Mothers, wives also guilty of cover-up, says cleric


THE “WIVES and mothers of Ireland” who “failed miserably” to deal with the abuse of their children by family members probably surpassed the failure of bishops, a Wexford priest has said.

Fr Paddy Banville, from New Ross, said in time Ireland would discover there is “nothing particularly unique in the Catholic bishops’ bungling attempts to deal with clerical abuse”.

“In fact, I believe that covering up is a typical response to child abuse right across the board, at least until very recently,” he said.

The priest was writing in the weekly newspaper the Irish Catholic.

He said there was another category of people that matched the failure of the bishops, and “probably surpass it; the wives and mothers of Ireland”.

“Not exclusively wives and mothers, but far too many who failed miserably to deal with the abuse of their children by other family members,” he said.

In exposing abuse within the church, “we have opened the door to hell and stepped inside the front porch”, Fr Banville said.

“Some have dared to peer further, into the hallway and reception areas of a very dark and unexplored house,” he said.

He said a multitude of people were implicated in this cover-up.

“I believe it is a significant percentage of the population. Nobody in this once sovereign democratic Republic wants to hear this,” he said.

He said few could accept his “politically incorrect” point, but adapting the words of Taoiseach Enda Kenny in his Dáil criticism of the Vatican, he said there was “no shortage of dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism in the Republic of Ireland 2011, where the rape and torture of children are downplayed or managed, to uphold instead the primacy of the family, the family name, its power, standing and reputation . . .”

Fr Banville added that “in terms of child abuse the Catholic Church is holding up a mirror to Irish society”.

Dublin Labour Party deputy Aodháin Ó Ríordáin called on Fr Banville to apologise immediately.

His comments were an attempt to divert the blame of clerical sex abuse to innocent members of Irish society, Mr Ó Ríordáin said, and clearly demonstrated how many in the Catholic Church are beyond redemption. “Not only are his comments insulting to victims of abuse and the families of abuse survivors, but they are just as insulting to ordinary Catholics who are bewildered by the actions of their church,” he said.

Meanwhile, representatives from US group Snap, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and human rights lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) will travel to Dublin today demanding the Dublin diocese hand over documents pertaining to cases of the abuse of children and the church’s handling of them.

The protest and press conference will be held at 11.40am at the archbishop’s residence in Drumcondra. Snap executive director David Clohessy said the protest is intended to “offer support to every single victim who is suffering”.