retired archbishop: we didn't know raping children was a crime

This has to be one of the more horrific indictments of the systemic abuse perpetrated and covered up by the Catholic Church that I've ever seen.

From The Freethinker:
Today we learn that a retired Catholic Archbishop in the US is claiming in a soon-to-be-published memoir that he did not comprehend the potential harm to young victims or understand that the priests had committed a crime.

Rembert G Weakland: "We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature."

Also cogent analysis from Atheist Revolution, tying Weakland's statements to the recent revelations of widespread abuse of Irish children in Catholic-run institutions, and of course, the subsequent conspiracy to cover it up.

Back to The Freethinker:
Weakland, who retired in 2002 after it became known that he paid $450,000 in 1998 to a man who had accused him of date rape years earlier, said he initially:
Accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not remember or they would 'grow out of it'.

Weakland's critics allege that, when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee, he had tried to cover up some of the widespread abuse that had taken place in the diocese – in particular by overseeing an evaluation in 1993 of Father Lawrence Murphy, one of those prosecuted for abuse.

A 2003 report on the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee revealed that allegations of sexual assaults on minors had been made against 58 ordained men, who were under the direct supervision of the Archbishop of Milwaukee.

By early 2009, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee had spent approximately $26.5 million in attorney fees and settlements to victims.

Weakland's words are contained in his memoir, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church – and have infuriated those who suffered at the hands of the clergy.

Said Peter Isely, Midwest director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP:
It's beyond belief. He's either lying or he's so self-deceived that he's inventing fanciful stories. . . These have always been crimes.

* * * *

I'm fortunate that, through my activism and volunteer work around sexual assault, I've heard the stories of child sexual abuse and recovery from survivors themselves. So I have a very clear mental picture of the terror, the core insecurity, the shame, the confusion, the mental illness - and the long, long, painful recovery - that survivors endure.

The people I knew had done a lot of healing work and had made it through. Many people aren't as lucky. Child sexual abuse is closely linked to a lifetime of poverty and "disorganization," a technical way of saying "a fucked-up life": traumatic and unhealthy personal sexual history, substance abuse, homelessness, violence, suicide.

The stories I heard made me ashamed of working so hard to heal from my own one-time experience of sexual assault. I know the drill - "it's not a contest," as therapists and social workers love to say - and each of our pain is real and unique. The fact of someone else's child sexual abuse doesn't make the fact of my rape any less real. But I'll tell you, I found myself thinking, what happened to me was nothing compared to this. I marvelled at their strength and resiliency, the human will to survive and transcend.

On the Catholic Church child abuse scandal, Irish edition, The Freethinker is very strong, worth reading.

As always, full credit is due to the survivors. They have have resisted vast, powerful forces that demand their silence, but they have refused to be silent.

Thanks to both James and Allan for sending the Weakland story.

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