As a Catholic, the horror of sexual abuse is not that the Church is being scapegoated by the media, it’s the horror that ordinary Catholics feel conned.
The comments were made from Wales by Professor Thomas O’Loughlin in a “Scapegoating: The Church’s fall from grace”, a Flashes of Insight conversation with Dr Joe Grayland, Dr James Alison in Spain and Sande Ramage in Palmerston North.
This Flashes of Insight conversation considers the impact on the church’s fall from paradise, whether the church is being scapegoated, how the Church is dealing with this crisis and asks about real reform and restorative justice. It is a four-part conversation.
Host Joe Grayland asks if the sex abuse crisis will reconcile the Church with itself and with society or will it be a lost opportunity?
James Alison is an English Roman Catholic priest and theologian noted for his application of René Girard’s anthropological theory to Christian systematic theology.
Alison says we all know what scapegoating is – it’s when everybody gets together and blames someone for something that is not in fact their fault.
When we say that someone is a scapegoat, we’re effectively saying they are falsely accused.
However, Alison says the understanding of the scapegoat mechanism goes back to something much more ancient. It is the initial way groups create unity and a coming together instead of destroying themselves in a frenzied all against all.
Alison says the group mysteriously finds it came together against one of their own number whom they had thrown out, and then recognised they were right to do so.
He describes it as a basic human act and an effective way of creating unity.
“It works to a certain extent in as far as we all gang up together against someone and throw them out, we become united. We suddenly have peace for a fairly short time.”
The people involved think they’ve done the right thing because ‘they’ve got’ the person responsible.