Hand Wringing & Blame

The pastoral latter is carefully constructed to address several groups of people affected by clerical sexual abuse, or implicated in it as perpetrators, or as complicit in their protection. Benedict speaks directly to the survivors and heir families, and to the rest of the Irish people.  He speaks to the priests who were guilty, and to the bishops who shielded them. He speaks also to the rest of the Irish clergy ,to those priests and bishops who were not implicated, but are now shamed by mere association with the rotten eggs in the clerical basket.  But – where’s Wally? Who’s missing from the line-up?

Vatican Cardinals: Free from blame?

In treating this as an entirely Irish affair, in speaking only to the Irish priests and clergy, are we really to believe that culpability lies solely on those flawed Irish, and none in his own domain, the Cardinals of the Curia? Read the rest of this entry »

Band-Aid for a Grievously Wounded Church.

I have spent the afternoon celebrating my granddaughter’s first birthday, so have not yet had a chance to read in full the Papal “pastoral” letter to the Irish Church.  I did read a few press summaries before going out, and have reflected on their significance while riding the trains, but I do not want to get into a detailed response until I have read the full report. My initial reaction though, can best be conveyed by a few visual images:    a mother who responds to a  mildly injured child by kissing it better, or applying a band aid.  A less charitable image would show two raised fingers to the Irish Church.

A copy of Pope Benedict XVI's pastoral letter to Irish Catholics is displayed in St Peters Square, Vatican. Photograph: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

When I returned this afternoon, I did get a chance to scan some headlines, which I now share with you unread. It does not  seem that Catholics elsewhere are any more enthusiastic about this letter than I am:

Pope’s letter to Irish Catholics disappoints child abuse survivors Read the rest of this entry »

Irish Church: Two More Dominoes

Two more Irish bishops have resigned over their respective roles in the Irish abuse scandals.  Four down, one to go.

Remember that these are the first ever bishops to resign, anywhere, over their roles in abuse cover-ups, and that the extent of their activity or (non-activity) was no worse than that of numerous other bishops in the US and elsewhere. This is progress, and important progress of a sort, but there remains a long way to go.  We still need to see governments elsewhere put the church under the microscope, as the Irish did;  and we need to see the power structures in the church to look beyond punishing those involved to serious examination of the causes – and ending them.

This they are unlikely to do themselves, so we must keep reminding them:  the causes of the long-standing problems with clerical abuse, of children and of vulnerable adults, are well-known, and lie deep inside the institutional nature of the church.  These are the obsession with power and control; the insistence on compulsory celibacy; and a disproportionate number of psychologically immature, sexually repressed men in the priesthood, resulting from inappropriate methods of selection and training.

Bishop Eamonn Walsh

Two more Irish bishops quit their posts over child abuse criticism

Roman Catholics across Ireland were attending Christmas Day Mass yesterday as two more bishops resigned.

Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field bowed to weeks of intense criticism and pressure, announcing at services that they planned to quit their posts as auxiliaries in the Dublin Archdiocese. They are the latest senior clerics to stand down after the Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, James Moriarty, and the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray, resigned over the damning Murphy report that exposed the church hierarchy’s shocking inaction and cover-up of paedophile priests over decades.

Bishops Walsh and Field announced their resignations in a statement as Midnight Mass took place around the country. “As we celebrate the Feast of Christmas, the birth of our Saviour, the Prince of Peace, it is our hope that our action may help to bring the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ to the victims/survivors of child sexual abuse,” they said. “We again apologise to them.”

(More from Times Online)