Catholics and child abuse in Ireland

And the Catholic Church is at it again. This time it’s the horribkle story of the Christian Brothers and their exploits in Ireland. From BBC News we can read that:

An inquiry into child abuse at Catholic institutions in Ireland has found that sexual abuse was "endemic" in boys’ institutions. It also found physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of institutions. Schools were run "in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even on staff".

The nine-year inquiry investigated a 60-year period. About 35,000 children were placed in a network of reformatories, industrial schools and workhouses up to the 1980s. More than 2,000 told the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse they suffered physical and sexual abuse while there. …

The five-volume study concluded that church officials encouraged ritual beatings and consistently shielded their orders’ paedophiles from arrest amid a "culture of self-serving secrecy". It also found that government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation.

The Irish Times succinctly summarises the situation with: "abuse was not a failure of the system. It was the system."

Further down the BBC News page we can also read that there will be no criminal charges brought on any of the clergy involved.

The findings will not be used for criminal prosecutions – in part because the Christian Brothers successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report.

That there will be no prosecutions is absolutely astounding, but clearly in line with Catholic ideology (and in this case also that of the Irish state), which seemingly is to protect the perpetraters and piss on the victims. Obviously it is more important to protect the "good name" of Catholicism than to right a wrong.

According to a BBC Panorama documentary aired a few years ago, covering up child abuses is a long-standing tradition within the Catholic Church. The current Pope Benedict has been instrumental in this concealment conspiracy for years. In the London Evening Standard, we can read that:

In 2001, while [the current Pope Benedict] was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety. The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated.

Systematic child abuse is obviously nothing new among the Catholic clergy. Eamonn McCann of the Belfast Telegraph provides a historical perspective in his column:

The oldest known instruction to Church officials, the Didache, dating from the second century, commands, ‘Thou shalt not seduce young boys’. The earliest recorded gathering of bishops, the Council of Elvira, in 309, spelt out 81 Canons, of which 38 dealt with sex. Among those excluded from receiving communion were ‘bishops, presbyters, and deacons committing a sexual sin’, ‘those who sexually abuse boys’, and ‘people who bring charges against bishops and presbyters without proving their cases’.

Why would the Church have mentioned such things had they not already become problems?

No doubt, Pope Benedict will continue to do his utmost to protect the interests of paedophiles and child abusers, rather than to do the right thing, which would be to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

His God must be really pleased with him.

Music for Darwin 200

I have entered a piece of music into Myriad’s 21st Sample Tunes Friendly Contest. This year’s theme is "Evolution", in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. The closing date of the contest if May 31, so if you’d like to enter, too, there’s still time.

There’s quite a lot of hullabaloo re Darwin this year, being an anniversary and all. Actually there are two anniversaries. Not only was he born 200 years ago, his book On the Origin of Species first appeared 150 years ago. Hence there are special editions of magazines, Darwin-themed conferences, documentaries, all kinds of special events, and so on and so forth. Most of these can be tracked via The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online, one of the most useful sites on the web.

Anyway, back to the contest. The name of my contribution is "Natural selection: a prelude to evolution". You can see the score here, where you can also listen to it by clicking the play button. In order to do so, however, you must first install the (free and unobstrusive) Myriad Music Plug-In.

The piece is performed by digitally simulated instruments. There’s a flute, a grand piano, an acoustic guitar, a cello, and three percussion instruments (maracas, cabasa, triangle). I suppose that makes it a quintet, as you would need five people to perform it. The melody and its various permutations, although not entirely original, turned out quite satisfactory. The percussions tap out a deceptively irregular rythm, which may sound odd at first. But it’s not entirely random. If you listen carefully, you can hear a kind of "intelligent design" underlying it. (No, I’m not a loony creationist.) In fact, the rythm is based on a quote from Darwin himself, namely "I have called this principle … Natural Selection" (fr. Origin of Species, 1859) — hence the title of the piece. I know this last bit sounds as if it doesn’t make any sense, but trust me, it does.