I’m not a Roman Catholic, not even a Christian, for that matter. Nor am I a follower of any other organised religion. Still, as an outsider, I notice a distinct strength emanating from the people attending Roman Catholic church (hereafter, a reference to the Roman Catholic church).
Sure, they heed the word of the higher ups in the church and the Vatican. But, in my opinion, the true might of the church doesn’t seem to come from Rome. It’s right here in the various clapboarded buildings, graced with a steeple, maybe adorned with some stained glass windows, anything the people could gather together to reflect the deep seated and resonant love felt for their faith. In fact, these structures were erected by many of the forebears in the community.
I joined thousands to cheer when the Supreme Court of Canada held the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. (RCEC) of St. John’s responsible for the sexual abuse that took place in Mount Cashel, an orphanage run by the Irish Christian Brothers.
Mount Cashel Orphanage, St. John’s NL, Circa 1975 (Source: Wikipedia).
These findings opened the door for hundreds of men who could then pursue their own claims against RCEC. The cost would likely exceed $50 million. But here’s the thing. In order to pay for their deeds, the RCEC did not plunge their hand into their own pockets.
Instead, hundreds of churches were put on the block to be sold in order to pay for court decisions made in 2021. The general sentiment was shock. The RCEC was now foisting responsibility over to the people. To my eyes, it seemed like a simple replay of the original offence for which they were now being forced to pay.
Yet, they were clearly refusing to do so. How is this any different from decades spent ignoring the hell countless young boys were suffering? How is it any different from years then spent appealing the decisions made by the courts?
And I’m certainly not alone. Some felt much the same in places such as Branch and in general. In Branch, the people rallied together, actively contesting the selling of their church. What they said, in no uncertain terms, was this church belongs to us, so hands off.
Sacred Heart in Placentia (Source: Lee Everts).
Opting for a more passive approach, in Placentia, the people are hoping the fact the church may sit over graves will prevent it from suffering a similar fate as so many other churches. Cemeteries are not included in the bankruptcy proceedings of the RCEC. We have yet to hear the end of that story and can only hope they’re successful.
It seems improper, almost indecent for the RCEC. When they’re forced to take responsibility, they find yet another way to dodge the bullet and still not take the responsibility. Now, it’s the people who have to pay for a crime they had no hand in committing.
The story is the same around the world. After all these decades, with their refusal to take responsibility, the RCEC continues to say, we did nothing wrong—so you pay.
Hand on heart, the Vatican will make its apologies, seemingly honest and genuine. Although, until they actually open their coffers and ante up, their words will ring false.
Regardless, the people will continue to attend their churches, the ones for which they expended great energy to create. It’s here where we must note how the beauty, love, generosity and kindness at the heart of their actions are in no way tied to the RCEC, an entity unto itself.
In fact, the actions of individual priests, bishops and other clergy who are innocent of the crimes as well as the people, cannot be tied to the RCEC.
The actions of the RCEC are to maintain, at all costs, the power of their corporation. The actions of the parishioners have always been to strengthen and fortify the power of their community. People lay at the heart of their endeavours.