I didn't mean my quick link to a new sex abuse scandal in Canada to imply that this had not happened before. In fact, of course, Canada has had two decades of dealing with child and minor abuse at the hands of the Catholic hierarchy. Canadians know what the Germans and Irish have only recently come to terms with. A reader writes:

When I read the news about what was going on in Ireland and Canada I was reminded of Canada’s Indian residential school system and how Catholic priests preyed on Canada’s Aboriginal children for decades. There was also the revolting history of Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland and Labrador which housed children who were looked after by pederast Catholic brothers.

In Canada we have had Royal Commissions of Inquiry and criminal cases into these matters and I believe a few years ago the Pope had an audience in private with some of the survivors of the Indian residential school system. Amazingly in 1992 the CBC aired a movie called the Boys of St. Vincent which was based on the Mount Cashel orphanage. I saw it on TV 18 years ago and it was disturbing.

The more you absorb this stuff, the clearer it is that this is about an institution able to avoid the legal norms of society and constructed on such lines of authority and lack of accountability that it has become almost a text-book case of how human beings respond to institutions that give them impunity over the bodies and souls of others, especially children.

Celibacy is part of the problem, but deeper still is the authoritarianism.

It means no accountability for enormous power. That guarantees, in this fallen world, abuse of power. It is this abuse which is integral to the systematic nature of the sex abuse. Which is why Benedict's assertion of even more rigid Papal and centralized authority compounds rather than addresses the core problem.

So, no, K-Lo, greater fidelity to that authority and whatever it says and does is not the solution. It helped create this problem. And this problem means the rape and abuse of thousands of defenseless souls and bodies. The church can either grasp this nettle and restore the spirit and openness of the Second Vatican Council, or it can curl up in its authoritarian cocoon and die of a collapse in moral authority.

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