They Were Children

the widespread abuse and the abysmal record of the Church's accountability

Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi, one of the greatest fundraiser’s of the Catholic Church and a most successful recruiter of seminarians, fathered six children from three different women, at least one of whom he raped as a minor, and he raped several of his children. Maciel, a favourite of John Paul II, has the dubious distinction of being among the most notorious pedophile in the church. He began his post as the general director of Legion of Christ in 1941 and held it until he was asked by the Pope to retire in 2005.

During those 6 decades Maciel abused countless children, mainly boys and young men. The vatican investigated him for sexual abuse several times from as early as 1956 and each time cleared him of wrong doing. Maciel had a morphine addiction and required a stint in rehab to get clean. Maciel plagarised Luis Lucia’s book and passed it off as his own memoir of persecution. Throughout his life, up to the end, Maciel denied any abuse, stating that the victims lied. His victims have reported that he forced them to take a vow that they would not speak ill of him. There are 174 known victims. We can assume his actual victims number far higher than this and that we will never know the full extent of his perversion and abuse.

The Vatican opted against prosecuting him, stating his age—in his eighties—as the reason. The Vatican never defrocked him, and they allowed him to live out his life until his death in a priest home in Florida, free from accountability, never having to face his victims. Elites getting away with rape. Maciel was a church elite—a favoured church elite. His generosity greased the wheel for him in the Vatican, and he had John Paul II completely hoodwinked, who viewed any accusations against Maciel as malicious. As long as the money flowed to the curia, Maciel felt impune to conduct his filthy life. John Paul II received the honour of canonisation to sainthood by the Vatican, the highest honour afforded a human in the church.

Let that sink in—a pope who repeatedly denied that his most notorious high-ranking cleric pedophile and rapist was an abuser—he refused to entertain Maciel’s guilt—who showered him with recognition and accolades—this man who repeatedly gave a pedophile a pass was elevated to sainthood.

This is one story of an abuser whom the church let roam free to abuse and never punished. There are thousands of cases of abuse by clergy and religious on record and many more that went unreported.

And anyone still thinks this institution will have any interest at all in co-operating with the residential school investigation? Seriously? The church has an abysmal track record when it comes to accountability for abuse of it’s elite (clergy and religious are the church’s elite, and carried such status until the changes brought in by Vatican Council II.

I wonder how many Canadians realise the extent of the abuse of children by religious and clergy. I ventured to guess that most remain unaware. When you realise that the state was not responsible for education or social service delivery until the mid 20th century, when you learn just how much influence the church had over everyday life and governance because of its primary responsibility in social service delivery, you begin to clue into the horror of it all. The church had free reign over the lives of people, over the fates of families and communities, over children’s lives. Thousands of pedophiles and rapists and child abusers and hateful deranged religious extremists had status of impunity that comes with taking vocational life. In pre-Vatican Council society, they were the Church elite and laity had to respect and honour them like aristocrats elevated above us.

So, let’s summarise—we have an untouchable class of perverted and deranged sexually repressive elites with raging egos and religious severity/extremist views who had unfettered and unfiltered access to children and vulnerable people and no accountability. And this took place in a very classist and conservative era when human rights suffered terribly. This is the foundation of our country and society.

What are we going to do about it?

Circlejerking outrage, one way or the other, doesn’t seem like a constructive course of action TBH. Playing ostrich and pretending it’s not happening doesn’t seem like a constructive response either. Tearing our shirts and having to act out a penitential response seems self indulgent and, so also not constructive. That’s not to say we oughtn’t grieve, because absolutely grief is a natural response. That’s not to say we oughtn’t atone, because definitely some kind of atonement needs to happen. Reconciliatory. Yet that requires two genuine sides, not hostile actors being governed by ego and fear and resentment.

Those who react to Québec’s laïcité with hostility perhaps fail to understand where it comes from—it’s a reaction to ultramontanism. Maurice Duplessis ruled PQ for 2 decades between 1936 and 1959. His tenure as premier has a name which expresses his notoriety—le grande noirceur (the great darkness). Duplessis promoted the influence of the Catholic Church, he actively busted trade unions with Catholic back up, and he scorned the notion of civil liberties. Duplessis introduced the Fleur-de-lis as PQ's nationalist symbol and he used the church to advance the province economically—employing clergy and religious in public positions saved the province on wages and ensured ultramontanism could continue to infiltrate and shape society. The crucifix in the National Assembly? That was Duplessis’s doing!

During Duplessis’s reign 20,000 children, mainly those born to unwed women and living in institutional settings, received bogus psychiatric diagnoses as part of a scam to misappropriate federal funds. These children lived in severe and loveless conditions, received beatings and cruel treatment from the nuns and other religious who were tasked to care for them. “Bastard” children barely qualified as human and deserved the abuse they received—it would morally purify them. “Children of sin”—in the eyes of extremist Catholic elite religious—deserved the physical and sexual abuse they received, and the forced medication and barbaric psychiatric treatments and the forced hard labour.

This is what happens when we have morally superior extremist tribes infiltrating political life—when we have moral extremism driving governance and social service delivery—imposing their dogmatics onto vulnerable children and their families. Theocracy and democracy are mutually exclusive—rule by moral tribal supremacy cannot produce a compassionate, fair, just society.

The Vatican has never apologised for residential schools or for the Duplessis Orphans. The Vatican continues to fight sexual abuse survivors in court and to stonewall when it comes to releasing archived records from religious orders of residents in their care. Joseph Ratzinger himself failed miserably in his office and I often wonder if he stepped down from the papacy and retreated to private life in response to the realisation that he contributed to the cover-up and ongoing denial of abuse.

The secrecy the surrounds the Catholic abuse still hoovers heavily in many communities. No one ever questioned the young man who mysterious dropped out of seminary because he had “a breakdown” … just out of the blue, unprovoked. Everyone bought the psychiatry bullsh1t line. It was easier to believe such a man had gone cray cray than believe trusted authorities holding religious high office misused their positions and abused their young charge(s). It was easier to deny an inherently misogynist and deeply sexually repressive institution created a seminary environment that caused abuse and corruption to flourish. Clergy and the religious elite enjoyed abusing their charges with impunity.

It seems like a pattern of humanity—elitist tribalist egocentric assholes designate a scapegoat and demonise that scapegoat and decide to attack by abusing the scapegoat and often stealing their children. Sometimes the children themselves become scapegoats or subhuman—as in the case of poor children, disabled children, children born out of wedlock, and indigenous children. The children are kidnapped or apprehended and placed in abusive settings and subject to dehumanising and abusive treatment. Often eugenics features prominently. We have seen genocide also does. This pattern repeats itself throughout recorded history across humanity.

Are children human—do we as a humanity regard children as fully human and entitled to all the rights therein? I don’t really believe we do. If you think this is history, think again. Right now we are watching as gender extremists and their corporate backed, trust fund backed lobby groups infiltrate and poison public education and delivery of social services and destroy families and prey upon children and groom and indoctrinate them in secret from their parents. Before we called it God, now we call it Gender Affirmation. Same sh1t, different pile.

Are you awake yet?