A Belgian Catholic priest and would-be Nobel Peace Prize holder has admitted that he sexually abused an eight-year-old boy 40 years ago.
The case only came forward when his cousin, the sister of his victim, came forward in reaction to a campaign to nominate Francois Houtart for the accolade.
She told the Belgian church authority that looks into child abuse, the Adriaenssens commission, that the abuse on her brother happened in 1970 while he stayed at their house.
Houtart, 85, was a prominent third world activist and chairman of a development agency that he founded in 1976, Center Tricontinental, until he resigned from the board in November in light of the allegations.
He is currently in Ecuador and was not responding to phone calls or emails.
Houtart told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir that he twice touched 'the intimate parts' of his cousin, an incident he called 'inconsiderate and irresponsible.'
She details the abuse of her brother, which she describes as 'rape,' by an unnamed priest.
But the victim's sister says the priest, who was a friend of her father, entered her brother's room twice 'to rape him.'
'Before the third time, my brother went to tell his parents, who kept him in their room,' she is quoted as saying in the report.
The priest said he spoke to the victim’s parents to see if they wanted him to quit as a priest but they told him to speak to a professor in Brussels.
They advised him to stay in the priesthood and concentrate on his academic work in religious sociology.
I know, I know, posting a story about a Catholic priest who fondles children is about as shocking as saying "the sun rose this morning."
What I find interesting is that this little chunk of Cat'lic indiscretion has been completely ignored by the anti-pedophile folk over at Rigorous Intuition.
Hmmmmm....that's so odd isn't it?
The RI crew seem to spend 90% of their lives in front of computer screens, eagerly searching for the tiniest whiff of exposed toddler genitals.
Catholic priests with roving hands & priapic peckers seem to be a special favorite for faux moralizing and outraged finger pointing.
Yet Father Houtart seems to have slipped through the RI compound floorboards.
Oh, I found a few old threads mentioning Father Houtart that can be encapsulated in this quote:
The last sitting took place before a 'jury of conscience' that included author Arundhati Roy and Francois Houtart who participated in the Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal on U.S. Crimes in Vietnam.
But that's all.
It's a mystery, isn't it?
Well, not really. Not when you take the RI forum ambiance into consideration.
For example, these bits of Houtart wisdom would be wonderfully at home on the RI forum. In fact, I've read variations of them dozens of times.
Q: What about your Utopology?
A: The struggle for Utopia is a struggle for hope, and that means that it is not a struggle for something impossible to attain. (Unlike unrestrained toddler genital fondling which is inexplicably frowned on) Capitalist logic is killing all Utopias. That is why Mrs. Thatcher said –"There is no alternative," and Francis Fukuyama speaks about the end of history. That means that any utopia is impossible! What can you hope for in a world of inequalities and oppression?
Struggle against the type of globalisation that we have today is fundamental for the definition of Utopia and the struggle for Utopia is also fundamental for the opposition to the present day globalisation. It is the search for another type of globalisation. (The one where fondling toddler's genitals is not frowned upon.)
Q: What sources inspire you most in this Utopian thinking?
A: The struggle for Utopia is a struggle for hope, and that means it is not a struggle for something impossible to get, but with the idea that “something which does not exist today could exist tomorrow”. (Like see-thru Huggies) So that is the way that I define Utopia. A French Protestant Philosopher Paul Ricoeur, talks about necessary Utopia because of the fact that globalisation of capitalist logic is killing all Utopias. There are alternatives possible. (Like toddler genital fondling. I've never been happier or more fulfilled doing anything else) Otherwise it is pointless to talk about Utopias .In the World Social Forum we have discovered that alternatives exist in all sectors of the collective human life. That is extremely important. We can talk about three levels of alternatives, the long-range (this would involve repeated bouts of genital fondling followed by oral pleasures), middle-range (this involves the occasional bout of genital fondling in the Sacristy) and short-range (this is a drive by fondle done in the dead of night while the toddler slumbers blissfully unaware). There are alternatives and there are people working for alternatives. That means that the Utopia is possible and it is not just a dream.
We must also find enough motivating force to struggle in order to realise Utopia (For me, photos of children's genitals have never had the OOMPH of a real live genital fondle). There may be various types of sources of such force. One would be the humanist perspective that we find in many people committed to struggling for justice. This is a very fundamental basis for Utopia. Marxist militants, people who believe that it is possible to transform society, find motivation for commitment from this humanist conviction. (This is especially powerful humanism dovetails with human children's genitals) If we take the believing community, for example, in Christianity, it is clear that the Bible reflects a process of liberation, and that the prophets speak about a possible future. In the Gospel we see the struggle against injustice and the hope in the Kingdom of God. (Of course, there's all manner of outre sexuality on display. Which is a good for a genital fondler such as myself) All of this is very coherent. It means that we have to believe in Utopia. The next step is to be committed to the search and the struggles for such a Utopia.
Q: What is the relationship between reconciliation and liberation from a socio-political and a theological point of view?
A: From a political point of view, in order to have real reconciliation and reconstruction, which is a social process, there have to be conditions. Otherwise it does not work. One of the main conditions is the recognition of the wrong done, as I have said. (As long as the recognition doesn't lead to any real consequences. Otherwise I'd be in jail fondling my smelly cell-mate's genitals, which, I must say, would be no fucking fun at all.) If this does not happen, after one or two generations the matter will come up again. (Or 40 years. Whichever comes first) We see this, for example, in Turkey with the genocide of the Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century, more than one hundred years ago. Turks always refused to admit that there was genocide and now with the third or the fourth generation the matter is coming back again. We see this also in Latin America. After the military dictatorships came the laws of amnesty. Well, this did not solve anything because it was like saying that nothing had happened. In fact, things have happened and as long as this is not recognised and condemned, the matter will never die but will remain in the memory of the people. (We also saw this in my little cousin's bedroom but I won't go into that.) So, from the purely political point of view, in order to solve such situations, it is necessary to go through a social process of recognition of the wrongdoing and legal condemnation. After that, reconciliation can take place. But you cannot pardon something, which has not been recognised. You can pardon it if it has been recognised as a wrongdoing by the people who are responsible. Then you can say okay, in order to build society we have to bring about a process of reconciliation. That means the possibility of living together again. (I would really like to live together with a few toddlers) Let us consider the example of co-operation between the Germans, the French and the Belgians after the Second World War. New Germany recognised the wrongdoing and paid for it. Now the relationship between Germany , France and Belgium in spite of all that has had happened is excellent, and it has been possible to build on a reconciliation process. That is from a political point of view.
From the ethical point of view and even the theological point of view, this is all the more true. Because there is also, you see, an ethical aspect; reconciliation is a value recognised in the Gospel and is found in other religions as well. Such an ethical value has a special meaning for Christians in the work of constructing the reign of God. So it has a very fundamental dimension. But, again, this dimension is possible on the condition that the party who has been guilty has an ethical attitude. (It also helps if the offended party is a family member who will willingly sweep the offence under the rug) For example, the military in Argentina , South Korea , the Philippines and Haiti all refused to recognise any wrongdoing. How can you reconcile? In this sense reconciliation from an ethical point of view is meeting the same goal as from the political perspective. Finally, reconciliation means also a certain type of compensation; it may be material or it may be moral, but compensation is also necessary.
The victims can eventually renounce material compensation if they want to, but they have to decide, not the ones who were responsible in the past or the state. Of course, from the Christian perspective, pardon is very fundamental and very important and it is only possible when the wrongdoing has been recognised.
So it would appear that the RI folk have a blind spot when the priestly pedophile is an avowed anti-corporate, anti-globalist Marxist who spouts the same rhetoric as a typical RI forum sycophant.
I guess that the "truth-seekers" at the RI forum aren't all that interested in airing dirty laundry when the laundry was soiled by one of their own.
It all makes me wonder if, over the years, they've conveniently excised other uncomfortable facts from their rigorous inquiry into truth.
(GASP) Is...is that possible? Please, oh please, say it isn't so Joe.
Actually, this is not without precedent. The RI bloggers seem to have a soft spot for The Secret Sun blog. Christopher Knowles, the blog's creator, has a soft spot for Jeffrey Kripal, who is a Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University.
Mr. Kripal, in his book The Serpent's Gift, shares this bit of decidedly odd spirituality in his effort to explain why the dissociation brought on by sexual trauma can be a good thing.
Consider, for example, the one class of readers who have most deeply understood and appreciated my work on sexual trauma and mystical states: women and men who have themselves been sexually abused as children or young adults and later found themselves entering, often spontaneously, into extremely positive and healing altered states of consciousness. Such readers do not "accept" or "understand" what I am trying to communicate. They know. Their readings are based on excessive life events, on the most troublingly delightful movements of their own minds and bodies. And they are perfectly aware that very few people will ever understand them, that others cannot possibly "get it."
How could they? They have not been through the same life-altering experiences and had their consciousness and energies permanently shifted into other dimensions of knowing and being. One might as well try to explain an orgasm to a 5 year old.
"Troublingly delightful" indeed. If I would have only known, decades ago, that sexual trauma is a quick ticket to esoteric shamanism, I might have dressed a bit more saucily when I was a tot. Oh well, another missed opportunity.
In conclusion, I leave you with a bit of Houtart pontification that never once mentions toddler's genitals.
Teaser alert: With my next post I plan on giving y'all a well thought out and heartfelt expose on the reasons why Utopia would be incomplete without the occasional bout of toddler genital fondling.
Stay tuned or be ruined.