It’s time to talk! The victims of priests and religious pedophiles did so. The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (Ciase) gave a deep echo to their words. Now is the time to make the link between all the sufferings resulting from ecclesial silence and clericalism. Childhood crimes are in many ways the most heinous, but they are not the only ones. The systemic nature of child crime in a Catholic environment noted by Ciase unfortunately goes beyond these acts.
Because the system that allowed pedophiles to continue in the institution is also the one that allows priests to sexually abuse adults under their control, which makes the workforce in the institution considered negligible. Church or which causes that when you leave the path of the priesthood or the consecrated life, you often end up forgotten, infringed on your social rights.
→ ANALYSIS. In the wake of the Sauvé report, the necessary overhaul of the victims’ listening cells
This system is built using the three religious vows and the commitments of obedience and celibacy of diocesan priests. Most of the consecrated, sincere in their desire to serve Christ and their neighbor, are the first victims before becoming, for some, the predators of the weakest.
The first step that locks the conscience is obedience. Obedience to the bishop successor to the Apostles, obedience promised to ordination for priests, vow of obedience for religious. How do we do when we anchor this notion of obedience in the depths of the postulant’s conscience? If obedience is an organizing principle, why put so much emphasis on it? What is the use of making it such a structuring marker of the life of the priest, of the religious? If obedience is a spiritual principle like obedience to Christ, why make it a human principle of obedience to a superior? Why link spiritual and temporal obedience using the same word?
→ TRIBUNE. “The bankruptcy of the Church is the result of a real pathology of speech”
I have seen too many priests suffer in the depths of their person to be in public or private disagreement with a superior. Everything that had been instilled in them at the seminary or in the course of religion came to condemn them internally, when it was only a simple disagreement! How can we expect the subordinate to be free if any difficult effort requested by a superior is considered a test willed by Christ?
Celibacy locks up
The second step that adds the power of belonging to obedience is celibacy. Because he is the marker of a caste, that of those who are called in a privileged way to “states of perfection” which reinforces their certainty of being in the Truth. Moreover, whatever the sincerity of the vocation, of the initial impetus, sooner or later, it is belonging that will prevail. How to turn against his hierarchy, his caste, his community? Not to mention the fact that celibacy is a powerful relay of obedience: it seems so much easier to manage a celibate priest than to manage a married clergy.
→ TRIBUNE. Sexual abuse: “By their strategies of dissimulation, the ecclesial authorities have seriously compromised themselves”
The last touch on this work is poverty. Perhaps the one of the three wishes that seems the most benign when it comes to the system, and yet! If I am tempted to take a side route from my superior, I am overtaken by my impecuniosity. Under these conditions can we be surprised that the law of silence reigns within the framework of the Church and is diffused in all the people of the Catholics? So of course I will be told that this is only true for regular priests.
Certainly. But even among seculars who have the right to own property, many live with just enough to meet their needs … The three vows are the structure of life of so many religious, priests, consecrated persons, as we will think. probably I’m tackling too big. I will no doubt be told the spiritual virtues of each taken separately. But taken together, what carnage! The observation posed by the Ciase is that of the too great power of the bishops and religious superiors which leads to an excessive submission, visible in the omerta around pedophile acts.
Paradoxically, to renounce these so restrictive vows – or their equivalents for the diocesan priest – would not only participate in avoiding new ones and would restore their true missionary and evangelical efficiency to the clerics. Taking the time to rethink consecrated life and its requirements, taking into account the progress of psychology, avoiding creating contradictory injunctions, will be a real step in the overhaul of the clerical system.
When La Ciase emphasizes that sexual abuse is preceded by spiritual abuse, I can only agree. And this abuse is based on the three wishes. These three vows which structure the Church and Catholic mentalities. These three wishes which are so many weapons for abuse. For total and deep abuse. I speak of it all the more simply because I was also abused by this system. It’s difficult to admit, to welcome. I was ashamed of it.
→ TESTIMONIALS. Sexual abuse in the Church: the word is only beginning to be released
The post-traumatic stress disorder that started in me came from this abusive system that left no way out for the consecrator that I was. Although it went through people, it was not first of all one or more people who abused me… It is a system, the ecclesial system, its vows, its “sin”, its theology, its culture of “discretion”, his obsession with secrecy, his self-victimization! I could not begin to heal until I understood this.