Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vices and Virtues: The Sadness Behind Laughing Irish Eyes

Today, the Catholic Church in Ireland had the wind knocked out of it. Most people, my own husband included, know first hand the severity of child abuse in Irish schools. He suffered at the hands of a young priest in ****** ****, *****, who later went on to be a Bishop of the ****** Diocese. My husband is just one of over 14,500 such cases. And that is just the number who have sought restitution thus far. There are thousands more who have suffered in silence. Some suffered so much, they took their own lives, believing the lies pounded into their heads by abusers who said they were worthless demons, devils, heathens. Content editted due to legal considerations.

The most insulting thing is the way the government executed the report. The report took over ten years, but it fails to name any of the perpetrators. Ironically, it does name the names of some of the victims. This occurs in order to protect the government, who deferred responsibility of schooling to the Church, from costly litigation. Not one criminal case will be produced from the report. It was an attempt to osticize the victims.

After reading portions of the report, I just want to know one thing: Who is Brother X (a Christian Brother) and is he still alive or coherent of his surroundings? Here is an excerpt of his cruelty:

If you turned up late ... he ...(Br X)... used to do an inspection, if there was a speck of dirt, that would trigger it off. He used a leather, hand, cane on the legs, hand, arse or wherever ...(he)... had a temper, you would be black and blue, you would be on the floor. He used to make you take your trousers down and he would give it to you on the behind or wherever, he did it to me a few times. You wouldn’t do anything because he had a whistle and he would call other Brothers and they would weigh in, when these guys got going you would do nothing, if they couldn’t get you one way they would get you the other, kick, hit, you were knackered.

He ...(Br X)... flogged me one time, I was working in the piggery. I used to be starving,the pigs used to get the Brothers’ leftovers and one day there was lovely potatoes and I took some and I took a turnip. Br ...X... caught me and he brought me up to the dormitory, he let down my trousers and he lashed me. He always wore a leather, around 18 inches ...(long)... and it was all stitched with wax, his leather was very thin. It was about an inch and a half, others had leathers about 2 inches. He lashed me, he flogged me. sec 7.28

They say where the greatest good is, there exists the greatest evil. Ireland is known for deep faith, but with that deep faith and devotion is a horrible truth yet to be uncovered. That horrible truth is the evil that exists in the hearts of some who are charged to preach the Good News. Sadly, it only takes one or two to spread the cancer. Brother X terrorized, not just the children placed in his care, but his fellow brothers. In fact, some tried to comfort the children clandestinely, but the rule of obedience always superceded any charity. Brother X was in charge and the only person who could override his authority was the bishop.

God never intended for the Church to use her authority to abuse and inflict horror on a child. Jansenism aside, it was never Jesus' intent to penalize us all for our flaws. Quite the contrary...He took the punishment for us. Here is where poor Brother X shows his very weak faith. He, like Judas, just could not believe that Jesus died for his, or anyone else's sins. He believed himself to be evil, and lived that lie. The sickness in his soul was allowed to perpetuate, which is the sin of his superior.

Every bishop in this country should be on their knees, crying with true remorse, for allowing the least of God's little ones to be lead astray. They were lead astray in thinking they were too sinful to be forgiven for some of the very least of offenses. They were lead astray at the hand of an evil man who hated everyone, most of all, himself. Some were lead astray to the point of despair. They took their own lives. Some simply left the Church.

While my husband has chosen to forget the past, I ache to see the hurt and sadness removed from his Irish eyes. I yearn for him, along with every child who suffered at the hand of the Church, to know they are precious in God's eyes. God knows their sorrow, and their innocence. He knows the sin of a Church that is flawed. Flawed because it is made up of weak men and women, products of the same type of abuse, from the lowliest brother up to the greatest bishop. Only this bishop never apologized.

Had the then, priest really understood his catechism, he would know to be truly sorry for the sin of abusing my husband and so many others in that school. He would have known Jesus was shuddering every time he kicked a student. The, then priest, would feel the horror of shame, knowing he was hammering the nails into the hand of Jesus. He would cry, knowing he did the opposite of that which Christ commissioned him to love one another, even as Christ loves him.

There is only one thing that any good, practicing Catholic can do in the face of such a report with this type of abuse. We must first, recognize with genuine sorrow, the injury inflicted on the innocent, under the banner of the Catholic Church. Second, we must resolve to guarantee this is stopped, every place, every time, from now until eternity. WE are the Church, not the bishops, priests and nuns. WE must take the Church that Christ founded back from the hands of Evil. Evil thrives when the good do nothing. WE must refuse to allow evil to thrive.

Otherwise, we might as well hammer the nail into the hand of Christ ourselves.

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