Abuse Of Power
[ ⚠️ contains spoilers]
This morning, while scrolling through BBC, a news article caught my eye that was entitled ‘Why is my abuser still working as a priest?’
Reading the article was heartbreaking and by the end of it, I was in tears. 😭
It gave the account of a victim of clerical child sex abuse in Italy, which lasted for 16 years and eventually led to a life of ‘drugs, psychological collapse, and repeated suicide attempts’.
He sought justice by reporting the incident to both the seniors of the Catholic Church as well as making a formal criminal complaint to the Italian police.
In the end, the priest was found culpable and a payment was made to the victim. The priest was also banned by the church from ‘duties with minors’, but remained active in the same diocese where the crimes were committed and due to legal technicalities, he was not convicted.
Utterly horrific! 😡 How could this be???
Comparing two books
Reading this article brought to mind two books that I read sometime last year:
The Monk: A Romance by Matthew Gregory Lewis (a gothic novel)
The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (a thriller)
Both books explore the theme of religious exploitation. The main characters are religious leaders who are cherished and (in The Monk) almost worshiped by devout followers, and both end up committing unspeakable crimes.
People's religion, spirituality, and trust have been weaponised and used against them in the worst ways.
While reading, my brows were furrowed and at several instances, I found myself muttering ‘what a loathsome thing’, as I read on.
In The Monk, we see the main character hailed as a saint, trusted by the community, and seen as a ‘blameless, sinless’ individual. We then watch him unravel and observe his fall from grace. Without giving away too many details, the plot involves ‘dark magic’, murder and rape among other disturbing themes. (In hindsight, I really could have done without reading this one) 😖
In The Chalk Man, we see another religious leader who also begins a relationship with a young girl. There are several gruesome and disturbing details including murder and body dismemberment.
Needless to say, both gave me nightmares. 😖
anything can be a Weapon
What makes some of these atrocities even more appalling is that they’re committed by members of institutions that are, for the most part, trusted. Many people draw their identity from religious and spiritual practices. When someone’s trust is taken and exploited, mixing it in with a sprinkle of religious doctrine and used for personal gain, it becomes even more abhorrent.
I’ve always believed that anything can be weaponised with enough imagination; a knife, a rock, a bucket of water, religion, anything at all.