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OPINION: There will be hell to pay for paedophile priests

Revelations of child abuse within the Catholic Church is not new news so why does if feel like it is.
Revelations of child abuse within the Catholic Church is not new news so why does if feel like it is. Vmelinda

PAEDOPHILE priests are under the spotlight this week, here and in Hollywood.

The movie of the same name won Best Picture at the Academy Awards and Cardinal George Pell should take home best supporting actor for his performance in a video.

But who am I to mock those that appear to be closer to God.

They were so amazing. They were celibate. They didn't need to have a sexual relationship. They didn't need to have families, because they had God.

I went to a Catholic school in the '70s and was not subjected to sexual abuse so I should know better. I should know that it's only a few bad apples that ruined it for the rest, and be grateful and supportive of the institution that was there to guide me morally through my young life.

But I can't you see, because as irony would have it, its those same morals instilled by my Catholic upbringing that is proving to be the double-edged sword that now sees me despise the institution.

And it's not just the horror stories from victims in Ballarat and beyond that have done it. I just think myself lucky that I was a girl at the right Catholic school. Now it feels like what is happening on the television and on the big screen is an epidemic across the world, one that has been allowed to continue by both insiders and outsiders for God knows how long, and I mean that latter phrase with no form of blasphemy.

Watching the aloof cardinal strain to answer question after question while maintaining an arm's length from the whole ugly Ridsdale affair is almost as unbearable as watching those frail old men face the consequence of their heinous war crimes another lifetime ago. Thoughts of the revolting nightmares children, girls and boys but mostly the latter, went through is impossible to digest as an experienced adult let alone a wide-eyed school kid.

When I was that age, there was no inkling this stuff existed in our impressionable young minds.

To us, priests were the closest thing to Jesus Christ we had walking around the playground. They were so amazing. They were celibate. They didn't need to have a sexual relationship. They didn't need to have families, because they had God.

They were above everyone, a man who had a direct link to Our Heavenly Father. He knew when you had been good or bad because you were reminded of this every time you went to confession.

They were caretakers of comfort with no agenda except to offer guidance from a Roman Catholic Christian perspective. The first church, the only church. A man who was so devoted to the Lord he chose Him over a wife and children so they could solely serve God and their parishes, without the distractions that come with a regular domestic life.

As I grew up, aspects of this set-up started to bug me. The patriarchal vibe, the blind faith, the arrogance and hypocrisy I saw and heard about on a grand scale, and eventually, talk of paedophilia, protection and suicide over the years through church gossip and the media.

The environment these Sons of Jesus operated in, was a disaster waiting to happen. And it did.

The fact Ridsdale pretty much began his sexual playground mentality as soon as he left the seminary leaves you with little doubt his mission was not one from God. It's hard not to be cynical. On paper it's the perfect storm for a man seeking sexual pleasure from the children.

Instant credibility and respect from potential victims and their families, constant access to children and a veil of secrecy to hide behind. To top that off, despite conducting yourself in such an evil and lawless fashion while hypocritically espousing to be a representative from God, you are then protected by the very institution that made it easy for you indulge in the vile and devastating behaviour. Throw in the Sacrament of Confession and you are off the hook spiritually too. Any other mug would have been thrown to the lions, let alone the police.

So as the television grabs, the big screen revelations and the sickening articles keep coming, the astute cardinal maintains he had no idea (or interest as it turns out) in what had been going in his parish, blaming his superiors for keeping him in the dark and citing a lack of social media as the reason this was possible. It's a shame there was no Facebook around as it may have seen things unravel publicly long ago.

All I glean from this week of Pell being under the spotlight is that if you can convince yourself you've done nothing wrong, you eventually start to believe it. It's what I like to call the Catholic placebo effect, it's a denial pill of the highest order, but its side effects can be devastating.

Topics:  cardinal george pell, catholic church, editors picks, paedophiles, spotlight



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