Pope: Child abuse by clergy 'a mystery'

2012-06-18 12:04

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI told Irish Catholics on Sunday it is a mystery why priests and other church officials abused children entrusted in their care, undermining faith in the church "in an appalling way".

By describing the decades of child abuse in Catholic parishes, schools and church-run institutions and parishes in Ireland as a "mystery", the pontiff could further anger rank-and-file faithful in Ireland.

Benedict commented on the scandals of sexual abuse and cover-ups by church hierarchy in a pre-recorded video message for an outdoor Mass attended by 75 000 Catholics, many from overseas, in Ireland's largest sports stadium.

Ireland's prime minister and president attended the Mass, the final event of a Eucharistic Congress aimed at shoring up flagging faith.

The weeklong Eucharistic Congress, held by the Vatican every four years in a different part of the world, took place against a backdrop of deep anger over child abuse cover-ups and surveys showing declining weekly Mass attendance in Ireland, where church and state were once tightly entwined.

"How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord's body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way?" said the pope, referring to church staff who abused children.

Fight for survival

"It remains a mystery," he said. "Yet evidently their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ. It had become merely a matter of habit."

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said the church in Ireland is facing a grave fight for survival.

"Your forbears in the church in Ireland knew how to strive for holiness and constancy in their personal lives," Benedict said in his message.

In a reference to the Vatican's insistence on Sunday Mass attendance, Benedict said Catholic faith "is a legacy that is surely perfected and nourished" at Mass.

Yet, he said, "thankfulness and joy at such a great history of faith and love have recently been shaken in an appalling way by the revelation of sins committed by priests and consecrated persons against people entrusted to their care".

"Instead of showing them the path towards Christ, toward God, instead of bearing witness to his goodness, they abused people and undermined the credibility of the church's message," the pope said.

Thousands abused

For more than a decade, advocates for those abused by clergy have been demanding that church leaders in Ireland and at the Vatican accept blame for protecting paedophile priests.

Four state-ordered investigations have documented how tens of thousands of children from the 1940s to the 1990s suffered sexual, physical and mental abuse at the hands of priests, nuns and church staff in three Irish dioceses and in a network of workhouse-style residential schools.

In Ireland, the United States and many other countries, bishops and other church leaders have been accused of systematically covering up paedophile priests, often by shuffling them from parish to parish without telling the faithful about the abuse.

Benedict's evoking "mystery" disappointed the victims' advocacy group Snap, or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. A Snap official, Barbara Dorris, said the pope was speaking in "platitudes, refusing to even accurately name the crisis".

"The pontiff's wrong: There's little mystery here," said Dorris in an e-mailed statement.

She cited priests' having "sometimes almost absolute power, over devout and defenceless kids", as well as bishops who abuse power and "ignore, hide and enable heinous crimes against kids".

  • Bruce - 2012-06-18 12:14

    All he worries about is survival of the church, not the effect on these children.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 13:00

      I am bereft of sufficient spit and expletives to describe the wave of revulsion I feel whenever I think of uncle fester and his bands of travelling pederasts.

  • joe.farmer.92775 - 2012-06-18 12:15

    GFY senator palpatine. it is because they have easy access to children, that is why predators are drawn to the church. just a thought how about some sort of screening process more involved than 'do you believe in God'?

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 13:02

      Actually that nonsense about "no sex because I am a Catholic clergyman" is also a major contributing factor. SO these randy virgins cannot have a normal sexual relationship so the prey on vulnerable children.

  • almeleh - 2012-06-18 12:20

    Because they are easy prey and those priests are weak-willed and denied normal sexual outlets.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 13:03

      Trurio Yelling adds not one whit of validity to your post. How you can attempt to defence the worlds largest criminal paedophile ring defeats me.

  • Russki - 2012-06-18 12:23

    Emperor Palpatine has spoken!

  • TheReverendSchizophilioSchadenfreud - 2012-06-18 12:26

    No it is not a mystery. The church attracts paedohiles, and then covers up when they get caught, and simly moves them to another diocese where they can continue their pederasty. The church condones and enables ritual child abuse and rape. There is no bloody mystery there.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 13:13

      They have got the covering up of kiddie rape and other horrendous deeds down to a fine art. In a radio documentary on national broadcaster DR, the nuns from Sostrup Convent in eastern Jutland, said that Mother Theresa Brenninkmeijer, locked the senile nun outside in freezing conditions because she was disturbing their morning prayer. Once it was discovered that the elderly nun had died, they were forbidden to tell the attendant doctor or the other nuns what had happened.

      TheReverendSchizophilioSchadenfreud - 2012-06-18 13:53

      The god of the Old Testament is the singularly most unpleasant character in fiction. Not surprising that his adherents are the singularly most unpleasant people you will have the misfortune of encountering.

  • charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-06-18 12:27

    celibacy is not a Biblical law. Depriving grown adults of their sexual drive to be shared in marriage, is not the solution. The Pope should not be surprised when the environment the Catholic Church created lends itself to this type of behaviour.

      poaul - 2012-06-18 12:57

      Oh so now being celibate drives you to want to rape children? Come on...

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 13:05

      poaul Because I assume that the Catholic clergy are human beings with sexual urges. Banned from any form of normal sexuality they prey upon innocent children.

  • MallyGold - 2012-06-18 12:32

    It is no mystery at all why priests abuse children. It is simply because the Catholic Church has, without authority, removed the Priests’ right to marry and enjoy normal sex. This causes a seriously negative compulsion to engage in sex of any kind; usually selecting the most vulnerable children, unfortunately. The Catholic Church must take full responsibility for the results of their flawed and fatal actions. Furthermore, they must immediately allow Priests to marry as they see fit; for that is their God-given right.

      Jawa - 2012-06-18 12:43

      Bull. They still have a choice not to do it. The church created the environment, but cannot be blamed for the actions.

      charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-06-18 12:53

      Agree with this, the Bible does not teach this type of all-priests-must-remain-celibate doctrine. It's man-made.

  • maylani.bezuidenhout - 2012-06-18 12:40

    Here's an idea... Let your priests have normal fulfilling relations with other consenting adults and maybe they won't all get sick with phaedophilia. Don't cover it up and simply move problematic clergy members to new neighbourhoods where they can start up all over again.

      pdevillet.patrik - 2012-06-30 19:58

      i have a better one,don't send your kids to any church and stop the spreading of this outdated feudal superstition

  • Peter - 2012-06-18 12:40

    Celibacy is not the issue its the deviants who infiltrate the churches ranks in order to satisfy their sick behaviour. The problem is far worse in the protestant churches, and don't get me started on the school system which have been covering up mostly married teachers in the past. Ask any priest who are faithful to the church, and the all agree that its a gift. Celibacy is 100 percent biblical, as both Paul and Jesus commends those that choose to remain celibate for the glory of God. Also, revelations makes reference to celibacy as a virtue, along with martyrdom.

      charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-06-18 12:52

      There is probably some truth to that as well. The deviants do seek out opportunities to be around children. Schools, scouts, sports clubs. You have to just protect your children and don't be so trusting of an adult just because they're around.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 13:18

      If what you cl;aim is true then why is the Catholic church the only one of 30000+ Xian cults that enforce this on their clergy? Anyway, it was done not for biblical reasons but the ensure the church never had responsibility for the wives and children of priests. It was a simply money influenced decision and the Vatican knows all about money, hey?

      TheReverendSchizophilioSchadenfreud - 2012-06-18 13:57

      Also the little fact that upon death, unbetrothed priests left their worldly possessions to the church, and not to pesky dependants, like spouses or offspring.

      Peter - 2012-06-18 14:21

      Of course it was for monetary reasons, would you want your contributions to the church to support the wife and kids too. The majority of the priests take a vow of celibacy and don't accumulate wealth on earth, and when they retire they are basically left penniless.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 15:01

      @Peter What an admission. WTF. And you think that is ok. UGH!

      Peter - 2012-06-18 15:16

      So, why you shocked. Remember celibacy is a disciplne, and not a dogma. Its completely biblical, I can understand you not putting any stock in the teachings within the bible, but how can any self-respecting protestant stand up and say that its not biblical. It boggles the mind. Getting back to your comment, remember that the practice was surely abused, in terms of married priests, and that's why the church changed the discipline. How would you like it if your contributions end up in the hands of the priest' family. That's why today, its easier managed, they end up with no possessions when they retire. The church has the right to change certain discplines, however not dogmas.

      TheReverendSchizophilioSchadenfreud - 2012-06-18 15:49

      I would rather my contributions ended up with the priest's family, than in some Mafia controlled Vatican slush fund. Sickos.

  • Jawa - 2012-06-18 12:42

    God the omnipotent and omnicient makes them do it.

  • candicelynnnaidoo - 2012-06-18 13:07

    A priest cant become a paedophile, but its easy for a paedophile to become a priest. And if marriage and normal sexual relations will solve the problem, then how do you explain the married men who do abuse and rape?

  • Morgoth - 2012-06-18 13:08

    Some serious damage control required there

  • Popsiq - 2012-06-18 13:08

    If it's a 'mystery' it's a diabolical mystery.

  • zaatheist - 2012-06-18 13:08

    This scumbag in a gilt dress, funny hats and expensive shoes needs to understand the true horror of what his clergy are up to in every country in the world where this criminal enterprise operates. This is Father Oliver O'Grady, a former Catholic priest. The church knew he was a child abuser. He gave this deposition last year in a civil law suit where he was accused of sodomizing a child over a hundred times. O'GRADY: I swear by Almighty God that the evidence that I shall give in this deposition will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.... If the boy was tall or fat, that wouldn't attract me. I tended to take boys that were rather slim built. I tended to be attracted to the genital area, and there was a part of me would kind of want to be in touch with that, or to discover that, to see that in this particular boy.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 13:09

      Q: What is it.. what about the little girls did you find attractive? O'GRADY: If she had a short dress or something like that I might have been tempted to, and often did, maybe raise her dress in a kind of subconscious way, or should I say in a way that she's not aware that I'm doing that. But checking her out at the same time, you know. You'd get a glimpse of her underwear. Q: And did you find that arousing? O'GRADY: I did, yes. The viewing was more attractive actually than the touching in the girl's case. Q: How about how you would greet the little girl you were grooming? Just use the name Sally. O'GRADY: Hi Sally, how you doing? Come here, I wanna give you a hug. You're a sweetheart, you know that. You're very special to me. I like you a lot. She might respond 'I like you too'. And that would allow me to give a better hug to you.

      Alan - 2012-06-18 13:58

      Watch "Deliver Us From Evil", it's O'Grady's 'confession'. There are some very distubing statements made in it as it also goes to length to explain the cover-ups of O'Grady's crimes by the Catholic Church and offers some insights into why there is such a high incidence of child rape by Catholic priests.

  • Stephen - 2012-06-18 13:56

    The problem is fairly simple, so let us ask ourselves why some people in South Africa do not stop at a "STOP STREET", simple, there is not real enforcement. Why do some ANC members continue to rob and Steal, simple no one takes them to book. The Catholic Church needs to discipline including giving evidence that leads to long jail sentences all members who abuse our kids, they need to take the lead and stop hiding the problem and the leadership needs to be taken by the Pope. In other words stop moving the offending priests to other places and jail them.

  • harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 14:07

    You are all wrong The reason for this is twofold. 1) Gay men who feel guilty about their sexuality join the church. They have helpful gentle personalities which are a good match for the priesthood. 2)The vast majority of abuse is actually consensual with boys with similar gay tendencies, who often become sexually active younger than straight boys. There's your answers. There is real research to support this.

      charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-06-18 14:32

      " The vast majority of abuse is actually consensual with boys " - ??? Please provide your 'real research' where these boys who have been molested are consenting ???

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 15:04

      I cannot believe what I have just read. Unbelievable. And you defend that? Have you ever heard of statutory rape? “Sometimes there just isn't enough vomit in the world. - Stephen Fry

  • Phae - 2012-06-18 14:18

    'Yet evidently their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ'. Here's your mystery solved! Dedicating your life to a fictitious set of beliefs is unsustainable no matter how much, money, power, fear,effort, dressing up, acting out, control, suppression, enticing and demanding you throw at followers. Christianity is dying out as it should. Christ cannot save anyone, and these priests are testament to it, they had a full time job of loving this 'powerful being' and their love of him did nothing to stop them commit these hideous crimes under his very close watch! Haven't you guys figured out Christ can't help any of you. Look at all your ministers, pastors and priests stuffing up everywhere. By now this jesus thing should surely have been clear in its benefits!! What a load! Man is evolving in consciousness and has no place to put these 'flat earth' religious beliefs anymore.

  • harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 14:38

      harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 14:40

      Charles Dumbwin - having difficulty finding other links about the consensual bit, because it was one of those rare interviews with a church insider. Their position on this is not to talk about it.

  • harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 14:42

    Lastly - Priests were allowed to get married until 762 AD. The reason they were stopped is because being rich and powerful, they started having so many wives and mistresses, and therefore children, that the church was losing inheritence to children of the priests not re-entering the priesthood. Something else to google. This is the only reason that priests arent allowed to have sex. To not let the churches wealth be given up in inheritence. Thats something else to google

      harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 14:49

      sorry. 726 AD

      Peter - 2012-06-18 15:57

      And for the next thirteen hundred years the priesthood was not an issue, hmmm.

      DoreenMaguire - 2012-06-18 18:15

      Pedophiles, are attracted to CHILDREN,... NOT adults. "Marriage", would NOT prevent child abuse...

  • harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 14:45

    P.S. the bible only forbids deacons from having wives. Priests aren't mentioned.

  • harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 14:47

  • harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 14:54

    another interesting quote " The more feminism is in power in a land, the more monogamous it is and the more it is swept over by homosexuality and lesbianism. The more patriarchal and polygamous the land, the least likely it is to be taken over by homosexuality and lesbianism."

  • Irene - 2012-06-18 14:57

    All religion is evil.

      harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 15:07

      I'm and atheist and I Don't agree. Religion makes people more honest, more focused, more productive. Without religion GDP would be much lower.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 15:10

      @Harry Rarely have I read so much BS by a single poster. You are no atheist.

      harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 15:24

      ZA atheist - I love to see you go back to your abusive manipulative bigotry, which is what most atheists try to cover up until you provoke them. That's the kind of atheism I like to distance myself from.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 15:46

      @Harry As I said, you ain't no atheist.

      harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-18 15:48

      Zaatheist - see if I care what you think.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-18 16:07

      @Harry Well I care that somebody like you would attempt to defend the rape of children by clergymen as consensual sex. I think you must be mentally ill to believe something like that, let alone assert it publicly.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-06-18 21:04

      Harry Bobbit, Although it is still only the middle of the year, you have without any doubt won the -------2012 AWARD FOR TALKING THE BIGGEST LOAD OF BS--------- Your prize, a 'blow up boy' is in the post!!

      harry.hobbit.90 - 2012-06-19 10:28

      I love all the pre-judgement and bigotry. As soon as anyone is labelled a paedo then they are automatically guilty? Well done.

  • Cate - 2012-06-18 15:49

    I believe it has to do with the type of persons who are accepted into the Priesthood, the inability or the unwillingness of Bishops to properly supervise what is going on in churches and institutions (too few bishops) and also the deficient and untransparent system for the laying of complaints in the church. (Too much power is concentrated in the Bishop's office. Allowing Priests to marry would help, it is not the only answer to the problem. This would attract a greater number of good men to ministry in the church. The RC Church needs a major wake up call. Too many lights are going out.

  • katharina.botha - 2012-06-18 17:04

    its not a mystery, they have just grown apart from GOD.

  • DoreenMaguire - 2012-06-18 19:32

    Mystery? It's not much of a mystery. Sexual predators were protected in the Catholic Church by their superiors, from the Pope on down. Punishment, for their crimes against children, was a "retreat" for their "problems" and then a transfer to another unsuspecting parish..sometimes with a promotion. The Church chose to protect their religions reputation above the welfare and safety, of children that were repeatedly, abused...NO MYSTERY...a COVER UP! The church, provided a worldwide, sanctuary.. a safe haven, without legal consequences...for child rapists/abusers

      Cate - 2012-06-26 17:37

      There is a problem in regarding the sacrament of Holy Orders as something that lasts "forever" and that it can never, or hardly ever, be revoked. Discipline needs to be enforced, power to discipline should devolve to greater numbers in the church (i.e. also include the "laity"). The culture that the Priest is a "law unto himself" has to end. The Priesthood needs to be opened to married men, and there has to be a radical rethink of who can be a "minister" in the church, and what it means to be that minister. Some 20 years ago there was a "prophesy" coming out of the Charismatic Renewal in the USA that said that there would be a great darkness descending on the RC church because of its sinfulness. At the time it did not make sense, it sounded as if the "protestants" were just trying (perhaps misguidedly) to disparage us. Well, now we know what that prophesy meant. For a start, I think that priests should live in communities supervised by a rector and should move out on a daily basis to assigned tasks in the parishes in the particular diocese or designated region. The system of living in at the parish house should end. They should be made to account exactly for how their time is spent each day. The idea that the Priest is in some sort of "sheltered employment" must end. Having said all that there are off course, some good Priests out there. For their sake as well as ours, the RC church needs to urgently get its house in order.

  • lenny.appadoo - 2012-06-18 20:29

    "How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord's body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way?" There's your answer right there, your popeness - your priests just took sharing the body of Christ one step further...

  • margie.swanepoel - 2012-06-23 16:04

    Famous christian cop-out: "God works in mysterious ways" - so no wonder the pope says it is a mystery!!!!!!!!!!!

  • colinmorris007 - 2012-07-02 20:35

    It is a mystery why priests and other church officials abused children entrusted in their care

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