Day of shame

Once again Ireland is in the global news headlines, and the story is one of abuse, betrayal and shame. Thursday saw the publication of the Report by the Commission of Investigation into the handling by Church and State authorities of allegations and suspicions of child abuse against clerics of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin. Although as we know this is not the complete report, it is still terrifying to read: terrifying that such abuse could be perpetrated by men in positions of authority and trust, terrifying that the abuse could be covered up and kept from the authorities in order to protect the institutional church, and terrifying that a society many of whose members must have known something was wrong did not come to the help of the victims. I was here, and I lived through some of these times in Ireland, and once again I also am consumed by shame that I was there and saw nothing and did nothing.

Much has been said over the past 24 hours in condemnation of those responsible. I would maybe add two comments. These crimes were committed within the institutional church and covered up by it, but they took place in a society that had for too long practised obsequiousness and had allowed a culture to prevail where many people may actually have agreed that the interests of the church should take precedence over the cries of the victims. Secondly – and this is the only positive note I can sound – the Roman Catholic Archdiocese has now at least the benefit of an archbishop who has shown some sensitivity, courage and integrity in handling the legacy of abuse: I do have quite some respect for Diarmuid Martin, and of course for those priests who followed their vocation with decency.

But for now, the only real response can be one of utter horror and shame, and the hope that the victims may now have the support and love of the community and that, over time, at least some of the wounds may heal.

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One Comment on “Day of shame”

  1. Vincent Says:

    There is another response. One where we watch like hawks and make sure that we do not replace one with another. It is not so long age that certain people were being advised to kill themselves. And a few days ago people were being told they were being treacherous for shopping in Newry. That’s the kind of crap that need watching not some fools looking at the Sun from a bog in Mayo.


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