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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 6, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

    Fall from Grace

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Went to Mass during the weekend at a church in one of Dublin’s better-off suburbs. The congregation was largely late middle-aged or elderly. The sermon was terrible: the priest just rambled on, saying whatever came into his head. He had nothing to say about the continuing crisis arising from the Murphy Report. I have written in a previous post about the downside of the Catholic Church’s fall from grace. There is no moral compass to replace it and that will have consequences for society at large. But it appears that the Church, or a significant and very powerful element of that institution, lost its own moral compass when it came to dealing with child abuse. Whatever one’s views on Bishop Murray – should he stay or should he go? – the way the issue is being dragged out is helping nobody. In its fixation with protocol, the Vatican did itself no favours either. It certainly looks like we won’t be having a visit from the current Pope – unless he arrives in sackcloth and ashes.

    • dealga says:

      I’m disappointed that you feel society is incapable of having a moral compass in the absence of the Catholic Church (or, by extension, any other organised religion).

      Where to even begin?… I tried to type a response and my mind is swimming so hard I’ve had to stop.

      So I’ll simply say this. I, personally, do not need any church to point my moral compass in the right direction and if there are that many people in society who are incapable of calibrating their own moral compass without having to take direction from people of dubious authority then society has a serious problem.

      Personally I am grateful that my personal freedom is only restricted by civil law and not the beliefs and prejudices of the law-unto-themselves, enemies of personal freedom and enlightened thinking that characterises most religious.

      And if anything good is to come of this scandal maybe it will be the complete disentanglement of religious belief (i.e. so-called morals) from our legal system.

    • Liam says:

      I cant agree that the demise of the church should have any negative effect on society at large. I can only speak for myself but as a passive Agnostic, I’m not left scratching my head wondering how to impart values to my kids.

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      No moral compass is an excellent replacement for the twisted and disgusting moral compass that the Catholic Church imposed on Ireland.

      But that aside, I don’t agree that there is no moral compass to replace that of the Church. The Church co-opted and appropriated moral teaching that was already out there, to the extent that they now claim a monopoly on morality.

      Rampant snobbery; Magdalen laundries; abuse of children under its care; child rape and abuse; child pornography; institutional cover-up; discrimination; ostracisation of victims; protection of the guilty: these are the cardinal points (an apt phrase!) on the moral compass of the Catholic Church.

      They have repeatedly and dramatically demonstrated their total and comprehensive lack of real morality. The passing of the Catholic moral compass is not to be mourned.

      If Irish Christians wish to retain any claim to morality, or to formulate such morality, they need to leave the current institution and set up a new one.

    • barbera O'Shcokenzy says:

      Why are you dragging it out then Deaglán? I went to Mass yesterday (Sunday 12:15) and it was beautiful, as always, and the homily was related to the readings for the day, which is usual, and as always relevant with regard to the ongoing struggle against evil. And may I say that I not only have the greatest of respect and admiration for our present Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, but I love him also, not least as Christ’s Vicar on earth. The Catholic Church in Ireland will come back all the more resplendent when it is purged and when its enemies are recognized by the faithful to be the wicked impostors that they are, pretending to love good but loving evil instead.

    • Patrick says:

      No one is above the law and must have their day in court for the crime of abuse as well as the crime of covering up a crime. Abuse of sex to a child is as low as you can go and for an administrater or any other to cover up such a crime is rotten to the core and against the law. On sermons at mass, I think there ought to be a question and answer period after it. So many rattle on and say nothing. I forgot, religious do not like questions, for they do not want to lose membership control. Just what precentage of the members know the teachings of the Church and/or fully ( 100% ) agree with them? Why is there not a short general confesstion service at each Mass? Why at the offertory that it is not said that sins “WILL” instead of “MAY” be forgiven? The Church needs another POPE JOHN 23rd.

    • Martin Burke says:

      The moral vacuum was planted decades ago by a church and state that was a Theocratic state in all but name.
      The first priority of any established religion is self-preservation –& in this the Catholic Church was the first among many equals.
      The question remains however – where are the prosecutions resulting from this criminal behaviour & negligence?
      Is the state still cowering under the shadow of the mitre?
      Unless the guilty are brought to justice there will be no justice & the same story will repeat itself again & again.
      Or, in writing this, am I not going through the proper channels?
      Martin Burke

    • Frank Jameson says:

      You might be disappointed at the way the issue is being dragged out but you can be sure the government are not. It has taken the spotlight off them in a very big way. I’d bet they’ll do their best to drag it out as long as possible.

    • Sagart Cill Dara says:

      One wonders when the inquiry into rampant homosexuality in certain sectors of the clergy going back many years will begin. Too many heterosexuals have been dismissed and too many practising homosexuals have been ordained.

    • There is a body of knowledge developed by Lawrence Kohlberg (Harvard) related to cognitive moral development. Of 6 stages, the 4th Law and Order stage describes the stunted growth of the good Catholic or good German. Disappointing.
      The concealment of crimes and protection of criminals are actions deserving of vigorous prosecution. Criminals repose at Kohlberg’s Stage 1.

    • Jonathan says:

      It’s not society that doesn’t have a moral compass. It’s catholicism.
      In any normal society, if an organization you belong to becomes discredited, you don’t just sit around moaning about it, you take your custom elsewhere.
      I have a simple question: why does anybody in this country even go through the doors of a catholic church?

    • Liam says:

      Sagart Cill Dara, Thats the most idiotic comment I’ve seen in a long time. Homosexuality is not a crime, nor is it a moral issue from the state’s point of view.

    • Martin says:

      “Went to Mass during the weekend…”

      Who did? Who went to Mass? A reporter always reveals the who part.

      During the weekend? Do you mean at the weekend?

    • Deaglán says:

      The Pedantry are getting restless!

    • Niall says:

      The call for institutional reform of the Church is a red herring. The problem is Catholic doctrine. Every priest that abused a child probably got absolved of his sins in a confession box. It’s not just the messengers that is the problem, it’s the message that needs to go.

    • Deaglán says:

      Here’s an interesting link I just found on the Web


    • mike says:

      The Catholic Church’s claim to have “a moral compass” is a joke. From top to bottom it is morally corrupt and as demonstrated repeatedly worldwide – from Australia to Canada to the USA, and of course to Ireland to name but a few countries – over the centuries it has been interested in only one thing: the survival of its own power and influence. Even the Mafia never permitted the slightest sexual abuse of children. The Church’s leaders should be criminally investigated to see if they can be indicted for facilitating at least hundreds of further rapes of Catholic children (in Ireland alone over the years) as a result of their policy of moving abusing priests from parish to parish.

      Who in their right mind would want to remain a member of such a corrupt misused faith. The Catholic Church has conditioned people to believe that priests have some sort of holy access to God, and that people have to go through them in order to reach salvation. What a con!

      People should deal directly with God. They do not need a mediating priest who willingly belongs to an organisation that has been found guilty by inquiries of a worldwide Vatican policy of cover-ups of and of moving abusers around to other parishes. Morally bankrupt does not begin to descibe such a policy. It is nothing less than criminal. And criminals should end up in court.

    • mos says:

      I went to Mass, too, and it was beautiful. It is only those who have never reached a mature understanding of the celebration of the Eucharist find the whole thing incomprehensible and boring. It takes years for the penny to drop, and for many it never does.

    • says:

      Went to Mass?


      In this day and age can you not get your religion online?

      It’s a damn sight safer than mixing with that shower of evil, woman-hating bent *******’s

    • says:

      In these hard times perhaps we should take a leaf out of Jarry’s book (or play) Ubu Roi?

      Wouldn’t that be fun?

    • Meher Baba says:

      A child sex abuse scandal without a single child. Where are the children? Why is it all in the past? Why did that report contain pseudonyms? I first came to Ireland in 1950 at the age of 8. That the food was bad and that children got walloped I will believe. Beyond that I am sceptical of claims that stand to put money in the pocket of the one making the claim.

    • M. J. Brophy says:

      In a story much like Father Kevin Hegarty’s dismissal, under orders from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, American Jesuit Thomas Reese resigned on May 6, 2005 as editor of the Jesuit magazine America because he had published articles critical of church positions, several Catholic officials in the United States told the New York Times at the time. The order to dismiss the editor of America magazine was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in mid-March 2005 when the Vatican office of doctrinal enforcement was still headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Catholic officials told the New York Times, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter. (Some have suggested it was the American bishops who got Father Reese removed.) Soon after Father Reese’s dismissal, Pope John Paul II died and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI.

    • Andrew in Cork says:

      Why do people claim that the Catholic church has some kind on monopoly on “moral compasses”?

      It is the worst possible source for such a thing. Lets teach our children HOW to think in real schools with proper discussions on ethics and morals, and not WHAT to think from a group of crusty old men with thier gold laden dresses in their ivory towers who think they are above the common law.

    • edie says:

      Why would anyone want to enter a Catholic Church ever again? Over 50 years of abuse, rape, torture, child slave labour under the guise of “God” and the “Church”. The Catholic Church used Ireland as a paedophilic playground and are still DENYING it. The Catholic hierarchical ethos is one of cover up and hope they will get away with it. Would Irish people ever COP ON and stand up for themselves against these criminals.

    • edie says:

      The Pope has spoken! Words, words and more words, where is the ACTION? Has any member of the Catholic Church had the decency to resign over the rape of thousands of children by priests? WHY NOT???

    • Patrick says:

      In reference to the comment by M.J.Brophy on 12/09 11:31 p.m. I would like to tell you that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to an American cardinal on the “don’t give communion to Kerry” movement to get the duh catholics to vote for Bush on his second term so that he would be the president to pick the new Supreme Court members. Ratzinger did a follow up letter that the American bishops are in harmony with us. What a sneak.
      P.S. Kerry at the time said that he was not for abortion but as president would uphold American law.

    • Pomme de Pratai says:

      Actually, I think it should be ‘The Pedantry is getting restless’ cf: 13 above or the Pedants are getting restless…Aaarrghhh…!

    • Pomme de Pratai says:

      Having unleashed my inner pedant see 27 above now I’m not so sure…Sometimes it’s difficult to know your hanging gerunds from your dangling participles…If it’s not too grammatically incorrect to say so…! On the substantive issue, maybe we need to look elsewhere for Spiritual Enlightenment…and find the God within ourselves as the Buddhists say…Now there’s a challenge…Ommmmm! And that’s not OM as in OMG!…Philistines….:-)

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