Clerical abuse in Ireland: your first reactions

We have all been holding our collective breath for the report of the Commission to inquire into child abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese. It has now been published and has proved to be not so much another nail in the coffin as another nail in the Cross.

No doubt The Catholic Herald will be reporting in its next edition, but I thought that members of Secondsightblog would appreciate the opportunity to express a view more immediately. I will make sure that your views are brought to the Editor’s attention – but in order for him to have your reactions in mind initial comments must be posted by Monday.

Anyone who wishes to email me personally may do so (but say if you want me to maintain your anonymity). It would be helpful to know if your are a member of the clergy, or your denomination – if you are not a Catholic.

There are plenty of news sources around. I would recommend starting with the BBC, which has useful additional links. The Times has good coverage, as do several other newspapers. The full report is available.

I do not want to influence your reactions in any way, but it may help to consider any or all of these aspects:  the abusing priest himself, the official cover up, and what our verdict is on a church structure and culture in which such things can happen.

Remember: by Monday for maximum impact.

SUNDAY MORNING. YOUR REACTIONS HAVE BEEN SPLENDID.  ANYONE HESITATING – EVEN TO GIVE A ONE LINE MESSAGE — NOW IS THE TIME TO HAVE YOUR SAY.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Catholic Herald, Church and Society, Moral judgment. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Clerical abuse in Ireland: your first reactions

  1. vmilner says:

    “It has now been published and has proved to be not so much another nail in the coffin as another nail in the Cross.”

    I’m not sure what this sentence means. Could you expand?

  2. chauffer says:

    It’s really the Gardai collusion which defines this report rather than the global PATTERN of corruption which has befallen the Catholic hierarchical response to this form of stark evil everywhere else.

    It may be that Crimen Sollicitationis offers no evidence of a writtren Papal policy of cover-up. However, over the past 40 years, there surely would have been phonecalls/emissaries/crisis-discussions etc and in a worldwide Church; we should be prepared to look to the source with the utmost moral suspicion.

    That is what will prevent the slightest shred of State collusion in clerical sins of the future. Will the same sense of unbridled vigilance permeate our pews?

  3. For vmilner.
    People have often forecast the demise of the Church, and will quote instances like the one in question. The Church, being the Body of Christ, cannot die, But the Body can be wounded. It is ironical that we who so often (and inaccurately) condemned the Jews as deicides are willing to nail him to the cross once again.

  4. Pearce says:

    The late Vincent McNabb said that we might pray for forgiveness for others on the ground that “they know not what they do”. The trouble with us Catholics is that “we KNOW what we do”. This is what makes the scandal of paedophile priests so shocking. Loving the Church makes it difficult to understand how priests can commit these sins. The very nature of paedophilia is baffling. Even so, it is difficult not to have some sympathy for archbishops who were tempted to sweep the problem “under the carpet” even though we can see now that they should not have done so. We clearly cannot tolerate priests who suffer from this difficulty: a question of management. The damage they do is out of all proportion to their numbers.

  5. RMBlaber says:

    There are several things one can say. One is that, although sexual abuse by the clergy is not uniquely Irish, or uniquely Catholic, and nor are past attempts to conceal such abuse, both evils seem to have gripped the Catholic Church – here, in Ireland North and South, in Australia, the USA and elsewhere – in a very strong and particularly forceful way.
    This, in turn, says a number of things. One is, that in the past it was all too easy for paedophiles – and I think we are talking in the main about paederasts, specifically – to get into seminaries and end up as priests, and even as bishops.
    Another is that people were very trusting of their priests in the past – something that has probably now changed completely, and for the worst, to the extent that I should think no priest now dare be left alone with a child, even for a few minutes, in case he ends up being accused of abuse. Teachers, for one, know all about malicious accusations of abuse from all-too-canny youngsters.
    My final point is perhaps my most important. The Catholic Church is not a democracy, but a theocratic hierarchy. The Pope is elected by the College of Cardinals, who are all appointed by a previous Pope or Popes. The Pope appoints all the bishops. The laity were, in the past, simply seen as the base of this enormous pyramid, expected to pay up, put up and shut up.
    This model simply won’t do in the 21st Century. It didn’t really do in the 20th – and certainly not since Vatican II!
    If priests are going to abuse children, or abuse trust in any other way, for that matter, then the laity will do none of those things. We are _not_ children (except in the sense of being children of God), but adults, and we should be treated that way, and consulted.
    For the Church’s own sake, it needs to be much more open and transparent. Decision-making should not happen behind closed doors or in ‘smoke-filled rooms’ anymore, as far as is possible and practicable. If there are bad apples, their services should be dispensed with, and any criminal activity should be reported immediately to the police and social services, where applicable. Admissions procedures to seminaries need to be tightened up, and candidates for ordination carefully scrutinised for possible paedophile tendencies. (That said, I would not want there to be a witch-hunt, and certainly not the blanket ban on anyone with a homosexual orientation that the present Pope seems determined to enforce. A homosexual orientation is _not_ the same thing as paedophilia or paederasty, and a homosexual is just as capable of celibacy as a heterosexual. Indeed, if he/she is to be faithful to the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, then he/she must be!)
    Whatever we do, we must try to learn from this sorry saga, and be deeply penitent that it was ever allowed to happen in the first place.

  6. James H. says:

    RMBlaber –
    “…I think we are talking in the main about paederasts, specifically…”

    Consider these quotes from the BBC link:
    “The number of complaints of abuse made by boys was more than double those submitted by girls.”
    “…church leaders knew that sexual abuse was “endemic” in boys’ institutions.”
    If it was ‘only’ pederasty, why the skewed sex ratio among the victims?

    Agreed, pederasty is part of the problem; but it’s been shown again and again, in Ireland and the US, that the overwhelming majority of victims of abuse were teenage boys. The evidence seems pretty conclusive to me.

  7. Frank says:

    Blaber puts it very well. I would only add that up until recently the Church has been woefully ignorant of human psychology – in this mirroring the wider society. This does not excuse the ‘cover ups’, though it does help to explain them. I have read clerics say lamely that they ‘thought the children involved would get over it.’ Now we all know better.
    In Ireland, I also think the system of junior seminaries was pernicious. Good priests doubtless came through this system, but it also hid many frustrated, wounded, psychosexually immature men who were given positions of trust and authority that they were completely unfitted for.
    Finally, power corrupts – and the Church in Ireland simply had too much power; it ceased to be the servant of the laity but their master. This created a climate of guilt, fear and corruption.

  8. vmilner says:

    James H. says:

    “If it was ‘only’ pederasty, why the skewed sex ratio among the victims?

    Agreed, pederasty is part of the problem; but it’s been shown again and again, in Ireland and the US, that the overwhelming majority of victims of abuse were teenage boys. The evidence seems pretty conclusive to me.”

    Is there confusion about the term ‘pederast’ here?
    (It means a relationship with boys, specifically).

  9. Superview says:

    “1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to be judged before the unjust: and not before the saints? 2 Know you not that the saints shall judge this world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know you not that we shall judge angels? How much more things of this world? 4 If therefore you have judgments of things pertaining to this world, set them to judge who are the most despised in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so that there is not among you any one wise man that is able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother: and that before unbelievers. 7 Already indeed there is plainly a fault among you, that you have law suits one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? ”

    I was re-reading 1 Corinthians earlier this year when the report on the scandal in Irish Catholic children’s homes was published, with the same shocking story of cover up. This extract seems to me to be relevant: On one reading isn’t it surely a license to deal with child abuse by clergy just as the numerous bishops, archbishops, and cardinals have done? (It is an open question whether there was papal knowledge, but I shouldn’t like to argue the case for the defence – not least because one of the cited Irish bishops was private secretary to three popes – Catholic Herald, 13 March 09). I am not for one moment implicating St Paul in what has happened. But how can we explain the utterly shocking and discraceful way in which all these senior churchmen have behaved?
    I feel no sympathy whatever, Pearse, with anyone who had knowledge of child abuse and acted to conceal it from the civil authorities. It may well be that the prevailing culture within the heirarchy has been to conceal ‘for the good of the Church’, but, if so, that shows how completely bankrupt they are morally and how inept they have been in their stewardship. I just hope the all the Catholic newspapers can speak for our shame and make the connection with the deep malaise within the institutional Church. If it was possible all those who are tainted should go, and that includes those who should have known. But, of course, because there is no accountability to the laity, nothing so drastic, and just, will happen.
    In cultural terms, Galileo was small beer compared with this. When one considers some of the recent pre-occupations, it’s as if popes have fiddled while the moral authority of the Church has been going up in smoke.
    The sorrow I feel is for the children and families whose lives have been horribly blighted, and all the good priests and people who give true and faithful witness to our Lord and who will struggle to hold their heads up after this.

  10. eclaire says:

    I suspect we forget the role of the Holy Spirit when we discuss the appointment of the Pope (and through him, other appointments).
    In my opinion, hierarchy is proper to the Church, and the recent dreadful scandals should not be used as an excuse for the beginning of the dismantling of the Vatican. (I picture Christopher Hitchens and co., rubbing their hands in glee for we are doing their work for them!). Yes, a few changes need to be made. One of these is to allow our Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, more time for prayer and more time to attend retreats; evidently, they have had little time for these.
    No doubt, some Catholics and many anti-Catholics would agree with RMBlaber, for his view would permit many to have ‘a finger’ in that most delicious ‘pie’, but does he really believe that things would improve as a result of the changes he proposes? We need one leader, not a plethora of babbling voices all competing with each other to be heard, in the name of so-called democracy, whilst the machiavellian elite plot in secrecy. Since when has any organisation, or institution been totally transparent? I would say that it’s those who boast about being transparent the most who need to be the most scrutinised. Forgive me if I am wrong, but I suspect RMBlader is not talking democracy here, but socialism.
    Paedophile priests should have been (and should be) removed from their public duties immediately, reported and helped (we are all sinners and deserving of help). Priests who have mistresses should also be brought to justice and helped.
    As far as I know (please correct me if I am wrong), there is no ‘blanket ban’ on anyone with a homosexual orientation from joining the priesthood just a more judicious screening process that attempts to root out those (for their benefit and the benefit of the Church) who might be more tempted to sin in that area; celibacy is the key in all instances as is obedience to the Pope.

  11. vmilner says:

    One concern I have, having now read the relevant parts of the report, is that readers might gain the impression that the Stroud (Gloucs) treatment centre, run by the Servants of the Paraclete (now closed, and occupied by a Cistercian convent), was used solely to treat paedophile priests. Many priests were treated there for other issues, and it would be worrying if the fact of their attendance led to wrongful accusations.

  12. claret says:

    I have no idea if I am the only member of the clergy to post on here but what I do know for certain is that I am sick of feeling sick and stand at a crossroads of indecision.
    I am a lifelong catholic who has tried to lead a Catholic life and I have to say that I have never been exposed to any of the evils of child abuse despite numerous childhood contacts with priests.
    Nevertheless I feel desperate that there is no end to this cycle of revelations of horrendous abuse of children by male clergy and their female counterparts. Each new revelation is somehow even worse than the one that went before.
    No excuse is permissible. There might be some element of mitigation in the cover ups that followed if one is motivated by the belief in forgiveness, repentance and a second chance, but what we know all too well is that these motives have no substance in fact when it comes to paedophilia.
    One could argue, I think successfully upto a point, that the men who abused were paedophiles first and that the priesthood only provided an ‘end that justified the means.’
    Sadly this leads us to the bigger question., What was it ( and is it,) that attracts paedophiles to the structures of the Catholic Church that makes them so comfortable in a belief that they can fulfill their perverted sexual desires?
    Regretably the Church avoids this question because it is not prepared to act upon the answer. So we have a situation in the UK and Ireland where we have new sytems of hopefully preventing paedophiles from becoming priests but still stubbornly refuses to delve into the question posed. In other words we put a sticking plaster on an open wound and then congragulate ourselves in the procedures put in place!
    I dont know the answer myself but it has got to be looked at by an independent commission and then acted upon. Perhaps it is in the area of celibacy or just in the sheer naked power of parish priests should they care to exercise it, as many do.
    The situation today is as it has always been in that Parish priests are still largely unaccountable to anyone providing their finances are in order. Beyond that they can pretty much do as they like without fear of dissmissal, discipline or even censure.
    Just one small example of what I am writing about. Parish priests are obliged to have finance councils while having Parish Councils are optional! Even the members of the finance committees are put there by the PP! Is he really going to appoint parishioners who will scrutinese him and hold him to account or is it far more likely that he will appoint those who are malleable? If there is no parish council because he ( the majority in my experience) does not want one then who is he answerable to? There is no discipline system worthy of the word. There is no complaints system for those parishioners aggreived at the actions of their PP.
    I could go on. Personally I look forward to a further shortage of priests so that less damage will be done.
    For me personally I really owe it to the abused children to step down as just one small act of retribution for the harm they have suffered or is it better to try and make amends some other way?
    I am undecided. I still though feel utterly sorry for the victims and am possessed of a feeling of sickness that seems to have no end.

  13. eclaire says:

    I empathise with our good, holy and weary priests, who, once again, have been let down. It is very difficult for us (and must be for them especially) to have to face the general public in the light of the continuing and sickening reports of child abuse within the priesthood. However, this cannot be a reason to desire a further shortage of priests (claret). On the contrary, it must surely be a reason for a continuing prayerful yearning for growth in the priesthood of good and holy priests – priests who keep a respectful and Christ-centred distance from their parishioners and spend far more time in prayer, rather than in being over familiar with members of their flock and getting bogged down in administrative work. Parish priests must be made accountable and it is shocking that they are not, but it is also necessary not to transform our good priests into nervous, trembling wrecks; a fair element of trust is needed, too. Our disobedient bishops, certainly need to be brought far more to account. The temptation to despondency (despair?) is only too great at the moment and I am sure that Satan is only too pleased to witness it as he has done on many occasions throughout the Church’s history.
    Claret also writes that perhaps these dreadful problems lie ‘in the area of celibacy’. I don’t think so. Married life does not solve existing problems; if one has paedophile (or other) tendencies before marriage, one will surely have them after marriage (indeed, it seems they often do manifest themselves after marriage). I should imagine, too, that married life can be just as lonely an environment as the priesthood might be at times.
    It is perhaps easy to say that we must continue to defend the Church when one is sitting at a computer in the privacy of one’s home, but defend it, we must come rain, or shine.

  14. Ion Zone says:

    This is not fresh news, in a way, this spate of cover-ups is barely the latest in a long string of such offences, their horror exacerbated by, not only the close association of the perpetrators with the church, not only their duration and saturation within and through the Irish Catholic diocese, a place where faith has long held strong, but the collaboration of high ranking church officials, Bishops, and even, lets not forget, policemen.

    The seemingly high prevalence of abuce in Catholic orphanages and institutions is very much the stuff of our opponents’ glee. This is our shame. ‘Priest’ is, in the eyes of many, even Irish Catholics, becoming synonymous with ‘paedophile’, despite these offences being the sharply docked tail of a long series of scandals stretching far back throughout the history of secular and religious orphanages, allowed, unnoticed, concealed, even encouraged.

    The cover-up that here came to pass rivals the conspiracy of silence that once surrounded many non-religious institutions. It is distinguished by its scale, perpetrators, and the length of its survival, outliving many of the abusers.

    The inherent problem, though, is that *every* type of institution dealing with children is actively targeted by people who wish only to abuse a position of power.

    Some of these people will become priests, either because they see the church as being lax at vetting, or, having joined for other reasons, even out of goodness, or a desperate need to suppress urges they know and are taught are wrong, falling later into abuse. The priesthood, it has to be said, can lead to all types of sexual frustration in those who join for the wrong reasons, or lack the control.

    Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that things like this hurt children, and destroy faith. They are not, though, confined to the church. The majority of abuse has always been perpetrated in the home, and the secular orphanages have more than a little blood on their hands.

  15. Ion Zone says:

    It might also be worth discussing the actual level to which this abuse went, the media says ‘all the way to the top’, though, in this case, at least, it seems the top was those three bishops.

  16. Fariam says:

    CLARET: “What was it (and is it,) that attracts paedophiles to the structures of the Catholic Church that makes them so comfortable in a belief that they can fulfill their perverted sexual desires?”

    A very important question…

    I understand your feeling of sickness, and being tired of feeling sick. I share it too. I feel anger and disgust, not just at the aggressors (it might be argued that they are sick and perverted, formerly abused,etc), but even more so at the bishops, doctors, police, etc. who stood by and/or covered up. That REALLY sickens me as they had the power to stop it. And child psychology should not have been necessary. Abuse of power is always an obvious wrong. I hate the fact that the fear of scandal was more important that the lives of children.

    I read in one account of how a crucifix were used. It reminded me of The Exorcist: truly diabolic. There is no other word for it. I understand people´s anger and people losing faith.

    But I do not believe running away is the answer. I will hold my head high. Yes, SOME priests have done terrible things; but the ones who did not and do not deserve and need our support and prayer. What we NEED are dedicated and holy priests. Any volunteers?

    And if removing the demand for celibacy was the answer, why are huge numbers of married and single men engaged in incest, child pornography, prostitution, etc???

    We also NEED humility and transparency…

  17. claret says:

    It is tempting to try and limit the damage by drawing attention to other areas where child abuse occurs, the home, secular institutions etc.
    This though is seeking some kind of solace or even justification where no such reasoning exists.
    The Church is there to serve not to abuse. It is meant to be ‘Christlike’ and Priests act ‘in personna Christi.’ Therefore an higher standard is rightly expected of Church institutions and Clergy.
    Both should be an example of love and care over and above what can be found elsewhere because that is what Christ demands of us , and Catholic lay people have a right to expect.
    The Church as an Institution should be a beacon of hope. A light in the world and an example of love.
    High ideals that are perhaps impossible to attain but not to even strive for them is a great denial of Christ. In fact what we have had is the very opposite of those ideals within a system that has actively fostered abuse on a gigantic scale in many areas of care and protection for which it was responsible.
    This is where the Church, mainly it would seem in the Western world, has utterly failed in its duties, obligations, and mission. To pretend otherwise by some kind of scmokescreen of ‘weary priests’ who are ‘bogged down by administration’ or to look at abuse as a whole phenomenon misses the point and perpetuates the agony.
    The Church has lost all its moral authority. I was listening to a TV debate about the cost of Hospital Chaplains to the NHS. A Catholic clergyman was making his point in support of it and when it came to the guest putting the opposite point of view she merely said, “The Catholic Church can well afford to pay for its own Hospital Chplains just look how many millions they have had to pay out in compensation to the victims of their child abuse.” End of debate. Everything said after that was said with the spectre of the abuse of children by catholic clergy hanging over it.
    We can no longer expect to be heard on anything on which a moral stand is required because in the eyes of the western world we have no moral standing any more.

  18. claret says:

    Just to add , having read Fariam’s post after the comments I have just made, that I was only suggesting that part of the answer to my own question might be in the area of a celibate priesthood.
    The whole debate surrounding celibacy is too complex a one to feature here but it is the celibate culture that in my opinion could be but one of the factors that attracted paedophiles to the Church as priests rather than the simpler issue of ‘is it better to be married or not?’
    In other words a celibate culture suggests an absence of sex which is a wonderful ‘cover’ for those who get their sexual pleasures from abusing children because it would suggest that if they are celibate then they have no interest in sex or can easily subdue their sexual urges. We know to our cost how untrue that is.
    For many the celibate lifestyle is attractive because it removes any pressure to have to find a mate, and for some it is a genuine sacrifice for the love of God, but as we now see there were many for who it was a devil sent opportunity to act out their evil desires under the public disguise of self sacrifice.

  19. snafu says:

    Can I give an opinion from a non-believer, that hopefully won’t appear too barbed?

    [eclaire]

    “allow our Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, more time for prayer and more time to attend retreats; evidently, they have had little time for these.”

    This is the kind of attitude that makes me so worried about Catholics.

    We have a scandal of enormous size. Unthinkable suffering has occurred to innocents over many decades, with the stench of a colluding cover-up by those in charge. And yet, the first, most important thing that occurs to eclaire is for the bishops to go on more retreats.

    I’m a father of two with a stressful job in London. My free time each week when I’m not parenting, sleeping, eating or working amounts to just a couple of hours. I’m probably as busy as your average bishop is. But if I had the smallest whiff of child abuse going on in my neighbourhood, I’d move heaven and earth to make sure it was sorted appropriately straight away.

    Two points suggest themselves:

    1. The bishops don’t need more retreats. They’re manifestly unsuitable for the job and need replacing. (Those that haven’t retired or died already).

    2. The attitude that spending the weekend in a remote monastery would help resolve the issue is part of the problem, not part of the solution

    Apologies for being direct, but it literally scares me to see people think that way.

  20. RMBlaber says:

    ‘Eclaire’ accuses me of wanting socialism. I don’t – and nor do I want democracy in the Church. I want the Church to be _more_ open and _more_ transparent, not _absolutely_ open and _absolutely_ transparent. Eclaire is confusing the relative with the absolute. I am well aware that neither the Church, nor indeed any other institution or organisation, can function if all its decision-making takes place ‘out of doors’.

    She/he also wants priests and bishops to be accountable! (Which is precisely what I want!) However, s/he neglects to say who or what to. God, obviously – but we are all accountable to God, even if we are not members of the Church.

    So, if not God, then who (or what)? The Pope? All of the archbishops named in the Report were formally accountable to the Pope at all times, as were all the priests involved in the sexual abuse or its cover-up. So, not the Pope, then – who is only one man, in Rome, and who cannot be expected to know _everything_ that is going on the whole time in a Church of over 1 billion people.

    On the one hand – clearly – there needs to be a greater degree of autonomy for each province of the Church, and for each Bishops’ Conference – not _absolute autonomy_, by any means (we certainly don’t want to end up with the chaotic situation of the Anglican ‘Communion’, where each Province is able to go its own sweet way), but a measure of independence from the centre falling well short of Gallicanism.

    On the other hand, there _must_ be a greater role for the laity, and greater accountability _to_ the laity, of the kind envisaged in 1 Cor.6:1-7 (and well done to ‘Superview’ for pointing it out!). Clearly, we cannot and should not keep the secular authorities out if the secular law has been violated – St Paul was only referring to the civil law, not the criminal, and we must ‘render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar’ (Matt.22:21).

    I must contradict ‘eclaire’ on a further point: there _is_ a blanket ban on those of homosexual orientation entering the priesthood. When – a few years ago now – I made enquiries of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual about the possibility of my entering their novitiate, I was told that, if I was a homosexual, then they could not consider me.

    This informal ban has now been formalised by the present Pope. It is grievously unjust. A good many of the clerical sexual abusers of boys do not abuse them because they are sexually attracted to boys, as such, but because they are sexually frustrated (St Paul said it was ‘better to marry than to burn’ – perhaps we should add a codicil to that), and in a position of power over the boys concerned (sexual abuse is more often far more to do with power than it is to do with sex, in any event).

    Finally, I hope that ‘claret’ stays in the priesthood (in the Claretian Order, perchance?), and will have fewer reasons for feeling sick in future. I’m sure we could all agree about that!

  21. eclaire says:

    I hope that Snafu believes that I, too, would move ‘heaven and earth’ to stop all cases of child abuse if I could (as would most people, irregardless of whether they were religious, or not). He does me (and, those other Catholics he worries about, not to mention himself) a great disservice if he thinks otherwise.
    I am thankful to Snafu for stating that he is a non-believer; I am a Catholic. As a member of the Church, I make reference to the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ as my guide and I am willing to accept what is written therein. There is a whole section on prayer in the CCC, but for the sake of brevity, please allow me to quote just two sections:
    ‘Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all…..’ (2697)
    ‘We must also face the fact that certain attitudes deriving from the mentality of “this present world” can penetrate our lives if we are not vigilant…..’ (2727)
    Our bishops, especially, really do need prayer (as we all do) and I don’t mean ‘ritual words and posture’. They take decisions that we do not have to take and the consequences of those decisions are huge; it is here, that temptation arrives in vile measure. How can they be Catholics if they disregard prayer? It is a contradiction in terms (as Snafu knows since he identified me as a Catholic from what I previously wrote). If one does not pray, one cannot understand what prayer is, nor what it can do. Spending time praying in a church, or in a quiet place is never a waste of time. Most Catholics know what I am talking about.
    I did not write that prayer was the ONLY thing that is needed here, though I believe it is essential. We live in the material world and everybody involved needs to be brought to justice and punished accordingly. I could write further, but I am pushed for time…..

  22. Iona says:

    Isn’t it ironic that this report has come out during the “Year for Priests”?

  23. Ion Zone says:

    “I read in one account of how a crucifix were used. It reminded me of The Exorcist: truly diabolic. There is no other word for it. I understand people´s anger and people losing faith.”

    These people have no respect for God, it seems. What kind of a priest could do that?

  24. claret says:

    The answer to Ion Zone’s question is:

    The kind of priest who gets his sexual satisfaction from being as ‘unpriestly’ as it is possible to be because he has no desire to be a Priest at all but is driven by his sexual desires to abuse children.
    As I posted earlier, the Priesthood for these men is simply ‘a means to an end.’ Priesthood as we understand it , plays no part in this at all.
    The mind of a paedophile works on the principle of gaining a child’s trust and sometimes , where necessary, that of its parents, and the six years of seminary training to get to that position is well worth the effort for those whose lives are dominated by sexual desires for children. (viz. paedophiles.)
    This is yet another element to it all that those in authority failed to grasp the enormity of what they were dealing with and that moving abusive priests around parishes was exactly what they wanted to help them satisfy their hateful cravings!

  25. st.joseph says:

    I make a comment in answer to ‘claret’ who say’s ‘We can no longer expect to be heard on anything which a moral stand is required because in the western world we have no moral standing anymore’. I would say ‘not to be so pessimistic’but there are other issues on morality that the Holy Catholic Church stands for.We can begin by supporting the work of the pro-life organisations badly needing our support. We can pray for the change in the laws, for the mother and fathers, doctors and nurses, all those who support the ‘child abuse ‘to the most vulunerable whose life is taken away from them. I would advise anyone who dares to argue that this is not an issue of child abuse to see the horrofic pictures available, it will then bring to their mind the reality of what is happening in our civilised western world ,in Hospitals, abortion centres- 200,000 a year in this country alone- are we not pushing this under the carpet by ignoring it. We are all guilty of that if we turn a blind eye, and walk on the other side.It is not only expected of our Clergy to protct children.!

  26. Frank says:

    I would encourage Claret to remain in the clergy. This body certainly needs purifying and who better to do it than the example of good, conscientious, prayerful men who have chosen to follow Christ all the way? Today’s Gospel (for St Andrew) reads: ‘Come follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.’ That call still stands, as it will until the Second Coming. Do penance on behalf of your brothers who have shamed the cloth, but do not leave. I imagine Screwtape is rubbing his hands at your dilemma: ‘Let’s make him feel so bad about these scandals that he will want to leave the clergy. Good! One less priest, one more blow against our Enemy…!’ etc

  27. eclaire says:

    Well said St.Joseph and Farium. Thank you RMBlaber for your clear and informative responses.
    I entirely agree that if anyone contravenes secular law then the secular authorities must be informed (in these cases) and I am particularly disgusted by our bishops’ decision to ‘brush things under the carpet.’ I feel disappointment to learn that according to RMBlaber, there is indeed a ‘blanket ban’ on homosexuals entering the priesthood, especially since, as I wrote earlier, the key in all instances is celibacy. Having said that, it would be interesting to know the Pope’s reasons for having taken that decision; I believe that he is a prayerful, holy, wise and intelligent man and I suspect he has rather more knowledge to hand than we have on these matters. I do not believe he is one of those wolves in sheep’s clothing, nor a slave to politics.

  28. Ion Zone says:

    I agree Claret, this is about as unpriestly as you can get, though I am struggling for the words to express it. It is a sad fact that the actions of fake priests will turn people away from the church, despite them being, effectively, imposters.

  29. tim says:

    Claret, please don’t leave the priesthood! We need you desperately! It is the abusers who must leave the priesthood – the honest should surely stay and support their brothers, who will (understandably but wrongly) be held guilty by association.

    This is too serious a matter to offer views on lightly. I hesitate even to quote Scripture, as all texts can be misapplied. But two come to mind:
    “But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). But remember also (even if the situation there is far from a close parallel) John 8:7. Genuine penitents must be forgiven.

  30. Michael Mahoney says:

    We have a Church whose organisational structure is that of a secular government, an autocracy, a kingdom like that of the Saudis. Why should this be? Why is our model not that of the New Testament, a family with God as our Father.
    We are all like sheep gone astray. Pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, monsignors, canons, priests, you are sheep just like us the laity. Christ is the only true shepherd. We all, when we act like Christ are just as much shepherds as the pope or any of the prelates dressed to impress. We are all fishers of men if we are followers of Christ.
    Call no man Father. We need a radically new ethos in the Church if we are to protect not only the vulnerable children, but also the vulnerable clergy who have given their all in the vineyard.
    Change will only come from the bottom up. So let’s make a very simple start. Address all laity and clergy, whatever their rank, by their Christian name only.

  31. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Michael Mahoney for making me ‘smile’ this morning!!!!!

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