I don't usually use my blog to talk a lot about politics or religion because they are deeply personal and often divisive topics. But the past few weeks have brought to light even more damaging accusations of abuse against the Catholic church, and I'd like to talk about it.
Yesterday, the AP reported that in 1985, then cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) stalled the removal of a San Franciscan priest who had pleaded no contest to tying up and molesting two youths in the church rectory in 1978. The notion that the man who is now 'God's representative here on Earth' knowingly covered up and ignored reports of abuse is to me, repulsive. In his words at the time, the Pope said he was worried about what removing this priest did to the "universal good of the church".
When did children become something we use and then toss aside? When did society decide to turn a blind eye to the actions of men (and women)who wrap themselves in the mantle of the divine? I know that many Catholics believe that the actions of the higher ups in Rome don't affect them, or that the money that the put in the collection plate each week doesn't support this massive cover up, but it does.
I read this comment the other day on a Yahoo news story about the allegations against the Pope-
"If you've never had to rush a child to the ER to have lacerated intestines stitched back together; if you never had to hold a child who trembled and shuddered each time he/she had to go potty; if you never had to wash the blood from their underwear or take them to ER to have their esophagus repaired; if you never looked into a pup tent covered in blood from slit wrists or had to chase a tormented child through the woods because they were trying to escape themselves and if you never had to cut a dead child down from a tree, you really haven't seen the reality of what these demon seeds from hell do to kids. I have seen this with my own two eyes. When you can say you have seen those things, then maybe, just maybe, you'll realize this has nothing to do with any church. It has everything to do with criminals and those who protect them. The next time you say it's only God who judges, keep in mind that he gave mankind the power to reason. Do you think it's about time they put it into effect?"
While I cringe at the graphic details of that statement,it made me realize that it's time for us as a society to say 'enough' to the pedophiles and the organizations that protect them. It's time for us to listen to the children and to listen to the adults who were once these tortured children themselves.
Have we as a society become so jaded that we no longer care about the basic well being of a child? Yesterday a news story broke about a Tennessee woman who sent her adopted son back to Russia on a plane by himself, because she couldn't care for him. Who puts a 9 year old child on a plane on a child by himself with a note pinned to his jacket? She found someone on the internet who agreed to meet the boy at the airport for $200. The little boy had no idea he was going away for good, he had no idea what was happening at all. The adoptive mother and her mother claim that he was a danger to himself and to others, but instead of seeking help for him, they shipped him back like they were returning an order to Amazon.
My heart breaks on a daily basis it seems, for the children who have to remain silent, who can't speak up for themselves for whatever reason. I find myself thinking of a statistic I read once. It said that one in four girls have been sexually abused by the time they turn 18. For boys, it's one in ten that have been abused by the time they reach adulthood. There are 28 children in Chickenhead's class; it's a very real and very tragic possibility that one of his classmates has been or is being abused in some way.
I wish I had the answer for how to end all of this, but I don't. I think a place to start is by advocating for children. I think we need to listen to the children in our lives and we need to speak up for them when necessary. We need to stop sticking our heads in the sand, and thinking 'oh that doesn't happen to anyone I know/in my church/neighborhood, etc'. The only way we have any hope of ever eradicating the abuse of children is to shine a light on it and expose it and the perpetrators. Only then can we hope that our children can begin to heal.