Hi and welcome back! This past week, the world received yet another stunning-but-unsurprising bit of news from the Catholic world. Over the past 70 years, thousands of Catholic leaders sexually abused 330,000 children in France. And over those years, countless and unknown numbers of Catholic authorities covered up that abuse. A committee called CIASE (Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church) just released a report about it. Today, let me show you what this report reveals, and let’s explore what it means for Catholic leaders’ current and ongoing power-grabs.
(Related posts about the Catholic child-rape scandal: A Shell Game Played With Christian Predators; Come Home, Cardinal Pell; They’re Totally Corrupt Financially Too!; Catholicism is a Business; The Pennsylvania Report; Pope Francis and Satan Sittin’ in a Tree; I’m Still Not a Francis Fangirl; Where the Blame Roosts: Gay Catholic Orgies Edition.)
(BTW, the official name of the CIASE is “Commission indépendante sur les abus sexuels dans l’Église.”)
The Background of The Shocking But Unsurprising CIASE Report.
Back in 2018, a 21-person investigative committee formed to examine Catholics’ sex abuse of children. The group contained various legal experts, sociologists, theologians, law enforcement authorities, and other folks from many different faiths (and atheism). This group, called CIASE (Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church), had full access to the Catholic Church’s archives and does not appear to have been beholden to any Catholic leaders.
This week, CIASE released its report. (Here’s an English version of the summary. And here’s the whole thing.) The full report, titled “Sexual Violence in the Catholic Church: France 1950-2020,” runs 2500 pages long. It took 26k labor hours to create. I’ll just call it “the report” in this post.
It really is amazing to think about the sheer scope of this report. CIASE talked to all kinds of victims, gathered sociological analyses of the damage done, and studied archives from before their official start date to get a historical sense of the abuse and cover-up.
And they discovered a mind-boggling amount of Catholic sex abuse.
What CIASE Discovered.
CIASE discovered a simply mind-blowing amount of child sexual abuse.
They estimate 330,000 total victims over 70 years. Of those, 216,000 children were assaulted by what my Evil Ex used to call “professional Christians.” In this case, the phrase means priests, deacons, monks, and nuns. The rest suffered abuse at the hands of laypeople associated with the Catholic Church in other ways. These would be like adults running Catholic-aligned activities like holiday camps, sports clubs, or cultural events.
In their summary (p. 9), CIASE estimates that those 216k children represent about 4% of the total number of childhood sexual abuse victims. Of course, most childhood sexual abuse occurs within a context of someone the child knows — their family, perhaps, or friends of their parents. That context still remains the biggest danger to children. However, “professional Catholics” represented the second-biggest danger to children out of all other potential sources of abuse — by a longshot.
CIASE also determined an estimate of 2900-3200 sex abusers. An AP News report tells us that CIASE think about 80% of the French church’s abuse victims were boys.
The number of abusers works out to somewhere between 2.5% and 2.8% of clergy and monks over the past 70 years (out of a total of 115k). The report notes that this ratio is actually lower than reports from other countries, which range between 4.4% and 7.5% of clergy being sex abusers. CIASE tells us:
The picture thus drawn reveals that the phenomenon of sexual violence in the Catholic Church from 1950 to the present day is massive; that is has decreased over time but is still present; that it is based on numerous clearly identified traits of a systemic nature. [p. 10]
Systemic? We grow less and less surprised, no doubt.
CIASE Accuses Catholic Leaders of Covering Up Abuse For Decades.
Also utterly unsurprisingly, CIASE accuses French Catholic Church leaders of systematically covering up abuse accusations for decades. Catholic leaders’ obvious goal, CIASE asserts, has consistently and reliably been protecting their own interests and that of their
To accomplish this goal, Catholic leaders sought to silence victims and keep abusers out of the news. Even when those religious leaders acted very very sad about all the abuse they helped conceal from public knowledge, they always did it with an eye toward escaping all accountability for their own behavior. From the report:
[B]efore proclaiming “it must never happen again”, the “it” has to be recognized, acknowledged, and described, those responsible for “it” need to be designated and, in as far as is possible, reparation for “it’s” consequences need to be found. It is not enough for the Church to claim awareness, albeit too late in the day. Or to claim that the past is the past and that for today’s and tomorrow’s children and vulnerable persons the same mistakes will not be repeated. For such a discourse which is consistent with the logic of “helping” victims of historical abuse, more often than not time-barred by the [French] Criminal Code, perpetuates an attitude of non-recognition or denial of what really happened, characteristic of the Church during the period analyzed, and is used as an escape from genuinely dealing with the phenomenon. [p. 12-13]
Here at Roll to Disbelieve, we’ve been tracking that exact same avoidance for many years. Very, very few Christian leaders seem willing to take any accountability for their own part in whatever scandals rock their ministries.
Generally speaking, Christian leaders just want to hang in there to earn a paycheck till they retire. Then, they want to skedaddle with as much money as they can. They leave the cleanup on Aisle 7 to their successors. Let the next generation figure that out!
Endless waves of successors come and go in these ministries. Each wave wants the exact same career progression. So, nothing ever gets done.
How Catholic Leaders Still Want to Avoid Accountability.
Because CIASE realized that avoidance of repercussions has always been the goal, they demanded Catholic leaders do something new that they really haven’t done yet:
This is why the Commission insists on the Church’s need for a process of truth and reparation and that it has to begin with the acknowledgement of responsibility which has so far been avoided, with the notable exception of the recent initiative undertaken by the CORREF, or the individual initiative of the Bishop of Luçon. [p. 13]
Indeed, AP News (relink) indicates that the Conference of Bishops of France are still trying to avoid full responsibility:
The president of the Conference of Bishops of France, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, said French bishops “are appalled” at the conclusions of the report.
“I wish on that day to ask for pardon, pardon to each of you,” he told the victims.
“No one expected such a high number (of victims) to come out of the survey and that is properly frightening and out of proportion with the perception that we’ve had on the ground,” he told the AP.
All this tells me is that this bishop was clearly fine with there being fewer victims of his peers’ abuse. What, he expected a certain number? Why was he okay with there being any victims at all?
And what was he doing about the number of victims he thought he had on his hands?
Pope Francis Speaks, Sort Of.
Meanwhile, in the Vatican, Pope Francis’ spokesman, Matteo Bruni, assured everyone that Darth Cuddlebug was super-duper sad to hear about the CIASE report.
“His thoughts go in first place to the victims, with a profound sadness for their wounds and gratitude for their courage to speak out,” he said.
Yeah. We can tell he totally cares a lot about victim. Yes, he is totally grateful that they talked. We can tell that. Right? Because Catholic leaders have
always never ever tried to silence victims and treated them like criminals. And obviously, there’s more than a little no evidence suggesting that Francis himself participated in those cover-ups and priestly shell games. (/s)
Last June, ABC News tells us, Francis declared that Catholicism needed reforms — and that bishops needed to own up to their role in the “catastrophe” of the scandal. Nice and safe of him to say, wasn’t it?
One thing is for sure. According to La Wiki, France formally separated church and state in 1905, ending Catholicism’s privileged status there. They’ve been declining like whoa in France since 1996 (here’s some stats from 1996-2006, and then from 2008-2018).
So, Catholicism already experienced serious declines before this report. I can’t imagine the CIASE has done much to change their fortunes.
What This CIASE Report Really Should Tell Catholics.
I’ve heard countless Catholics try to claim that their ideology contains some ineffable moral wisdom and authority. Their apologetics often focuses on the argument from morality. (Morals exist; we know what morality is better than anybody, which means our god must also be real and you need to join us — or else.) And their leaders like to treat people outside their tribe like animals who don’t even understand the first thing about morality. A very popular video was going around YouTube about that this past spring, with an earnest young Catholic priest asking that very question.
I’ve even heard of the robustness of Catholics’ moral arguments impressing otherwise very rational people, who then go on to think the religion contains great truths. People who convert to Catholicism often do so on the basis of their arguments about morality, I’ve noticed.
But the CIASE report — like the Pennsylvania Report and countless others like it — tells us the real truth about Catholic morality.
Their moral arguments just sound pretty. They’re there to bring in new recruits — and those recruits’ resources.
In reality, Catholicism evolved to protect criminals, cover-up artists, and child rapists. Their morality rationalizes all manner of disgusting hypocrisy — and allows for it to happen over and over again without end.
What Catholic Morality Really Looks Like.
While Catholic leaders (and their most disturbingly-fervent fans) preen and prance around, claiming to have some great moral high ground, their actual practiced and lived morality keeps millions of people in misery and bondage.
I’ve seen fervent Catholics gloat like giddy schoolchildren over women dying of botched abortions. They praise women who die in their hospitals of septic miscarriages — without a care for those women’s families. Their recently-canonized “saint,” Mother Teresa, had no trouble keeping sick people in grotesque pain and horrendous living conditions while she jetted around the world to hang out with dictators and enjoy accolades everywhere she went.
And, of course, Catholic orphanages, schools, and unwed-mothers’ homes were hotbeds of abuse and death for anyone unlucky enough to be forced under their iron-gripped control.
Catholic morality is nothing but a smokescreen to keep the flocks’ attention away from Catholic hypocrisy. It may sound very pretty. It’s meant to. But its beauty is barely skin-deep.
Those high-falutin’ ideals dissolve on contact with a priest collar.
How CIASE Has Ripped Away the Catholic Mask of Morality.
There exists only one reason why we’re learning about Catholics’ scandals now. It’s because of their nose-dive in cultural power over the past 20 years. Rest assured: they don’t ever volunteer information gladly. But really moral people would have done exactly that from the beginning of this whole scandal. Hell, really moral people wouldn’t have had a scandal in the first place.
But they did.
At any point in the past 70 years, truly moral Catholic leaders would have already begun to move on reforms.
But they didn’t.
The first glimpse of this child-rape scandal (thanks to “Spotlight“) opened the door to forcing accountability down Catholic leaders’ unwilling gullets. And even now, Catholic leaders are trying their best to close that door. They want to bargain with the piper. They’ll pretend to care, to want reforms to fix their broken systems, to want to help their victims recover and move on with their lives.
But the opposite is the truth. For all their oh-so-moral morality, if they could ignore this whole scandal and see it just go away, then I am 100% sure it already would have happened.
What Catholic Morality Gets Us.
That’s what Catholic morality gets us.
It gets us death, abuse, pain, misery, torment, and avoidance of consequences. For a few at the top, it gets them a cushy free ride at everyone else’s expense. It gets the rest of us silenced victims and hundreds of thousands of children abused and traumatized.
Of course, the same people who perpetuate that abusive system continue to warble about their supposedly-superior morality. And always, always, they continue to seek power over others’ lives. Because they’re so moral, donchaknow. So very, very moral.
Shut up and let Daddy drive, these Designated Adults tell us.
Let Catholics fix their own condemned shack before they ever dare to tell others how to live.
I mean, they will still never gain the right to trample others’ rights. But at least it’ll keep them busy.
NEXT UP: The flocks still don’t wanna evangelize, but don’t worry! An evangelical has figured out how to do a three-fingered reset of evangelism!
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