(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 14 July 2010)
I wrote a column that was published in the July 7, 2010 edition of Kaieteur News, captioned, “Power, Priests, Paedophilia and Corruption,” in which I called for justice for the victims of rapist priests from the Catholic Church.
Leon Jameson Suseran, a long-time letter writer whom I respect, responded in a letter to the editor published on July 12, entitled, “Don’t judge the entire organisation based on the actions of a few.” Leon took issue with my column and felt my rage against the rapist priests must be due to a vendetta I have against the Catholic Church.
Leon told me, “Do not judge people, Stella, you do not know what struggles priests go through.” With respect, such reasoning would translate that society at large should also restrain from judging rapists who are not Catholic priests because we do not know what struggles they have faced in life. That is just preposterous, Leon.
Regardless of what causes a priest to rape a child, a predator is a predator – dangerous – and should thus be removed from society and locked away where they cannot prey on anyone else. This is true in civilised society and it should be true regarding priests who rape as well.
It was magnanimous of Pope Benedict XVI to ask the forgiveness of the rape victims on behalf of the Church, but the victims rightly desire more than an acknowledgment of this wrong, they want justice. A more righteous gesture from the Pope, and one that should be instinctive, would be to turn the criminal priests all over to the authorities so the victims can be assured of justice.
Leon called my column on this issue a “hate essay.” He said my column “was full of anger, resentment and hatred for the Church.” On this one point we agree, that I hate rapists. However, my column was not targeted at the Catholic Church at large; it was only about the rapists in the Catholic Church. And yes, I do so hate those rapists. I know religion teaches us not to hate, but I believe there are certain things we should hate – even despise – and rape is one of those things.
Yes, I do know that, as Leon pointed out, “other churches within Christendom have numerous unreported cases of sex abuse scandals every single day.” I did not speak on these other atrocities for two reasons. One, it is the Catholic Church that has long been in the spotlight with its numerous scandals throughout the world and has yet to hand its priests over to be tried by courts of law.
The second reason is that the leaders of these “other churches” would be held accountable to the laws of the land if found culpable, not protected by their churches. To protect their children, most parishioners would gladly hand over a rapist pastor and give law enforcement every bit of evidence it needs to prosecute the criminal leader.
Leon, loyalty to the Church to the point of defending it in this very indefensible situation is like those who, attempting to remain loyal to a political party, defend governments who prey on its citizens. It is just illogical and masochistic. Seriously Leon, doesn’t protecting these priests from the authorities seem a bit like a political party who covers up its shady dealings so the world will think good of them?
Blind loyalty may seem a noble notion; at least that is what some spiritual and political leaders would have us believe. But such unrestrained devotion never – I repeat, never – ends well for the follower. Just ask those children whom the priests raped. If you want to have faith in God, fine. But be careful of how much faith you have in humans.
Leon, you may not be happy about my outrage over this predicament with the paedophile priests and the leaders who protect them, but I am not alone in my indignation – it is worldwide and it is a righteous anger that will only be quelled when the rapist priests are in jail. Those priests should serve God from behind bars so the rest of society is safe. I hope, and even pray, they are all caught and brought to justice.
Leon said, “I generally have enjoyed reading Ramsaroop’s columns over the years, but this time she has gone overboard.” It seems this is one issue on which we will not agree, so let’s agree to disagree on this point because I am sure there are others on which we will agree.
He also told me, “Don’t judge the entire organisation based on the actions of a few, Stella.” Thank you for your wise words and I will be careful to follow them. I do not judge you by the actions of your leaders and still respect you even though we disagree on this point.
I fully intend to continue judging this situation. To justify my judgmental stance, here are some scriptures for Leon to contemplate:
Leviticus 19:15, “In righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”
1 Corinthians 5:12-13, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’”
1 Corinthians 6:2-3, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?”
And finally Jesus admonished his followers in John 7:24 to “judge righteous judgment.”
July 13 Letter to KN - The church and sexual abuse