Dear Pope, Please shut up. The Women and Children Need Respite From the Patriarchy

The Pope compared the act of abortion to hiring a hit-man and of course, it makes international headlines. I didn’t need a fight for abortion rights this soon, I am still recovering from the Kavanaugh hangover.

sinead-womens-march-canada.pngWatching the patriarchy flex and stretch itself into yet another power position was exhausting. 

Why are we not over the Pope? He continues to hand down messages that women are not able to be priests and that birth control is bad. Correction -  he did offer this concession he “allowed” birth control if it was used to prevent the Zika virus. Phew! Right?

This Pope should be spending every living hour trying to deal with the global crisis of priests who have sexually assaulted children around the globe. Instead, he is shaming women and working to erase their reproductive rights. His message will be heard by some of the most vulnerable women in the world. The Pope ’s statement is beyond irresponsible. The most vulnerable women will suffer, we have seen this play out before.

When you consider the following, you wonder how he can sleep at night let alone extoll platitudes about the innocent children affected by abortion. Just this past summer, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made public one of the broadest-ever investigations into Catholic clerical sex abuse of minors in the United States. The 1,400-page grand jury report, names at least 300 priests accused of child sex abuse by more than 1,000 victims throughout the state.

This is but a  drop in the bucket.

A Church-commissioned report in 2004 said more than 4,000 US Roman Catholic priests had faced sexual abuse allegations - in cases involving more than 10,000 children - mostly boys. A 2009 report found that sexual and psychological abuse was "endemic" in Catholic-run industrial schools and orphanages in Ireland for most of the 20th Century. A five-year Australian inquiry in 2017 found that "tens of thousands of children" were sexually abused in Australian institutions over decades, including churches, schools, and sports clubs. Canada has had their fair share of scandals and just two days ago a priest in Calgary was charged with sexual misconduct. We have not done enough to end this institution’s influence in Canada.

In 1999, the UN Human Rights Committee found that the preferential funding of Roman Catholic schools in Ontario amounted to religious discrimination.  Canada was in breach of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Yet, many Canadians are more afraid of a women wearing a hijab (Bill 62 in Quebec) than the fact that Catholic schools in Canada and are permitted to teach the belief that homosexuality is a moral disorder.

Who is more likely to cause harm to society? A woman expressing her right to religious freedom or a global network of largely unpunished pedophiles?

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario governments fund a public Catholic school system. And in those provinces anywhere from one-in-five to one-in-three students attend these public religious schools. I know that calling out this abuse will be seen as sacrilege by some, even in 2018. The Pope still has a major influence in the court of public opinion but we must be more concerned with this institutions influence over the lives of children across Canada. These children are introduced to a world where women are not good enough to become priests and they get confusing messages about sexuality and birth control. This is a publicly funded anti-woman message for thousands of children in Canada.

I raised money for a children’s camp in my publicly funded Catholic middle school.  Later, I learn money contributed to sending underprivileged children to abusers. During Rev. Kenneth Keeler’s criminal trial, the court heard that the priest would select young boys to share his bed at St. Brigid’s Summer Camp for needy children in Low, Quebec. I was an innocent child raising money so other innocent children could be the prey for these men of the cloth. And it all happened in a publicly funded school in Ottawa.

The truth is we are using public tax dollars to fund a misogynistic, often anti-LGBTQ2+ organization that does not support a women’s right to abortion. In 2018, we are allowing this institution with a history of using power over their followers to hurt children in churches, in schools, in our homes, in residential schools, and in our children’s camps to have their own school boards paid for by our tax dollars.

It is time to see through the fog of religion, history, and symbolism and start praying for a world that gives women and children’s rights get the same international headlines the Pope gets when he opens his mouth. For now, I just want him to shut up.

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