Young Fogey has written Almost our epitaph here: the true cost of the Catholic abuse scandal.
By way of digression, he has also been writing about speech in More Anglophilia, from the past? The mid-Atlantic accent and My accent. I would say tongue-in-cheek that it is an American version of my Speech and Pronunciation – British “received pronunciation”. That is another subject from what I really want to comment about today.
John’s article centres on the sex abuse scandal and the Archdiocese of Boston in particular. This discussion seems to be sparked off by the closure and sale of Holy Trinity Church in Boston, something of a nineteenth-century monstrosity in my view, but an iconic building. I often wonder if its fate should resemble that of Hitler’s house at Berchtesgarten, turned into a restaurant or demolished like the homes of executed serial killers. Maybe such angry thinking is unjustified, and I need to take a more detached attitude, namely – it’s not my problem.
What caused the extent of priests engaging in pedophilia and sexual abuse of other vulnerable persons? It is too easy to blame it on celibacy as an institutional requirement. That is until we discover the extent of the same kind of rot in the BBC, the British Government and, more recently, in local town councils in northern England. I am not even sure that this has anything to do with with post-war liberalism and the 1960’s and the “liberation” of sex. I am no expert, but I suspect it has something to do with authority and power over large numbers of people.
I also notice it happening in non English-speaking countries, and the perpetrators belonging to unaccountable elites. I may be over-simplifying, but there seem to be three purposes or motivations for sexual activity – procreation and physical pleasure. The third consideration would be power and domination. A victor conquers a country or a town, and the first thing they do is rape the women among other atrocities. The Americans (and, yes, the British) were no better in Normandy and Paris in 1944 than the Russians in East Germany, or the Nazis as they marched into Poland in 1939. To the victors go the spoils of war. Raping a person means destroying that person for the sake of total domination. This is a characteristic of the alpha male and the psychopath who has no moral conscience or empathy for others. The sheer evil of it knocks most decent folk backwards, especially when such beasts become priests and hide behind a façade of pastoral care and compassion.
Do sexual abuse and rape occur in smaller societies like Indian tribes and modern communities of less than about a hundred people? Perhaps readers could comment with information and intuitions in their possession. Of course, the same things do happen in authoritarian cults, whether in “recognised” churches like the Legionaries of Christ or some of the more “autonomous” communities.
We have to be able to question authority and empower ourselves through knowledge. One news site I find interesting is Signs of the Times News, even if some of their postings are wildly conspiracy theorist, anti-Semitic (or justifiably critical of Zionism – what people do and not what they are) or lacking in common sense. I have been studying intentional communities and some of the reasons behind them. It seems to be a discipline within the generic category of sociology or anthropology. We humans are hard-wired for a way of life, even if we are to an extent adaptable to other ways of life like the State, the city and the isolated family. Another idea comes in, provoked by our disillusionment with authority and the “real” world, The Pit as some call it, that of Sociocracy as a means of running a small community. It seems to be a cogent alternative to complete anarchy which tends to leave the community to the mercy of the most powerful alpha male of psychopathic tendencies. In the absence of law, it is the terror of tyranny – as in the first years of the French Republic!
I would like to explore some of those communities and discern whether there is a new medium for human life and maybe an application of Gospel principles of love, forgiveness and toleration. Could sacramental Catholicism find in this a medium for regeneration as in the early medieval tribes of Europe? But, go into a modern eco-village with traditional missionary methods, and the person responsible for such silliness would be told to leave the premises in short order! These communities, which I thought had died with the Hippies, are thriving and firing imaginations.
I couldn’t imagine men getting away with raping children in such a situation!
For further reading and perhaps a discussion in the com-box, I suggest:
- Fellowship for Intentional Community
- Landmatters Community
- Global Ecovillage Network Europe
- Diggers and Dreamers
- All I want for Christmas is a new world
- Intentional Communities and Co-Living
It might seem shocking to most of us used to city living and the consumer society (a world in which Christianity dies), or even in the country but still dependent on employment and money in a world that doesn’t know us and which we don’t know as human beings. The human cost and adaption skills for someone thinking of going that way would be tremendous. Monasteries only go part of the way, and they depend on total authority / obedience and the surrender of personality. With my “Goliard” way, and with experience of community and outdoor life, it is all extremely thought-provoking.
Affaire à suivre…