I found this selfie-taking statue in La Paz, Bolivia.
I found this selfie-taking statue in La Paz, Bolivia.
The film Spotlight cited a study by Richard Sipe, according to which at least 6% of all Catholic priests are pedophiles and actively practice their “passion”. This was confirmed by the research of the Boston Globe. In my film review, I posed the question why this should be different in other dioceses than Boston and in other countries than the US.
The figure has now been confirmed in Australia. Over the past 30 years, 7% of Catholic priests have sexually abused children there. And not only priests, but members of religious orders, both monks and nuns, as well as laypeople.
Because these numbers have now been confirmed in different countries, I once more pose the question: Why should the figure be lower in other countries? It’s the same organization, with the same hiring practices, the same training, and apparently the same way to deal with pedophilia, all around the world. And we have to keep in mind that even these investigations couldn’t have brought all cases to light, that most pedophile priests abuse more than one child, sometimes dozens of them over their years of service. The number of victims is therefore much higher.
Looking only at the known cases, it is obvious that pedophile acts are widespread and that this could hardly be kept a secret within the Church. There have been systematic cover-ups. If you don’t find your country or your diocese in the list of sex abuse cases, it doesn’t mean that nothing criminal and sinister is going on. It just means that nobody has dared to speak up, that people are threatened or bribed into silence, or that the criminal justice system is not very energetic in investigating cases of child abuse by clergy. Probably, it’s even worse in South America, Africa and Asia because dioceses from North America and Europe often send known pedophile priests to “the third world” as “punishment”, obviously not considering the well-being of children living there.
It has to be stated that clearly: The greatest danger for children does not come from terrorists, wild animals or vaccines, but lurks in Catholic churches, schools, hospitals, kindergartens, homes and youth groups. If there was another organization applying for a permit to run a school and they would admit that at least 6% of their employees are pedophiles, they would never receive that permit.
One of the reasons behind my move to Lithuania was that it is a perfect case study of 20th century European history, with its independence between the two World Wars, then the occupation by the Soviet Union, by Nazi Germany, by the Soviet Union again, one of the main killing fields of the Holocaust and finally independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
When I checked the ticket prices for the buses in Vilnius, I came across the following price list. If you read through some of the categories of persons who receive a discount, you will get a very short history of Lithuania in the 20th century.
|PASSENGERS||Type of tickets and price in litas|
|single tickets||nominal monthly tickets|
|at kiosk||in trolleybus and bus||to go by trolleybus||to go by bus||to go by trolleybus and bus|
|2.||Pensioners up to 80 years old||1,00||1,25||42,50||42,50||55,00|
|3.||People with accepted partial perfomance (partly disabled)||1,00||1,25||42,50||42,50||55,00|
|4.||People who were identified as invalid of cat. II till 2005||1,00||1,25||42,50||42,50||55,00|
|5.||Participants of resistance to 1940-1990 occupations – military volunteers under 70 years of age and participants of fights for liberation||1,00||1,25||42,50||42,50||55,00|
|6.||Persons who have suffered from 1939-1990 occupations – political prisoners and exiles and former prisoners of ghettos, concentration camps and other types of suppression camps||1,00||1,25||42,50||42,50||55,00|
|7.||Defenders of independence of the Republic of Lithuania who have become disabled due to Soviet Union aggression during January 11-13, 1991 and at later times||1,00||1,25||42,50||42,50||55,00|
|8.||Family members of the perished defenders of independence of the Republic of Lithuania who have suffered from Soviet Union aggression during January 11-13, 1991 and at later times||0,40||–||17,00||17,00||22,00|
|9.||Persons with a disability rate, or the recognition of disabled persons||0,40||–||17,00||17,00||22,00|
|10.||Persons who are ill with diseases included in the list drawn-up by the Ministry of Health and whose treatment constantly requires haemodialysis and to their escort (one escort for one person)||0,40||–||17,00||17,00||22,00|
|11.||Participants of resistance to 1940-1990 occupations – military volunteers 70 years of age and older||0,40||–||17,00||17,00||22,00|
|12.||Protectors of Lithuania independency, injured during 1991 January 11-13 and afters, with accepted partial perfomance (partly disabled) and reached the age of old-age pension||0,40||–||17,00||17,00||22,00|
|13.||Pensioners over 80 years old||0,40||–||17,00||17,00||22,00|
|14.||People who were identified as children invalid or invalids of cat. I till 2005||0,40||–||17,00||17,00||22,00|
|15.||All other persons (no discount)||only working days||2,00||2,50||75,00||75,00||100,00|
|working days and weekends||85,00||85,00||110,00|
(C) for the photo: Bjørn Giesenbauer
It’s still there, but …
(Photograped in La Paz on the anniversary of the 2016 constitutional referendum.)
In the most complete study yet of physical activity, covering 122 countries, the people of Malta turned out to be the laziest people in the world. 72% of Maltese don’t get enough exercise, for which they would only need to engage in 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week, 20 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 days a week or some combination of the two.
As someone who lived on Malta for 5 months, I was saddened by that information. But then, thinking back to my time on this Mediterranean island, I can come up with a number of possible explanations for this laziness.
Too many cars
Malta is quite small and you could easily get everywhere by bicycle or even by walking. Still, everyone and his uncle have their own car. The few people who don’t own a car have a boat, a motorbike, a horse-drawn carriage or one of these fancy new science-fiction Segways; anything to make sure that you don’t need to walk one step too many.
I never understood the Maltese obsession with cars. There is not enough space to put them, the public transport system is very good and the most affordable in Europe, and distances are not far, enabling bicycle use or walking. I once missed the last bus from the airport and had to walk all the way to San Pawl il-Baħar, almost the complete length of the island. Even that only took 3 hours.
Not enough space to exercise
That is really a problem. Malta seems to be in the grip of the construction Mafia, who set out to cover even the last piece of natural land with concrete and bricks. This is even more shocking in light of the thousands of empty houses and office buildings that already ruin the landscape.
It is really hard to find a large area of green space that is good for runs or long walks. There is really only one forest, at Buskett, and it’s not exactly huge. My parents in Germany have more trees in their garden than this “forest” has.
There are some beautiful areas to walk in, e.g. Il-Majjistral Nature Park, although you may (accidentally?) get gunned down by hunters during your stroll. The landscape along the coast is dramatic and the colours beautiful but because of the complete absence of shade, I can understand that people don’t want to venture there in summer. Also because of too many cars on the road (see problem #1), it’s not necessarily a joy to get there by bicycle or by walking.
Culture and heritage
Lastly, laziness seems to be embedded in Maltese culture. At the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni, statues were discovered from around 3000 B.C. Even back then, the Maltese were already couch-potatoes:
When I do legal translations, I often wonder if anyone will ever read all the terms and conditions and privacy policies that I translate. Probably not. Even I as a lawyer don’t read them very often.
That brings up the idea of sneaking something funny or crazy into terms and conditions to see if anyone will ever find out. Of course, I am an honorable person, so I have never done that. But now I had a client with humor (or with a lawyer with humor) who already has a provision about intergalactic struggles in their terms and conditions.
Not surprisingly, they refuse any liability in such a case.