‘Learn. Protect your children from clergy.’ The ABC’s Revelation reveals a tragic story

The ABC’s Sarah Ferguson has taken us into a place where most Christians have not wanted to go – up close and very personal with pedophile Christian leaders in her series Revelation on the ABC. The series focuses in scarifying detail on abuse by pedophile Catholic Priests.

“They are men living among us like Lucifer’s fallen angels – they look like ordinary men,” is how Ferguson begins her narrative. “Their very ordinariness is what I find disturbing. They should look like monsters but they don’t.”

Chrissie Foster, who has seen extreme family tragedy from clergy pedophilia, tells Eternity her response to Revelation: “If you have a child in the Catholic system you will learn that your child is worthless to the Catholic priesthood.

“If you have had doubt about the guilt of Catholic clergy over child sexual assault, you will learn that the hierarchy do nothing to stop child sexual assault after complaints.

“Oral rape of children …

“You will learn that clergy live a public life as a holy man and in private a life as a crime figure.

“You may have the Christian values they preach, but they don’t.

“Learn. Protect your children from clergy.”

Foster is a voice for many survivors of clergy abuse.

Revelation’s first instalment focuses on Vincent Ryan, who remains a Catholic priest, even after serving a sentence of 14 years for sexual abuse. “I sexually abused many boys – 35 boys,” he tells Ferguson. Asked what he thought he was doing, he makes a disturbing response. “I thought was in a relationship. I was getting love and human touch”. At this point he is delusional. But later in Revelation he tells Ferguson “Nothing I did was life giving. It was totally destructive.”

For the first time, TV cameras have been allowed inside a court as a trial – Vincent Ryan’s trial after two more complainants/survivors came forward – for clergy sexual abuse takes place.

The program reveals that Ryan has changed his story. His use of the word “grooming” is telling. “I was grooming myself,” he says to Ferguson, in some sense diminishing the distance between himself and his victims. In fact, the program reveals Ryan’s grooming activities, and the way he intimidated boys into sexual activity with him, and each other. “Don’t tell anyone,” he told them. “They won’t believe you. I am  a priest.”

Three brave survivors appear, telling their stories of abuse by Ryan, and how so slowly the truth emerged.

“The biggest thing that’s haunted me is when you learn how much offending there was, and you did not do anything about it. You carry that guilt.”

But some did. Gerald MacDonald and Scott Hallett tell how a group of six boys told their mothers.

But then there was the cover-up. Former President of Ireland Mary MacAleese explains to Ferguson the “blatant deluded falsehoods” behind the church’s response. “They reason that from the age of seven, the age of moral responsibility, children  are capable of grave sin. So they are used by the devil to tempt men of God.”

At this point Revelation gets close to the experience of other Christian groups. The exact sexual nature of the abuse varies, and celibacy plays a part for Catholics, but the cover-up is what we all share. Southern Baptists, Sovereign Grace, Anglican Evangelicals and Anglo Catholics, Salvation Army, Uniting – all share in a history of cover-up and delay. Revelation uncovers the Catholic portion of a much larger scandal.


Some prayer points to help

Pray for survivors who may have been triggered by the program.

Pray for those. who still hold secrets.

Pray that all churches will become much better at dealing with sin, especially leaders’ sin.