'Lack of moral courage' lamented


MANY SECTORS of society have shown little decency or virture over the last 20 years, Fr Vincent Twomey, professor emeritus of moral theology at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, told a Trinity College Dublin forum last night.

Speaking about the criticism aimed at the church following the Murphy and Ryan reports, Fr Twomey said the extent to which the church was responsible for this was a shame, but that such behaviour was “a sign of our cowardice and lack of moral courage”.

He said moral theology was about virture, decency, character, principle, but that “very little of that has been evident in the last 20 years, be it in banking, economics, politics or the church”.

Responding to a question about the church at a meeting of the College Historical Society entitled “20 years of change in Ireland”, Fr Twomey said people, and the State, had turned a blind eye to things they knew were happening in our institutions.

“You can say it is in deference to the church, but I think it is cowardice.”

Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International earlier said the legacy of church control on Irish institutions such as hospitals and schools was one of brutalisation.

He said the effect of this brutality on significant elements of social care and social provision had not yet been fully appreciated.

Mr O’Gorman said some attempts had been made to question the power of the church in the 1980s, some 20 years later than in many countries, but that no one had properly challenged its role in society and functions.