Voice of Real Australia: The problem of blind faith | the islander

Voice of the real Australia is a regular newsletter of ACM, which has reporters in every state and territory. register here to receive it by e-mail, or here to pass it on to a friend. Today was written by Warrnambool Standard reporter Monique Patterson.

Saint-Alipius primary school.

If you weren’t raised Catholic, I can understand how difficult it can be to understand how so many children have been abused by pedophile priests and brothers.

Why didn’t they say anything? I hear you ask. Why did their parents allow them to be alone with priests, brothers, and other church members for long periods of time?

The simple answer is – Catholics have been taught that priests, brothers and nuns are messengers of God. They had to be obeyed at all times. If a family had a close relationship with a priest, they were the envy of other members of the community.

Moreover, the pedophiles who preyed on young children not only stole their innocence, but they tried to make them believe that the abuse was their fault.

My grandmother came from a strict Catholic family.

When my grandfather became violent (and many people feared he would kill my grandmother in one of his drunken tantrums), she finally made the decision to leave him.

However, it was considered a sin in the Catholic Church and my grandmother was shunned by other parishioners and some family members.

The fact that these God-fearing Catholics would rather hide their heads in the sand about what was going on behind closed doors in a home says a lot about how these pedophiles were able to use churches as playgrounds.

Who were they to question the actions of those chosen by God to guide them through life, to ensure that they would “go to Heaven.”

If you scoff at that last point, try being told as a young boy – like my father was – that if you hadn’t swallowed Holy Communion in one piece, you’d be “chowing on the bones of Jesus”.

Catholics learned the religion at a young age and nuns, friars and priests ruled with an iron fist. These rulers literally put the fear of God into their faithful subjects.

Over the past few years, I have spoken to a number of survivors of clergy abuse.

The horrific story of how Paul Levey was abused on a daily basis while living with his abuserin Mortlake in the western quarters of Victoria, was the subject of my book The boy from the presbytery.

The response to the book—with other survivors coming forward—and some people shaking their heads at the large number of people who have been abused by priests or brethren—inspired me to do this podcast.

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