Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A mea culpa from the Pope?

Hans Kung has his own complex agenda with the Vatican. However, he is surely correct in calling for the Pope to admit his complicity in the scandal of paedophilia in the Roman Catholic church. “Protecting their priests seems to have counted more for the bishops than protecting children,” he said according to the agency reporting an interview published in Süddeutsche Zeitung today (17 March). “Decency requires that the primary party responsible for the concealment [of the cases], namely Joseph Ratzinger [the pope], makes his own mea culpa.” Those who have been concerned about abuse in the churches have been aware of the Vatican policy of gaining the silence of the abused and moving on the offender. Not only failing to address the incidents of abuse but setting up new possibilities. This behaviour is sadly not unique to the Roman Catholic church.

His call for a reconsideration of the celibacy of priests may be correct for all kinds of reasons. However, sexual abuse is far more complex than just sexually frustrated men working out their drives on children. It would be very dangerous for the church to reconsider celibacy on such a ground – particularly for children.


  1. I remember well over a decade ago - more like nearly 20 years ago watching Joan Bakewell interview the Catholic bishop of Birmingham (Ceuve de meurville?) on the issue of having moved a priest on who had repeatedly abused children in every parish. I had never seen anyone so very obviously and barefacedly lying on televesion before - it was amazing tv. But the issue really needs to be tackled head on rahter than with a mixture of hand-wringing impunity and false forgiveness ...
    I actually don't think the issue has so much to do with celibacy as with power - most children who suffer abuse do so not at the hands of the supposedly celibate - after all let's be clear there are baptists and URC and C of E ministers who have also abused children - and the vast majority of children abused are abused by their own family members. For the church it is ahuge issue of power truth and living according to what is preached ... violence and abuse are always more to do with power than just about sex

  2. Probably was C de M (brother of French PM). I knew him when he was a university chaplain.
    I agree about the power issue and thnk that it is unacceptable for some to use the abuse of children to promote their celibacy agenda - as much as I agree with it.
    I feel very frustrated when I hear church people say that the concern is only recent so of course they have only just got round to taking it seriously. I was part of an ecumenical working group convened by National Children's Bureau which produced "Taking Care - A Church Response to Children, Adults and Abuse" in 1991. Good practice for the churches at congregational/parish level and at national level has been on the table in the UK since then. Pleading ignorance almost 20 years later just does not wash.