A Reflection on the Abuse Crisis in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Apr 6, 2020 | Safeguarding & Redress



Two words that constantly appear together.

In the Courts, in relation to all sectors of community, of society.

And in the media, particularly in relation to Catholic clergy.

Sexual abuse is a crisis in the Catholic church.

COVID-19 is a crisis in all sectors of community, of society.

Quite literally, a most deadly crisis.

But one that will go away.

Sexual abuse in the church will likely not go away.

Not if the media has anything to do with it.

No doubt, in most cases, with the best of intentions, media will carry a person’s complaint(s) of sexual abuse, either personally or in relation to a family member or friend, most often historically, even 70 years previously.

And carry stories not just once, but repeatedly, and in a variety of outlets.

Some targets are more accessible than others – cruise ships may become a pariah as incubators of the deadly virus COVID-19.

Whereas Catholic boys’ homes, orphanages, boarding schools, parishes were among the clusters where sexual abuse was perpetrated by Catholic clergy in secret, in horror, as monstrous crimes against innocent children with unimaginable psychological consequences.

For COVID-19 the world anxiously awaits a vaccine, whilst regrettably there is no treatment.

For the sexually abused, there is no vaccine to look forward to, but apparently full-blown media coverage seems to have become therapy for so many.

Whilst “whistleblowers” will always surface – who has not read, seen or heard about the Aspen, Colorado cluster – there is no doubt that people other than (or on behalf of) victims, notably ex- and particularly aggrieved ex-, employees of Catholic institutions, have been instrumental in co-ordinating and spreading the virus, the crisis.

SO, the abuse goes on.

Religious Orders, some more than others, are subjected to constant, continual abuse.

Individual Priests, Brothers, Nuns, Bishops, Teachers and other Catholic lay-people are derided, if not abused, irrespective of their age, their background, their contribution, let alone their total innocence and abhorrence of sexual abuse.

Judges, Magistrates and other legal operatives are subject to demonstrations, if not abuse, where the judgement in a case, particularly a high-profile case, is anything other than guilty.

Or a sentence deemed too light.

In the new world of “social” media, trolls abound – it being easier than ever for those who choose to participate to broadcast an opinion, a theory, a shout-out to others to create, to maintain a rage.

No apology is anywhere near good enough.

No compensation in any way resembles healing.

Nothing that has been done can be undone.

And, despite a Royal Commission, a Victorian government inquiry, countless Police investigations, never-ending Court cases, thorough and meaningful mediations, and lots and lots and lots of money the sex abuse crisis is perpetuated in an often ferocious media.

A media which so often concludes its piece, to print or to screen, with “we approached (them) but no-one was prepared to comment….”

Quite possibly because any attempt to comment merely provides further opportunity for ridicule, embarrassment, harassment, nervous breakdown, the equivalent of caught-in-the-headlights.

In other words, Gotcha –

It’s as easy as A B C

Reflection by Simon Feely
Crisis Consultant