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In recent years we have heard much about paedophile abusers in the Church who, despite being under suspicion, were often moved on to other parishes or schools and so were able to continue their abusive activities.
While such cases of abuse are abhorrent, what is sometimes overlooked is the spiritual abuse that has occurred over the same period and on a much wider scale.
Our Lord (Luke 12:4-6) tells us who to fear most: 'I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear; fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell: yes, I tell you, fear Him'.
Not every physically abused person, however scarred, despairs and gives up the faith. In the end, the worst form of damage to a person is spiritual as the above Scripture quote indicates.
Here we have found the same cover-ups, protection and non-action that allowed paedophile activities to continue for many years to be evident in the case of defective religious materials, false teachers and dissenters enjoying the Church's official patronage in some dioceses.
We have had ample evidence of this in AD2000 over the years and in Michael Gilchrist's latest book Lost!.
Of course I am not accusing all or even most bishops of inaction, but we have only to see the latest figures on church attendances to realise that something is terribly wrong.
In many cases the shepherds who have the responsibility to guard their flocks have not done so where the salvation of souls is at stake.
Large payouts have been given to victims of Catholic paedophiles, whether they be priests, religious or laity. This is only fair and just.
But when will we hear of action taken on behalf of parents who see their children give up the faith within a year or so of leaving Catholic schools?
We expect bishops to be aware of what is being taught at schools and in parishes and to make sure things are done correctly.
In recent years Cardinal George Pell, Bishop Peter Elliott and others have given a lead in this regard, but more Australian bishops need to act similarly so that hopefully we will see a future turnaround in the health of the Church in this country.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 21 No 10 (November 2008), p. 14
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