Response to clerical child abuse report


Madam, – Ultimate responsibility for corruption rests at the apex of an organisation: the Vatican and its official representation remain at present stubbornly (and suspiciously) silent on the crisis in Ireland. Perhaps the only hope for the survival of the church in Ireland is to separate from Rome and, with the help of a genuinely empowered laity, to start the long, hard road back to Christianity. – Yours, etc,


Eaton Wood Avenue,

Shankill, Co Dublin.

Madam, – Watching, listening, reading about this scandal proves that the current Catholic church is not in touch with the people.

Let’s send a strong message. Stop attending, stop contributing, stop assisting, stop being subservient, stop it all. The church, its clerics and its hierarchy rely on parishioners to survive. We, the people of Ireland, should indicate that we don’t approve of what has and is happening. Hit them where it hurts. Remove their reason for existing.

I suggest we treat them like we might answer one of those people in the street conducting a survey, or trying to get you to sign up to something, just say “Not today, thanks” and walk on without looking back. Liberation from the hypocrisy, lies, deceit could suit you! – Yours, etc,


Butterfield Park,


Dublin 14.

Madam, – I’ve read with horror, but little surprise, your coverage of the Murphy report. I’m an Irish Catholic living in Auckland and my friends here ask me how this could have happened in the supposedly civilised society from which I came. I have no answer. For the first time since the IRA blew up a septuagenarian at Mullaghmore I feel shame, for my nationality and religion. So, Ireland, what now? Will this be swept under the carpet of convenience like so many uncomfortable truths? Will the guilty be allowed to live out their days in comfortable isolation? Is Ireland a latter-day South America, happy to shelter perpetrators of the most heinous abuses? Maybe Ireland has a chance to redeem itself. But will it? – Yours, etc,


St Heliers,


New Zealand.

Madam, – The Murphy report clearly states that of the past four archbishops, one can be signalled out for praise. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has worked with the commission and shown great courage and profound regret. Sadly, however, it is not he who should be apologising.

We are lucky to have such a man of wisdom, compassion and humility. I wish him nothing but the best for the future. – Yours, etc,


Stillorgan Road,

Foxrock, Dublin 18.

Madam, – Your Editorial (November 27th) says, “It would be wrong to conclude that criminal behaviour by priests in the Dublin archdiocese was exceptional”. While Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gets some respect for opening the files for the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, your Editorial also says, “An attempt by the Health Service Executive to establish the extent of clerical abuse in all dioceses was flatly rejected last year by a majority of bishops”.

Why does it even matter what a majority of bishops say any more?

The onus now is on the State, the Garda and the HSE to prove that deference to the church is gone for good, and that either the State expects co-operation from other bishops, similar to that of Dr Martin’s, or that criminal prosecutions for further perverting the course of justice will commence. – Is mise,


Lehenagh, Lislevane,

Bandon, Co Cork.

A chara, – We have learned the Vatican ignored letters from the commission seeking information and documentation. The Vatican is now hiding behind diplomatic procedures in order to justify these failures.

As a practising Catholic, I respect the Pope and his position as the head of my church. However, being a Christian – and doing my best to follow the example set by Christ – is more important to me than being a Catholic. The Vatican and its leaders would do well to remember that their first duty is to do right by God and His son and not to merely protect the institution of the church. The words of Luke’s Gospel warning against hypocrisy seem particularly apt: “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; nor hid, that shall not be known.” I, for one, call on the Vatican to practise what it preaches. – Is mise,


Whitethorn Crescent,


Dublin 20.

Madam, – I spent my childhood in Irish Catholic boarding schools, ranging from the very top schools to reformatories, from age five-and-a-half to 17, and as a ward of court, was  during holidays, in custody of my relatives. Who were less than empathetic.

Thus, as a child there was no one for me to turn to talk to about my experiences. I grew up believing those experiences, and my shame, were normal.

I believed my low self-esteem was my own fault, that I was evil, a sinner and at heart a disgusting, filthy and ugly person, even though I could pass myself off as reasonably affable.

My life has been pretty much ruled by those experiences and how I “‘adapted” to them, how I internalised the values of those who abused me, and took on the image they protected on to me as my own identity.

Years and years of unhappiness, dysfunction, insecurity and a nameless rage (for which, for a long I time no target – and that meant I turned the rage upon myself and those close to me) have dogged my life.

I have struggled as best I can to heal, this for myself, and to understand, to fully comprehend  the dynamics of abuse operating at such a huge scale, such that it might be classed a societal problem, if not the societal problem, simply because the problem is tractable, because the cycles can be broken, and because this should never happen to any child. I, and many others are living proof of this.

And the problem is best described as the abuse of power, in all its forms, from the personal to the institutional, for control or profit. Resolving this will protect children, and much more, in the future. It is linked in essence to all struggles for liberty, and must be at the heart of and visibly resolved in any decent, healthy society that dares to call itself decent.

And that is the only path which I as a survivor deem plausible if we as a society and as parents are to honour all children, for all time.

It is time, well past time actually, to clean up our collective and centralised acts. – Yours, etc,


Sherwood Road,

South Harrow,

London, England.