Is there anyone who is unaware of the clergy abuse crisis within the Catholic Church today ?
It seems like almost every day more victims are coming forward, describing painful abuse at the hands of clergy.
26 civil suits remain unsettled on our island, while others are in the process of being filed. The island’s western Diocese declared bankruptcy due to clergy claims several years ago.
Newfoundland has one of the highest rates of clergy abuse anywhere in the world. Why has so much hurt on the part of clergy happened here ?
One of the reasons is that areas of the island are remote. Illiteracy rates are high; some adults have difficulty reading at a grade 5 level. Rural Newfoundland fisherman were oppressed by powerful merchants for centuries. This has resulted in a passive population which historically has not dared question authority, especially clerical authority.
Outports often attracted priests who could not be employed elsewhere. Parishioners were conditioned never to question priests ; they were taught to always ‘turn a blind eye, and a deaf ear’ to anything that seemed suspicious.
My friend ‘Betty’ was devastated when the priest who baptised her was later jailed for fathering a child with his 16-year-old housekeeper.
Years later, another priest , who married her, was arrested and jailed for abusing altar boys.
She was further shocked when the ‘charming’ priest who sang an impromptu solo at her son’s wedding, was dismissed without explanation by the local bishop, and went to Toronto to stack shelves at a grocery store. Betty still attends Mass regularly, although she dared not ask his Excellency, the bishop, why the musical priest suddenly chose to change careers.
Accountability is coming to the Catholic Church. It is long overdue, in many places, especially in Newfoundland.
When we moved to this spectacular scenic island, we were unaware of the secrets here. Thankfully, these are being exposed, one by one. Many Catholics, including me, have been wounded by the Catholic Church. It is good that the purification process is underway now.