Abuse of the Roman Catholic Church in France – Middle East Monitor
Comparing grotesque crimes against humanity, while trying to determine which are the worst, is a miserable task. Acts of deep evil have implications far beyond their direct victims, so it is extremely difficult to judge their long-term consequences.
What is certain to many in France today, however, is that efforts to punish a large monotheistic religion for its indirect links to terrorism are extremely harsh, while there is a deafening silence on how to treat another religion for the direct abuse of children perpetrated by priests.
Those double standards became very clear this month when the Roman Catholic Church admitted it was an institution that has systematically defiled infants for decades. Clergy working in schools, orphanages and a host of other places where young people were most vulnerable were among the thousands of predatory criminals who committed heinous acts, including rape.
Pope Francis himself was among those who spoke of “a time of shame” as it was revealed that fellow Catholic clergy have attacked around 216,000 minors since 1950, according to a meticulously researched new report. That number rises to 330,000 when lay staff offenses are included, and in all cases the sanctity of the Church has been used as a cover. The results of this demonic activity have included suicides.
The date chosen to begin the research was also random – the abuse had clearly been going on for years before 1950. Worse, there is no guarantee that the crisis will be over. The Pope called for measures to be taken to prevent “similar tragedies” from happening again.
In short, Catholic institutions were hubs of crime, and everything was done to protect the aggressors, while silencing the survivors. Yet no one in power has significantly suggested that the Catholic Church deserves a punitive crackdown.
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Compare that to the way Muslims are currently being treated in France following a series of barbaric crimes perpetrated by men expressing their corrupt affinity with Islam. The vast majority of these terrorists have clearly not been near an Iman, or even a mosque for years, and their knowledge of the Koran was rudimentary at best.
Yet Islamic institutions have been found to be at least in part guilty of atrocities such as the November 2015 attacks in Paris. Up to 130 people – many of them Muslims – were killed in bomb and machine gun attacks by drug-addicted young men, most of whom had previously been convicted of armed robbery and had actually fought for organizations illegal in the Middle East.
The determination to link these demons to predominantly peaceful Muslim communities in France extended to President Emmanuel Macron’s introduction of a so-called “separatism bill” over the summer. It targets places where Muslims allegedly live separately from parts of the secular French Republic endorsed by the political establishment.
Thus Gérald Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior of Macron, announcing with pride that some 89 places of worship have been closed this year. Details of why these mosques are no longer open are vague, but the implication is that radicals are using them, and crime could be the result.
Unlike the wave of evidence used to convict pedophile priests, a direct link between these Muslim institutions and recent terrorism is difficult to detect. On the contrary, the most heinous terrorist acts in France in recent months have all involved foreign nationals. These range from the Russian teenager of Chechen descent who beheaded teacher Samuel Paty in October 2020 to the Tunisian immigrant who was illegally in France when he stabbed three people to death in a Roman Catholic basilica in Nice the same month.
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There are obviously votes to spread collective guilt among all Muslims in France, especially since Macron is trying to grab the far right. National Gathering constituency as he tries to win the April 2022 presidential election. Muslims are thus cynically associated with immigrants and dark-skinned, while Catholics are seen as traditional white conservatives – those who should be blameless.
Although the country is secular, it would be inconceivable for a President of France to be elected without the Catholic vote. François Fillon, once a favorite on the run to become head of state in 2017, played big with his religious faith before being embroiled in a corruption scandal. His crimes were a disaster for him – he is appealing a prison sentence for defrauding the taxpayer by falsely claiming that his wife, Penelope Fillon, worked for him.
Fillon’s sins therefore made him ineligible. Public justice worked in this case, and perhaps it is time for the majority faith in France to recognize the double standard with which the Catholic Church is treated compared to Islam.
The opinions expressed in this article are the property of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.