Rana Zaman: Blame the predators and their enablers, not the religion

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – I’m sad to admit I wasn’t overly surprised when this story about sexual abuse by priests in Pennsylvania came up on social media. Similar stories of sexual abuse have exposed priests, pastors and higher ups fairly regularly in these trying times.

What I found disturbing about this latest story is the decades of cover ups that allowed these pedophiles to continue having their way with innocent children, shattering their lives forever.

These predators, posing as pious and trustworthy men, entrusted with the protection and safety of innocent children were being enabled, protected, and in some cases rewarded by their higher ups with promotions, despite knowing about their abuses!

The stories in a newly released report detailing some of the vile acts committed by 300 priests from various Catholic churches in Pennsylvania, involving over a thousand children, are disgusting! These are abuses that have been uncovered in one state alone! The number would be shocking if you factor in the rest of the states in the USA. Now add to those numbers all the Catholic Churches around the world, especially in third world countries, and the number of children being abused becomes mind boggling!

Please let us not be so naive to try to defend this as an isolated case and argue it’s not fair to question other locations. With horror stories like these, and abuses being committed by leaders of every faith imaginable, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh etc., is it any wonder that more and more people are becoming disenchanted by any form of organized religion?

My response – blame the predators, the higher ups and the institutions that protect these despicable abusers, but don’t blame the religion. The religion is not to blame for the vile acts of some of its practitioners.

All religions teach compassion, respect, patience, love and establish guidance  to live a beautiful and peaceful life. Sadly, it’s the people who use it for their personal gains that tarnish its image.

It would be easy to generalize and criticize all Catholics or even all Christians as sexual predators of children that are being protected by the very institutions meant to uphold the values of Christianity. Would they be right in this generalization?

If your answer is no, and rightly so, than I humbly request that you remember this story the next time you witness people vilify an entire group of people due to the actions of a few. And even more so if you feel that impulse yourself. I keep the hope in my heart that you may also be moved enough to respectfully say something after remembering this story.

Most importantly, let’s not forget about the innocent victims of these stories. They need our support and love to help them get through this. We also need to take this opportunity to implement policies and practices that will prevent further abuses and protect all children from not only religious and government institutions, but from anyone who would want to prey on them.

Prayers and blessings for all.

Rana Zaman is an immigrant, social activist and community volunteer.

See also: An encounter with white privilege, and what it taught me

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