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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Saturday, April 17, 2010
BBC Radio 4 planned to interview Deacon Michael and some parishioners on the media coverage of the “abuse scandal” for broadcast today. But in the end the BBC decided not to. We have produced a white triple A4 sheet explaining what we could have emphasised, copies of which are in the porch, including Archbishop Nichols Chrism Mass statement. Below are some key extracts from it.

Any case of priestly sex abuse and episcopal cover-up is indeed shameful [...] We accept the role of the media in calling us to account concerning our protection and care for innocent children, [and] episcopal dereliction of duty [...] We need repentance and renewal.

However, the media have avoided presenting the fact that child sex abuse and the mismanagement of its perpetrators is and has been a society-wide phenomenon. Rather they have been happy to create the impression that:
(i) the priesthood is fairly riddled with abusers,
(ii) there is an international culture of cover-up in the Church
(iii) which goes right to the top of the Church, and
(iv) that Catholic institutions such as celibacy and hierarchy are to blame – even that Catholic teaching of children about its sexual morality is a form of intellectual abuse of many children.
We would suggest that these latter four implications are ideologically-inspired calumny:
(i) In the first national research of its kind the Irish College of Surgeons 2002 SAVI report, widely acknowledged as authoritative, found that the gigantic number of 27% of under-17 year olds allege having been victims of sex abuse. 3.2 % of these allegations concerned priests. [...]In England & Wales over the last 40 years 0.4% of all priests have had allegations of such abuse against them.
(ii) In all the recent reporting there are no new proved cases of paedophilia (or of abuse in general). The “news” is of a greater specificity to what actually happened concerning Irish clerical abuse, but mainly of the bad management, in Ireland, of some proven or suspected abusers. [...] The evidence suggests that [this] is widespread in society [...] The Church, in its Canon Law, has always made clear that abuse of minors is a serious sin. [... whereas] prominent contemporary political figures such as Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt were leaders of the 1970s Civil Liberties Union which was affiliated to the Pedophile Information Exchange.
(iii) [...] The attempts to implicate the Pope and Archbishop Nichols have shown the media at its most blatantly unprofessional and irresponsible- and reveal the deeper agenda at work.
(iv) No objective evidence has been adduced to suggest that celibacy is the problem [...] The claims that our teaching of the truth about sex and love is an “intellectual abuse” are in one sense the extreme of the attacks. From another point of view they would seem to be a key motivation behind the unprofessional nature of the frenzied accusations, amidst what, in its foundations at least, was reasonable reporting about real Church failures.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:24 am