The Sacred and the Profane

Max Dunbar picks up on a comment from the last piece.

Paul Fauvet raises the point that if a secular organisation were found guilty of such systematic and sustained evil – say, St Helens Council or the NCH children’s charity – the consequences for those responsible would be far harsher. Contra the self-pitying talk about the decline of religion, it’s clear that we still hold religious institutions to lower moral and legal standards than those to which the average citizen abides. If they could not condemn the perpetrators and send their hopes and prayers to the survivors and victims, it should have occurred to the pro-faith apologists that they should just stay out of this one. That they have not, illustrates the depths to which they are capable of sinking in defence of religion.

In the same thread Fabrio Barbieri claims that the double-standard lies with those who would abolish faith schools.

What some of you do not seem to know is that child abuse is more widespread in American state schools (where some statistics say that as many as eight per cent of children have been sexually abused by teachers or staff) than in Catholic schools. That is a fact. It is also a fact that all that was done in Catholic schools in Ireland was commissioned, tolerated and covered up for by the State. Why then don’t those among you who call for the destruction of the Catholic Church also demand the dissolution of the Irish Republic and of the American Department for Education? Because you are in bad faith.

Fortunately, if that’s quite the right word, my neighbours can settle the dispute. Islington council has just sacked Jay Henderson,the head of one of our local schools, for gross misconduct. He had been caught watching porn on the computer in his office. He protested that he worked long hours and at the end of a busy day did not have the time or the energy to titillate himself in the privacy of his home. His novel defence did not wash. Meanwhile, Robin Stringer, another teacher at the school, has been charged with repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a young girl.
Now what would happen if the leader of Islington Council or indeed the Secretary of State for Edcuation stood up and praised the “courage” of abusive teachers? Let me tell you what would happen, he would be fired on the spot. Anyone who argued that his dismissal was proof positive of a vile religious prejudice against the state school system would be laughed to scorn. And if a retired leader of Islington Council or previous Secretary of State chipped in with the opinion that atheists were a greater evil than rapists, they would be sectioned under the mental health act.

15 thoughts on “The Sacred and the Profane

  1. You seem not to have noticed that the people you defend were calling for the destruction of the Catholic Church. As I said, that would be equal to demanding the dissolution of the whole of Islington Council because of the horrors that have taken place there. You seem also not to have noticed that nobody spoke more harshly of the poisoned and disastrous Irish church structure than yours truly. I knew how bad it was for decades. The difference is not between wanting swine condemned and not wanting them condemned, but between wanting the Church destroyed and using this scandal as an excuse, and calling people out on what they said. And if you insist on misrepresenting what I said, I am afraid that I will have to place you among the incorrigibly prejudiced. That would be very sad, because I admire you on many other grounds. But I am not going to have my freedom of thought, expression and belief (because that is what we are talking about) threatened even by you.

  2. Dear Fabio P. Barbieri,

    I do not know how it has escaped your notice, but the Catholic Church, along with its chum, the Church of England, is, along with many other forms of superstition in the western world, on its knees (sic, or possibly sick).

    The church, islam, whatever, are all superstitions that rational beings should have no truck with.

    Why would the passing of religious belief matter to the human race, never mind the 3rd Rock from the sun?

  3. Mr. Percival: your arrogant, irrational and ignorant comments have been duly noted. If you were a bit smarter, you would not give such blatant evidence that the real issue, here, is not any one crime by any priest or priests, but the irrational belief of your likes that the Churches ought to be squashed regardless. I am sorry, as a committed rationalist I cannot manage to sympathize with the fury of your prejudice, nor with your unargued and irrational belief that such ideas as the existence of God ought not to be held.

    To Mr.Cohen: do you need any more evidence of what is really going on here, or do you seriously insist that Mr.Percival’s outburst has anything to do with events in Ireland fifty years ago?

  4. Would the catholics who suffered these abuses themselves appreciate what atheists are doing with their sufferings? Are any atheists the least bit concerned by this?

    God Bless,

  5. Fabio,
    The report does not deal with events in Ireland fifty years ago only – it was set up in 2000, and deals with abuse up to that year. The majority of uncovered abuse did occur before that time, but not all.
    The behaviour of the Catholic Church in response to this abuse is what is shocking. Pedophiles are pedophiles, but non-pedophiles colluded in covering up their abuse, and transferring them from school to school. The Church brought legal challenges against the commission itself, and is reported in the press to have delayed it’s publication by several years. The church refused to take part unless there was a cap on compensation claims, and the actual contribution of the Church to the compensation fund, remains a secret. Money from the Irish state for the maintenance of the children in these industrial schools was apparently redirected to Rome – up to 80% of each monthly budget, it is reported.
    The Christian Brothers themselves apparently used every legal delaying tactic it could, denying the existence of Christian Brothers if a victim mispelt their name by even one letter.
    This is not the behaviour of an institution that seeks to make amends, but one that is seeking only to protect it’s own reputation. The comparison with Islington council is not apt; people need town councils.
    But they don’t need educations systems run by religious organizations. Any other non-Catholic organization in Ireland would be immediately banned from the education system for such behaviour. Any non-religious organization would be criminalized.
    Sadly, various legal challenges against individual bishops in Ireland have shown that the State does not have the power to remove the Catholic Church from the school system.


  6. Anyone who watched the Big Questions on the telly (Sunday) would have heard, from a spokesperson (press office) for the catholic church say the abuses and rapes committed were by homosexuals, not priests mind, it was homosexuals – not rapists or perverts nor paedophiles but homosexuals. This horrible little old man sitting there dressed in black and white – oh, and they weren’t children, he said: they were teenagers…yeah me neither – was adamant. Rape and abuse is rape and abuse from birth until death and these c***# should all be locked up for it, not tipped off before the police can arrest them by other priests, like before. Nichols should be forced to withdraw his hurtful and perverted remarks ( he wouldn’t think to do so himself) he should be condemned by Ireland’s political figures, and more from his church worshippers. Gordon Brown should also, a champion of helping to eradicate child poverty, be condemning this man with sympathy for rapists and perverts and molesterers: helping to eradicate those who won’t condemn child abusers. The Arch Bishop of Canterbury and the one for York can forget about the BNP
    (see Nick Cohen: The Fantasy rise of the BNP) and call for their fellow believer to apologise to all those people who suffered at the hands and sexual organs of the vile monsters and to remove himself from the position immediately, let alone saying something above the findings of the report.
    If Nichols won’t take himself off, then he needs forced out. Of course, there’s nothing said from the defender of the faiths, or the pope. It’s not surprising.

  7. Liam: you evidently have not read my original letter in the thread before this one. It so happens that I knew that the Irish Church was rotten to the very top, and knew it for decades – since 1990 at least. I have spoken with people who will never again take Christianity seriously, and I had an Irish friend who would literally shudder – though she was a person of great physical courage – if I mentioned the Church without warning. A few years ago, I had a major row on this issue on the now-dead Closed Cafeteria blog of Gerald Augustinus, against a number of people whose view of Irish Catholicism was, to say the least, sugar-coated; the record of the row should still be there, if the archives are accessible.

    What angered me was not only the brutal misrepresentation of Archbishop Nichols’ words, but the fact that the Archbishop of Dublin, one of the chief representatives of that very dispensation that behaved as you say, took it on himself to stab his brother bishop of Westminster in the back on the grounds of not just inaccurate but positively falsified newspaper reports. Evidently this last contemptible representative of the dying Irish order, presiding over a situation where nobody goes to Maynooth any more – I wonder why? – found it more important to make himself agreeable to the Press than to defend his abused colleague. That, so far as I am concerned, is the final depth of abjection of the Irish hierarchy. Dante saw Popes and bishops in Hell; as far as I am concerned, Hell’s twentieth-century clerical intake will be thick with Irish brogues.

  8. Oh, and your whitewashing of the State’s role is frankly pathetic. The State put the Church where it was, approved of everything it did, and used it to support itself. Now that the horrors are coming up at last, they pretend that they had nothing to do with it. And you support this shameless lie.

  9. Ross Burns: that most of the sexual abuse in both the Irish and the American scandal was homosexual is shown by the numbers – in the US, for instance, from 80% to 86% of sexual abuse victims were boys between 13 and 18 years of age. That does not argue an interest either in adolescent girls, or in pre-pubescent children of either sex. If you don’t like the facts, that is your problem; and the drip of murderous hatred from your post does not dispose me or anyone who is not already prejudiced to regard you as a rational or valid source. You do not like being told that homosexuals like teenage boys? Leave the planet, because on this planet, they do and have done so since ancient Greece.

    Mr.Cohen: I see that this person’s murderous outburst has passed your “moderation” while my previous posts are still “awaiting moderation”. Tell me, if you met this kind of attitude on a pro-Palestinian blog, what would you have to say about it?

  10. Are you for real? They were raped and abused. When the man raped the boy, it was nothing to do with sexual orientation, he is a paedophile. They prey on girls and boys. They prey on the defenceless. Peoples lives have been destroyed by the horrible experiences they went through.
    Why should you need told this?
    No, don’t reply to me, I don’t want to know what you think. I see also you still haven’t apologised to Ophelia Benson when you should.

  11. Ross Burns: crime is crime. Which is why we should not pretend that homosexuals cannot be criminals. The American arch-abuser Paul Bailey of Boston was the leading pro-gay spokesman in the Church in his generation, and his “outing” as a savage and unbelievably selfish abuser left all his followers devastated – and resolute not to look at facts in the face. As for that person, I will apologize to anyone I was wrong about. End of story. And – to your relief – end of my intervention on these matters. I have said enough, and you haters are not going to be convinced by anything I say. The opportunity to attack the Catholic Church is too precious to let any inconvenient argument come between you and it.

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