Saturday, April 11, 2009

Two Holy Week Sermons Lead To A Bad Case Of Cynicism

Saturday, April 11, 2009-Irish Independent
Priests abused 'thousands of children over 30-year period'

THOUSANDS of children were raped and abused by Catholic priests, many of them serial offenders in the Dublin diocese over a 30-year period, a shocking report on clerical sex abuse will reveal next month.

The horrendous scale of the abuse between 1975 and 2004 was revealed yesterday by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who urged his priests and Catholic lay people to receive the damning report by Judge Yvonne Murphy with "humility".

Archbishop Martin said that since he took over the running of the country's biggest diocese five years ago, he had read secret files which he handed over to the Murphy Commission and had heard the tragic personal stories of victims.

From published statistics and from listening to victims, it was possible, he said, to name and identify at least 500 paedophile priests. (This is a staggering number for one archdiocese. I wonder if he's referring to the entire country.)

But he warned that because a number of these identified priests were serial abusers "the numbers of victims must be going into thousands". (I wonder how many of these serial abusers have ever seen the inside of a jail cell.)

"This is a sad thing to say," added the former diplomat who was appointed by the late Pope John Pope II five years ago to clean up the clerical sexual abuse scandals that devastated the period in office of his predecessor, Cardinal Desmond Connell.
Addressing the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass in Dublin's Pro-Cathedral, which was attended by priests from throughout the archdiocese, Archbishop Martin said that the full horror of decades of physical, sexual and psychological torture of children has not been recognised. (How could it be when it was kept secret and hidden by his predecessors with Vatican sanction.)

Admitting publicly that "the archdiocese of Dublin is facing challenges of a kind that it has not experienced for many years," he said "the Report of the Commission on Child Sexual Abuse will shock us all.

"It is likely that thousands of children or young people across Ireland were abused by priests in the period under investigation and the horror of that abuse was not recognised for what it is."

Last night a senior church source told the Irish Independent that the report of the Government-appointed Commission of Investigation into the Archdiocese of Dublin is likely to be published in "the next four to six weeks time".

The report is expected to be severely critical of the handling and covering up of abuse complaints by Cardinal Connell and his two predecessors, the late Archbishops Kevin McNamara and Dermot Ryan.

The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation was established in 2006 to investigate allegations of child sexual abuse involving Dublin diocesan priests, as well as priests and members of religious orders who worked in or were attached to the capital's parishes and schools.

This report was considered necessary by Bertie Ahern's Government after huge public revulsion over the scale of abuse revealed in a similar inquiry into the Diocese of Ferns in Co Wexford.
In recent months Archbishop Martin had been bracing his priests and people for even worse findings in the Dublin report which had been due out in January, but was postponed after the Government extended its remit to investigate Bishop John Magee's handling of complaints in the Diocese of Cloyne in Co Cork.

In recent years Archbishop Martin has published an annual audit which has shown that between 1940 and 2008, child sexual abuse allegations were made against 77 priests of the Dublin Diocese, while suspicions were raised about another nine.

"The report will make each of us and the entire church in Dublin a humbler church," added Archbishop Martin.


This forth coming report must contain some explosive material beyond just the staggering numbers. Archbishop Martin has been preparing the Archdiocese of Dublin for the contents for months now. Given the Irish Catholic reaction to the Ferns report, the Dublin report may turn out to be another nail in the coffin of institutional Irish Catholicism.

In the meantime, Pope Benedict castigated secular society in his Good Friday address:

Increasingly secular Western societies risk drifting into a "desert of godlessness", the Pope warned in his Good Friday address yesterday.

Speaking during the Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum in Rome, he said "religious sentiments" were increasingly ranked among the "unwelcome leftovers of antiquity" and held up to scorn and ridicule. (Maybe one reason religous sentiment is held up to scorn and ridicule is because it's been thoroughly earned by it's hypocritical leadership.)

He used this year's Good Friday meditations at the Stations of the Cross to compare attempts to purge religion from public life to the mockery Jesus faced from the mob.

The Bavarian-born Pontiff used uncompromising language as he attacked efforts to secularise society. Speaking at the seventh Station of the Cross, where Jesus was made an "object of fun", he said: "We are shocked to see to what levels of brutality human beings can sink. Jesus is humiliated in new ways even today.
"When things that are most holy and profound in the faith are being trivialised, the sense of the sacred is allowed to erode. (Given what your Archbishop of Dublin disclosed in his Holy Thursday talk, these words ring incredibly hollow and very self serving.)

"Our life together is being increasingly secularised. Religious life grows diffident. Thus we see the most momentous matters placed among trifles, and trivialities glorified." (This is precisely what institutional Catholicism did with priests sexually abusing children--treated a momentous matter as trifling.)

The Pope prayed that Christians would respond to the problem by growing in faith. "May we never question or mock serious things in life like a cynic," he prayed. (Sometimes it's very difficult not to be cynical.)

Priestly sexual abuse is not going to go away until Church authority does something besides mouth platitudes. Bishops and other enablers have to be disciplined. Pope Benedict needs to own up to the fact that the years of this report correspond with his years in the CDF. He and John Paul II are in many respects the greatest of all the enablers. All the blaming for this criminal behavior on the sexual revolution, gays, Vatican II, etc. etc. etc. has to stop and the Vatican has to get honest. The hierarchical church in this instance acted no different from any other global criminal enterprise. They don't deserve a free pass because of their collars and mitres. They can't keep falling back on notions of forgiveness in place of accountability.

The US Church has paid out 2.6 billion dollars of the laity's money to compensate for the criminal indifference of it's espiscopacy. I don't find this particularly humbling. I find it particulary infuriating. I want strategies in place which provide the transparency and accountability needed to bring this insanity to an end. As it stands right now, we still don't have such measures in place, as evidenced by Cardinal George's behavior in Chicago.

Pope Benedict can continue to lament the evils of secularism all he wants, but his concerns ring hollow when he refuses to deal with the evils of clericalism with in his own Church. That's not cynicism, that's just fact.


  1. Colleen a number of years ago when the Sexual abuse of priest first broke in the media, i heard a Catholic Sister on NPR Fresh Air. . .I do not remember her name but have remembered her words. . .

    She said, The Church has been given an opportunity to demonstrate to the world and all of those victimized the true meaning of repentance and reparation, and reconciliation and this tragedy can bring forth action to show the world the real meaning and breath of true Christianity and this is a make or brake issue for the Church depending on how it is handled. . ."

    I have continue to listen to too many priest when asked about the sexual abuse charge disclaim and minimalism them as a few " bad apples" that make all the rest of them look bad, and how terrible it is for those that are no involved. Or they make reference that many of the claims are not legitimate and it is unscrupulous ones coming forth for the money.

    When i have heard their responses
    have thought of that comment of the Sister and thought the opportunity was wasted, and often wished the Sisters could of been in charge of the reparation and reconciliation for the victims. . .

    There is something about the masculine that cannot allow sunlight on this issue it seems. . .and it just keep getting more moldy. . .

    how sad it happened. . .how sad to miss an opportunity to be a light for the world on this issue. . .

    Hope you and each have a beautiful Easter


  2. Off topic unrelated, but I'm sure of interest:

    Today on MSN:

    Unwed birth rate reaches all-time high in U.S. Report:
    Record number of babies born in 2007; 40 percent to single moms

    "U.S. abortions have been dropping to their lowest levels in decades, according to other reports. Some have attributed the abortion decline to better use of contraceptives"

    Seems the stats suggest that the Vatican position on contraceptives actuallly contributes to a higher abortion rate. Guess that inadvertantly would make the Vatican pro abortion. oops.