Cardinal Philippe Barbarin / Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters, via the Daily BeastThe worldwide Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal rolls on. I’ve blogged about it for a very long time. It’s been going on for around 15 years. Had such a scandal manifested within any other organization, people would have been prosecuted, changes would have been made, victims compensated, and it would have long ago stopped being an issue.

But that’s not how things work with the Catholic Church. No, the Holy Church doesn’t work the way any other institution does. It keeps on keeping on, as the saying goes. It doesn’t admit fault, it doesn’t change, it doesn’t relent, it makes no concessions, it just does what it’s always done … because the Church. Case in point: As the Daily Beast reports, the priestly-pedophilia scandal erupted again, this time in France, involving a Cardinal there (WebCite cached article):

Meet the Archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who has denied he did anything wrong by hiding the well-known fact [cached] that Father Bernard Preynat was sexually abusing as many as 40 Catholic Scouts in France in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Preynat was relieved of his duties in the parish of Roanne in 2015 after admitting to the sex abuse. He was indicted on Jan. 27 on charges of “sexual abuse and rape of minors” and has admitted his crimes to the police.…

Meanwhile, Cardinal Barbarin is facing criminal charges by a French secular court for “failing to report a crime” and “endangering the life of others,” which could carry a three-year prison sentence and fines up to €45,000.

Barbarin denies having done anything wrong, and his reasoning is quite unbelievable:

[Barbarin] maintains that he shouldn’t be accused at all because he eventually removed Preynat from parish work.

Never mind that the removal came nearly 15 years after his crimes were made known. After victims and their families came forward in 1991, Preynat was removed him from parish duties for six months by the then-archbishop, who is now deceased. Yet despite having confessed to the crimes, Preynat was allowed to return to his active duties after he repented, meaning he had access to children despite admitting to being a pedophilic sex offender.

When Barbarin was appointed as archbishop, he even promoted the errant priest to an administrative position in 2007 where he was in charge of six dioceses filled with children, according to court documents quoted [cached] in the French press.

Barbarin, who is well liked in France despite his harsh stance against gay marriage (which he once predicted would pave the way to legalized incest), removed Preynat from the priesthood last August when secular authorities got involved—25 years after his crimes had first emerged.

Yes, apparently Barbarin believes that, because he finally summoned the courage to stop Preynat decades after he knew Preynat was abusing kids, this means he shouldn’t have been prosecuted for not having stopped Preynat.

Yes, folks, this is exactly the sort of reasoning that floats through the pompous and self-righteous brains of Catholic hierachs. It’s at least as absurd and laughable as any of the vast litany of other excuses the hierarchs and their apologists have offered, over the past few years.

But let’s be brutally honest here: Preynat’s superiors — which included Barbarin for a very long time, but also others within the Church — knew damned well he was abusing kids but purposely chose to allow him to continue abusing kids, for decades. Yes, that’s decades. This is factual — by Preynat’s own admission. There’s no question about it. I invite any and all Catholic apologists out there to explain to me clearly how and why this was acceptable. I fucking dare you! Go ahead and tell me why this was just fine.

Photo credit: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters, via the Daily Beast.

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  • And to think that Catholic leaders STILL believe they have the moral authority to tell their congregants how to live. It's hypocritical and sickening.

    The clergy abuse scandals may have only been in public consciousness for a short time, but clergy abuse has a long and sordid history. I'm relieved that the Catholic Church is finally being held accountable.
    https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781566252652/Sex-Priests

    • FWIW when I say the scandal is c. 15 years old, I mean that in a literal sense: The "scandal" is, indeed, that old. The child abuse and obstruction of justice that was at its heart, is considerably older than that. I have no doubt it goes deep into Church history, likely originating around the time clerical offices became institutionalized (i.e. in the first half of the 2nd century). I'm aware of early Church documents suggesting there'd been untoward behavior on the part of some clergy, and sporadically, rules were suggested to deal with it. Those rules, of course, weren't always implemented, and even when they were, they often were later circumvented, rolled back, or even ignored. Interestingly, among advocates for universal celibacy of clergy were some monks (aka "regular clergy") who accused the "secular clergy" (i.e. many of the parish priests, bishops, etc.) of various shenanigans, including pederasty in addition to dalliances with nuns, and they contended celibacy would prevent that. It clearly did not work out that way. I won't even get into the fact that some of those monks who championed celibacy were not, themselves, anywhere near as "pure" as they claimed to be … but that's another matter.

      You're also 100% correct that the R.C. Church long ago lost any moral authority it might once have had. It's possible for them to regain it, but they persistently refuse to make any concessions or implement any serious, institutional changes that might help restore their moral credibility. Oh no. All they do, instead, is stamp and fume and pitch fits over how they've lost their influence, and they keep demanding people's deference in spite of the fact that they haven't actually done anything to earn it.