Applying cancel culture across the clergy would do wonders to nip abusers in the bud

The Skinny | No. 72 – Paedophile Priests

Fr Joseph Cini waves his handkerchief towards journalists as he is escorted by police out of the court building to be taken to the Corradino Correctional Facility
Fr Joseph Cini waves his handkerchief towards journalists as he is escorted by police out of the court building to be taken to the Corradino Correctional Facility

What are we skinning? The sadly omnipresent reality of child-molesting members of the clergy.

Why are we skinning them? Arguably because they are perhaps one of the only groups of people on this planet who could do with a literal skinning. But two of them have also cropped up on the news cycle yet again, to remind us that this old chestnut still haunts the halls of churches, schools and seminaries everywhere.   

It’s upsetting to see that this keeps happening, though. Yes, even if the media attention on the cases in question means that some sort of justice is being done.

But the accelerated – and social-media enhanced – media scenario surely does very little to help the victims? You could say that about most cases involving some sort of trauma, though. Sadly, hierarchical power structures like the church can only be called into account when they are shamed as hard as possible.

The whole thing did have a bit of a ‘throwback’ vibe when it reappeared on the news cycle, I must admit. Yes, it certainly felt like a scandal from a ‘simpler’ time.

Nestled amidst the most recent high-profile court case wranglings involving a former prime minister, their chief of staff and a business magnate… Nothing like the classics. But classics can be deeply problematic too, of course. Look at Gone With the Wind…

But there’s also something so deeply pleasurable about seeing these people finally taste justice, isn’t there? Yes, it feels sinful to indulge in it, but it’s hard to resist.

Careful. Temptation is what led to this whole mess in the first place. Please. My schadenfreude is not leaving long-lasting scars on anyone’s life, to say nothing of their sexual innocence.

But no, the pleasure is even more subtle in my case. How so?

There’s something about seeing these pontificating men get taken down a notch. Yes, I agree. An institution built on fear and condescension does need to be kept in check every once in a while. Especially when actual abusers are part of its ranks.

There’s enough puffed up old white males about anyway. Yes. Some days, the idea of gender quotas feels problematic. On others, it feels like a literal shot in the arm.

Do say: “The reappearance of the paedophile priest in the public discourse is as unpleasant a sight as it’s always been, but at least two arraignments for abuse in one week signal that some kind of justice is being done. Whether or not the institutional rot is being addressed in a holistic manner is another thing entirely.”

Don’t say: “Applying the rules of cancel culture across the clergy as a whole would do wonders to nip future cases like these in the bud.”

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