RMIT Report on Child Abuse – A Follow-Up

Based on the summary of a long report from RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), I wrote Blockbuster Report on Child Abuse and the Catholic Church. But I was diasppointed by the complete report. It was written by two former priests turned educators, who seem more interested in general Church reform than in fixing its child abuse problems. At times, they almost seemed to be holding the abuse problem hostage to reform. Furthermore, they treat the 27 major international reports like a series of case studies, rather than attempting to perform a meaningful meta-analysis.

Nonetheless, I think the information in that report could qualify as a “blockbuster” - despite the fact that no one ran with it. It shows the same pattern of abuse in country after country, with perhaps less variation than you find in international McDonald’s stores. The more power the Church has in the institutions of a given country, the greater the degree of abuse. In Australia, the incidence of abuse in some Catholic orphanages exceeded 50%. Ireland was even worse. But the pattern is the same.

Reports from each country contain the same stories of predatory priests whose crimes are covered-up by bishops. The reputation of the Church is always the top priority. Information about crimes is suppressed and pederasts are protected, thus endangering more children. If a problem surfaces, it is blamed on a few bad apples. While the authors of this report assume that these international reports are well-known, they are wrong. In the United States and many other countries, the Church and its supporters have effectively managed to quash them and convey the impression that these problems are local and under control.

After World War II, the Vatican was a key ally in our fight against world communism. Pope John Paul II got enormous support for fighting the Soviet in Poland  and for fighting proponents of liberation theology in Latin America, where we also supported death squads against the left. It seems old habits die hard.


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