A few years ago, the American Catholic church went through a scandalous period in which it was discovered that the church covered up numerous incidents of child sexual abuse, and even protected the pedophile priests. Instead of turning these vile child abusers over to legal authorities, they just transferred them to another diocese (where many of them continued to commit their crimes).
Once the actions of the church was finally exposed, many priests were finally convicted, the reputation of the American church was severely damaged and millions were paid by the church to settle a large number of lawsuits. Now it looks like the Irish Catholic church is experiencing the same type of thing.
Recently, there have been accusations made by over 2,000 people who say they were abused either physically or sexually while in the care of Catholic-run schools, orphanages and other institutions. Recently the Irish Minister of Justice commissioned a report on the matter. The report was released late last month.
That report calls the matter "a scandal on an astonishing scale" and said "the welfare of children counted for nothing". The report went on to say, "The Dublin archdiocese's preoccupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid-1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets."
In other words, the Irish church acted just like the American church. They acted to protect themselves -- regardless of what that meant for children. The report also faulted civil officials like the police, saying they gave the church too much respect and deferred to them too much. It was found that in many cases where a report of abuse was actually made, the police simply reported the accusation to the church and no investigation was conducted. The priest was then transferred and began to abuse a new set of kids.
Five Catholic Bishops were named in the report as being especially responsible for the cover-up. Four of those Bishops have now resigned. The last two resigned in a joint statement read at yesterday's midnight mass. That just leaves one Bishop, the current Bishop of Galway, and public pressure will probably force him from office soon.
I bring all this up just to point out the danger of giving a church or its officials, of any religion, too much respect. Far too often, we consider these church officials (priests, ministers, pastors, preachers, deacons, elders, etc.) to be "men of god" who can do no wrong. This gives them an almost free pass to commit crimes and abuse children and others, if they are so-inclined.
The fact is that all churches, temples, mosques, etc. are earthly organizations run by men -- men (and women) who are generally no better or worse than others. Some are good and some are not, but you cannot assume they are good just because of the religious title they may hold.
There are both good people and bad people in every profession, but some professions are given such respect that much of the bad is overlooked -- such as doctors and police. But no profession gets the benefit of the doubt (free ride) that those in religion get. Many consider these people to be "chosen of god" and therefore incapable of doing wrong. That's just rubbish.
Some religious officials are trying to do good and some are doing bad things (and some are even doing both). But they are all just human, and subject to the same foibles as other humans. We must never forget that.