Irish Times: the church must act on abuse

The Pope has been to Ireland and made noises about awful amounts of abuse by perpetrator priests, but there is little sign yet that anything substantial is being done by the Vatican, which has been abysmally negligent in the past.

The Irish Times view on the papal visit fallout: now the church must act on abuse

Pope Francis has returned to Rome after his brief visit to Ireland where he charmed with his humility and his plea for forgiveness over the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and its cover-up by bishops. Yet, nothing has changed.

As the afterglow of that visit recedes, a Vatican emerges once more where things are as was. There, inadequate mechanisms for holding to account those prelates who cover up the abuse of children remain. This is unacceptable.

Catholics, and others whose children may be in Catholic care, cannot be expected to accept the Vatican’s ongoing resistance to setting up a tribunal with powers of dismissal to deal with bishops and religious superiors who cover up the abuse of children.

Pope Francis has returned to Rome after his brief visit to Ireland where he charmed with his humility and his plea for forgiveness over the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and its cover-up by bishops. Yet, nothing has changed.

As the afterglow of that visit recedes, a Vatican emerges once more where things are as was. There, inadequate mechanisms for holding to account those prelates who cover up the abuse of children remain. This is unacceptable.

Catholics, and others whose children may be in Catholic care, cannot be expected to accept the Vatican’s ongoing resistance to setting up a tribunal with powers of dismissal to deal with bishops and religious superiors who cover up the abuse of children.

These documents detail what both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have described as crimes and should be available to legitimate State inquiries, internationally. That such co-operation in investigating crime centred on the protection of children has been resisted by the Vatican is, frankly, intolerable.

Now we see allegations of cover-up move centre stage in the current Catholic Church civil war between liberals and traditionalists, used as mud by both sides to sling at one another.

If the Catholic Church does not address accountability in a manner which ensures children are safe, then the international community should intervene to help it do so.

This is far from being just an Irish problem, it is a world wide disgrace.

Here in New Zealand the Otago Daily Times and NZ Herald have detailed similar patterns of abuse by priest and negligent responses from the church that has enabled even more abuses.

ODT: The stain of sexual abuse

The Otago Daily Times Insight series ”Marked by the Cross” has uncovered disturbing details about the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of Dunedin priest Fr Magnus Murray.

He quickly returned to public ministry while in Australia and was welcomed back into the fold as a parish priest in North Island centres from 1977 until retiring in 1990.

A common story of moving a problem priest to other locations where abuses continued.

Fr Murray is just one of many priests worldwide accused or convicted of offences against mainly teenage boys. Pope Francis in June accepted the resignations of the bishop at the centre of Chile’s clerical sex abuse scandal and two other priests, launching a purge of the Catholic Church in a country where it had been damaged by an avalanche of abuse and cover-up accusations.

More from the ODT in just the last nine days:

And this shows how badly the church is still handling this: Trio ‘sincerely regret’ hurt caused by comments

The Bishops of Auckland and Dunedin, together with a senior member of the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, have added their names to an apology for earlier comments implying parents bore some responsibility for stopping clerical sexual abuse.

Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley and Monsignor the Rt Rev John Harrison, both of Dunedin, and Auckland Bishop the Most Rev Patrick Dunn have together signed a joint apology sent to the Otago Daily Times as a letter to the editor.

In it, the trio said they wanted to “unreservedly apologise” for earlier comments published by ODT Insight as part of its ongoing Marked by the Cross investigation.

“We unreservedly apologise if we gave the impression that parents were somehow to blame for the sexual abuse of their children.

“This was never our intention and we are, each of us, saddened that it was interpreted in this way.”

The comments, which provoked an outcry, came in the ODT Insight article Sins of a Father, published earlier this month.

It seems apparent that neither the Pope nor senior New Zealand Catholics get the severity of the crisis, nor how to properly deal with it.

Pope Francis needs to lead on this or both his tenure and his church face major problems of credibility.

13 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  September 1, 2018

    It’s not abuse the Church must act on..it’s accepting priests have a right to be married and have a normal sex life.

    • Gezza

       /  September 1, 2018

      If they choose celibacy, which they have to as part of being a priest, they’re already abnormal.

  2. Blazer

     /  September 1, 2018

    this travesty has been going on for decade upon decade…and has never ever been addressed properly.
    A terrible indictment on religion , a blight on humanity and the anti thesis of succour faith is meant to offer.

  3. MaureenW

     /  September 1, 2018

    It’s time people grew up and saw this evil clown-show for what it is- a practice based on exploiting gullible people with lies and bullshit
    The institutionalised pedophilia that is the Catholic Church isn’t going away any time soon – as long as there is as audience for the Catholic Mumbo-jumbo, there’ll be pedophile priests.

    • Corky

       /  September 1, 2018

      ”As long as there is as audience for the Catholic Mumbo-jumbo, there’ll be pedophile priests.”

      That’s your opinion. Many true Catholics gain great comfort from their religion. I was present at A&E when an agitated dying person received the last rites. The priest whispered into this person ear that he was here to given him those rites. The dying person relaxed; nodded weakly to whatever the priest was whispering to him, and died peacefully about 10 minutes later. So, it wasn’t mumbo-jumbo for that person.

      For the record, I’m not Catholic. Nor do I want a bar of that religion.

  4. David

     /  September 1, 2018

    Looks like this pope might have been aware of quite a bit and didnt act but the only difference is he is a leftie so gets a pass.
    Let priests marry for goodness sake they used to be able to, ordain women and allow them to reach the higher echelons of the church. Nothing ever changes there are too many vested interests and altogether far to much money.

    • Letting priests marry (I think they should) won’t address the problem of paedophile priests who have used their positions of protected power to abuse children.

      • Corky

         /  September 1, 2018

        Allowing priest to marry will stop many cases of pedophilia. It will not stop priests who are naturally inclined towards pedophilia.

      • David

         /  September 1, 2018

        On evidence I disagree Pete as most other religions allow marriage and dont suffer the same problems at scale of the catholics.
        Men are men and they have a biological sex drive and need an outlet which is why there is quite a prevalence of for example going “prison bent”.

      • Gezza

         /  September 1, 2018

        They’re still trying to use every religious bs argument they can think of to protect their offenders. This was being reported on Aljaz tv yesterday:

        Australian Catholic Church rejects compulsory abuse reporting
        Authorities in Australia want to force priests to report abuse but Church says seal of confession should not be broken.

        The Australian Catholic Church has rejected a recommendation to implement laws forcing priests and other members of the Church to report sexual abuse.

        The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), the country’s top Catholic body, said on Friday it will not break the seal of confession, one of the core beliefs of the Catholic faith, even if that means the clergy might face criminal charges.

        “First of all, the seal is a non-negotiable of our religious life, and it embodies a particular understanding of the believer and God,” ACBC President Archbishop Mark Coleridge said at a press conference.

        “We don’t believe it will make children safer, and in certain cases we think it could make children less safe. Any suggestion that a perpetrator may, in fact, confess is removed all but certainly by the imposition of a law such as this,” he added, saying that most confessions are done anonymously and do not go into much detail.

        About seven percent of Australian priests were accused of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2011, according to a five-year-long inquiry by Australian authorities into the large-scale abuse by members of the Catholic Church.

        The inquiry added that more than 4,400 people reported abuse, with the average age of the victim being almost 11 for girls and almost 12 for boys.
        More …
        https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/australian-catholic-church-rejects-compulsory-abuse-reporting-law-180831070804790.html

    • MaureenW

       /  September 1, 2018

      Marriage to a female is not an anti-dote for pedophilia. In fact convicted pedophiles are instructed to stay away from children – I don’t believe pedophiles make any distinction between other peoples children and their own children.

  5. Zedd

     /  September 1, 2018

    The RCC is all about.. POWER, this is just one symptom of it.

    They even state that the Pope & the priesthood are ‘infallible’ (never wrong) in their dogma

    perhaps with all this media attention, this issue will finally be seen for what it is; Abuse of Power, that has been hidden/swept under the carpet & often seen by many of ‘the faithful’ as almost acceptable.. for centuries ?! 😦

    In the books of Daniel & Revelation.. the bible talks about the ‘Antichrist power’ (who is given power/authority by the Devil) that will arise & claim to be ‘God/Christ on Earth’.. guess who many have pointed to ??