Thu | Dec 5, 2019

Devon Dick | Catholic crime syndicate

Published:Friday | September 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
This September 15 photo shows Pope Francis at the cathedral in Palermo, Italy. Francis’ role in Argentina’s most famous case of sex abuse committed by clergymen is coming under renewed scrutiny as he faces the greatest crisis of his papacy.

Recently, Bishop Stephen Ackermann, a Roman Catholic cleric, in response to 1,670 German clergymen committing sexual assault against 3,677 minors between 1946 and 2014, described it as "the dark side of our church". This is very troubling because it means that in spite of the negative publicity, resignations of bishops and financial compensation to victims, the problem of sexual abuse persists.

Sadly, on average, each cleric is abusing multiple children, mainly boys. Additionally, these clergymen are betraying the trust of the innocent and vulnerable children. They are scarring youngsters for life and sentencing the children to long-term anguish. And most frightening is the disclaimer that the true scale of the sexual abuse is not known because the documents were manipulated or destroyed.

These clerics are managing a criminal syndicate with arrogance and impunity. They are bringing the church into disrepute. They are emasculating the present and blighting the future of these underage children.




And what was the punishment? These predatory priests were often transferred to another location, but the criminal record did not follow them. Sixty-six per cent did not face any disciplinary hearings, and the few who did got minimal punishment.

It seems that church schools in Jamaica are quicker to expel minors for low academic performance than the worldwide Roman Catholic Church is to ex-communicate clergy from the priesthood who commit criminal acts of sexual assault on minors.

This German sexual assault is following a pattern. Last month, a grand jury report stated that 300 Roman Catholic priests across Pennsylvania, USA, sexually abused 1,000 minors over seven decades. There was a rider that there were probably thousands more.

These men of the cloth engaged in raping little boys and girls, and the leaders did little, mainly hiding the heinous crimes. So, on average, each priest ravished three minors. This is gross, sickening and repulsive.

There is a vast difference between consulting adults engaging in sexual immorality and carnal abuse of the young. The latter is an unpardonable crime.

This systemic sexual abuse needs harsher treatment. Those who committed the crime must do the time. After the first offence, they should be handed over to the civil authorities for prosecution.

After serving jail time, and if they feel a call to the priesthood, they should be castrated before entering another diocese. Because they could be a danger to children, most should be confined to administrative duties and not work among minors. In addition, those leaders who conspire to hide the crime should face criminal charges of conspiracy.

But it seems that this trend is endemic to the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, it is time for a full study to be done on the causes for this disgusting behaviour. The church would have to look into its recruiting mechanism and ascertain whether its discerning machinery is working.

In addition, the Roman Catholic Church needs to have an in-depth study on some of its doctrines to ascertain whether they are contributing factors to child sexual abuse. Therefore, the church should consider whether the requirement of celibacy to be a priest or nun is facilitating sexual assault. Naturally, a comparison with married clergy and incidents of sexual abuse would be necessary. Furthermore, is an all-male clergy more prone to sexually abusing minors? Does the teaching on homosexuality need revisiting based on the practices of some clergy? In other words, how do these doctrines shape one's attitude towards sexuality and sexual intercourse? How do these doctrines affect the understanding of God and interpretation of scriptures?

This cloud over the church needs to be removed urgently.

- The Rev Dr Devon Dick is pastor of Boulevard Baptist Church. Email feedback to