Pharyngula

Ireland: victim no more

It’s as if the media is finally getting it right and timing the news to match the World Atheist Convention in Dublin with stories that show why we must oppose religion. The New York Times tells the story of the Magdalene laundries, in which 30,000 women were used as slave labor (and victims of abuse) to profit the Catholic church. Representatives of the victims are going before the UN to request justice, or at least some sort of rebuke of the church. Somehow, I doubt that they’ll get it — there are a lot of factions squabbling in the UN, and many of them defend religion and care little for women. But we’ll see.

Also, a documentary has been broadcast in Ireland (but it’s also available on the web) describing the horrific abuse of African children by Irish Catholic missionaries. One of the perks of being a missionary in Africa was that one could pick up a young boy or girl for cheap — promise them a path out of grinding poverty, and an education, for instance — and have a live-in sexual servant for the duration of their stay. Don’t watch it if you’re sensitive to personal stories of abuse: they interview many of the victims, who are broken and ashamed and overwhelmed by the betrayals of the church.

Another curious aspect of the story is the dates. The recent Catholic-commissioned John Jay report on Catholic sexual abuses pinned the blame on the hippies and the attitudes towards casual sex of the 60s and 70s (which makes no sense: pedophilia and child rape are not about love). They claim that there was a peak of such abberant behavior that coincided with that period, and that it has declined since. But this report discusses vileness that was being perpetrated in the 80s and 90s.

It sounds to me like the decline wasn’t real. It was just the Catholic church becoming aware of a major PR disaster, and shipping their child-rapin’ priests off to places like Africa and India, or to the Inuit of Canada, where they could destroy the lives of people who didn’t matter…that is, people who didn’t have access to lawyers and the media.