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Post no. 55 (Of judges and defrocked priests)

August 9, 2011

My original plan was to refrain from commenting on the sentence the court handed down to Pulis and Scerri in relation to their cases of sexual abuse of minors in their care. After having read some of the comments left by people baying for blood in news stories about the case I had to change my mind. A veritable lynch mob.

Let’s get a few things straight. These men – courageous men – who have spoken out about their ordeals cannot have been lying or making things up. I don’t think the court would have found in their favour otherwise; and after 8 years of trials and tribulations a lie or a hoax would have run out of steam. The perpetrators of the crime have behaved abominably and they will have to face the consequences of their action: legal consequences and, after that, the stigma of being child molesters (I don’t know if this is technically correct, though).

And here lies the rub, in my opinion. Speaking as a citizen who has not been emotionally involved in the affair, I would be satisfied that justice has been done. I am not aware of what the sentence entailed, but perhaps I’d throw in some reparative therapy too – not that it would help much, but still …

The lynch mob wants more. They want the perpetrators to rot in jail, burn in hell, have their genital chopped off and fried, roasted or baked, Mike Tyson to shag them repeatedly for years (you can’t make up stuff like this) etc. It’s very easy to get emotional about such issues. Cruelty to children and animals is the worst sort of cruelty. (Cruelty to children being a billion times worse, of course). In such an emotionally charged state it is very easy to confuse justice with revenge. What makes it worse is that both abusers (all three actually, but one died before the trial ended) were men of the cloth. I have 2 reasons for saying this.

a) They committed a crime they were duty-bound to prevent, as it were. From the earliest days of their formation they must have known that  “if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such htings must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Mt 18: 6-7)

I have heard and read many theories as to why these men behaved  the way they did – ranging from latent homosexuality to arrested development (one hopes that mental development is being referred to). Did they not believe the words of the one whom they promised to serve? How could they abandon their duty to spread love, hope and charity to satisfy what is evidently inappropriate sexual urges? The mind boggles. A small story comes to mind. There were these 2 men who didn’t really see eye to eye on anything. They used every opportunity to slander each other. Then, as usually happens, one of them on was on his death bed. The other one decided to call a truce and went over to ask for forgiveness and to forgive. The moribund chap told the healthy bloke to take one of his pillows, climb on to the roof and empty it in the wind. The instructions were obeyed to the letter and the meeting reconvened.

“God forgives you, but for me to forgive you you’ll have to pick up all the feathers in the pillow,” said the guy on the bed.

“But that’s impossible. God knows where they’ve flown off to.”

“Exactly. God knows who has heard you lie about me and what they think I am thanks to those lies. Fix that if you can.”

The damage these ex priests (or is it only one ex priest and another soon to become ex priest?) have done is irreparable. Their actions cannot be undone. They can be forgiven, but they cannot be undone. Such is the nature of evil.

b) We seem to riding a wave of a sort of anti-ecclesiastical and anti-clerical feeling lately. Anything related to the Church – specifically the Catholic Church – is bad. Abuse of the worst kind perpetrated by members of the most lurid institution on earth is … unspeakable?  Then again, perhaps it goes to show that despite consisting of numerous weak links the Church on earth shall go on until the end of the world. It’s not the first time – and it certainly won’t be the last – that the Church has had to carry the bucket for a few of its freer spirited components 🙂

Winding up.

*Anyone can – and should – condemn actions, but not people.

*Judging is a double edged-sword.

* it’s a fine line that separates justice from revenge.


From → The Gripevine

  1. Toby Simmons permalink

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  2. Adjustable permalink

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