Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 30 June 2005

Roman Catholic Church forced to pay for priestly paedophilia

An award of GBP635,684 has been made against the Archbishop of Birmingham and the trustees of the Birmingham Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church for 'failing to prevent' the systematic and regular abuse over a ten-year period by an employee of the Roman Catholic Church (namely a priest) of a boy who, when the abuse commenced, was a mere eight years old. The perpetrator, Father Christopher Clonan, died in Australia in 1998 whilst on the run from British police.

In a remarkable and curiously-worded statement, the Archdiocese of Birmingham has said:

"The Archdiocese deeply regrets that a priest should have totally misused his position of trust in such a way and apologises again to those who have been abused and offended.

"This trust was placed in him by the Church and especially by his parishioners. The damage that he has done is deep and lasting.

"The Archdiocese hopes that this settlement will bring some resolution of the distress and anguish experienced by the claimant and his family."

A number of things in this statement interest and offend me. Firstly, the use of the word offended - more appropriate words to use in this context would have been outraged or disgusted. From what I have heard in the news today, the platitude at the end is unlikely to be borne out as the victim, known only as "A", now suffers from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder and is thought unlikely to ever be able to have a stable life.

Given that this shocking case is hardly unique in its history, I'm afraid that the statement put out by representatives for "A" strikes me as a much more realistic appraisal of what has occurred in this case and what the Roman Catholic Church needs to to, urgently, to sort itself out:

"We very much hope that the Church will now offer realistic compensation to all those who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests so that victims and their families can be spared the trauma of giving evidence."

Whilst the public acknowledgement of the Church's conduct represented by this award is very welcome, it is not nearly severe enough. This is the organisation, remember, that recently tried to sway Spanish legislators from passing a law to permit same-sex marriage (see previous story) because it dares to categorise gay relationships as a perversion and opposes not only disease-prevention measures for those engaging in sexual intercourse, but opposes as a matter of policy any form of abortion in any circumstance, even when a woman has been raped. An evil and deluded organisation.

Shuggy has a suitably brief and pointed way of saying what he thinks abut this case.

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