Uproar over Child Abuse in India

The lede in the NCR article reads, “A rash of recent alleged sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests in Southern India have left Christians distraught and frustrated over the local church's lack of response.” Apparently Indian priests have been following in the footsteps of all those other priests around the world. About a decade ago, the Church was insisting that this was just an American problem, due to American immorality, and was not a problem of the Catholic Church. Needless to say, they never apologized to Americans when they could no longer suppress the bad news around the world. They just tried to find other excuses and other ways to suppress the problem.

While the article talks of ‘a rash’ of sex abuse cases, this is the first time NCR (National Catholic Reporter) has covered the abuse crisis in India. I have seen no coverage elsewhere in the religious press. Even the evangelical press ignores it, as they usually do with news of child abuse in the Catholic Church. You might think evangelicals would want to score points against the competition, but they prefer to compete on other grounds. They view competing on the basis of morality as a losing battle, like fighting a price war.

The article says remarkably little about the scope of the problem. I suspect the only reason there is any coverage at all is that over 120 leading Catholics complained about the Church’s failure to respond, and NCR assumes they can no longer ignore the issue.

There is one major difference between the child abuse outbreak in India and that of most other countries. The Indian government actually threw a lot of priests in jail. This rarely happens elsewhere, as the Church is usually well connected politically and able to protect their priests. The movie Spotlight, for example, showed how Boston’s cops turned over pederast priests to the Church for discipline, etc. But only 2% of India is Christian, and the Catholic Church probably has less than 1%. (I assume all those British missions must have converted more than the Catholics.)

This raises another issue. The Catholic Church reached India way back in the third century CE – long before Islam existed. Yet even after spinning most Muslims off to Pakistan and Bangladesh, almost 15% of India is still Muslim. Historically, the Catholic Church associated market share with divine support. Lack of followers meant that God rejected you. How is it that the Church has almost no followers after almost two thousand years?

At any rate, the Church has done almost nothing but attempt to cover up tits sex abuse problem. Despite decades of promises to reform, including repeated claims of zero tolerance by Pope Francis, nothing seems to have changed. The Indian sex abuse crisis is not new. Over a year ago, India’s Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace demanded that the bishops address the problem. They didn’t. Pope Francis did nothing. Not even a whimper about zero tolerance. Hopefully the government of India will do a better job of protecting its youth than western countries with ties to the Church.