By SARAH GRANT
When I was a little girl, my Mum used to tuck my sister and I into bed with a kiss good night, calling out “sweet dreams, God bless,” as she switched off the light.
Like her and her parents before her, we were raised as Catholics. We attended a Catholic primary school, where, from the age of eight, we were required to liturgical dance down the aisles of the local church clad in gold robes, singing hymns praising the wonder and good of God as we went.
As a non-practicing Catholic adult, I have often reflected on the religious emphasis of my early schooling, but despite the subtle sense of indoctrination, I have always felt fairly positive about the faith I was raised with. As a child and as an adult, Catholicism has represented a sense of family and security, a belief that served to deliver a sense of morality and a strong code of values.
That is, until I watched the incredibly powerful and confronting ‘Unholy Silenc’e report that aired on the ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday night. Sitting on my couch after the program ended, tears streaming down my face, I felt ashamed to be aligned with a church that would turn its back on something as predatory and life destroying as sexual abuse inflicted by a priest.
Abuse of any nature is a terrible act, steeped in an evil exploitation of power. But when the type of abuse is sexual, and it is inflicted on a child by a trusted family source, the outcome is truly devastating—as exampled in this emotionally challenging and provocative piece of investigative journalism.
It revealed senior leaders in the Catholic Church had failed to pass on to police the details of widespread child sexual abuse that a New South Wales priest clearly admitted to. The abhorrent actions of this priest resulted in the suicide of several of his victims, and the destruction of the lives of their families and many others.
Young boys who had their entire sense of self worth shattered. Young boys who grew into troubled teenagers and ruined men, who chose death as the only solution to silence the shrieking inner demons that had run rampant through their tormented minds since childhood.