This is for the victims and survivors,
the ageing men who were once little boys,
they were not angels, they were normal boys,
naughty, grubby, thoughtless, a bit lazy -
they would have outgrown their youthful folly:
they were children, they deserved protection,
they should not have been living in terror,
Too scared to close their eyes and go to sleep,
dreading the heavy hand on the shoulder,
followed by the pain, the stink, and the shame,
and next day, taunting words of sarcasm,
because sleep deprivation made them dumb,
unable to focus on their lessons.
Some of them found the courage to complain -
they were not listened to for a long time:
how dare they speak of their teachers like that?!
They must not talk like that about a priest!
So damaged boys became damaged adults,
some probably became offenders too,
that is always a possibility,
but others maintained the bid for justice,
assisted by support groups in their quest,
until finally the breakthrough came:
a Royal Commission was to be set up
that would investigate claims of abuse.
It would be chaired by someone eminent,
and would hear submissions in-camera.
Former victims were urged to come forward,
and did: male and female abuse victims,
prepared to relive the past misery
for the sake of belatedly seeing
punishment meted out to those brutal men
who, years before, had invaded their lives,
as pitilessly as though they had been toys,
inanimate receptacles for lust,
not essentially innocent children.
At last all the submissions had been heard;
recommendations were then duly made,
but they cannot be legally enforced,
and the Church will probably ignore most.
For instance, will the Catholic Holy See
act upon this recommendation:
"Amend canon law to exempt abuse
from the privileges of confession."*
Can abuse victims and survivors hope
for a tribunal to try those accused?*
Those who have followed the George Pell case
will remain firmly convinced of his guilt,
but he must now be left to his "conscience,"
and to an ineffectual Pope who
seems not to care much about children,
certainly not as much as he ought to.
However, perhaps I have misjudged him:
if Pope Francis has issued a degree
demanding the implementation of
the Commission's recommendations
in full, in every Catholic church,
I will happily applaud his courage,
but so far no such headlines have appeared.
Our Prime Minister has apologised
to the remaining survivors of abuse.
If the Pope, or any other Head of Church
has done so, I would be glad to hear it.
*www.childabuseroyalcommission/recommendations - slightly misquoted.
Copyright © Beth Evans | Year Posted 2020
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