Stand by for Incoming

OK, so you’re all sick of hearing about the Roman Catholic Church and the sexual abuse. I’m sick of it too. But it’s not going to go away any year soon. And during those years, we are going to be in danger. We must be ready for a barrage of filth as the church tries to evade or dilute its responsibility for the evil it has done and continues to do. Uniquely among all the organisations under attack for their abuse of the innocent over many many years, they are trying to spread the blame around, even suggesting it wasn’t their fault.

Gillard has tossed a bundle of dynamite into a far bigger, nastier cesspit that she realises. Shit is going to fly in all directions, and none can predict where the wind will blow it or who will end up covered in it. Princes of the church are going to try to ensure that as much as possible lands on us. They may be going down, but they will try their damnedest to take us down with them.

You don’t believe me? Well hang on to your crucifixes while I lay it out for you.The church argument runs something like this:

We didn’t have a problem till the permissive society came along in the 1960s. Then the gays decided to infiltrate the church, turning our seminaries into hotbeds of homosexuality. When they went out into the world in the 1970s, they immediately made a beeline for all those tempting teenage boys, and began abusing them. Since then, however, we have found them out, cleaned out the seminaries, and we have strong protections in place to ensure they don’t get in any more. Paedophiles? Well, maybe one or two here and there, but no worse than any other organisation.

They are going to say, repeatedly, “It wasn’t us: it was the gays. The church is not to blame. It was the gays.” They already have. They still do. Just Google around and you will find plenty of evidence. Cardinal Bertone, just one example, blames gay priests, and for good measure implied that that paedophilia and homosexuality were linked:

“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and paedophilia but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia.”

As Andrew Brown points out, speaking of the priestly abuse that happened in the US and Ireland:

“There is no question but that most of the known victims of abuse were boys, not girls: the ratio was about 80:20. This is the figure used by right-wing catholics to suggest that the problem was priests who were attracted to boys. But the two researchers who talked to the [American Catholic bishops] conference about their findings suggested that this was less a matter of attraction than availability.”

Cardinal Pell has tried to run the same line in the past, though he has not raised the point in his current cack-handed blame-shifting. Rather than complaining, Stephen Crittenden writes in The Global Mail, he should be abject in his apologies:

Cardinal Pell should have been on his knees in front of the cameras begging forgiveness on behalf of the Catholic Church. Instead, he suggested, yet again, that the Church had been the victim of a one-sided smear by an anti-Catholic media.Does he or anyone advising him seriously believe the Australian public has a shred of sympathy for such nonsense?

The Catholic Church is not the victim here. Rather, it is ordinary Catholics who were the true victims of many of the crimes that will come before the attention of the royal commission.Nor is there any credibility to Pell’s assertion that the Catholic Church has been singled out unfairly by the media.

Back in October, child protection expert Professor Patrick Parkinson of Sydney University gave evidence to Victoria’s state inquiry into abuse that the number of offences reported against the Catholic Church has been six times higher than all the other churches combined, “and that’s a conservative figure”.

Unfortunately for all of us, the church – and especially this feudal prince thereof – doesn’t do genuine apologies, let alone penance. That’s for little people like you and me.

However, for this “it wasn’t me, guv, honest” argument to work, the public must have short memories, and journalists must not remind them of some inconvenient historical facts. Such as:

Firstly, as I have already posted in Roman Holiday,  a 2003 article in The Guardian reveals that in 1962, Pope John XXIII issued this document, ordering all Catholic bishops around the world to cover up cases of sexual abuse or risk being thrown out of the Church. Given the sclerotic medieval bureaucracy that is the Vatican, this is pretty clear evidence that priestly abuse was going on at least as far back as the 1950s.

Secondly, the Irish government inquiry into abuse by the church found cases dating back to the 1930s. It’s naive to imagine it was much different in Australia. So that anti-gay horse shouldn’t run. But it won’t stop the church from shoving the broken-down old nag out as often as it can and whipping it for all its worth.

Get ready for trouble. We are going to be smeared. Not once, but many times. Some people are going to believe the smears. We are going to be vilified. We need to be ready to counter this lie each and every time it makes an appearance. We need our champions in parliament to be champions, not lukewarm fair-weather ‘supporters’. We can expect an upsurge in anti-gay violence. Get ready for a long and bumpy ride.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)