Australian Catholics admit to culture of abuse

From the BBC, news of the admission by the Australian Roman Catholic Church to more than 600 known cases of child sex abuse since the 1930s.

This appalling statistic tells of a culture of abuse which has brought shame upon the Christian communion worldwide and broken a huge amount of trust and good will non-christians previously had towards the Church and towards Christianity in general.

It has to go down as one of the most brazen and insidious crimes against Christ, and especially against the children involved, given that the perpetrators were supposedly dedicated to the service of the cross and had taken vows of celibacy, which, in the truest meaning of the word, means a promise to have no sexual relations at all, and, in particular, refers to holy matrimony and the decision by Roman Catholic priests to abide by the vows made before God.

There is nothing holy about child abuse. The admission finally lifts the lid off an era of coverup and denial which has left hundreds of people emotionally scarred for life and brought the whole of the Christian community into disrepute.

Of course, the vows are, in a manner of speaking, forced on men who seek to enter the priesthood, and, therefore, are made for them before they can make their own emotional and physical decision to remain celibate. It is not a Biblical necessity for Christian service or leadership, but has been imposed by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

There has to be an inquest into the causes of such a high number of abuse cases, including the change in celibacy laws to allow priests to marry, more stringent vetting processes for candidates, and a mentoring system for those who wish to remain celebate.

Australian Roman Catholic Church admits child sex abuse

The Roman Catholic Church in the Australian state of Victoria has confirmed that more than 600 children have been sexually abused by its priests since the 1930s.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, described the figures as “horrific and shameful”.

They were released in a submission to a state parliamentary inquiry into the handling of abuse cases.

Campaigners say the true number of abuse victims could be up to 10,000.

In its submission, the church said the 620 cases went back 80 years with the majority taking place between the 1960s and the 1980s.

It says it is still investigating a further 45 cases.

In a statement, Archbishop Hart said it was important to be open “about the horrific abuse that has occurred in Victoria and elsewhere”.

“We look to this inquiry to assist the healing of those who have been abused, to examine the broad context of the church’s response, especially over the last 16 years, and to make recommendations to enhance the care for victims and preventative measures that are now in place,” the statement said.

Campaign groups say that many cases of abuse have gone unreported, and they believe the true number of victims is closer to 10,000 in Victoria alone.

Abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests has been a major issue in Australia recent years.


Posted by Steve

26 thoughts on “Australian Catholics admit to culture of abuse

  1. I really don’t understand child abuse. It makes you wonder how many people there are in their 60′ and right up who were victims but have never told anyone including their spouses.

    I’m wondering when this will all break in Asian countries. If this happened in all of the western countries, is it fair to assume that it happened everywhere? But Asian people are culturally decades behind in talking about stuff like that and there was always problems with the shame culture and submission to elders and those in authority.

    Not excusing the Catholic church – but it seems it’s a problem everywhere.

    I have never been a victim so I can’t imagine how people cope with that. I don’t think I’ve yet recovered just from finding out that two people I looked up to were involved sexually with minors. And those two would have been the last I could imagine.

    Just mind-boggling.

  2. Ok, Steve, this is your post so give me a response to this and add your wisdom.

    The older I get, the more I realize how important sex is.
    Sex is so important for married couples for so many reasons, and so if the Devil wants to hinder or destroy or harm people then one of the main things he would want to do is harm people through it.

    Obviously marriage relationships are harmed through adultery and some never recover when marriage vows are broken. But it’s not just that.

    There are probably millions of couples who suffer because of one couple not wanting sex as much as the other. It’s often joked about, but it’s no fun – and even if it doesn’t result in adultery in can affect the whole of a persons life.

    So before people get married Satan will no doubt try to devalue or in some way harm the married couple’s future sexual relationship through premarital sex. And the ultimate is to have a person scarred through sexual interference as early an age as possible.

    The results of child sexual abuse can be not only someone not enjoying or wanting sex – which then affects them and their partner, but also the opposite – promiscuity which then of course affects both, and then everyone else involved. Child abuse at the hands of family members is even more complicated – but then at the hands of religious leaders it has the other effect of possibly turning people away from God.

    (None of this is said btw to excuse any personal responsibility by arguing that the Devil made people do it).

    But, to me it’s clear that we need to do everything we can to keep children safe because as disgusting as the subject is, it’s not a rare thing. And probably never was – so it’s not something you can blame on modern society. Like I said old folks homes are probably full of people who have secrets they kept bottled up.

    I’m not Catholic and don’t work with them and can’t see that celibacy rules are going to be relaxed soon – so I don’t have any answers for them. While I think it’s a nice idea for some to not marry and serve God, I really think knowing all the men I have spoken to over the years, that even among the most “spiritual” or Godly, there are really very few who should consider a single life.

    To me it’s a given that having single priests would lead to problems, especially given that so many married men have also sinned against children.

    I’m really no expert, but I tend to think there are probably two types. One the predator who just actively wants to seek out opportunities, and does so by covering up and gaining access to children – but I think others aren’t evil people that are living double lives on purpose, but who at one time or maybe more, failed to resist an urge which is so unthinkable to me that I feel sorry for the person who ever feels that way inclined. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live feeling tempted like that.

    (I also say the above because like I said I know two people guilty of this and just can’t believe they were continually seeking to do it. But I could just be naive).

    At a church level, I don’t think any child needs to be in a situation where they are alone with an adult male.
    I’ve been out of Australia for a while, so maybe that’s already standard, but to me it’s radical. Firstly, you can never be sure of people, and secondly if a child gets used to being alone with one guy who’s normal, maybe they’ll be easier prey for someone with terrible intentions.

    this may sound unforgiving but I wouldn’t have a man who has molested children in the past be involved with children in a church.
    I know this is a big issue – what about forgiveness?
    But that’s my call.

  3. Child sexual assault is one of the most heinous crimes of all, and a millstone around the neck of the perpetrator. It is the rape of innocence, no matter how far an assailant claims they did or didn’t go. It is an evil akin to murder.

    The abuser is often a person known to the abused. This is because, although it can have the appearance of being spontaneous, they carefully plan their crime, some taking years to groom their victim as well as the victim’s family.

    The abuser who positions himself in a place of trust is the worse kind of person, because they build dependency and then strike, ensuring they cover the crime up psychologically through the guilt, shame and reliance of the victim.

    So any place where children are likely to gather becomes a potential access point for the predator. That is why we have to have secure vetting and barring systems in schools, institutions and churches, or anywhere children can be accessed.

    And families have to be vigilant in guarding their children and bringing them up in a safe environment.

    These so-called priests who have nurtured and groomed their targets are the lowest of the low. That they should have had their crime covered up by their overseers, if that is what has happened, is equally wicked.

    Forgiveness is, of course, an avenue of healing for the victim, but why should a predator be allowed to evade the full weight of the law if apprehended?

    We need to know more about what causes people to become abusers of children, but, in the meantime, we need to protect society from those who are predatory.

    Love covers a multitude of sins, but allowing abusers to continue in the priesthood, as has happened in the past, is not love for anyone.

  4. but why should a predator be allowed to evade the full weight of the law if apprehended?

    Good question.

    I wonder what Brian Houston’s response would be.

  5. It took along time for you to go there, Bones, I must say.

    The equivalence arrives!

    Frank was a monster if he abused children!

  6. Wikipedia says he confessed to the abuse of under-age males. And although he resigned, neither the AOG or Brian Houston reported the matter to the authorities, when required to do so by law. He lived the rest of his life without investigation or interference from the law.

    If Frank was a monster as you claim, is Brian also a monster for allowing Frank to “evade the full weight of the law” as you say?

  7. OK, but let’s not be sidetracked away from the Catholic issue, here.

    I acknowledge your complaint about the way Frank’s issue was dealt with. It was obviously dealt with at some level, and publicly acknowledged. Prosecution is a matter for the police. Any child abuser is a monster. If you want to set up a separate post about this case, feel free.

    Now, how about the over 600 admitted cases of Roman Catholic abuse in Australia?

  8. I abhor the abuse cases of the Catholic church. There definately seems to be a systemic problem and it seems to be related to the enforced celibacy, training of priests and brothers (and sisters) from the age of 14 before their sexuality has developed, and the number of opportunities for contact with vulnerable children through schools, orphanages and the like. A culture of cover up also seems to have been present.

    The effect on the victims lives is incalculable, and has resulted in drug abuse and suicide far too many times.

    I do not think it is a side track to consider the issue in other churches however. I think we need to remove the plank in our own eyes first, before judging other organisations. Not only did this go on at the highest levels of the church organisation that we were associated with, many of us excused it or at least did not press for charges. We were led to pray for the abuser, not the abused… But we also did not raise our voices for the abused.

  9. I pray the catholics appoint a progressive pope soon. To enforce celibacy on any one is plain lunacy. That’s definitely part of the problem.

    I do know the childrens pastor of my church was convicted of abusing minors and he was married.

  10. “I do not think it is a side track to consider the issue in other churches however.”

    Unfortunately, I agree with Wazza here.

    Although the numbers of victims is high, what percentage of priests were guilty have done this? Is it higher than married men (whether clergy or not?).

    I think the same forces at work to not immediately contact police when things like this happen are not exclusive to the Catholic Church.

    The recent case of the football coach in the US is an example. I think you’ll find that esp in the past generations people were reluctant to contact police immediately when the person involved was connected by work, family, friendship. If you put yourself in the same situation and imagine discovering that a family member or someone you thought was a great person (through personal interaction – and maybe they WERE a great person most of the time??) had done something like that, the pressure of having to decide what to do must be horrific.

    One question is why it happens in the first place,
    Another is how to prevent it?
    Another is how victims can be helped?
    Another is what punishment (and or rehabilitation is suitable)

    But the question of why humans don’t immediately contact police when they are aware of a person abusing a child is extremely complicated. I don’t think it’s as simple as that they are just nasty people wanting to protect an organization.

    Knowing my personality though, if I were ever a witness I’d do a Moses and probably kill the perpetrator on the spot.

  11. Does the Pope and those before him, and the other thousands of priests have no personal problem with celibacy?

    Are they just that way inclined themselves so they don’t understand the need to change the celibacy rules, or are they struggling like everyone else but feel they have to defend what they see as unchangeable?

  12. “Not only did this go on at the highest levels of the church organisation that we were associated with,”

    That’s Houston you’re talking about? You are/were in AOG in Australia?

  13. I ask because I’ve never been involved with AOG, but I’ve heard Houston preach a few times, and knew that he was revered. I was overseas when I first heard about it, and reason I first saw the signposts site (maybe it was an older version) was to find out more information about it. It truly shocked me. Really. Still does. About the only tie I heard him talk about sex was when he told the story of being caught with a playboy or something like that and his mother spanking him and lecturing him etc. He said that he’s glad his mother did that because imagine what it could have opened up in his life if that kind of thing wasn’t overcome. At the time therefore it seemed like his biggest sin was one look at a girlie magazine in his early teens. So, one had the impression that he was like all the other men I aspired to be but thought I couldn’t because they either just weren’t tempted like me, or had just done such a good job of moral purity. Then when I found out in the space of a few years of what he had done (and maybe even in the Sydney years?), and then that the list of men with sexual sins was a who’s who of the charismatic world, it made me question all I thought about Christian morality.

    And it makes me wonder. Did his wife, kids, other church members know? Are there others who didn’t come forward? How does his son cope with it? And yeah, why weren’t more members demanding to know more like Catholic parishioners seem to be doing with their priests.

    Man, this depresses me. His son often talks about his father in glowing terms. But if I found out my father had done that, I’d find it hard to not jump off a bridge let alone preach to thousands with a happy face each week. But, that makes me think we are all so different. Not that he’s bad, but on the contrary – I find it amazing that he can just press on like that.

  14. If you read between the lines, you can see that I’m after free online counseling….:)

    I’ll have a no argument week I think. (So I’m done with the Muslim stuff)

  15. So what is it about Christian leadership and sexual abuse?

    I’ve been teaching for over 10 years in the secular system and have heard of hardly any incidents between teachers and students.

    Can’t say the same for church though.

  16. Q, yes I was in the AOG for several years. Then in smaller Pentecostal denominations.

    The thing about the Catholic church is that it is one global organisation with a clear heirarchical structure. So the number of abuse cases can be totalled up and the organisation now has to take some responsibility for them. Also, in years past it was one of the largest denominations so there will be more absolute cases of abuse.

    With Pentecostal churches, the situation is more complex. Each church, as I understand it, is a separate legal entity with few formal constitutional ties to the rest of the movement. I think if there was a case of abuse in a Pentecostal church there would be little one could do to ask the wider organisation to take responsibility.

    I think that the Catholic church has a particular problem in this area. But I think other churches also have problems, and we may not know the full extent of them.

    If its happened at the top of an organisation, its perhaps an indication that it is occuring at other levels.

  17. @Bones, good question re church leadership.

    “I’ve been teaching for over 10 years in the secular system and have heard of hardly any incidents between teachers and students.”

    Maybe you should read more news.

  18. “Maybe you should read more news.”

    I’m not taking about what’s in the News. I’m talking about incidents I know personally about.

  19. I just went to a school and I heard about an incident.
    I also read the news, and have heard about incidents. You probably read about some incidents with Christian leaders without seeing them in front of your eyes. And if teachers had more opportunities to be alone with kids there’d no doubt be more.

    So no, your 10 years of teaching doesn’t mean much.

  20. No, I’m talking about incidents that I personally know of, in churches I’ve been involved in and ministers I’ve worked with, who have committed these crimes.

    I personally know at least 3 Christians in jail for abusing minors as well as several other incidents which were never followed up..

    I don’t personally know any secular teachers in jail.

    And I know a lot more of them.

  21. Church leaders probably have more contact.

    But if you personally know 3 people in jail for child molesting….you must have hung with a really weird crowd.

    You knew these people personally as in spoke to them many times?

    If that’s so I can understand why you went crazy! 🙂

  22. The Catholic church has an issue with forbidding its priests from marrying. Not that a man should resolve his sexual desires by assaulting minors rather than having a mistress, but it is clearly happening. it is such a compromise to live in sin to hide a sin. Do they think God doesn’t notice?

  23. I think it’s a matter of time before they change. The Church is simply running out of men becoming priests. And the ones from Africa who come to fill in the gaps in American and Australia tend to preach too long from what I hear!

  24. I just want Muslims to stop killing people and getting upset over videos – whether they are fascists or capitalists or members of the Green Party.

    I just want church leaders to stop raping kids – Catholic or Protestant.

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