I was having an argument with my friend, Margaret. We’d been talking about recent charges against clergy and the subsequent sales of church property to pay for legal settlements and compensate the victims. I was satisfied that some justice was at last being realized. Margaret felt quite the opposite.
“Why should everyone suffer for a few bad apples?” she asked. “Any profession is bound to have its share of rotten actors. It’s just so unfair that the whole organization and everyone in it has to suffer.”
In the novel The Bishop’s Man, author Linden MacIntyre provides us with a fictitious but credible story about the priest whose job it was to cover up the sexual abuse by parish priests. In his role, the bishop’s man assures the parents and the young victim that the church is taking the abuse very seriously and is dealing with it. Once he has convinced the families that there is no need to go to the authorities, he reports back to the bishop and the abusing priest is transferred to another parish – to abuse other young people.
It’s a familiar story all over the western world. In 2001, I visited Ireland, a country that once exported its priests to every part of the globe. People were generally very angry with the organizations that had betrayed them.
Young Irishmen were no longer entering the disgraced priesthood. Many lay people left the churches and for those who remained in the parishes, there weren’t enough priests to serve them. In this country that had always exported its clergy, they were now actually importing priests from Africa.
Do you have similar stories you’d be willing to share on this website? I’d really like to hear from you.