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…… they work so hard… 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… 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.








Catholic institutional sin, like cancer, starts small;  but it grows and flourishes as it penetrates and generates supportive networks. Destructive little devils, they invade the
body and then disrupt and destroy. Today’s – and yesterday’s —  Roman Catholic sin is ABUSIVE POWER.

Part of this sin-laden condition comes from our human situation….what we call original sin. The specifically Roman Catholic institutional sin of abusive power, however, is something our institutional leaders picked up early the life of our church. An inheritance from Imperial Rome.

Over the centuries, popes and bishops and some “lower clergy” have enjoyed and glorified power, and self-righteously glorified themselves as holders of power.

Abusive Power — THE Roman Catholic institutional sin — reinforces power-brokers at every level in the church: from the Vatican on high to the aberrant rectory resident on the other side of town.

Abusive power rapes little boys and girls, promotes arrogant bullying, justifies bishops who lie publicly and privately, and it flourishes in an institutional climate of secrecy and deception. Abusive power creates qualitative classes of people: superior people who control inferior people. The inferiors — women, gays, the children of gays, the divorced and
separated, for example —  must of course be controlled and put down. They raise uncomfortable thoughts and ask uncomfortable questions. They challenge and threaten the self-serving world of the power-holders.

Where there is sin, there must follow confession and repentance.

Where there is confession and repentance, there must be conversion, penitential reform and rebuilding of the institution – at all levels.

This indeed is our contemporary Roman Catholic challenge.






Bishop John Magee: Case Study — Catholic Power Abuse

This summer in Ireland, on 13 July, the Cloyne Report was issued. The Cloyne Report scrutinizes how both the Catholic Church and Irish State authorities handled allegations of sexual abuse against 19 priests and the local bishop and vicar general in the County Cork Diocese of Cloyne.

The Irish Voice of the Faithful responded immediately to the report by asking: “How can Catholics ever trust these lying bishops again?” It’s a good question.  It painfully goes to the heart of our contemporary Catholic malaise.

The Cloyne Report confirms that Bishop John Magee, former Bishop of Cloyne (who resigned his episcopal seat on 24 March 2010)  lied to survivors and lied to the Irish National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. Bishop Magee also lied to public authorities investigating child safety in his diocese and he lied to his people. The Bishop of Cloyne deliberately misled another inquiry, and his own advisors, by creating two different accounts of a meeting with a priest-suspect:  one for the Vatican and another for diocesan files.

John Magee has a colorful Vatican history. In 1969 he was appointed secretary to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome, and was chosen by Pope Paul VI to be one of his private secretaries. On Pope Paul’s death, he remained in service as a private secretary to his successor, Pope John Paul I, and also to Pope John Paul II. As private secretary to three Popes, Magee is the only man to hold such a position in Vatican history

The former Bishop of Cloyne relied on his vicar general, Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan,  to handle virtually all aspects of sexual abuse of children by priests in his diocese. The vicar general considered the national guidelines promulgated by the Church and State in Ireland to be misguided, and he substituted his own poorly documented and ad hoc procedures in their place.

As a result of the actions of Magee and O’Callaghan, and others who colluded with them, sexual abuse perpetrators have gone unprosecuted, victims have gone unsupported; and the people have been left bewildered and angry.

The actions of the former Bishop of Cloyne and his collaborators between 1996 and 2009 are an outrage. Bishop John Magee and Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan acted only to protect what they saw as the interests of the Church.

These men acted as they did because they belong to a power structure that does not value transparency and accountability. They thought they knew better than everyone else what was in the interests of the Church in Cloyne. There was no one who was in a position to contradict them.

Absolute power and absolute abuse. The contemporary Catholic problem…….




Mark 10:42-45

Jesus called His disciples said to them, “You know, those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them. Their great ones exercise authority over them. Nevertheless — it shall not be so among you.

“Whoever desires to become great among you must become your servant. Whoever  desires to be first namong you must  be the slave of all. Not even the Son of Man came  to be served. He came  to serve. To give his life for others.”


Dead Horse Theory — Applications to Contemporary Church Scene?

Dead Horse Theory

If you don’t understand this theory, you haven’t lived long enough.

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”

 However, in government, education, and in corporate America, more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.

7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse’s performance.

10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.

11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is  less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially  more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.

12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And of course….

13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Eugene Kennedy Observations in NCR – June 30th

Vatican II Deniers in American Catholicism

American Catholicism should be preparing for 2020 when a large increase in the Catholic population, mostly Hispanic, will present Church leaders with the challenge to open rather than close new churches and schools. Instead of preparing for the future, bishops and priests now in key administrative and pastoral positions, led by Pope Benedict XVI, are dressing the set of Catholic life with props from the past in an effort to take the church back to 1920.

That era of simplistically captioned silent movies is now re-created through the awkwardly translated liturgical readings soon to be expensively imposed on what these self-styled “reformers” hope to be passive and silent parishioners. Americans are not, however, alone in experiencing this phenomenon. In May the bishops of England and Wales restored meatless Fridays year round for Catholics. In the same month a nun held up a silver reliquary carrying the blood of the newly beatified Pope John Paul II, to applause by a large crowd in St. Peter’s Square. Besides alerting Pope Benedict to beware of doctors holding syringes, this reveals the Transylvanian caste of some of the clerics now decorating the set of Catholicism throughout the world.