LANGUISHING WITH THE JUNK

This silly posturing by the Irish Government on the Cloyne Report is an embarrassment to us all. They have succeeded, and in particular Enda Kenny has succeeded, in his over-the-top rhetoric in his so-called “historic” speech in Dail Eireann, in turning a local tragedy into a full-blown international diplomatic brouhaha. The Vatican is not a central player in this matter – nor did the Cloyne Report make it so. Mr. Kenny did. He did so on the basis of a more inept misreading of the ambiguously interpreted 1997 letter from Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos than even the Cloyne Report was guilty of.

Ireland’s Taoiseach, Enda Kenny

This whole thing is somewhat reminiscent of the rhetoric of the IRA when they held the British Government responsible for the atrocities they perpetrated in Northern Ireland over the last decades of the 20th  century.While they were proclaiming themselves as freedom fighters they were simply compounding all the alienation between the two Northern communities which was the real cancer there. Instead of addressing the real and tragic sources of conflict, they exploited that tragedy to pursue their own anachronistic nationalist ideology.

Mr. Kenny has now succeeded in turning the tragedy of the destruction of children’s lives into a weapon which other ideologues can use to further their barely concealed anti-catholic venom.

Historic speech? I think history will in years to come view this speech as just a piece of ill-judged folly. More than one commentator has noted the hand of a not very competent speech-writer behind it, and clearly a speech-writer with an ulterior agenda. It might have been a good speech; it might have been a just speech; it might even have been a speech which would have deal a severe body-blow to the clericalism which has bedevilled this country since Catholic Emancipation in the early 19th century. But it wasn’t.

The leader of a country can very usefully reassert the principles of independence and sovereignty which serve the common good of a nation. But it should be done with the dignity worthy of a people. It should be just and truthful.  As it was it was neither clever, competent nor just. It misunderstood what the Church is and it misunderstood even the incompetence of the role which some of the Church’s servants have played in this tragedy. It was angry but its anger smacked of little more than that of a spoiled child.

Bishop Fulton Sheen once said “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” Enda Kenny surely added to the number of people in Ireland today who hate the Catholic Church for the very spurious reasons which he has presented them with. The bag of supporting letters he boasts of would seem to suggest so anyway. By failing to distinguish between errors of individual administrators in the Church, serving the Church badly, and the Church itself, which – in spite of the incompetence of some and the crimes of others – gives witness of heroic sanctity and apostolate throughout the world, he has done no service to anyone. Least of all has he served the victims of abuse who in truth will only find true healing of their wounds in that very Fold which he so intemperately excoriates.

A reading of this whole situation has been put to me by a friend from across the Atlantic. It sums up the fine mess we have got ourselves into as follows.

“From over here the reasoning seems to be:   the Irish government is upset at the Vatican because it didn’t make the Irish bishops take action.  The bishops, in turn, didn’t take action because they thought it was not what the Vatican would want.  The behavior of those who committed these actions would be considered illegal no matter where they took place.  So why didn’t the Irish government bring charges against the individuals involved when they found out about these actions? Forget about the hierarchy’s response.  Is the hierarchy running the government?  Is Ireland ruled by the Catholic Church?

“I would answer my question by saying that a clerical mentality pervades both the Church and the laity (Irish government).  The behavior was covered up or excused for the reason of not causing scandal.  Instead, by covering it up, an even greater scandal develops.  If these cases were dealt with by the criminal justice system as they arose, that would have served as a deterrent to further such cases.  But the inaction only allowed them to spread.  The bishops should have disciplined right away.  And the government should have acted earlier. “

The world looking at Ireland today can hardly be very edified by any of the local protagonists in this drama. Clearly, it’s not just our financial credit rating that is at junk level. Our general governance rating, civil and ecclesiastical, is also languishing with the junk.

8 thoughts on “LANGUISHING WITH THE JUNK

  1. Interesting Mr. Kirke that amongst all your analogies and rhetoric the only reference made in your article to those most affected is by a negative “spoiled child”.
    Reading between the lines very telling and frankly most surprising given your former position.

    1. Fergus, surely you are misreading the article? Did you miss these very explicit references: …Mr. Kenny has now succeeded in turning the tragedy of the destruction of children’s lives into a weapon which other ideologues can use to further their barely concealed anti-catholic venom.
      …As it was it was neither clever, competent nor just. It misunderstood what the Church is and it misunderstood even the incompetence of the role which some of the Church’s servants have played in this tragedy. It was angry but its anger smacked of little more than that of a spoiled child.
      …errors of individual administrators in the Church, serving the Church badly, and the Church itself, … Least of all has he served the victims of abuse who in truth will only find true healing of their wounds in that very Fold which he so intemperately excoriates.
      … A reading of this whole situation has been put to me by a friend from across the Atlantic… “The behavior of those who committed these actions would be considered illegal no matter where they took place. So why didn’t the Irish government bring charges against the individuals involved when they found out about these actions? Forget about the hierarchy’s response. Is the hierarchy running the government? Is Ireland ruled by the Catholic Church?
      “… The behavior was covered up or excused for the reason of not causing scandal. Instead, by covering it up, an even greater scandal develops. If these cases were dealt with by the criminal justice system as they arose, that would have served as a deterrent to further such cases. But the inaction only allowed them to spread. The bishops should have disciplined right away. And the government should have acted earlier.”

    1. Thanks John. The same – with some modifications for an international readership – has now gone up on MercatorNet. ‘Hope it does some good. In the end I think a lot of good will come from all this. Anything that wakes people up from their complacent slumbers can be good – but we do have to try to flag the right messages out there. But as you can see from comments, as might be expected, not everyone agrees. That’s life.

      Michael.

  2. Michael Bell

    Frankly the history in ireland has been to control and contain locally and the results have been devastating to the only people that matter, the victims. the truth should be shouted from the roof tops to ensure there is no place in any society for any responsible religeous system in any way to attempt to delay, cover up or deny its wrong doing. ITs about time Irelands stands free of the control and retoric of the catholic chursh in ireland forced upon it and clearly abused. I salute MR Kenny for being outspoken for the sake of the victims. I am sad to see post the selection of reports to date that more is not being done to penalise the institutions to the full extent of the law and punnish these orders and the associate cover ups by the vatican that has gone on for decades.
    Vatican is connected to is clergy and responsible for it and has been proven for the coverups and abuse of its power. Its about time the church relaised it cant disown parts of itself that have been found out to avoid financial pennalties.
    The truth is if there is no room in society for this behaviour by institutions entrusted with the care or guidance of children to be protected from any consequence of their action. Secrecy is the strength and control of these situations and should be avoided.

  3. niall

    The Irish government has at last made a definitive statement on child abuse, they are quite frankly tired of non-cooperation. Of priests not reporting abuse citing cannon law. And of priests being moved around.
    So it was not just the cloyne report that prompted this response.
    And I’m sorry there is no ambiguity about this ‘I am delighted to have a fellow member of the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of other bishops, would prefer to go to prison rather than denounce his priest-son’

    Your assertion also that it was some of the church servants does not hold water with me. This was abuse on a worldwide scale, going back generations. I’m not saying the state could not have done more, but the church should have reported and reacted earlier. The Brendan Smith case is a good example of this.
    The bishops did not take action? They are adults. They surly have a moral duty to report abuse. They have a duty to protect the venerable. “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
    Mark 10:15 New King James Version

    Why did the state not bring charges? Non-cooperation by the church quite simply. It’s hard to make a case when the very institution that’s being asked questions will not give you the information you need prosecute
    I’m not saying the church is all bad, but there needs to be clear and open protection put in place. The church needs to start cooperating with the state. There needs to be no more ambiguity. Future generations and the future reputation of the state and church depend on it.

    1. Belloc

      It was not the Irish authorities which first uncovered the problems in Cloyne, it was the National Board for Safeguarding Children, an independent advisory body set up by the Irish Bishops Conference, that discovered them in 2008, and reported this to the Government which later asked the independent Commission headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy to investigate.

      All the information the government needed was in the hands of the local diocese. This is not a Vatican issue.

      If the Irish government is so concerned about the welfare of children, why don’t they do anything about the 200 children who died in state care in the last decade?

  4. Dear Mr. Kirke,

    I have a blog with a number of Irish readers who are social and religious conservatives. One is a university student is seems to be the target of frequent ridicule for her Catholic conservatism. She recently asked me: “Would people with conflicted gender identities or homosexuals be able to be priests, given the spousal symbolism of the Priest as an icon of Christ whose bride is the Church?”

    Here was my response:

    There are two aspects to your question, as I see it. The question of purity and the question of appropriate candidates.

    The priest is to be pure. This purity extends to speech, thoughts, attitudes and sexual relations. Even the marriage bed can be defiled where there are impure thoughts and unloving attitudes. Sex outside of marriage is always impure.

    Gender confused persons are not appropriate candidates for the priesthood or any other order of Church ministry.

    Homosex is a choice. With rare exception, same sex attraction is a choice. A man who has chosen to go that direction is not qualified to be ordained in any order of Church ministry.

    Celibate persons with same-sex attraction that is not by choice and who are not latent pedophiles might be ordained, but these too are not appropriate candidates for the priesthood. When they are ordained, they should be provided with close spiritual direction and close supervision from a superior in the Church.

    It is a fact of life that not everyone is fitted to the work they might wish. Some physical difficulties will exclude people from military service. A person who doesn’t like to study, read or do research is not going to make it as an academic.

    To which my Irish University friend responded, showing her frustration:

    Thanks for your views and I do understand them, but it’s hard to explain these views to a culture that wants everything to be “inclusive”.

    Here was my response to that:

    Inclusion, diversity, and egalitarianism rule the day in Western societies. Together these present the illusion of virtue, but in reality each is a half-truth.

    St. Anthony of the Desert said, “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.”

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