Focus on ritual not children wrong, writes 'Reality' editor


A PROMINENT Catholic priest/commentator has criticised ‘‘restorationists’’ in his church who appear more concerned with vestments, Latin Mass, and orthodoxy than the protection of children.

“Something seems wrong when the Vatican conducts an apostolic visitation of religious sisters in the United States to make sure they are fully obedient to the Holy See . . . but conducts no visitation of dioceses worldwide to ensure children are safeguarded,” Fr Gerard Moloney has said.

Writing in the current issue of the Redemptorist magazine Reality, which he edits, he said: “Something seems wrong when some church people appear more interested in silk robes and the Latin Mass and east-facing altars than in examining why our church has not been a safe environment for its most vulnerable members.”

He continued: “Something seems wrong when trying to restore a Tridentine model of church is more important to a small but vociferous minority than building a church where all the baptised feel at home and loved and included and heard and protected.”

The abuse scandals had not only “destroyed many innocent lives” but had “also undermined the good work of so many church people at home and throughout the world”, he wrote. A fact “restorationists ignore”, he added, was that “most sex abusers and most bishops and church authorities grew up and were formed in the pre-Vatican II church”. This model of church was one “that had obvious systems failures” and “a theology that kept women and lay men firmly in their place”.

What was needed was “not a rigid, defensive, secretive church but an open, transparent, inclusive one where power and decision-making are not the preserve of elderly celibate males but all the baptised”, he said. “Can anyone deny that if priests could marry, if spouses and children lived in presbyteries, if priestly life and family life went together, if this were part of the structure of the church, that it would make for a more healthy system?” he asked.

He concluded the litany of abuse and cover-up “must also lead us as a church to examine our attitude to sexuality, the idealisation of virginity, and the insistence on celibacy as a requirement for priesthood”.