It has taken me some days to write about the Pope's attitude to many years of child abuse within the priesthood. My memory sped back to the 60s when I worked with a lovely Irish woman. We became friends and I was invited to her wedding in Co. Waterford.
During an evening out prior to the wedding her husband-to-be disclosed he was not continuing with his 'conversion' to Catholicism. We were a small group and knew each other well, so he was comfortable enough to say his wife-to-be and himself had decided not to have children. None of us questioned their decision as I suspect we acknowledged they had their own private reasons.
A few days before the bride-to-be set for her family home in Co. Waterford, where she had been brought up with three sisters and two brothers, we had a quiet night out for dinner. Both of us had quite a bit to drink and suddenly the conversation came round to why my friend had decided she didn't want children. The reason was along the lines of "I'm not having any Father interfere with my child if I have a son and I'm not prepared to take the chance to have one."
It seemed, as she was the closest to the younger boy, he had taken her into his confidence not so long before and told her the local Father had interfered with him. My friend immediately told her mother and father only to be rebuked for 'bringing the Father's good name into disrepute'. The consequences for her and her younger brother were severe. This was the 60s remember and to Irish Catholics it was a great sin to speak ill of any of the clergy.
The wedding was as festive as most weddings I've attended although there was a distinct coolness between the bride, the bridegroom and her parents, who appeared quite disinterested in the whole affair.
We kept in touch for quite a few years and often she would mention how badly treated her younger brother was by her family. He was more or less shunned and finally joined the Navy. As far as I know my friends never had children. She couldn't break away from the Catholic church because the religion was so ingrained.
Until the 60s I was quite unaware of the differences between catholics and protestants; I had little interest as religious bigotry didn't exist in the east of Scotland - it still doesn't to any degree.
But the story of one of the Vatican's employees, reputedly said to be the biggest business empire in the world, causing so much pain to one child, made me wonder just how much pain these hundreds of not thousands of children have suffered for decades. These men and women who inflicted unbelievable suffering and hid behind the cloaks of the Vatican are abhorrent, yet the Vatican protects them.
Last week the present Pope said sorry - such an easy word. Generations of children had their childhoods destroyed by perverted adults in the pay of the Catholic church and most have escaped scot free.
It's time the Catholic church did away with mandatory celibacy and permitted its employees to have a normal life. It never ceases to amaze me how priests can advise their flock in all aspects of family life when they've had no experience themselves.
Of course there are men and women within the Catholic church who are good law-abiding people, but there were also far too many used the church to fulfil their sickening objectives. The Vatican has some of the most intellectual brains within its walls. None was able or interested in exposing these disgusting individuals. Like all big business, one couldn't be seen to rock the boat, could one?
Reuters reports a Polish priest is now fingerprinting children when they attend church. The reason given is that if they attend 200 masses they will be free from the obligation of having to pass an exam prior to their confirmation. "It saves standing in a line to get the priest's signature in our confirmation notebooks," said one child. I agree with Michael Baumann, while this all seems harmless enough, it is pretty creepy.
The German Catholic church has set up a help line for those who are concerned about abuse past and present. I don't see Ireland or the UK making, what I consider a long overdue effort to make amends. The whole matter shows how much the Vatican cares for the welfare of their flock. Not one iota. Their flock are there to generate money and for no other reason.
That's why I detest organised religion. It does as much harm as good.