Monday, September 5, 2011

Erin Go Bragh!

“When the Taoiseach spoke in the Dáil, the Taoiseach was speaking for the Government and he was speaking, I believe, for the people of this country.
“The abuse of children is not acceptable. The abuse of children is intolerable. And those who didn’t discharge their responsibility to make sure that it stopped, or that those who were responsible for it were brought to book, they have a case to answer and the Government makes no apology for stating that in the unambiguous terms that it was stated by the Taoiseach.”
Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore, this morning in the Irish Times 

It's been a while since I blogged in general but about the Catholic Church Pedophile scandal in particular. But things have heated up so much that I had to post about it. I am currently so stoked to be part-Irish, I can't tell you. Of course, I'm no fan of the Church, as any regular reader of the blog knows, and I was silently cheering back in July, when Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny took on the Pope of the Catholic Church in a truly riveting speech on the floor of the Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Irish Parliament) on July 20:

Reactions worldwide to Kenny's blistering censure of the Catholic Church, the Holy See and the Teflon Pope were swift, stunned and almostly universally positive. (I'll leave it to your imagination for a moment as to where the negatives came from...) Said the NY Times: "The rare denunciation of the Holy See’s influence in this predominantly Catholic country came just a week after the government issued a report accusing the Vatican of sabotaging Irish bishops’ 1996 decision to begin reporting suspected cases of child abuse to the police.”

Kenny's speech and position are all the more stunning because of his  reputation as a Conservative Gael and the fact that he is a practicing Catholic himself. He took great pains to say how difficult this matter must be for priests who are innocent of any wrong doing and whose Church's attempts to protect the guilty have summarily tarred all priests with their taint. 

What was the Vatican's reaction to PM Kenny's request, via the Irish Papal Nuncio, and his speech on the floor of Parliament for a Vatican reply to the Cloyne Report? The Vatican recalled their ambassador to Ireland, (*slap* take that you ingrate Celts!) and finally, on Saturday, the 3rd of September, issued a 25 page, 11,000 word reply, decrying Kenny's speech as making "unfounded" accusations against the Catholic Church, etc. etc. etc. Thankfully, Kenny has refused to back down on his statement that "the Vatican's intervention had contributed to an undermining of the child protection framework and guidelines of the Irish State and Irish bishops."

Today, Ireland's Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore has fired a very clear salvo back at the Vatican and their 25 page denial of interference with the Irish police investigations into the Irish Catholic Church's systematic abuse of children and youths. The Vatican's correspondence denies the principal findings of the Cloyne Report, a document commissioned by the Irish government in 2009 and released in mid-July of this year, but mostly by ignoring it. Well, Gilmore will have none of it and says, as quoted above, that the Irish Taoiseach speaks with the voice of the Irish people.

For those who have not followed the story, the Cloyne Report investigated the role of the Catholic Church and the Irish State in the allegations of abuse put forth against 19 clerics in the diocese in County Cork. The report, which you can read in full here, (Please note that while the full PDF is not that reader friendly, you can go to the end of the 421 page document, where you do have a full index to let you peruse more easily) is a fairly damning piece of work. It clearly finds that in most cases, the Irish gardaí (police) were not informed of allegations of child abuse or child sexual abuse. It further finds that while the Church purported to support child protection procedures, they failed to show any genuine commitment to that support because they failed, consistently, to implement those child protection procedures but rather undermined them. The Church consistently erred on the side of the accused predator and in one instance, in a case which was "clearly and unequivocally a case of child sexual abuse," stated that no abuse had occurred. In the reply sent by the Vatican on Saturday, the Holy See takes the position that child abuse, and child sexual abuse, by priests in Ireland is an Irish problem, not a Church problem. Because, gosh, it's not like this happened anywhere else. *cough* It's not like there were pedophile priests running around in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the Philippines, the USA, or anything. I mean, come on! What do you think, that the Church covered things up and just moved pedophiles around to newer and progressively more remote locations where they could continue prey on children without controversy? Mais non, it cannot be!!!!

The Vatican especially accuses Kenny of having misinterpreted, by taking it out of context, a statement made by the Teflon Pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, which went something along the lines "the standards of democratic society do not apply to the Catholic Church" (so shut up already because we so special and above the law of a sovereign state). I think the writing is on the wall that that's exactly what he meant, and what the Church evidently believes. They are above it all. 

But are we really supposed to believe that God has given his/her/its imprimatur on the way the Church has handled pedophile priests around the globe? Really? Well, as the Irish Times said in their editorial this morning, the Church that holds itself the bastion of moral and spiritual superiority has given a "bureaucratic, self-serving, and legalistic response" that completely ignores reflection on the clear cut findings in Cloyne. Which only makes matters worse. They took more than a month to come up with a reply that cries foul but ignores the very heart of the issues in Cloyne: that the Catholic Church has sought to undermine Irish laws and protections in place for their most vulnerable parishioners, child victims of abuse. To me, Kenny's diatribe against the Vatican looks even better in retrospect when you read the Vatican's response. When they can only attack the messenger, instead of the message, clearly there is some truth, or maybe a lot of truth, in the message.

To Kenny, Gilmore and the Dáil and Seanad houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) who have made motions deploring the Vatican's "interference, undermining the Irish child protection framework" and the "inadequate and inappropriate response of the Church", all I can say is, More power to you! I cannot imagine how heartening Kenny's speech was to those who were abused. He has given a powerful voice to the cause of all those around the planet who were victims of these priests and then re-victimized by the Church's ignoring or subverting their cries for justice. 

It is refreshing to finally see the Catholic Church is getting called on their centuries of subterfuge, abetting criminals and to see their façade finally start to dissolve a bit.

And to the Teflon Pope... the gloves are off. At last. When an entire government refuses to be silent, you have lost substantial ground in your campaign of Vatican-condoned coverups.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2011

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