Back in 2020, a French priest was jailed for 5 years for sexually assaulting children aged 7 to15 years. It seemed a step in the right direction, but it turns out that this case was only the tip of the iceberg.
A massive scandal of child sexual abuse by the French clergy has been unearthed.
According to an Aljazeera report:
“About 216,000 children are estimated to have been sexually abused by thousands of French Catholic priests, deacons and other clergy since 1950, an independent inquiry has found, alleging the phenomenon was covered up by a “veil of silence”.
The findings are part of a 2,500-page report. Unfortunately, these were not isolated cases but earmarked by the head of a commission which described the abuse as ‘systemic.’ These horrendous and malicious acts involved nearly 3,000 people related to the church, two-thirds of which were priests and clerics.
Crimes of a sexual nature in the Catholic Church are not something new or restricted to France. Over the years, instances of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have been reported in Canada, United States, Chile, Australia, and Ireland and often spanning decades.
“The details made public on Tuesday are the latest to rock the Roman Catholic Church after a series of sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children, over the past 20 years.”
The widespread nature of this crime is shocking. There could be multiple reasons that cause people to commit this heinous act. While celibacy, abuse of power, and homosexuality could be understood as the major causes behind these crimes, the meager level of punishments and accountability both inside and outside the Church is of overwhelming concern.
Outside the Church for example: What are the punishments for such acts of abuse (predominantly the homosexual abuse of boys by men) in liberal societies? The convicted French priest cited above was handed a meager 5-year jail sentence for molesting nearly 80 children. This sentence was much lower than what is described in the criminal code of France. According to the criminal code of France, Article 222-24:
Rape is punished by twenty years’ criminal imprisonment where it is committed against a minor under the age of fifteen years.
Similarly in Alberta, Canada, a priest abused 18 boys and girls from 1968 to 1982 and received only a 4-year prison sentence. Compare these punishments to the sentence handed to a man from Iowa who burned an LGBTQ flag. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison back in 2019 for his “hate crime.” Ironically, the flag was hanging over a church. In France, theft can lead to a punishment of 5 years and a fine of 75,000 Euros. There is absolutely no comparison between stealing and molesting children, scarring them for life, and leaving them with woeful memories. The tiny punishment for such atrocious acts is a mockery of the entire concept of justice.
Regarding the case, the investigating commission has made recommendations that could potentially prevent future abuse.
“The commission issued 45 recommendations about how to prevent abuse. These included training priests and other clerics, revising Canon Law – the legal code the Vatican uses to govern the church – and fostering policies to recognise and compensate victims.”
However, the inconsistencies in the laws implemented in these liberal countries and who are at the forefront of entrenching callous ideas wrapped in the cloak of compassion and human rights, give Muslims much more reason to appreciate the light of Islam. The laws ordained by Allah are there to provide us the best possible way of life and to ensure justice.
For example, Islam prohibits homosexuality. Islam also prohibits celibacy and therefore restricts any harm to the society that could occur because of that. According to a Hadith in Al-Bukhari (5063) and Muslim (1401):
A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) asking how the Prophet (ﷺ) worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, “Where are we from the Prophet (ﷺ) as his past and future sins have been forgiven.” Then one of them said, “I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.” The other said, “I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.” The third said, “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) came to them and said, “Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (not one of my followers).
In addition, Islam associates the level of punishment to the level of the crime thus providing a system which deters crime more effectively. If one does commit a crime, the appropriate punishment acts as a deterrent for the masses to avoid falling in these sins.
May Allah give us Hadiyah, preserve our Emaan, and help us see the beauty of Islam.