It is enormously instructive to watch the unfolding saga of papal apology for clergy sexual abuse. Large numbers of both Roman Catholics and others round the world have expressed deep dissatisfaction with the Pope’s apology. They say that it goes nowhere far enough, and does not address acute issues of crime and punishment. The Roman Catholic Church, like the international Sathya Sai Organization, has every reason to be afraid of sore depletions of membership and finance, as well as moral standing in the world community.
There have been many critical commentaries from within and far beyond the Roman Catholic Church. They make it clear that there are central issues of institutional power and control that prevent far-reaching and genuine reforms from taking place. Even when the methods of statecraft far exceed the spirit or even letter of an institution’s spiritual, ethical and moral aims, it is the long history of powerful institutions to use the apparatus of legalistic and other forms of self-protection. In other words, cover up. And, at best, cosmetic reform. For a glimpse at an ancien régime swinging into action, see The Times report: Vatican moves to distance Pope from abuse scandal. Richard Owen. Rome.
What many Roman Catholics, including one of the greatest and outspoken theologians in Church history, Professor Hans Kung, and others are, in effect, asking is: why is this man so publically sorry now and not years ago, when he was cognizant of sexual abuses within his church?
The Dark Pages That Have To Be Faced
A secular example. The immediate past US President George W. Bush’s name will stand forever darkened by his secret policy of “extraordinary rendition”, where prisoners deemed to be a threat to US security were spirited away to countries friendly to the US which routinely practise torture, so that the hands of US citizens would not personally be bloodied by the heinous acts then committed without the knowledge and consent of the American people at large.
Again, cover up. Again, acknowledgement only when the forces of exposure have reached tipping point.
Typically, among the lower orders of institutional membership, there are many who rationalize and justify an autocratic leadership’s actions and instructions that appear to enhance or protect an institution. The rank-and-file do not act with the full knowledge, cynicism and realpolitik of those right at the nub of power. That this relative kind of ignorance, naivety, piety (or whatever form it takes) cannot, and should not, be used to plead excuse was made very clear in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials that ran from 1945 to 1949.
What of India’s shame?
As we can see in recent weeks, there has been a public upsurge of concern at sex scandal revelations about high-powered religious figures in India. See: Nityananda Sex Scandal Erupts in India. Sathya Sai Baba Lessons? .
Note: The glitter of pure gold, and immense pomp and circumstance are the order of the day at Sai Baba’s ashram at Puttaparthi. See:
It forever echoes in my mind how a then editor of The Times of India told me privately that Sathya Sai Baba is too powerful to take on. One irony was that one of the most powerful figures on the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust – the former Chief Justice of India, P.N. Bhagawati, was at the same time on the Board of Directors of The Times of India. In fact, our group had to work extremely hard to get UNESCO senior management to cause the Press Trust of India (PTI) to make amends for publishing a gravely watered-down version of the UNESCO Media Advisory concerning Sathya Sai Baba and certain of his key officals. See:
In India, a particularly lamentable fact that speaks against religious institutions is that their scandals have often had to exposed by such courageous rationalists as the late Basava Premanand. See: Basava Premanand Long Challenged Indian Governments To Come Clean On Sathya Sai Baba and Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach .
Or, as anywhere in the world, by whistleblowers from’inside’ who undergo the most shameful attacks by those who proclaim to live by ‘Life, Love and Spirituality‘.
Posted by robertpriddy on March 21, 2010
Posted by Barrypittard on November 27, 2009
(Up-and-coming article at Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba: Australia’s Shame …)
Excerpt from New York Times, Agencies Report
JOHN BURNS, DUBLIN
March 23, 2010
“POPE Benedict XVI’s weekend apology to sufferers of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy in Ireland has drawn a deeply sceptical and angry response from many Catholics.
In the apology – a pastoral letter read aloud at all weekend Masses across Ireland’s 26 Catholic dioceses and handed out in printed form to thousands of churchgoers – Benedict ex-pressed ”shame and remorse” to victims and their families for what he called ”sinful and criminal” acts by members of the clergy. But in the apology, the Pope did not require that Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of the Irish church, or any other church leaders be disciplined for their mistakes, as some victims had hoped
Nor did he clarify what critics in Ireland and elsewhere have said are contradictory Vatican rules about the procedures for investigating abuse cases and church leaders’ responsibility to inform civil authorities about offences they uncover, a duty the Pope reiterated strongly in his letter.
By remaining silent on the issue of punishment for top church figures implicated in what critics in Ireland have described as decades of cover-up, the pastoral letter appears to have done little to assuage the dismay and anger of many in Ireland at years of revelations about paedophile priests and child carers”. NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCIES
There is a Spanish version available: