I think part of the problem is that I'm certainly thinking of what's happening in the UK and you're probably thinking about what's happening in the US.

In the UK there is statutory guidance in place on how concerns about the welfare of children and vulnerable adults are to be handled by anyone having responsibility for them as part of their duties, including complaints made by the child or adult concerned, or allegations made by a third party, or concerns raised by the child or adult's general demeanour and behaviour, and this applies equally to schools and churches as it does to anywhere else.

This involves, quite apart from the organisation's internal procedures, referring the matter a designated officer in the local authority, who has the duty of notifying all the relevant parties, including child protection agencies and, if criminal behaviour is alleged, the police.

We also, if and when the matter does become public, have strict rules about what can be reported, both about minor children and about defendants in criminal trials, so the media response to any such allegations is very constrained until any criminal trial is concluded.

I think this means that you and I are thinking about two very different environments.

ETA: It occurs to me, too, that allegations of historic sexual abuse against family members often split families, which half the family unable to believe that their father/uncle/grandfather/brother/husband could have behaved that way. Maybe we're observing something similar with congregations.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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More details, including stories of some of the ruined lives caused by this abuse, and of the authorities' obstructive and dismissive attitude to claims for redress

On 11 February a damning report by the all-party parliamentary group on Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse will be highly critical of the support and resources available to these children, now in their 50s, 60s and older, many of whom have spent a lifetime with their experiences not believed and redress unobtainable.

The report is titled Can Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Access Justice and Support? and the conclusion is an emphatic “no”. Based on two years’ work, it finds all the major services, including police, health, crown prosecution and courts, are failing to address a potential national crisis, with support services struggling to meet demand.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that 3.1 million people aged 18-74 were sexually abused in childhood. However, only one in seven callers to the helpline of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood had previously disclosed abuse.