Church hierarchy 'betrayed' orders

 

THE CATHOLIC primate Cardinal Seán Brady, the Archbishop of Dublin Most Rev Diarmuid Martin and other bishops have been severely criticised for their actions and statements, where religious congregations were concerned, following publication of the Ryan report.

It has also been claimed that at least three victims of abuse have died by suicide since publication of the report.

Fr Tony Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, has revealed that many members of the congregations feel “terrified”, “ashamed”, “hurt” and “betrayed”, not only because of the actions of the guilty among their own colleagues, but also because of the actions and public statements of the archbishop and other members of the hierarchy who, he said, have led the public criticism of members of Ireland’s religious congregations.

Speaking on Joe Duffy’s Spirit Level programme, to be broadcast on RTÉ television at 11.15am next Sunday, Fr Flannery has said that “there is enormous anger among religious [members of the congregations]. They feel that they have been scapegoated, particularly by one member of the hierarchy, the Archbishop of Dublin”.

Feminist theologian Mary Condren has agreed. “A lot of priests and religious feel extremely betrayed by the fact that the cardinal and the archbishop went to Rome without having spoken with them, then came back and made public statements, again without speaking to them.”

She also claims on the programme that at least three victims of abuse have died by suicide since publication of the Ryan report because they were unable to cope with its public revelations about long-suppressed trauma.

Fr Flannery expressed doubts on the programme as to whether the congregations will ever recover from public vilification, not least because they were already a dwindling force.

“By and large, what we’re talking about is institutions comprising people in their 70s and 80s, which have hardly any young members joining them. So that within the next 10-15 years, the large majority of the religious orders in Ireland, as we know them today, will be gone.”

When asked to explain the abuse that was carried out and systematically covered up within the children’s institutions managed by the congregations, Fr Flannery points the finger firmly at the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality and celibacy for clergy and members of the religious congregations which, he has said, led to an unhealthy degree of repression.

“We need to begin to look at our whole teaching on sexuality and absolutely look at our approach to compulsory celibacy because I have little or no doubt that that, too, is at the root of the problem,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Children’s Rights Alliance group has called for the State’s child protection guidelines and the Garda vetting unit to be placed on a statutory footing as well as for the ending of children being detained at St Patrick’s Institution.

In a paper submitted to the Minister for Children, it also endorses the Ryan report’s recommendations.