Ah, but it’s only a few bad apples

That’s the usual excuse we here from defenders of Catholicism — that the accusations of pedophilia and sexual abuse are only the work of a tiny minority of rotten people. I can accept that it’s a small minority that are the actual perpetrators, but the culture of the church protects its own…and the privileged, special, precious people aren’t the congregation, it’s the priesthood.

Belgium has plumbed the depths of its own local apple barrel, and made a horrifying discovery.

“We can say that no congregation escapes sexual abuse of minors by one or several of its members,” the commission concluded.

The 200-page report, published on Friday, contains testimonies from some 124 anonymous victims, revealing that abuse for most began at the age of 12.

It noted a “high number of suicides” with 13 deaths and six attempts attributed to “sexual abuse by a cleric”.

Every congregation has a horror story about an abusive priest. That says something. This isn’t about a rare event — it’s about a common risk associated with growing up Catholic in Belgium.