Suffering the sins of the few…

All suffer the sins of the few

By Tom Oleson

Some years ago, an article appeared in the The Times Literary Supplement — which is about as far away from a contemporary scandal sheet as you can get in this Tiger Woods world — that argued that prior to the Reformation, there was not a single recorded case of the sexual abuse of a child in any Western nation, that part of the world that was then called Christendom.

The author was not blaming Protestants for sexual abuse. Rather, if memory serves, he was arguing that the Reformation and the so-called Enlightenment that followed it changed thought patterns so profoundly that anything became possible, any sort of behaviour became defensible in a world where thought and action once were strictly dictated. It is also worth remembering that the very concept of childhood is a fairly modern thing — children used to work when they could walk and wed when they could breed. The definition of a child was very different then, just as it is in different parts of the world today.

And certainly, “anything is possible” is a watchword for the modern world.

The 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century have certainly proved to us that anything is possible — from the Holocaust defenders to the pedophiles who argue that their abuse of children is not only normal, but liberating for their victims who have sexual rights, too, however young they may be. There is no kind of sexual perversion that cannot find a defender today.

In the minds of many members of the public today, the greatest offender, the worst defender of sexual abuse is the Roman Catholic Church. The church has been rocked to its foundations by sexual scandal — the Pope himself stands accused of having stood by, as a cardinal, and refusing to defrock or even discipline priests who were sexual abusers.

This has been a huge gift for left-wing liberals, atheists, agnostics and others who see the Catholic church as the greatest, perhaps the only threat to their smugly illogical beliefs — anti-Catholicism, after all, does remain polite society’s last respectable prejudice.

It also, however, puts a burden on Catholics and the church itself to address, acknowledge and admit to something that clearly happened to innocent Catholic children at the hands of the very adults whom, they had been taught, they could trust the most — their priests.

When I was a young kid I asked my father once why he — and I — had converted to Catholicism when there was so much prejudice against it. He replied that it was impossible to study history, especially medieval history, without becoming a Catholic.




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