Rorate Caeli

What goes around comes around

Published in the Belfast Telegraph:

Knives will be out for the Irish government soon enough
By David Quinn
Friday, 22 July 2011

The reaction of the Irish government to the Vatican's 1997 letter to the Irish bishops as outlined in the Cloyne Report has been one of almost complete hysteria.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's statement to the Dail on Wednesday was delivered against this background.

In the sort of language normally associated with a Richard Dawkins or Ian Paisley, he accused the Vatican of "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism . . . narcissism" and effectively of not caring about the "rape and torture of children".

Among other things, Kenny's speechwriters included a wildly out-of-context quote from the then Cardinal Ratzinger.

There is a difference between necessary and valid criticism of the church on the one hand, and unrestrained church-bashing on the other.

In a similar vein, Kenny added his voice last week to those who believe the breaking of the seal of confession should be required by law.

Kenny is obviously no anti-Catholic, but he needs to realise that, historically, only the most anti-Catholic societies have ever done such a thing.

I was going to write this week about the need for the church in Ireland to do something very dramatic in order to categorically demonstrate it is deadly serious about child protection.

I was going to suggest that the bishops do something along the lines of what Fr Vincent Twomey proposed on 'Today with Pat Kenny' on Tuesday, namely that most of them resign, that there should be a swingeing reduction in the number of dioceses and a new generation of bishops should be appointed to lead the church here.

Something along these lines is badly needed, but the sheer intensity and irrationality of the attacks on the Vatican demands a response.

Essentially, the Vatican is accused of interfering in the laws of the Irish State in order to protect the reputation of the church.

When that letter was sent to the Irish bishops in 1997, the Vatican was without doubt excessively concerned about the rights of accused priests. However, that is a far cry from it interfering in the laws of the land.

The letter did not forbid the Irish bishops from passing on abuse allegations to the civil authorities as many people seem to think. Had it done so, then it would be justifiable to send the Papal Nuncio packing.

What it did have was a reservation about mandatory reporting, but this reservation was shared by the Irish state. Let us remember that back in 1996, when the Irish bishops produced their first child-protection guidelines, the Rainbow coalition was in power.

That government consisted of several ministers who are also in the current cabinet, including the Taoiseach himself and ministers Michael Noonan and Ruairi Quinn.

They had a chance to introduce mandatory reporting back then and didn't. Nor did successive Fianna Fail governments.

So if the Vatican deserves condemnation over its attitude to mandatory reporting, then so does the Irish state.

That letter of 1997 was issued by the Congregation for the Clergy then headed by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who was notoriously biased in favour of accused clerics.

Hoyos is now retired and recently criticised by Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi over his excessively protective attitude towards priests.

I wonder how many of our cabinet ministers know this?

Or how many know that in 2001 the present Pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, won a decisive battle with Hoyos which meant that the rights of accused priests were to be given far less weight?

How many know that this Pope has repeatedly urged bishops to co-operate with the civil authorities?

How many know that when there isn't enough evidence to convict an accused priest in a court of criminal law, often it is only under the much-maligned canon law that action can be taken against him?

In its overheated response to the Vatican, the Irish government has made two mistakes. Firstly, it has misrepresented the 1997 letter as interfering in the laws of the land when it did not. Secondly, it has utterly failed to recognise that the letter, which was biased in favour of the rights of accused priests, does not represent the attitude of the Vatican today.

The present mood of public anger is understandable, but the Irish government should know how easy it is to whip up that anger to the point where rational debate becomes impossible. The Vatican is on the receiving end of it today and the government is stoking it up.

But the government will be on the receiving end of it plenty of times in the days ahead and it will have no cause for complaint when that happens. What goes around comes around.


Anonymous said...

There are also two good articles by Kevin Myers in this week's Irish Independent about the hysteria over the Cloyne Report.

Seamus said...

Excellent commentary by David Quinn. Mr Quinn is the strongest voice the Church has in Ireland today - the bishops being utterly silent and ineffective.

shane said...

The Cloyne report has been reported extremely unprofessionally in the media. Most journalists and media commentators do not even appear to have read it.

I suspect mandatory reporting laws will be more symbolic than having practical consequence. Doctors, clergymen, psychiatrists have understood the need for confidentiality in their professions for centuries. It will be a dead letter from the start. (Sadly I think it will also be replicated in other EU countries as they deal with the fallout from abuse cases)

shane said...

For those who don't have the time to read the report (and I would highly recommend doing so), there is a helpful summary at the following link, which clearly shows the tenuity of many of its assertions:

Anonymous said...

Firm action, not hysteria, is needed. The Irish bishops need to purge the clergy of anyone having a homerastic tendency. I suggest the use of polygrahph and psychological testing to screen the candidates in the seminaries for starters. Yes, I know: polygraph testing is far from perfect. But the priesthood is not a right. At one time, a man having a withered hand could not be ordained. The means of screening will always be imperfect but they are needed.

The problem is sexual inversion. Inverts have a well-documented taste for adolescent boys. While not all cases involve victims of that description, most do. The per centage may be as high as 92, according to one report. So those sort need to be excluded, both for their victims' souls' sake and for their own.

The liberals used to exclude conservative men from the priesthood by saying that they were "too rigid". How ironic that term is, given the current situation. It seems that liberals are those who are too rigid, but in a more literal sense.


Anonymous said...

The destruction that has befallen the Church as a result of "normalizing" homosexual behavior, i.e. admitting known homosexuals to the priesthood en masse, is but a precursor to what will happen to society at large as we continue to normalize sexual deviancy in the secular realm.


shane said...

Sadly I think it will also be replicated in other EU countries as they deal with the fallout from abuse cases

And even countries outside Europe:

Knight of Malta said...

"Doctors, clergymen, psychiatrists have understood the need for confidentiality in their professions for centuries."

Shane, that is not entirely true. Here in the US, doctors have for many years had to report incidents of child sexual abuse.

That said, the seal of confession is a different topic altogether. To legislate on it is a grave violation of a 2,000 year old religion. What, are they next going to set-up video monitoring in the confessional?

Even during prohibition, "papists" where allowed their wine during Mass. But it always worries me when legislatures target the Church's practices. That led to a lot of good when Elizabeth I set her sights on the Church in sixteenth century England.

shane said...

Knight of Malta, if I'm not mistaken, aren't those laws widely ignored, as investigations have confirmed?

And rightly so. A doctor's duty of trust and confidentiality to his client is sacred and comes way before whatever some political mafia decides to decree. I suspect most doctors and counselors in Ireland will ignore the proposed mandatory reporting legislation, and they will be perfectly well justified in doing so. They will then incur the blind rage and moral panic now being directed at bishops.

It would be far better for both the Irish Church and State to focus their attention on the welfare and plight of children today rather than obsessively worrying about a handful of questionable allegations from decades ago (most of which was probably consensual or semi-consensual, or could be reasonably interpreted as such). The cause of justice is ill-served by these never-ending witch hunts. The millions wasted on lawyers fees would certainly be more profitably spent on relieving ordinary citizens from the acute economic conditions.

Anonymous said...

The Church is an object of ridicule, contempt, and hatred...and not for the reasons it should be. Look at what has been allowed to happen and, when it comes to light, how it has been covered up.
I could see some naive bishops in the 1960s buying into the psychologists' assurances that they could be trusted to handle things, if need be. But it has gone far beyond that.
No one in leadership is treating this as the utter disaster it is. Too many have been part opf the problem.

Gratias said...

P.K.T.P. is right. Inverts have always been attracted to ephebi. Their admission into Catholic Seminaries in the Spirit of Vatican II made all the difference. To fix this tragic perversion we must eliminate its cause at the root.

I am not Spartacus said...

It was the Psychiatric Profession in Germany that was first to embrace the killing of innocent undesirables - Lebensunwertes Leben - and yet the Catholic Church sought-out The Psychiatric Profession for assistance in drafting criteria for the admission of men to Seminaries and then, after homosexuals had been admitted to the Seminary and became ordained and started their life of sexual criminality, the Catholic Church sent those homosexuals back to the same Psychiatric Profession for treatment and then the Catholic Church relied upon the advice of the Psychiatric Profession in sending these perverts back into Ministry.

The Catholic Church will not reform until it casts-off this accommodation to the world mentality.

The world is our enemy and The Psychiatric Profession is our enemy.

Frued intentionally sought to substitute his therapy for Confession.

Lord, what the "smartest, best-educated population of Catholics ever" don't know is killing The Body of Christ

shane said...

Mr Quinn had a very good article here a few weeks ago on the moves to hold an inquiry into the Magdalene Laundries. I concur wholeheartedly with his sentiments.

Anonymous said...

So, elephant in the room: What do we think of Cardinal Hoyos in retrospect? One of the cardinals who is now most "notorious" for defending the rights of accused priests was "one of ours," i.e. one of the most trad-friendly cardinals alive.

We might also remember that St. Thomas Becket was martyred in part because he obstructed an attempt to try a priest accused of rape in a civil as opposed to an ecclesiastical court. I say that to lend some consideration at least to a strong historical bias on the part of the Church not to see priests accused of abuses (including major ones!) to be tried by laymen in secular courts.


Jordanes551 said...

Inasmuch as the rumors and accusations of Pope Paul VI's alleged homosexuality are incapable of proof, and that is a most dreadful sin to accuse someone of without conclusive proof, all commenters are admonished never to post on that subject here ever again.

shane said...

The Cloyne report faults the diocese's handling of accusations but it also finds that “there was no case in which the Diocese of Cloyne moved priests against whom allegations had been made to another parish or out of the diocese altogether”. (In Dublin such a policy had been recommended by several independent psychiatrists.) Charges of a "cover-up" are quite rash.

Danny Haszard said...

Not to diminish the high crimes of the RCC but please examine the Jehovah's Witnesses who go door to door and come on our property.

Jehovah's Witnesses pedophiles.

Many court documents and news events prove that Jehovah's Witnesses require two witnesses when a child comes forward with allegations of molestation within the congregation. Such allegations have customarily been treated as sins instead of crimes and are only reported to authorities when it is required to do so by law, (which varies by state). It has also been shown that child molesters within the organization usually have not been identified to the congregation members or the public at large.
These people engage in a door to door ministry, possibly exposing children to pedophiles.

Although the Watchtower Bible Tract Society claims that known pedophiles are accompanied by a non-pedophile in such work, there is no law stating that such a practice must be followed.

The Watchtower corporation has paid out millions in settlement money already.
Danny Haszard abuse victim

Jordanes551 said...

Mr. Perkins, regarding the latest news on the TAC, right now it's usually all I can do to help moderate comments here. New Catholic will be back tomorrow. Your comments are waiting in the moderation queue for him.