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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Papal letter of apology

To be honest, it seemed sincere to me, the Pope's long and detailed apology to the surviving victims of sex abuse as children by the Irish Roman Catholic priests and others, and by the institutional cover-ups of these crimes. The contrition, repentance and remorse in the letter seemed genuine, the suggestions and advice seemed helpful. But what do I know? I am not one of the victims; I am not a Roman Catholic; I do not believe in a God - though I used to. I hope the letter will do some good and that some of the victims will find some comfort in it.

I do not believe that those abusers and their protectors and apologists believe in the God they profess/ed to serve. They could not have behaved as they did if they had really believed that "Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."

Those cruel, wicked people should be subjected to the full vigour of the criminal law and the severest punishments, in the hope of discouraging future abuse of power by people unsuited to wield it.

Is the Pope going to write another letter of apology to other victims of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland? To the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries? The former unmarried mothers and their babies so cruelly treated by the nuns in those institutions of horror? I recently read about one of those mothers, Philomena Lee, who had been forced to give up her son to the Irish nuns, who had sold him on to rich Americans. For decades she had tried to find him, and he, when he grew up, tried for decades to find her. But with unrelenting and appalling inhumanity the nuns withheld the information mother and son needed. You can read that story here.

Is there going to be an apology for these long, cruel sadnesses? Any punishment for the heartless nuns and others who played roulette with so many people's lives? In the name of a God of Love?