Christian Brothers

This fair Ascension Thursday, let us turn to the thought that religion is good for you. That, in a way, has again been shown to be true: religion is good for you, for some carefully chosen values of “you”, just like prayer is good for your peace of mind, but worth nothing at all to the poor sick child or ill friend you are praying for.

Witness the spectacle of the Christian Brothers and others, bands of Catholic rogues that used to run schools in old Ireland. Apparently “run” is an important word, as it sets the stage for expressions like “beat”, “neglect”, “humiliate” and “rape”. And prefixes like “endemic”, “unchecked” and “systematic”.

Now the Irish government, being upright, has made great investigation of these closed houses of horror — and being spineless and timid, has apparently decided that the perpetrators don’t need to be named, or persecut— er, prosecuted.

And the religious response? Well, apparently some people feel a deeply heartfelt “Sorry” settles all crimes. Though that might feel nice and Christian and all that, it’s not how law and punishment works — murderers don’t get off if they (or their superiors) mumble a sorry, arsonists don’t walk free if they (or their bosses) say they deeply regret what has happened and express wishes it won’t ever happen again, and rapists don’t get settled with their victims with just a full-page apology ad and a mental health hotline number.

Wait — hold that.

The report itself cannot be used for criminal proceedings (in part because the Christian Brothers successfully sued the commission to prevent its members from being named in the report) and victims say they feel “cheated and deceived” by the lack of prosecutions, and “because of that this inquiry is deeply flawed, it’s incomplete and many might call it a whitewash.”

Oh.

In merrie olde Ireland, rapists can apparently get away with what they’ve done with a few apologies and an ad saying they’re oh so sorry — if the rapists belong to the Catholic order of Christian Brothers, that is. So in that very specialized sense religion is good for you — if you are a criminal that wants to live out his days without the bebotherment of justice.

I hope the bastards get prosecuted and slammed into jails no matter how holy and elderly they are, they and those that allowed this to go on, and I hope their miserable little abuse-tolerating order gets sued for every penny it has until they have priests carrying gilded crucifixes to the pawnshop. And I hope people would just stop thinking that a muttered “Sorry” from some ecclesiastical lord and a stray penny are enough to settle a lifetime of trauma while the criminals walk free.

I would ask what gives the cretins the thought they can just slip away from the law, be shuffled to a new job with the odor of infamy washed from them, and what makes their superiors think their underlings are so untouchable, special and arcane, so easily and privately washed clean, but that’s futile — it’s God, of course. These are God’s special people. Apparently he has some grand plan that requires a lot of robed, occasionally celibate child-rapists. Works in mysterious ways and all that.

Happy Ascension Thursday, all. Jesus has left the building, but the madness lives on.

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