Abuse priests 'monsters' - theologian


A former student of Pope Benedict today branded clerics who ran abusive institutions as the “dregs of society”.

Those to blame for the violence were monsters, Fr Vincent Twomey said.

Last Friday, Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin briefed the Pope in the Vatican on the devastating Ryan inquiry and the subsequent fall-out and criticisms of religious orders.

Fr Twomey told BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequenceprogramme: “I think we were looking at the dregs of society in a certain sense.”

Industrial schools across Ireland were involved in endemic physical abuse and sexual predators were able to prey on the most vulnerable children, the Ryan report found.

The Christian Brothers and Sisters of Mercy were among religious orders criticised for conduct in their schools.

Father Twomey is a former doctoral student of Pope Benedict and meets him annually.

Acknowledging that priests, brothers and nuns in authority had known about “the reign of terror” in their institutions, he asked how it was possible for religious who were devoted to Christ and the care of children to turn out to be “monsters”.

He said having a priest, Christian brother or a nun in the family was a status symbol and would ensure they were cared for to the end of their days.

He also addressed the practice of celibacy. “Many of those had no real vocations and in that sense they were frustrated sexually,” he added.

“It was not in that sense a choice, it was almost a condition they accepted reluctantly.”

Fr Twomey highlighted the puritanism of the church in its attitudes to sexuality, and branded it parochial and narrow-minded.