The light beneath the bushel by Stephen Pittman
Good and bad news this week. As ever, the latter has had more press coverage than the former.
The opening of the SVP’s new community centre, serving some of the most vulnerable in Cardiff, has received scant coverage. Meanwhile, the emerging facts about a child abuse inquiry into Fort Augustus Abbey School have made headlines all over the world. And the book about the personal conduct of the late Cardinal Keith O’Brien has filled more than a few newspaper columns.
Sadly, all of this is too late for the victims. Many of them now middle-aged – and older – have suffered the psychological effects of abuse throughout their lives. And apologies – while appropriate – do not heal scars.
As ever, we’re the subject of, at best, ridicule and, at worst, finger-pointing. Even friends openly gape at those of us who still attend Sunday Mass. Priests – once trusted simply because of their clerical collar – now know when it’s best not to wear clerical garb. This is not the easiest time to be a Catholic.
But those who prey on young and vulnerable people are not just in the Church – they’re everywhere. And they’ve managed to get away with it for decades. Back in the 50s and 60s – possibly even later, nobody would believe the word of a child against an adult. Clergy, teachers and police officers were trusted, simply because of their role. But children now have a voice. Safeguarding is an everyday term.
We give billions to those in need – but we’re accused of hoarding millions in cathedrals and in magnificent works of art. We do so many good things that no news outlet could report even 10% of them. But we only hit the headlines when one of our number falls from grace.
We were never promised this would be an easy path. But, right now, it feels particularly stony.