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Sexual Abuse by Clergy: The evil of and in the Church

The alarming reports of sexual abuse by Catholic priests of minors and vulnerable adults in most parts of the world is a shocking truth about the rot that exists within the religious institution.

Sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults happens in most institutions in the world – religious or non-religious including families and is not a vile habit of some priests in the Catholic Churches alone.

But, besides the obvious perversion of the Catholic priests raping minors and nuns, it is the absolute lack of empathy on behalf of the Catholic Church leaders to deal with rapists as an accused of a heinous crime. Priests continue to remain under the protection of the Catholic Church while the victim gets harassed, traumatized, and cajoled into submitting to a financial settlement for the sexual abuse.

Reportedly, the Catholic Church has paid around USD 4 billion dollars as compensation in settling sexual abuse cases against minors and vulnerable adults. There is no doubt that the Catholic Church is an accomplice in the coverup of the sexual abuse crimes of priests or bishops and therefore a criminal too in the act.

The 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury Report on Pennsylvania revealed shocking details about the evil in the Catholic Church. It is, however, just one of the thorough investigations done by an authority that expose the rot of child sexual abusers in the Catholic Church and the coverup by the leaders of the Catholic Church:

Over one thousand child victims were identifiable from the Church’s own records. We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid to come forward is thousands.

Most of the victims were boys, but there were girls too. Some were teens, many were pre-pubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate their assailants, or we groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside in every part of the state by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.

In the Diocese Of Allentown, for example, documents show that a priest was confronted about an abuse complaint. He admitted. “Please help me. I sexually molested a boy.” The diocese concluded that “the experience will not necessarily be a horrendous trauma” for the victim. and that the family should just be given “an opportunity to ventilate.” The priest was left in unrestricted ministry for several more years. despite his own confession

Similarly in the Diocese of Erie, despite a priest’s admission to assaulting at least a dozen young boys, the bishop wrote to thank him for all that you have done for God’s people. “The Lord. who sees in private, will reward.” Another priest confessed to anal and oral rape of at least 15 boys, as young as seven years old. The bishop later met with the abuser to commend him as “a person of candor and sincerity,” and to compliment him “for the progress he has made” in controlling his “addiction.” When the abuser was finally removed from the priesthood years later, the bishop ordered the parish not to say why; “nothing else need be noted.”

In the Diocese of Greensburg, a priest impregnated a 17-year-old. forged the head pastor’s signature on a marriage certificate, then divorced the girl months later. Despite having sex with a minor, despite fathering a child, despite being married and being divorced. the priest was permitted to stay in ministry thanks to the diocese’s efforts to find a “benevolent bishop” in another state willing to take him on. Another priest, grooming his middle school students for oral sex, taught them how Mary had to *bite off the cord” and “lick” Jesus clean after he was born. It took another 1.5 years. and numerous additional reports of abuse, before the diocese Finally removed the priest from ministry.

A priest in the Diocese of Harrisburg: abused five sisters in a single family, despite prior reports that were never acted on. In addition to sex acts, the priest collected samples of the girls’ urine, pubic hair, and menstrual blood. Eventually, his house was searched and his collection was found. Without that kind of incontrovertible evidence, apparently. the diocese remained unwilling to err on the side of children even in the face of multiple reports of abuse. As a high-ranking official said about one suspect priest: “At this point, we are at an impasse — allegations and no admission.” Years later, the abuser did admit what he had done, but by then it was too late.

Elsewhere we saw the same sort of disturbing disdain for victims. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, church officials dismissed an incident of abuse on the ground that the 15-year-old had ‘“pursued” the priest and “literally seduced” him into a relationship. After the priest was arrested, the church submitted an evaluation on his behalf to the court. The evaluation acknowledged that the priest had admitted to “sadomasochistic” activities with several boys — but the sadomasochism was only “mild.” and at least the priest was not “psychotic.”

The Diocese of Scranton also chose to defend its clergy abusers over its children. A diocese priest was arrested and convicted after decades of abuse reports that had been ignored by the church. The bishop finally took action only as the sentencing date approached. He wrote a letter to the judge, with a copy tO a state senator, urging the court tO release the defendant to a Catholic treatment center. He emphasized the high cost of incarceration. In another case. a priest raped a girl, got her pregnant, and arranged an abortion. The bishop expressed his feelings in a letter: “This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.” But the letter was not for the girl. It was addressed to the rapist.

There was the priest, for example, who raped a seven-year-old girl — while he was visiting her in the hospital after she’d had her tonsils out. Or the priest who made a nine-year-old give him oral sex, then rinsed out the boy’s mouth with holy water to purify him. Or the boy who drank some juice at his priest’s house, and woke up the next morning bleeding from his rectum. unable to remember anything from the night before. Or the priest, a registered psychologist, who “treated” a young parishioner with depression by attempting to hypnotize her and directing her to take off her clothes, piece by piece.

One priest was willing to admit to molesting boys, but denied reports from two girls who had been abused; “they don t have a penis,” he explained. Another priest, asked about abusing his parishioners, refused to commit: “with my history.” he said, “anything is possible.” Yet another priest finally decided to quit after years of child abuse complaints, but asked for, and received, a letter of reference for his next job — at Walt Disney World.

We came across a file in which the diocese candidly conceded that “this is one of our worst ones” — but of course told no one about him. Actually, we came across the same statement in the files of several other priests. Then there was the file with a simple celebratory notation: “bad abuse case. [Victim] sued us, we won.” And this happy note, in a case in which a seven-year-old girl was molested by a priest from outside the diocese.

Last week the Catholic Church was rocked by yet another clergy sexual abuse scandal with reportedly 368 children sexually abused between July 1, 2018, till December 31, 2020, in Poland.

“Between July 1, 2018, and December 31, 2020, Catholic Church dioceses and monasteries in Poland received 368 reports regarding sexual abuse of minors,” the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics announced on Monday, adding that its report covered the period between 1958 and 2020.

According to the disturbing reports coming in from Poland, it appears that one minor child per day was being sexually abused by a Catholic priest in the country.

It is the second time the episcopate has published a report on pedophilia cases. The first was published in 2019 and showed 382 cases reported between January 1990 and June 2018.

The Catholic Church in Poland has asked for forgiveness for the ‘evil of the Church’ after new figures revealed over 360 incidents of child sexual abuse involving the clergy.

Post the exposure of the sexual abuse crimes in different nations, senior leaders from the Diocese of that region of the Catholic Church invariably come out to ask for forgiveness for the ‘evil of the Church’. If however, a victim succumbs to the financial and emotional pressure of the Catholic Church, the case is buried and no one hears about it.

In India too the coverup is as alarming. In one case of sexual abuse of a minor, the Catholic family alleged that Cardinal Gracias didn’t tell police about a Nov 2015 case when a priest, Fr Lawrence Johnson, allegedly abused a boy. Fr Johnson is booked under POCSO and IPC sec 377 and is currently in jail.

A 44-year old nun has accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of rape and sodomy. The trauma she went through while the leaders of the Catholic Church in India and Vatican maintained stoic silence:

The nun petitioned leaders in the Catholic Church for justice and relief from her continuous sexual and mental torture. No one in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in India and in the Vatican listened to her pleas for justice.

In the month of June 2017, the victim nun met Rev. Fr. Joseph Thadathil – the Parish Priest of Kuravilangad Church and also Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt the Bishop of Palai Diocese. She explained to them about the sexual exploitation that she suffered from Bishop Franco from 2014 to 2016 and his continued torture through various means of intimidation because she took the courage to resist his sexual advances.

Under the direction of Bishop Kallarangatt and Bishop Vadakkel, Bishop of Ujjain diocese; she had then given a letter to Cardinal Mar George Alencherry – Head of the Syro-Malabar Church through Bishop Vadakkel by hand, on 11.07.2017.

She had also given the same complaint letter to Bishop Vadakkel explaining her mental agony and sufferings, and that of the other Missionaries of Jesus sisters under Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

On 23.11.2017, she met Cardinal Mar George Alencherry personally and told him all that she had faced from Bishop Franco. He heard her complaint but did nothing to address her grievance. 

And in December 2017, since Bishop Franco was planning to trap her and her companion sister with a police case in Jalandhar; she in a telephonic appealed to the Cardinal to arrange an appointment with the Apostolic Nuncio so that she could explain her pain and misery. But she did not get any positive response from the Cardinal. He heard once again but did nothing.

The nun even requested Bishop Vadakkel before she asked Cardinal Alencherry for a chance to meet the Vatican Representative of India (Apostolic Nuncio). He assured the nun that he will arrange a chance for me to meet with the Vatican Representative of India when the Nuncio came to Kochi in the month of October 2017. But he did not arrange a meeting.

So in desperation of January 28th, 2018 she wrote a letter to the Apostolic Nuncio directly and in her complaint against Bishop Franco, she clearly mentions her rape, sexual exploitation, mental torture, and police complaint filed against her in the Jalandhar police.

The letter to the Vatican Representative was personally handed over by Bishop Kurian Valiayakandathil – the Bishop of Bhagalpur, who is also one of the witnesses that the Kerala police interrogated.

The nun waited for five months, but she did not receive any reply from the Apostolic Nuncio’s office. 

Therefore on 14.05.2018, she decided to send letters to three Church Officials in Rome by courier, and by tracking them, she confirmed that they have received them on 18.05.2018. 

These letters were sent to the following:

  1. Most Rev. Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaia Ferrer SJ. Prefetto Congreegazione Dotrina, Della Fede, 00120C’itta Del Vaticano; 
  1. Cardinal Ouellet Card. Marc P.S.S,Prefetto Congreegazione Per I Vescovi,00120 C’itta Del vaticano 
  1. Pope Francis 00120 C’itta Del vaticano. 

Thereafter she waited for more than a month but she did receive any reply other than the delivery receipt of the DHL courier. 

She made one more attempt on 22.06.2018 to the State Secretary. Most. Rev. Cardinal Pietro Parolin Segretario di statto 00120 Vatican City, which was received there on 25.06.2018.

She then approached and spoke the Archbishop Anil Couto. Metropolitan, Delhi Region during his visit to our community in Kuravilangad in May 2018, and later over the phone and she and another nun narrated their mental agony and struggle. 

But Archbishop Couto deflected the issue and did nothing.

He, like the others, gave her the e-mail ID of Apostolic Nuncio and asked her to write to the Vatican Representative.

On 24.06.2018, the same night itself at 11.45 pm. She sent an urgent mail to the Vatican Representative in India.

Yet again she did not get any response.

Therefore on 28-06-2018, she filed a case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal with the Kerala Police.

Numerous cases have been brought to the attention of the leaders of the Catholic Church around the world. But leaders of the Catholic Church in their Dioceses continue to prefer to put a lid on the matters of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

No one, not even God has the power to forgive rapists for their crimes of sexual abuse on children. It is a heinous crime and there can be no forgiveness but retribution.

Savio Rodrigues

Savio Rodrigues Founder & Editor-in-Chief GoaChronicle.com
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