Let’s get the record straight. The abuse of innocents by Catholic clergy is not as bad as the Catholic haters report.
Here’s an example:
Brendan O’Neill writes here about the MacAleese Report on the Magdalene Laundries–Irish homes for unwed mothers run by sisters in the 50s and 60s. The laundries–where unwed mothers (who were often kicked out of their families) were given a home and expected to work–have been portrayed in a book, play and movie called The Magdalen Sisters as Catholic concentration camps where the girls were raped, beaten, heads shaved and stripped by the sadistic nuns. The official MacAleese report interviewed the women who were unwed mothers at the time, and it turns out most of them had fond memories of the kindness of the nuns. The “abuse” consisted of some girls being rapped on the knuckles with a ruler. The very few instances of serious abuse were far outnumbered by positive comment about the girls’ experience.
O’Neill points out the wider problem in the lies that have been promoted about the Catholic Church’s institutions–for example a British newspaper reported that in the USA 10,000 people said they were raped by priests. In fact there were 10,000 complaints of “abuse” which included “verbal abuse”. The number of reported rapes was not 10,000 but 68.
No one is defending even 68 rapes, if they indeed happened, but there must be truth in reporting and the producers of wildly inaccurate works of fiction like the Magdalene Sisters should be ashamed of themselves–mere sensationalist lying peddlers of lies to make a quick buck by hitting an easy target: the Catholic Church. Defenders of the lying book, play and movie say with a straight face that the abuse may have been exaggerated, but it was okay because it helped to raise awareness of the “culture of abuse” in the Catholic Church. Hogwash.
If you want to read the report the pdf file is available here. Seeing the groups who funded the report it is difficult to imagine that it is totally objective and free of any bias. I smell two rats: first the abuse and cover up by church and state, second a biased, anti-Catholic hunt for someone to blame and sue by the victims.
There is a greater problem, when journalists lie and exaggerate and blame a whole group for the sins of a few we get into a kind of argumentation which is the dangerous stuff of pure propaganda and persecution. David Limbaugh has outlined the five stages of persecution:
1. stigmatizing the targeted group,
2. marginalizing its role in society,
3. vilifying it for alleged crimes or misconduct,
4. criminalizing it,
5. and finally, persecuting it outright.
He forgot one stage. After vilifying it for alleged crimes or misconduct comes the stage of exaggerating those alleged crimes and assigning the crimes of a few to a whole group in order to create in the minds of the population the idea that the marginalized group are all inhuman monsters. This is precisely what we are seeing in films like The Magdalene Sisters, continued reports that Pius XII and Benedict XVI were Nazi sympathizers and the idea that all Catholic priests are sick and wicked pedophiles. It’s working pretty well too, read the comments of most any mainstream newspaper report on anything Catholic and you will find a vile stream of violent hatred toward the Pope and all Catholic priests. This is extended to any faithful Catholic who attempts to defend the church.
It is vital that Catholics continue to acknowledge the reality of abuse and the cover ups which took place. It is vital that we continue to be vigilant with our child protection procedures, and it is right that we are suitably ashamed and disgusted at those in power who covered up abuse and sheltered criminals, but it is also vital that we deal with facts–not exaggerated hate language.
What I find most ironic is that it is illegal in the UK to publish anything that is likely to incite racial or religious hatred…except if it is hatred towards the Catholic Church.