Sins of the fathers: child sex abuse in the Catholic Church

Francis Beckett in New Humanist:

Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the Sex Abuse Crisis (Biteback) by Richard Scorer.

The Devil’s Advocate: Child Abuse and the Men in Black (Devil’s Advocate Library) by Graham Wilmer

BookPriestly sex abuse has done far more harm to the Catholic Church in the USA, Canada, Ireland and Australia than it has in Britain, which leads some British Catholics to the comforting conclusion that there is less of it here. But at least 61 Catholic priests have been convicted of sexual offences in the criminal courts of England and Wales since 1990, and there may well be more, for the church still has no single centralised record of known offenders. However, American courts award much higher sums in compensation to victims, which is why American dioceses have been ruined. And the English Catholic Church has been ruthless in its efforts to keep the lid on the scandal, to silence victims, and to protect priests who use young children for their own sexual gratification.

Over and over again, the princes of the church have silently and cynically moved a priest from one school or parish where he was discovered to be abusing children, to another where he was unknown and could find more children to abuse. Of course children were abused in many institutions, not just Catholic ones, but the fact, though Catholics refuse to face it, is that the church had a culture of abuse like no other organisation. If there was ever any doubt about that, two new books have dispelled it. Richard Scorer is a lawyer who has represented many victims of priestly sexual abuse. He has written Betrayal in clear, luminous prose, telling us only what he has heard and seen. He avoids conjecture, does not seem to be anti-Catholic and does not editorialise. The result is compulsive reading.

More here.