Christian response to clerical sex abuse


Sir, – I refer to the letter from Fr Joe McDonald (Letters, February 26th).

Matthew (18:4–6), Mark (9:42), and Luke (17: 2) leave us in no doubt about Christ’s attitude to those who scandalise “the one who makes himself as this little child”. According to a footnote in the Jerusalem Bible to Matthew 18:5, Christ was referring to “one who through the virtue of simplicity becomes a child again”.

A psychiatrist acquaintance of mine told me once that sexual abuse of a young person robs that person of his or her soul.

Christ said the following of the scandaliser of those with childlike faith: “it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea”.

Just a few years ago Theodore McCarrick was honoured by Cardinal Blase Cupich, no less, for his “decades of service” to the church, despite the fact that it was widely known that McCarrick had sexually abused teenage boys, seminarians, and young priests.

Why does Pope Francis continue to surround himself with these characters?

Even the secular media is getting fed up with this approach.

Fr McDonald is confusing Christ with a plaster saint. Christ spoke very frequently about Hell. Very few Mass-goers will have heard that word in decades.

Christians are meant to forgive those who ask for forgiveness.

Sexual abusers rarely ask for forgiveness, or rarely show remorse for the crimes they have committed. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 14.

Sir, – Following the issuing of the usual condemnatory statements by Pope Francis after the recent meeting in Rome on sex abuse by clergy – but no changes in canon law calling for abuser priests and cover-up bishops to be sacked – one would have expected a torrent of letters to the papers expressing disappointment at the outcome of the meeting. But no, almost nothing.

Perhaps this means that Irish Catholics have moved from their traditional silence and obedience to the bishops, through demands for answers, anger that answers are not forthcoming, outrage at the endless revelations of worldwide sex abuse by clergy, and through to the final stages of our relationship with the church – no expectations of change and no surprise that meetings like the recent “summit” on sex abuse in Rome has produced any significant change.

“Cultural” Catholicism, or what Archbishop Diarmuid Martin describes as the sacramental conveyor belt of baptism, communion and confirmation, will undoubtedly continue, but real faith has been delivered another damaging blow.

If indifference to the outcome of major events like the recent meeting in Rome has taken over, then the days of the Catholic Church as a significant social force in Ireland are surely numbered.

But in a modern, secular society, perhaps this is no bad thing, for either church or state. – Yours, etc,




Co Dublin.