Endemic secrecy in the Catholic Church

Endemic secrecy Catholic Church

Title: Endemic secrecy in the Catholic Church

Author: Francis Sullivan

Publisher: John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations
Date: 13AUG2020

Throughout the child sexual abuse Royal Commission the inquirers regularly asked why institutions not only tolerated child abusers but actively concealed their crimes. Secrecy was endemic in the culture of these institutions.

Those in positions of power and influence chose to abide by the mainly unspoken rule that scandal had to be avoided and the truth not revealed. When it came to the Catholic Church this overt hypocrisy has undermined the community’s trust and fuelled the increasing cynicism that now confronts its leaders.

For those of us who have worked within the institution and remain loyal to its faith community, living with the culture of secrecy is not new. In many ways it has been ingrained into the clerical/lay divide. From the sacrament of reconciliation to the ‘clerics only’ advisory committees, there has been an aura of secrecy that somehow has been deemed acceptable as part and parcel of Catholic culture.  The assumption was that clerics knew best and would always work in our best interests. Secrecy was too easily confused with confidentiality, as was concealment with prudence. That is why the Catholic community itself has been complicit in perpetuating an opaque culture, where calls for accountability and transparency have been marginalised by those obsessed with control and ‘issues management’.

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