REVIEW: As someone who works in the grim and often harrowing world of child abuse and it consequences I am always reluctant to read books about it when I’m not at work. Why would I?

  • Find out more about Richard Scorer’s book Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis here and read his article for a forthcoming collection of essays (part of the JusticeGap series) here

Betrayed coverThe consequences of these vile crimes against children and young people often last a lifetime and as a survivor I can bear testimony to that. So when Richard Scorer’s book Betrayed about the crisis in the Catholic Church in the UK landed on my desk I was hesitant to pick it up. But pick it up I did. I read it too. I didn’t learn a great deal more about the consequences of these crimes but I learnt a lot  about the way in which one institution, the Church of my upbringing, had continuously refused to acknowledge the harm done and avoided taking any sort of responsibility for those employed within its ranks who abused.

Richard, at the start of the book, acknowledges, quite rightly, that the vast majorly of priests and clergy do not abuse children. He was right to do that but the Church, in common with most of society, has preferred to bury its head in the sand and hope that the victims would go away.

His examination of many cases and his thorough investigation of them reveals a deep malaise in the Church which I know many people are now working hard to address. But for many it comes too late. To be denied your truth and support by an Institution that purports to be the Universal Church of Christ Jesus is a hard burden to bear for many and too many survivors of abuse end up dying or even taking their own lives before there is any sort of justice.

I rarely say a book is hard to put down but I actually found myself riveted to this and would urge anyone interested in how one large institution has avoided the issue of child abuse to read it. However, I think it fair to say that in recent years the Catholic Church in the UK seems to be doing far more to address it’s murky past than many other institutions. Indeed, as I write I am waiting for an explanation as to why a corporate lawyer, an expert in ‘privatisations’ has been put in charge of a serious investigation of child abuse allegations that go right to the heart of Government and Westminster (Fiona Woolf). The powers that be hope, I suspect, that survivors of these crimes will be worn down and go away. The Catholic Church has learned that this is not going to happen and surely it’s only a matter of time before our Government realise that too.

 

Profile photo of Peter Saunders About Peter Saunders
Peter is chief executive of National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC)

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2 Comments

  • George Gretton January 6, 2015 11:08 am

    HELLO PETE!

    How wonderful to hear you here… I was just thinking of you..

    I’ve just skimmed Richard Scorer’s article, and will read it properly later on.

    The “BETRAYED” banner really caught my eye – I have a theory about the effects of betrayal.

    In my carefully arrived at view, arrived at partly by reading NAPAC material, the extent of the harm and damage inflicted on an abusee is in proportion to the degree of trust in which the abuser is generally held – and Priests are quite far up there.

    But I’m most reminded of an outraged and incensed observation of a dear friend in the US – as regards the “who done it” aspect.

    As she wrote to me, in respect of my own Original Abuser, there is no more heinous act of betrayal that a woman’s betrayal, including sexual, of her own child.

    The Catholic Church ensures that the notion of a mother (who of course has to be a Virgin – she can’t possibly have had dirty sex with a man – he might have been a Priest!) is associated with the greatest “conceivable” Trust.

    We have more work to do in this particular area, with the help of the painting arrived at by Tony and myself.. but we are advancing on the Priest Psychopaths at last…. Did you see the film “Calvary”? And please note my very careful use of the word “Psychopath”. That is the technical way to refer to such abusive priests, although I am here today because of some very wondrous human beings who were Monk Priests..

    Yours, with great affection,

    George

  • George Gretton January 6, 2015 11:55 am

    And one more observation about the title, Pete..

    “The (Catholic) Church has chosen to bury its head in the sand and hope that victims (and their supporters) will go away.” – their Supporters can be a Force to be Reckoned with….

    For “The Church” please feel free to substitute “A number of Police Constabularies and Forces”; note I am carefully, perhaps over-studiously, avoiding a sweeping generalisation here, despite the evidence – I regard Financial Fraud Abusers as the First Cousins of Child Abusers, and in general they also have protection from Police Officers.

    And also feel free to substitute “Statutory Agencies Generally” for Police Forces – including the Met, led by Sir Bernard – think Companies House, The Insolvency Service, SOCA, The Charity Commission, the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority… HMRC…. and I’m referring to these bodies on the basis of personal experience, and not just loose gossip.

    I’m a responsible citizen and human being….

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