I watched the documentary Hand of God the other night. It left me deeply angry.
The film was made by Joe Cultrera and documents the sexual abuse suffered by his brother Paul as a child. The abuser was the Catholic priest Joseph Birmingham. Paul was abused as an alter boy in the 1960s and told no one, including his family, for 30 years. Meanwhile the priest, despite other allegation of sexual abuse, was promoted by the diocesan (seems to be a common way for the church to ignore the problems it creates).
Paul later finds out that of the 40 priests in Birmingham’s graduation class 12 had been exposed as sexual abusers!
Joe Cultrura documents how Paul changed from a bright eager boy into a drifting depressed man. We often don’t realise how long lasting the effects of child abuse are (see Psychological abuse of children, Psychological abuse and Facing up to child abuse) . Many don’t confront the psychological issues until much later in life, if at all. Suffering extends for a lifetime.
And yet the Catholic Church has squirmed, denied, excused and attempted to avoid the problems they have created. And their fellow religionists often refuse to condemn and sometimes are even just as guilty of such abuse.
So I am angry at the hypocrites for damaging young children and causing lifetime suffering. But I am also angry because these institutions claim authority when it comes to moral questions. A claim that is so clearly not justified.
Further, I am angry because these evil people use such claims to condemn those who don’t accept their authority. In the last few weeks we had the spectacle of two UK Catholic Archbishops condemning secularists and atheists as “not fully human,” as the worst evil. Ripping into Richard Dawkins (whose moral viewpoints could teach them a thing or two).
And at the same time ignoring the public furore over the long record of child abuse in Irish Catholic Church institutions – exposed by the report of the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.
So, I’m not exactly in the mood to listen to people who claim that secularists “can at best produce some half-baked reasoning” for their moral positions or that atheists have no basis for their morality.
Hand of God Home.
about the film from Bishop Accountability
Abuse Tracker at Bishop Accountability
Concentration camps run by holy men and women
Children suffered abuse of many types, both physical and emotional
Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor thinks you aren’t fully human
Catholics plead poverty in Irish abuse
Atheists fight to keep God out of Irish law