chapter  4
16 Pages

The religious betrayal of children

ByDavid Pilgrim

This chapter considers the sexual abuse of children in religious settings, with a focus on the British Isles. The role of the Catholic Church stands out in its notoriety, which is addressed in relation to the Irish Republic. The Irish case study reflects both the general features of Catholic child abuse as well as specific national features. The Irish case study suggests that it may be losing the battle to defend forms of traditional authority in the face of secularised civil forms of polity. An organisation based on older, medieval forms of power structure, such as the Catholic Church, explicitly defends pre-democratic forms of authority, a hierarchy of entitlement and an assumption of automatic lay deference. The chapter concludes on a positive note, because the Catholic Church, more than other religions and denominations, has now been evaluated extensively in the past 20 years, it has lessons to share with others about child protection.