Easter time reflections about the journey of Jesus from Earth to heaven started me thinking about time travel — what would happen if we took a famous person out of history and put them into our century — kind of like a Back to the Future experiment?
So on Good Friday, I found myself pondering the following scenario: What if Jesus had been born as a bastard son to his unwed Quebec mother Marie in the 1950s during the reign of Premier Duplessis?
He would probably have stood a good chance of being “removed” from his family and incarcerated in a provincial orphanage or asylum run by Catholic religious orders on behalf of the government.
Locked up like a prisoner for the “sin” of his mother, he would have suffered—along with thousands of his peers— a loss of childhood, plus physical, psychological and sexual abuse.
And now in 2023, Jesus would be a 65-year-old senior still searching for justice from his secular and religious oppressors, still trying to recover from childhood trauma which handicapped the fullness of his life.
But seeking legal recourse in the courts has not proved a fruitful route of reparation for the distress inflicted upon Jesus and thousands of his fellow Orphelins.
Their appeals for a just settlement of their grievances have, for the most part, been summarily rejected by both civil and religious authorities, who often appeared to be operating in suspicious complicity.
Over the past 33 years, only a pittance of financial reparation has been paid out by the provincial government to a sub-group of survivors. But hundreds of other victims rejected the government’s 30 pieces of silver and continued their quest for justice — albeit, sadly, unsuccessfully.
The last chapter of their long via crucis was finally written when Jesus and his fellow elderly Orphelins suffered another calvary of injustice in the final days of Lent when their final appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was rejected on March 30, 2023.
O Canada, where can we find advocates for Orphan Jesus and his quest for justice?
Back in the real world, Canadians seem to have stood by passively while their elected officials recently spent billions of public funds to come to the aid of badly managed private banks who made wrong business decisions.
And all the while, the fate of mistreated Canadian children is ignored. The public message being broadcast here is that, while banks are too big to fail, abused Orphans are too small to bother about!
What is wrong with this picture? People of Canada, where do your moral sympathies, loyalties, and priorities lie? Can you please think of the common good, instead of being preoccupied with special interests? Please speak truth to power so that vested interests will not be able to pervert the course of justice.
I plead with you never to forget the fate of Orphan Jesus and his fellow victims, nor that of all the other abused children in Canada, and around the world. Please echo in your lives what Quebec license plates proclaim: “Je me souviens,” lest we forget.
With your cooperation, I am optimistic that the day of justice will arrive for Les Orphelins. As I conclude my Back to the Future reflection, I overhear Orphan Jesus encouraging his Quebec buddies: “courage mes vieux copains—la bataille n’est pas terminée!”
After a long academic career as a psychologist and research scientist at Harvard University, Dr Arthur McCaffrey recently retired and now devotes his time to championing the cause of justice for victims of child abuse, as he tries to be a public voice for the voiceless.
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