Response to clerical child abuse report
Madam, – Looking on your map at the locations in Dublin of the child abusing priests (Home News,November 27th), it was hard not to notice they are a virtual roll-call of working-class communities: Ballyfermot, Crumlin, Cabra, Ballybrack, Coolock, East Wall, Ringsend . . . Can someone explain this pattern? – Yours, etc,
Madam, – Like many people having read the incisive reporting on the Murphy report in The Irish Times, (November 27th and 28th), I cannot contain my revulsion at its findings.
To compound the survivors’ pain, we read that the abusers still receive funds from the church collections each Sunday. Surely these payments must fall within aegis of the Criminal Assets Bureau? If a drug dealer can have his earnings taken for corrupting youth, surely an abuser can have his earnings taken from him and the organisation that protects him for corrupting youth also? We have to commend the actions of the junior gardaí who defied their superiors in tracking down these deviants and hopefully there are some strong-minded members today who might explore not only jailing these people, but hitting them financially also. – Yours, etc,
Madam, – There is a side issue which is most revealing. Your reporters (Front page, November 27th) were informed by a Vatican spokesman that the 1996 framework document on child protection, prepared by the Irish bishops, was not accepted by the Vatican because the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith felt it was contrary to the canon law.
The framework document is the template of good practice currently operational. The allegiance of bishops is first to the canon law, which takes precedence over the framework document.
Therefore, the church, in applying the framework document, must do so against the supremacy of the canon law which does not recognise the legal status of the document or the obligations contained within it. – Yours, etc,
Madam, – In the face of all the scandals coming out about the Catholic Church in Ireland there are a number of very serious questions which need to be answered.
Did the Irish bishops take it upon themselves to instigate this policy of moving paedophile priests to different parishes or did that policy originate somewhere else? Were the bishops just following orders? Is it a coincidence, or standard practice that consecutive bishops in Dublin and elsewhere adopted the same policy of cover-up? Did any of the bishops report these crimes to their superiors? In a recent article (Home News, November 27th) the Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi stated, “In all cases like this, it is not appropriate for Rome to comment, rather that is for the local bishop”. Are we to believe that Irish bishops are a law onto themselves and take no instruction from the Vatican? As the leader of the Catholic Church throughout the world, the Vatican has a duty to its followers to clearly state what knowledge it had of the criminal activity of its employees.
Until these questions are answered we will never know how this abomination infected our church. – Yours, etc,
Madam, – I note Patsy McGarry’s elucidation of the Cardinal Desmond Connell’s deployment of the philosophical device of casuistry of “mental reservation” (Home News, November 27th) in dealing with the victims of his paedophile charges. It is somewhat ironic that His Eminence’s archiepiscopal crest motto reads: “Secundum Verbum Tuum”, or in the English language: “According to thy word” (Luke 1:38). The same evangelist also wrote at 6.37: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged . . .” One finds it difficult not to measure deeds against stated words. – Yours, etc,
Madam, – I am going to state, quite categorically, that all of the bishops are guilty of committing serious sin . . . but you don’t need to consult your legal department – in my mind I’m saying “venial”. – Yours, etc,
Madam, – As Catholics in the Dublin Archdiocese we welcome the publication of the Dublin clerical abuse report. There is now a need for a public repentance before God by the Catholic Church in Dublin.
We fully support Archbishop Martin in his courageous leadership on this issue and his call for a deep repentance. On November 16th last Archbishop Martin said that the diocese had “to repent for the failings of its own members who betrayed their mission of shepherd. Shepherds have failed through a sheer lukewarmness, through negligence, through lack of real commitment to Jesus and his message. The abuse of children is a heinous crime, especially when it was perpetrated by those entrusted with the mission of the Good Shepherd. The church and its institutions must repent”.
We recognise the criminality of the perpetrators and the reprehensible actions of those, who aware of the offences, failed to report the crimes Many Catholics are saying “it has nothing to do with me.” However, as we are part of the Catholic Church in Ireland then we collectively have sinned before the Lord. We have failed to be the church he called us to be. There are a number of instances in the Scriptures of God’s people collectively repenting for the sins of a small number.
The Archdiocese launched a Year of Evangelisation last June. That was a wonderful initiative. However, we believe that for it to be successful we need to come in humble repentance before the Lord.
This is a difficult time for the survivors of clerical abuse, for Archbishop Martin, for the many faithful priests in the archdiocese and for lay Catholics. As we stated in our letter of June 19th in The Irish Times, we suggest a public Liturgy of Repentance followed later by a pilgrimage to Glendalough. We hope it would be an encouragement to the survivors of clerical abuse to see that the Catholic Church in Dublin is taking the scandal seriously. Our prayer is that it would release healing grace for all the survivors. – Yours, etc,
Madam, – I share with John McNeilly (November 28th) horror and revulsion at the findings of the Murphy report. His solution is: “Hit them where it hurts. Remove their reason for existing.” There is, I trust, a positive way to repair and heal the situation.
There are two parishes in my area with which I am familiar. Both have priests who are dedicated to their work, are overworked, mostly elderly. They are distracted and worried by the scandal, and now more than ever need our moral and practical support. They have some support from ordinary citizens who give their time to do chores and pastoral work of various kinds. Such people have no say in running the diocese in any significant way, but it is from them that a groundswell of increasing support could come – call it reform or democracy or revolution – which could permeate to the top and make the changes which are so vitally necessary.
It is time those at the top are joined as equal partners by responsible and mature people from pew level in managing all the temporal matters of running a diocese. But to effect real change, the process must eventually evolve to a point at which it has a decisive input into Vatican thinking. It’s time to start working. – Yours, etc,
Madam, – I am horrified and disgusted by those perverted priests, and the bishops who protected them. I am relieved that I am no longer a Catholic, but totally ashamed to be Irish. – Yours, etc,