Sunday, November 29, 2009

'It's hard to know if Church can survive'

'It's hard to know if Church can survive'
RTE's Religion Correspondent Joe Little speaking on the news after the report's release

Sunday November 29 2009

There's a point that was made by Dermot Ahern when he was launching the report, in a paragraph which I'm not actually sure he delivered but it's in his script, "that the report isn't about the abuse that was perpetrated but it's about the cover-ups". I think that is going to disturb a lot of people who have very little involvement or no involvement in the Catholic Church and devout Catholics as well, because I think people will wonder if an institution as central to the people of Ireland was acting in this corrupt way, in relation to the most vulnerable citizens in the country, what else was done?

How many other children are there who can't be discovered by a commission of inquiry; how many other children suffered; how much of the psychiatric distress in the country may be traceable to the failure of a revered institution to give good example to help the weak, to help the distressed when they brought their claims forward and looked for a sympathetic ear? We heard in Paul Reynolds' report about the praise that was heaped on gardai, both on the ground and on senior ranks, who resisted the pressure from bishops who otherwise had very good reputations.

Bishop James Kavanagh was known as the "working man's bishop" in this city and yet it took very spunky gardai to actually stand up to the pressures that they were put under; I think that this is a very telling insight into the failure of civic Ireland to stand up against a royalty, the princes of the Church who had ancient rights over the lives of people and who wouldn't allow the advance of much secularised criticism of a civil state. To work with a civil law was not permitted by many elements in the Catholic Church, by the ruling elements, by the largest diocese where most ordained people, where most nuns, where many lay people wished to serve the Church because this was the prestige diocese and now this shame is over it.

It's hard to know if the Catholic Church in Ireland can survive. The only glimmer of hope is the sheer perseverance of many Catholics like Marie Collins, like Andrew Madden and many others, the school teachers who supported people like that, who insisted that these cases be brought centre stage in these diocese and who suffered for doing it. The ray of hope is that such people had such resolve to make sure that justice would eventually be done, and it must be a cause of great celebration tonight that justice has been done in their lifetimes, particularly in the case of Marie Collins and Andrew Madden. And there are many like them.

Sunday Independent

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