Child abuse scandal: Separate church and state

Over the course decades thousands of young children were to suffer horrific sexual abuse at the hands of members of the Catholic clergy around the world while their superiors sought to systematically cover up these crimes.

In the past few weeks it has been revealed that Cardinal Sean Brady himself forced two young boys to swear an oath of secrecy to prevent them from revealing the abuse that they had suffered at the hands of the notorious paedophile Father Brendan Smyth.

Such revelations will only help to erode further the position and influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland as far as ordinary people are concerned. It is clear that people such as Cardinal Brady were only concerned in protecting the power, assets and prestige of the Church rather than the young children who were to suffer such abuse.

Pope Benedict’s apology to those have suffered at the hands of paedophile clergy is too little too late and in fact tries to shamefully link the “growth of secularism” with the causes of child abuse. In reality it was the powerful position of the Catholic Church had within Irish society and particularly their control over the education system that enabled them to carry out and cover up these crimes. The fact that the Gardai refused to pursue allegations of abuse through the legal process is an illustration of the power of the Catholic hierarchy.

Along with these recent revelations in Ireland it has been revealed that the pope himself in his period as Archbishop of Munich wrote a letter in Latin giving instructions that the first cases of abuse be not reported to police or child welfare services. Like the hierarchy in the church in Ireland he sought to turn a blind eye and cover up the abuse of young children. His recent letter is only a desperate attempt to patch up the discredited reputation of the church that he leads. The fact that the church refused to co operate with the Murphy also proves this point further.

The resignation of individual bishops and Cardinals will not bring justice to those who have suffered sexual abuse in the past at the hands of members of the clergy. The Socialist Party believes all cases of suspected child abuse in the past should be vigorously investigated and prosecutions brought against those who are found to be involved in such acts and those who sought in the higher echelons of the church to cover such actions up. It is an outrage that the taxpayer is being forced to pay a large sum of the compensation that the church should be paying to its victims.

Historically the capitalist establishment in Ireland has used the Catholic Church as a way of propping up its rule. They are completely unwilling to end the latter’s control over the education system, currently 3,000 of the 3,200 primary schools in the state are under its control. Their is now a real gap between the disgust and anger felt by working people towards the church and the craven support they have received from this government.

The Socialist Party stands for the immediate separation of Church and state. This means that all state funded schools and hospitals should be taken out of the control of religious institutions. We need a properly funded secular education system that is democratically controlled by teachers, parents and students.

Socialist Party member Fiona O’Loughlin and Director of the Aislinn support centre, Christine Buckley will be speaking on the topic of “Time to seperate church and state?” at the upcoming Socialism2010 weekend of discussion and debate on the 16th & 17th of April. For more info check out the brochure here.