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The Catholic pop band that wrote the anthem for Benedict XVI’s papal visit to the UK have been disinvited from playing at London’s biggest Catholic youth gathering amid controversy over their new music video about clerical abuse.
Catholic Underground withdrew their invitation to the band, Ooberfuse, from headlining its March meeting at St Aloysius’ Church in Euston, north London. Organisers said they made the decision because the video to a new song by the band, “March of the Downtrodden”, painted a negative image of the Church’s handing of the abuse scandal.
Catholic Underground gatherings begin with Eucharistic adoration and evening prayer, followed by praise and worship, and performances by Christian artists.
The video features quotes from abuse victims’ testimony alongside images of distressed children, St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and clergy.
In a letter the Catholic Underground Service Team told the band that the video “failed to highlight the work the Church has done to combat child abuse and if anything portrays a worse image than the mainstream media”. The team noted that the video had been prompted “by the UN's report of the Church's handling of child abuse – a report widely condemned in Catholic circles as being very anti-Catholic”.
Organisers said that the “negative” stance taken by the video would damage Catholic Underground’s “positive” mission. While they said criticism of the Church was essential, they added: “this is not the correct platform and means by which to do it”.
Ooberfuse said they were “saddened” by the decision. Responding to the organisers in a statement they also published on their website, they said: “Many victims have been forbidden to tell their stories because of legal compromise agreements ie other regular channels of communication have been foreclosed. Given the silencing strategies of clergy abusers and their protectors, we are not aware there are many other means by which to address this topic.”
The band added: “When you say our video does ‘completely the opposite’ of evangelisation, we take it you understand evangelisation in the narrow sense of proselytising, ie public apologetics for the institutional Church.”
The band also explained that the point of the video was to disturb and to tell the story of clerical sexual abuse from the point of view of the victim.
You can watch “March of the downtrodden” here.
WARNING: this video features disturbing and explicit images and quotes. It is not suitable for children.