2018-09-26 19:48:45 UTC
I was barely six years old when I was admitted into boarding
school. That was more than eighty years ago. As I was not of
age to be in the Boy's Boarding at St. Vincent's Poona, I had
to spend my first year in a convent school (St. Michael's,
Karwar) where my elder sister was boarding.
I still recall many incidents and persons from those magical
days: in both Karwar and Poona; they are very precious to me.
It was during the time of Fr. Reklin. Great guy. He was the
Principal of St. Vincent's, and also Master of -- pardon the
pun -- a 'boysterous' brass band that was the envy of Poona Cant.
Academically and on the sports field, St. Vincent's was (and
still is, I am sure) an institution to be reckoned with. It
was managed by dedicated Jesuit clergy; they lived in a
residence adjoining the school. The hostel for boarders of
all ages (from 7 to 17 years), was in the adjoining compound.
There were some forty students housed there under
the supervision of a priest who lived on the
premises. Names I remember are Bronger, Shok,
Hefli, Thiel and others, all from Europe, either
Switzerland or Germany, all men of sterling
character that stood firmly by their wards and
imparted a high sense of moral standards, merely by
their example and their counselling. It brings 'a
smile to my lips and a tear to my eye' when I think
of those stalwarts of far-gone days.
By the most basic of moral standards, the world is taking a
horrific beating since those halcyon days. True, the Catholic
Church has its fair share of bad eggs; there was one, even
among the twelve chosen by Christ himself to establish His
Church; but through the centuries, there never has been such
an avalanche of such vicious sexual violence by 'trusted
priests' against helpless, innocent little children. It is a
crime that is nothing short of sacrilege. The outrageous
cover-up resorted to by some consecrated bishops is equally
reprehensible and disgraceful. It is plain and simple
criminal connivance; nothing less.
In retrospect, the truth is a lot more serious than it is
made out to be.
The bulwark of the Catholic Church is family. It is from the
family that the clergy and the religious, including the Holy
Father is chosen, ideally by "vocation", that is 'a calling
from God above'. However, infiltration by those without a
vocation cannot be ruled out since, with the gift of life, we
are privileged with a freedom of choice.
Over the years, this gift of choice has come under sustained
attack. The world chose to substitute Liberty with
Licentiousness. Convents and boarding schools, similar to the
innocent institutions I lived in, in my youth, have become
vulnerable. On the prowl are the most innocent looking men
with charming ways.
There is one word that describes them: paedophiles.
Paedophiles will go to any extremes to satiate their perverse
sexual hunger; they will infiltrate the seminaries, study
fervently for the priesthood and get spuriously ordained only to
attain what they consider to be, their 'paradise': free food,
free board, free lodging, free transportation, free holidays,
free adulation for the position they hold, and their biggest
prize? Free pickings of innocent, helpless victims who are
coerced into silence, -- if not by anything else, -- by shame.
The weapon of shame has served to embolden the criminals to
the extent of establishing a fraternity of paedophiles in
every stage of the hierarchy, from a minor parish or
seminary, right up to the purple in the Vatican. They have
sold their souls to Satan and severely undermined the
creditability of the Church.
This is the reality that we, the Church, the Body
of Christ, must face and deal with, according to
the tenets of our faith. Our foremost and greatest
concern should be to reach out with genuine love
and compassion, to the victims of the predators:
console all those who have been violated; extend to
them our most sincere sorrow for having failed to
protect them when they were most vulnerable;
reassure them of our deep concern for their
well-being, provide them with sound counselling,
and support them in every way, to restore in them a
true sense of their worth in God's eyes and,
importantly, their own human dignity.
As for the Church, it faces a humongous problem to restore in
the flock the confidence that has been simply shattered. We
all share responsibility for ignoring the signs of the Evil
Spirit working insidiously to undermine the integrity of the
Holy Church. It is time we visited the Garden of Gethsemane;
not to fall asleep there, but to reach out to our Saviour
Lord sweating blood as He contemplated his Agony. Draw
comfort from this truth: "No Cross -- No Crown".
Nazar da Silva. Moira, Goa Phone: (091-832) 2470290.
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