Secrets and the Catholic Church go together like peanut butter and jelly, it’s as if it was always meant to be that way. Some of the secrets were more scandalous while others were straight up atrocities. Despite this, Catholicism remains one of the strongest religions in the world. This list covers ten amazing secrets the Catholic Church wish you didn’t know.
Some secrets didn’t make the list for a number of reasons. Some were more secretive trivia, such as the fact that Pope Francis’s coat of arms papal mitre actually looks like something strange from the side – a fish with its mouth open. This was to represent the “fish god” that apparently jumped out of the water and provided wisdom to people. This is the same fish representation used by Christians, the Jesus fish. Many of the secrets surround finances, like when Pope Benedict changed the Vatican’s newspaper to include more photos and worldly news stories to increase sales. Even the Pope understood you don’t always want to hear a sermon. Another “did you know” is that ATM users in Vatican City can select Latin as a language. That’s not so much a secret, but setting the foundation of how unique this group sees itself. In the end, there were ten (mostly horrifying) secrets to tell.
Few organizations have as much history as the Catholic Church and it’s not all puppy dogs and lollipops (or hymns and confessions), no. The Catholic Church has had many skeletons fall out of their closet over the years. How many still exist? We’ll probably never know. For now here are the ten worst secrets of the Catholic Church they wish you didn’t know.
10. Mentally Abused (And Wrongly Diagnosed) Orphans
A conservative movement started in the 1930s in the Canadian province of Quebec that has come to be known as “The Great Darkness.” Premier Maurice Duplessis got the support of the Catholic Church to help market his “get rich” scheme involving institutionalizing children. Essentially, federal money was higher for mental hospitals than orphanages. So Duplessis go the brilliant idea to have orphans diagnosed with mental illnesses they didn’t have, as if orphans don’t have enough to deal with already, right? Eventually there were no orphanages, only mental asylums. The impact was around 20,000 children. Not bad enough? Here’s a fact: some of the children weren’t even orphans, but rather children forcibly taken from unwed mothers. Still need more? Some of the children were used to test drugs, and some of them died because of this.
9. Sending White Children Around The World To Ensure A White Majority
Well, the Catholic Church is a lot of things, but subtle isn’t usually one of them. Starting in the 19th century, “Home Children”, approximately 150,000 of them, got shipped off to other countries (Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand to name a few). The children were referred to as “good white stock.” I mean, even then this had to sound wrong, right? It was a religious group known as the Catholic Christian Brothers who wanted whites to remain popular. The worst part (yes, it gets worse) is that they didn’t even treat these children well, instead putting them to work in hard labor jobs during the day and having to submit to beatings and rape at night. That’s no way to treat “good white stock!”
8. Thou Shalt Not Steal, Unless We’re Stealing Babies In Spain
Francisco Franco decided to make Spain a better place by stealing babies of parents he felt were undesirable. At the time the Catholic Church was a big supporter of Franco and controlled all the hospitals, schools and in some cases, their homes. This gave Franco and his goon patrol easy access to rob babies. All said and done, he stole 300,000 babies from their parents. How was this done? Often times a nurse would take a newborn baby and return a different baby, a dead baby. They were then set up for sale via illegal adoptions. Even after Franco died, in 1975, the Church kept on with this practice, not coming completely to an end until 1987. If you were adopted in Spain between 1960 and 1989 there is a 15 percent chance you were part of the Catholic Church kidnapping scheme.
7. The No Jewish Children Return Policy
During World War II, the Catholic Church in France actually did a noble thing and baptized many Jewish children and hid them away inside orphanages or schools. Good people, right? Of course, after the war ended the Church refused to return the children to their parents, claiming now that they had been baptized they should be brought up Christians and could not be given back to their original parents. Some gave the children back, but many did not and to this day it’s hard to know how many Jewish children were just kept by the Catholic Church after the war.
6. Vatican City Doesn’t Care About Your Wallet
Here’s a fun fact that’s not very fun: Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world. It’s true, but the good news; it’s not violent crimes, but mostly made up of pickpockets and small time criminals. The problem is that the Vatican has no jails and just one judge. Although it sounds like it doesn’t happen often, if you do go before the judge he will sentence you to an eternity in hell. Just kidding (I think), but seriously watch your wallet because even if a criminal is caught he will probably only be escorted out of the city boundaries (back into Rome) and then reappear the next day (and take your new wallet).
5. The Catholic Church Is Connected
One of the biggest unsolved mysteries of the Catholic Church is how John Paul I died. He was found dead after only 33 days in office and there was never an autopsy done. The Vatican has been linked to the Mafia and organized crime for many years. In 1982 Vatican Bank president, Father Paul Marcinkus resigned after he was exposed for his ties to the Mob. Of course he was never prosecuted despite being linked to several murders including the murder of John Paul I. It isn’t really a surprise to find the Catholic Church with these connections, but it is a surprise that someone hasn’t turned rat and told the whole story. I mean, a Pope was allegedly whacked!
4. The Pope Is Protected More Than You Think
Benito Mussolini abolished democracy, replacing it with a dictatorship. It may or may not come as a surprise, but Mussolini was close to the Catholic Church and both supported each other. In 1929 the Pope and Catholic Church got lots of perks when Catholicism became the official religion of Italy. One of those perks was something called a “dignity” clause which gives the Church the power to prosecute someone just for saying something derogatory about the Pope or the Catholic Church. That’s a big deal! Even a simple joke could see you charged. Let’s see…A horse, a cowboy and the Pope walk into a bar…just to be safe I’m stopping here.
3. The Magdalene Asylums
In Ireland, the Catholic Church took it upon themselves to house women suspected of prostitution or cheating in prisons known as Magdalene asylums. Yes, that’s right, just suspicion. These women would be forced to undergo tests and receive treatments for their sins. The women were beat horrifically and put to work in laundry mats where they barely got paid while the Catholic Church reaped in profits. When they died, often they were buried and their families weren’t notified. In 1993, 155 bodies were found in a mass grave in North Dublin. An estimated 30,000 women spent time in these asylums.
2. The Croatian Holocaust
Ante Pavelic was Croatia’s version of Adolph Hitler. He headed up a group called the Utashe, a group that used the Catholic religion and unhealthy dose of racism to define their mission. It was the Catholic archbishop, Aloysius Stepinac, that held a dinner for Pavelic and saying he was performing God’s work. Pavelic was also in with Pope Pius XII. In fact, it was just days after the Utashe burned hundreds of Serbians inside an Orthodox church to the ground. Was the Pope notified? Yes he was, and he still met with Pavelic. Soon after concentration camps were set up and at least 800,000 were murdered. Catholic clergy served as guards and in some cases, executioners at the concentration camps. The actual killings are as brutal as you will find (slit throats, pregnant women having their stomachs opened up, etc…) and through all of this, Pavelic corresponded with the Pope.
1. Priest Pedophiles
Despite the many great sins committed by the Catholic Church, none are worse than what has unfolded over the past 30 years. Of course, it’s still ongoing and no one knows how long it has been going on for. The Church was not only aware; they covered it up and even protected the pedophiles who preached the sermons each week. What started in Boston continued to each state and then other countries ending with thousands of molestation cases and counting… The uncovering wasn’t the just the horror of the crimes, but how the church handled these cases, choosing to relocate the priests to other churches where they would start their kid touching all over again. Today pedophiles still exist inside the Catholic Church with Pope Francis estimating that 2 percent of clergymen fit his categorization of pedophile. That is sickening.