Why I Wrote Betrayed – The new book by Richard Scorer
Betrayed : The English Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis by Richard Scorer is out now. Richard Scorer, an expert in the field, explains why this book had to be written:
“I have written this book in tribute to those many survivors of abuse brave enough to come forward and tell their stories and others who may yet do so. It is a matter of public interest that the tragic events of the last few decades are more fully understood, the better to prevent repetition in the future.
In 1983, Gilbert Gauthe, a priest in Lafayette, Louisiana, was exposed as a paedophile. The case set in motion events which have devastated the Catholic Church across the world. In 1985, Gauthe’s defence attorney, Ray Mouton, and a Vatican official, Tom Doyle, wrote a 92-page report in which they pleaded with the US Church to confront the issue of sexual abuse.
The report went to senior Catholic leaders. It was ignored, then buried. The scandal which has since unfolded in the USA and internationally has been much vaster, its impact on the Church and its congregations far more profound, than Mouton and Doyle predicted. Across the Catholic world, victims have been traumatised, parishes left broken and respect for the priesthood has been shattered. The scandal is still unfolding and is likely to continue for many years hence.
In England, the societal impact of the scandal has been less profound, leading some to play down its seriousness; in his anti-papal polemic The Case of the Pope, Geoffrey Robertson QC suggests that ‘insofar as the church has had a success story in dealing with paedophile priests, this is in the UK’. Robertson is no apologist for the Church, but his view reflects a common assumption, fostered by Catholic leaders, that there were relatively few cases in England and that such problems as existed have been eliminated by the Nolan reforms, a raft of changes to child protection in the Catholic Church in England and Wales which were introduced in 2001.
The statistics and historical records, however, indicate otherwise. In writing this book I have established that at least sixty-one Catholic priests have been convicted of sexual offences in the criminal courts in England and Wales since 1990. That is a minimum number; there may be more. In this book, which is intended to be both a history of the Catholic abuse scandal in England and Wales over the last thirty years and an analysis of Catholic safeguarding as it now operates, I examine the detail of some of these cases. Many, if not most, are ‘historic’ but some, like the recent scandals at Benedictine schools, are contemporary and post-date the Nolan reforms. They illustrate that whilst Nolan has undoubtedly improved child protection in the English Church, that task is ‘very far from accomplished’. The Church now seems to be better at reporting abuse allegations to the statutory authorities. But there remains what one inquiry report called a ‘backsliding tendency’. And there are other continuing problems too: a failure to laicise (defrock ) priests convicted of sexual offences, and a failure to support and pay just compensation to survivors.
As the cases examined in this book will show, at least until the 1990s, and in many instances much later, allegations of abuse were suppressed in ways which could never have happened if the leadership of the Church had believed itself to be accountable to its congregations, to the law and to wider society. Whilst the Church has woken up to some of these problems, many of the underlying dynamics which gave rise to the abuse crisis remain in place. Those dynamics will only change if the Church remains under the spotlight. In writing this book I hope to help ensure that the Sins of the Fathers are not visited on a new generation.”
Betrayed : The English Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis by Richard Scorer is available with our 2 week price promise now.