October 18, 2010

Money Making Saint

It's everywhere on the News - Australia gets their first Saint. Yippee! Look, I know you're probably sensing my sarcasm so I will try to keep it under wraps (for now) but only because there is a lot that can be said about this story - this historical event.

Firstly, let's deal with the facts: Mary MacKillop (15 January 1842-8 August 1909) was an Australian Roman Catholic nun who, together with Father Julian Tenison Woods, founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and a number of schools and welfare institutions throughout Australia and New Zealand. On  17 October 2010, in front of a crowd of about 50,000 Catholics from around the world, Pope Benedict XVI canonised Mary MacKillop.

Thanks to the Internet, sexual abuse cases aren't limited to the community press nor the National media for those cases that are particularly daunting. Now, anyone can peruse the globe in search for case files and because of that, the issue of sex abuse, specifically around religious sectors, has become more widely known. That's not to say sex abuse has become more rife, just slightly less transparent. 

Religious practises, irrelevant of which God, is a business like any other. Its existence relies purely on donations that are generated through the service of teachings albeit that the Bible or another source. Without the regular services on Sunday, it would, literally, go out out business. However, it also doesn't make for sound business to have people ask for money in one hand while sexually abusing children in the other. 

So, how would a 'business' deal with such "bad publicity?" Well, MacDonald's produced the iconic clown to playfully lure their child audience while Mr Whippy droned our streets like the pied piper. Every business, if it wants to be successful, has a personified icon designed specifically to capture the essence of their business and the Catholic church is no exception. I must say, canonising this woman is a stroke of marketing genius. The fact that it took so long (more than 100 years after her death) is a whole other story...

If it was just a new Saint they were after - well, I wouldn't have too much of an issue but one that is now representative, a beckon if you will, for children who have been sexually abused? That's a bit bloody rich considering the amount of children that were, and are, abused by the Church. Here is a quote from the editorial  in America, the on-line United States' national Catholic weekly:
"Perhaps abuse victims, and all who desire justice and reconciliation in the church in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis, will see in St Mary MacKillop a powerful intercessor."
Say what? Sexual abuse victims aren't after an "intercessor - an "entreaty in favor of another, especially a prayer or petition to God in behalf of another, or mediation in a dispute". They don't need some statue mediating to God on their behalf about whether not a priest should be sexually abusing them or whether the Church should continue to rally around those accused as "one of their flock," albeit a really god-damned-strayed one at that! They just want the abuse to stop! It truly is not rocket science! 

And what about the Church excommunicating this woman in 1871 for exposing a paedophile priest! How's that working for them? Oh sure, they kind of took that back, years later, when the Priest responsible had a guilt trip on his death bed but come on! I think Mary MacKillop would be turning in her grave to see how the Church is now using that incident to troubleshoot their "sexual abuse crisis" and with such impeccable timing too:
"It may be providential that she walks back onto the world stage at this moment.
A nice use of wording I must say..."Providential: peculiarly fortunate or appropriate; as if by divine intervention; "a heaven-sent rain saved the crops"; "a providential recovery". Oh please, where's the bucket? 

Now before I start hearing people calling for my head on the block, I do need to add - Is Mary MacKillop an amazing woman? Hell yeah. She was not only amazing but she possessed courage and determination rarely seen in this day and age. Can you imagine being "kicked out" of an establishment you loved, out onto the streets, with no Government assistance, no food, nothing? Ironically, Mary went to live with a Jewish family when she was excommunicated - no Catholic family would help. Interesting point, that. 

So yes, I think she is an amazingly courageous woman who I believe would be devastated at the level of sexual abuse within her Church and moreover, within the very sub-group she struggled to create - the nuns with Saint Joseph's institutions. On one website alone, there are 42 separate entries for abuse against one such Catholic institution. The comments surrounding one case beg belief:
The retired teaching nun said she did not think she had a reputation with the pupils for having a terrible temper and being nasty. She agreed she had a strap but said she used it on very few children. St Josephs - Court case
Oh well that's okay then, it was only a "few" children. For goodness sake, it's like telling someone you're only half pregnant. Either you abused these children or you didn't, it's that simple. Maybe they should have brought in more witnesses, made the case stronger?  
Other witnesses have supported allegations of excessive discipline but their allegations are denied. Witness details - denied. Well that's a "no" then, and to add insult to injury, Chris Finlayson, Wellington High Court Defense Lawyer had to this to say:
"Making the Sisters of Mercy pay damages would be like making parents pay damages for the way a child was raised..."  Finlayson - court

God forbid that we should make anyone accountable for abusing children, least of all a religious sector. For now, I think the canonising of Mary MacKillop in order to whitewash the high levels of sexual abuse is a paramount insult to the woman's saintly career and it's an incredible insult to the victims of sexual abuse, especially those abused by the Church - firstly, their claims of sexually abuse are ignored and then, when it suits, the Church throw a woman in the firing line, call her a Saint, and ask for victims to not only be grateful but, you know, could you buy one of those McKillop Saint posters before you leave, or how about a purse with her face on it? She'll keep you safe.....burrr 

Did anyone see on Television just how much marketing paraphernalia was being pushed out the Church door? Millions of dollars! And I bet not a single dollar goes towards a single child. Go on - tell me...this Saint, whilst symbolic to those who believe, is nothing more than a gravy train, a financial dream come true for a Church struggling in this economic climate just like any other business. Once again, money made on the backs of sexual abuse. It's disgusting.  

For those wondering why I used a physical abuse example as opposed to a sexual abuse one - the Laws in New Zealand prohibit any details of child sexual abuse from being published. That way, we get to protect our vulnerable paedophilia society.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely put. It is always about the power and the money isn't it and them who crave it, get it by any means available to them.


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