The Vatican is Upset — Perhaps We Should be Upset Because of the Vatican…..

Waltzing on thin ice……

Patsy McGarry writing in the Irish Times (July 28, 2011) offers some well-phrased reflections about the Vatican’s reactions to sexual abuse in Ireland and the Murphy and Cloyne reports.

Frankly the current Vatican administration, orchestrated by the Bavarian pontiff, shows very little interest in transparency. Fortunately the Vatican cannot control the media. The truth will indeed come out. The bishop of Rome wears fancy slippers but he is waltzing on thin ice…..

McGarry’s observations:

In 2008, Bishop John Magee of Cloyne and Msgr Denis O’Callaghan lied to the church’s child protection watchdog about abuse there.

This formidable desire to hide the truth on the part of senior clergy in Ireland by lies, damn lies and mental reservation was not rooted in any peculiar aversion on their part. It rested entirely on what they understood was required of them by Rome.

Yet in his March 2010 pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops that “some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously”, when it came to child protection. Not a word about Rome’s role in any of this.

Not a word about Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos who was responsible for the 1997 letter to the Irish bishops dismissing their 1996 Framework Document as “merely a study document”. Which letter, the Cloyne report said, “gave comfort and support” to those who “dissented from the stated official Irish church policy” on child protection.

In 1999, when the Irish bishops were visiting Rome they were reminded by a Vatican official they were “bishops first, not policemen” when it came to reporting clerical child sex abuse. But apologists for Rome insist all changed in May 2001 when then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent two letters to every Catholic bishop in the world. In Latin. One insisted that both be kept secret. The other directed that all clerical child sex abuse allegations “with a semblance of truth” be sent to the congregation and it would decide whether they be dealt with at diocesan or Vatican level.

Yet, as current chancellor of Dublin’s archdiocese Msgr John Dolan told the Murphy commission, this policy “was subsequently modified as Rome was unable to deal with the vast numbers of referrals”. The Cloyne report continues: “The position now, he [Msgr Dolan] said, is that all cases brought to the attention of the archdiocese before April 2001 and which were outside prescription . . . were not going to be dealt with by the CDF. It was up to the bishop to apply disciplinary measures to the management of those priests.”

In effect, the Irish bishops were back where they were before 2001. As Murphy reported: “Victims have expressed disappointment that neither the Framework Document nor its successor, Our Children, Our Church (2005), received recognition from Rome, thus leaving both documents without legal status under canon law.”

This, Murphy found, “was in direct contrast to the approach adopted by the Holy See to the request of the American Conference of Bishops”. The truth is Rome tied the hands of those Irish bishops and religious superiors who wanted to address the abuse issue properly.

Yet, Rome did not even acknowledge correspondence from the Murphy commission in September 2006. Instead it complained the commission did not use proper channels. So, in February 2007, the Murphy commission wrote to then papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto requesting he forward “all documents in his possession relevant to
the commission”. He did not reply.

So, in early 2009, it wrote to current nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, (in situ since April 2008), enclosing a draft of its report for comment. He did not reply.

The nunciature in Dublin has been the conduit for truthful clerical child abuse reports to Rome, while Archbishop Leanza was personally involved in talks which led to Bishop Magee standing aside at Cloyne in February 2009.

So, the Murphy commission asked him to “submit to it any information which you have about the matters under investigation”. He felt “unable to assist” it “in this matter”.

Roman Catholic Seismic Event

The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland, Enda Kenny spoke to the Dail

(the Irish Parliament) on Wednesday 20 July

This may be a truly historic moment for the contemporary Roman Catholic Church

The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture.

It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy Reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children. But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.

Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic…as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism….the narcissism …….that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day. The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.

Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart”……the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.

This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded. The radicalism, humility and compassion which are the very essence of its foundation and purpose. The behaviour being a case of Roma locuta est: causa finita est.

Except in this instance, nothing could be further from the truth.

Cloyne’s revelations are heart-breaking. It describes how many victims continued to live in the small towns and parishes in which they were reared and in which they were abused… Their abuser often still in the area and still held in high regard by their families and the community. The abusers continued to officiate at family weddings and funerals… In one case, the abuser even officiated at the victim’s own wedding…

There is little I or anyone else in this House can say to comfort that victim or others, however much we want to. But we can and do recognise the bravery of all of the victims who told their stories to the Commission.

While it will take a long time for Cloyne to recover from the horrors uncovered, it could take the victims and their families a lifetime to pick up the pieces of their shattered existence.

A day post-publication, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade met with the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza. The Tánaiste left the Archbishop clear on two things: The gravity of the actions and attitude of the Holy See. And Ireland’s complete rejection and abhorrence of same.

The Papal Nuncio undertook to present the Cloyne Report to the Vatican.

The Government awaits the considered response of the Holy See.

I believe that the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who – like me – have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required, deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all Church authorities here with, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the State’s authorities in line with the Children First National Guidance which will have the force of law.

Clericalism has rendered some of Ireland’s brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors cited in the Ryan and Murphy Reports. This Roman Clericalism must be devastating for good priests…. some of them old… others struggling to keep their humanity….even their sanity……..as they work so hard…..to be the keepers of the Church’s light and goodness within their parishes…… communities… the human heart.

But thankfully for them, and for us, this is not Rome. Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world.

This is the ‘Republic’ of Ireland 2011. A Republic of laws…..of rights and responsibilities….of proper civic order….. where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version….. of
a particular kind of ‘morality’….. will no longer be tolerated or ignored.

As a practising Catholic, I don’t say any of this easily. Growing up, many of us in here learned we were part of a pilgrim Church. Today, that Church needs to be a penitent Church. A church, truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied.

In the name of God. But for the good of the institution. When I say that through our legislation….. through our Government’s action to put Children First…….those who have been abused can take some small comfort in knowing that they belong to a nation…..to a democracy where humanity, power, rights, responsibility, are enshrined and enacted …..always….always…. for their good.

Where the law – their law – as citizens of this country, will always supercede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country.

This report tells us a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children. If we do not respond swiftly and appropriately as a State, we will have to prepare ourselves for more reports like this. I agree with Archbishop Martin that the Church needs to publish any other and all other reports like this as soon as possible.

I must note the Commission is very positive about the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, established by the Church to oversee the operation by Dioceses and religious orders. The Commission notes that all Church authorities were required to sign a contract with the National Board agreeing to implement the relevant standards and that those refusing to sign would be named in the Board’s Annual Report. Progress has been in no small measure to the commitment of Ian Elliott and others.

There is some small comfort to be drawn by the people of Cloyne from the fact that the Commission is complimentary of the efforts made by the Diocese since 2008, in training, in vetting personnel and in the risk management of Priests against whom allegations have been made.

Nevertheless, the behaviour of Bishop Magee and Monsignor O’Callaghan show how fragile even good standards and policies are to the weakness and willful disregard of those
who fail to give the right priority to safeguarding our children.

But if the Vatican needs to get its house in order, so does this State.

The Report of the Commission is rightly critical of the entirely unsatisfactory position which the last Government allowed to persist over many years. The unseemly bickering between the Minister for Children and the HSE over the statutory powers to deal with extra-familial abuse, the failure to produce legislation to enable the exchange of soft information as promised after the Ferns Enquiry, and the long period of confusion and disjointed responsibility for child protection within the HSE, as reported by the Commission, are simply not acceptable in a society which values children and their safety.

For too long Ireland has neglected its children.

Just last week we saw a case of the torture of children, within the family, come before the courts. Just two days ago, we were repulsed by the case of a Donegal registered sex offender…and school caretaker…

Children and young adults reduced to human wreckage. Raising questions and issues of serious import for State agencies.

We are set to embark on a course of action to ensure the State is doing all it can to safeguard our children.

Minister Shatter is bringing forward two pieces of legislation – firstly, to make it an offence to withhold information relating to crimes against children and vulnerable adults; and secondly, at long last, to allow for the exchange of ‘soft information’ on abusers.

As Taoiseach, I want to do all I can to protect the sacred space of childhood and to restore its innocence. Especially our young teenagers, whom I believe to be children. Because regardless of our current economic crisis, the children of this country are, and always will be, our most precious possession of all. Safeguarding their integrity and innocence must be a national priority. This is why I undertook to create a Cabinet ministry for Children and Youth Affairs.

The legislation ‘Children First’ proposes to give our children maximum protection and security without intruding on the hectic, magical business of being a child.

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said “Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church.”

As the Holy See prepares its considered response to the Cloyne Report, as Taoiseach, I am making it absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.

Not purely, or simply or otherwise.

CHILDREN…. FIRST.

Pope Benedict Appoints Apostolic Inspectors for the Church in Ireland

The visit is part of an investigation aimed at restoring and renewing the quality of Catholic life in Ireland.

An Apostolic Visitation, which was first signaled by Pope Benedict in a pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland in March,

will now take place during the Autumn of 2010.

 

The panel of nine “Apostolic Visitors” includes four archbishops of Irish descent, namely Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, retired Archbishop of Westminster;  Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston;  Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York; Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins,  Archbishop of Toronto; and Archbishop Terrence Thoimas Prendergast SJ, Archbishop of Ottawa.

The Visitation will begin in the four Metropolitan Archdioceses of Ireland (Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam) and will then be extended to some other dioceses.

In its desire to promote the process of renewal of houses of formation for the future priests of the Church in Ireland, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education will coordinate the visitation of all Irish seminaries, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.

The Vatican-appointed examiner for the Irish seminaries is New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan, former rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Dolan has often bragged that when rector at NAC he rescued the place from the last vestiges of 1970s liberal theology.

Last week, in a lecture at St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Ireland, Archbishop Dolan gave a hint of his approach during the autumn visitation/examinations. On the matter of Church teaching he strongly proclaimed in his own very special rhetorical style: “To those who claim the problem is that, as a matter of fact, Church teaching is too holy, too aloof, too distant, too out of touch, I say the problem is hardly Church teaching but lack of fidelity to it.” 

Pope Benedict is particularly fond of Archbishop Dolan’s “Let’s get back to the basics” approach,  because he is convinced that Dolan (future cardinal archbishop of New York)  embodies exactly the type of dynamic orthodoxy that will help revive the Church in the United States.

Others would argue that Dolan, like Benedict, is caught in a 1950s time warp and their episcopal limousines only go in reverse.

What do the Apostolic Visitors hope to accomplish?

We can now piece together some highlights from various announcements and news reports:

(1)   Pope Benedict XVI wants his men to clamp down on liberal secular opinion in Ireland and launch an intensive drive to re-impose traditional respect for the Irish clergy. (Frankly I never thought one could impose respect for another. People – and clergy are people – either earn respect by their words and deeds or they don’t. )

(2)   The nine-member team led by two cardinals will be instructed by the Vatican to restore a traditional sense of reverence among ordinary Catholics for their priests. (See my note above.)

(3)   Irish priests will be told not to question in public the official teaching of the church about birth control and recognizing divorced Catholics, living with new partners, and welcoming them to Eucharist.

(4)   Irish theologians will be ordered to teach “traditional doctrine.” No doubt Apostolic Visitor Dolan will help to vigorously implement this policy.

(5)   Irish lay people will be strongly encouraged to attend Sunday Eucharist faithfully and  go to private confession regularly.

(6)   A major thrust of the Vatican investigation will be to counteract “materialistic and secularist attitudes,” which Pope Benedict believes have led many Irish Catholics to ignore church discipline and become lax in following devotional practices such as going on pilgrimages and doing penance.

 So there we have it. And it all makes good Vatican sense.

When all is said and (somewhat) done, pedophilia in Ireland is really the fault of Irish Catholics who have become too materialistic, too secular, too lax, and too disobedient to Holy Mother the Church.

When the going gets tough, the Church gets tough…