The anticlerical hysteria sweeping Ireland

The Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, yesterday launched a bizarre, rambling attack on the Vatican, accusing it of attempting to frustrate an enquiry into failures of church leadership over clerical abuse and claiming that the Cloyne Report showed the "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism" of the Vatican.

But reading the Report, you find nothing of the sort. The criticism of the Vatican centres on a letter by the papal nuncio from 1997 in which he questioned whether the 1996 guidelines drawn up by the Irish bishops were compatible with canon law, notably the idea that church officials should be obliged to pass on all and any allegations to the civil authorities. That letter, claims the Commission of Enquiry into Cloyne diocese under Judge Yvonne Murphy, encouraged the diocese  -- or rather Bishop John Magee, and his vicar-general, Msgr  Denis O'Callaghan -- to ignore those guidelines.


The Vatican's thinking at this period, before clerical sex abuse cases had been passed to the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001, was that it was the victims who should report abuse by priests to the civil authorities, not the bishops. That idea was wrong, and is no longer part of Vatican thinking. But at the time it was also the thinking of the state, which only recently introduced mandatory reporting of abuse of minors. In other words, the Irish prime minister condemns the Vatican for failing to endorse an idea which the state itself did not endorse as Fr Lombardi's statement points out

The failures of church leadership in Ireland and elsewhere are well known, and have been thoroughly raked over and responded to. The good news about Cloyne -- a small rural diocese in Co. Cork -- is that its failures were first spotted by the Church's own safeguarding watchdog, which brought them to light in December 2008. Judge Murphy, then investigating Dublin, decided to extend her probe to Cloyne. Bishop Magee was stood down, and the Church -- as the Cloyne Report clearly acknowledges --  cooperated fully with the investigation.

Nothing, in short, justifies the Taoiseach's broadside, which conveniently glosses over the state's failures over abuse -- also highlighted in the Report -- or the Commission's findings that the state's guidelines on abuse are more opaque and difficult to understand than the Church's.

But I fear it's open season now on the Church. A senator today has proposed making it a criminal offence not to disclose evidence of abuse when a priest learns of it through the Confessional. That deep seam of Irish anticlericalism - irrational, scapegoating, vicious in its intensity -- has been tapped, and the politicians are keen to dig deep into it.



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9 years 2 months ago
I think the actions in Ireland are "anti-Vatican," not anti-clerical and the conflation of the two here ia also a bit hysterical.
I see Abp. Martin is trying to calm the waters, but his fellow bishops are not in his corner and it's far from clear how much the Vatican trusts him now,
But he is speaking for the avarge Irish Catholic person .I think, and the perception is that he, his anger and his recommendations are not taken seriously among the Vatican polcy people.
I think Lombardi didn't help matters either with his (Roman) attempt at smoothover.o I think the author here is a bit hysterical himself in his broad generalizing about the irrational vicious Irish people.
There's plenty of guilt for what happened to go around: but doesn't the author think deep anger towards Rome is justified, and if not, why not, instead of exoriating the cxritics?
Antonin Artaud
9 years 2 months ago
With all respect for the very popular Archbishop, why didn't Abp. Martin say what Austin Ivereigh said here, clearly and succinctly, in his second and third paragraphs?

His public comments are easily twisted by the press into an assertion that various dark forces within the Church are working against his vision.

I am sure that this is not what Abp Martin meant or intended, but his first comments should have been more clear and on point regarding the government's charge. This would have blunted the negative momentum which is an important first step in a crisis. As good as he is, his intervention here was not helpful.
Greg Bullough
9 years 2 months ago
Is the author ghost-writing for the Catholic League's William Donohue?

Whatever you make of the jots and tittles, the underlying message is clear; Ireland is finished with being a theocracy, a sort of puppet-state of Rome. The government have had it and the people have had it.

Is it any coincidence that Ireland emerged from centuries of grinding poverty just as it broke the Vatican's strangle-hold on its laws concerning things such as contraception and divorce?

Anne Chapman
9 years 2 months ago
Actually, there seems to be more hysteria in the author's diatribe than in what is happening in Ireland - all of which is more than justified.  But, perhaps the author, like the pope and his bishops, feel that the people and the young are of little concern - what matters is protecting the clerical structure and the institution at all costs. However, I am not surprised by this blogger's views - his almost breathless commentary  on the pope's visit to 'England last year seemed to reflect feelings very close to those held by many teenagers for the star of Harry Potter. 

 Rome has brought all of this down on its own head.  Martin of Dublin and Robinson of Australia are really the only two bishops I am aware of who have said or done anything to earn respect - they are men of honesty and integrity with enough courage to speak out - unlike most of the rest of the hierarchy.  If Ireland, that most Catholic of Catholic countries, can have the courage to finish what it is starting, there may be hope for the institutional church after all. If not, it will continue its slow but steady descent to irrelevancy in the west, and later, in the south.  The people of God will simply keep going without them - they will be no more essential to the real church than is the royal family to England - figureheads, symbols of another era, kept around primarily for nostalgia and sentiment, but ignored when the real work is to be done.
9 years 2 months ago
Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny said:''I believe that the Irish people...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....''

As a Catholic physician who has met many who have been sexually abused by priests, and who was sexually assaulted myself by a Carmelite priest when I was a young doctor in Dublin, I read and viewed Mr Kenny's speech on the internet with deep gratitude.  

I think Mr Kenny is a courageous man, who is speaking truth to power!  The Prime Minister's words match the gravity of the problem of priest sexual abuse of innocent children, with no sense of real accountability by the Vatican.

I have met many good priests. I especially respect Archbishop Martin of Dublin, who I met a year ago in Ireland, when I found that the priest who assaulted me was still in active ministry. My case was sent directly to the police. The priest admitted his guilt and was removed from active ministry.  

Archbishop Martin gets the job done.  I feel the Pope is just a talker and seems to lack the courage to admit his own personal role, in allowing priest sexual abuse to flourish worldwide.

Mr Ivereigh's article makes me wonder if his paycheck comes from the Vatican, since he seems to be a strong apologist for the Vatican.

If the truth will set us free, then why does Pope Benedict XVI choose to hide behind a claim to diplomatic immunity, so that he will not have to open the records in the Vatican on worldwide cases of priest sexual abuse to investigation?

Sincerely,  Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, Chicago, USA,
Anne Chapman
9 years 2 months ago
Dr. McHugh, I too was curious abut Mr. Ivereigh after reading his blog posts that were so unfailingly pro-Rome/hierarchy-no-matter-what. So I ''googled'' him.  After learning more about him. I also wonder America has him as a blogger.  Perhaps they should invite someone else to write the ''view from the UK'' posts. But, that's up to the editors, and, to my regret, I am not among them.
Thomas Piatak
9 years 2 months ago
Of course what's going on in Ireland is anti-clerical.  Threatening to jail priests for refusing to disclose what was said in the confessional is typically only done in anti-Catholic dictatorships, and not often even there.  I hope that cooler heads prevail and such legislation does not pass but, if it does, there will be more freedom of religion for Catholics in Northern Ireland than in the Republic of Ireland.
9 years 2 months ago
Wrath typically focuses on those furthest from the actual cause - it's a safer place to vent. So naturally the locals who were Irish and who personally or locally messed up, and who pooh poohed "Rome" for all their own failings would be only too quick to pass the buck to Rome and the Irish who would otherwise need to vent at their own sons and brothers and nephews.... will focus on far off Rome as the problem and bad guy.

I'm old enough to remember however the 1980s and how proud the American Church and Irish church and other 'national' churches were getting and how they chafed at "the Vatican treating us like children when we can do it all on our own..." right until it all blew up and they rushed to Rome for protection.
9 years 2 months ago
To Anne Chapman,
I believe that a previous editor of America, a Jesuit, was removed from his position at America, due to his openness of having several points of view in the Magazine, which the present leadership in the Vatican was not happy with.

As you may know, Bishop Morris in Australia was removed from his office as bishop by the Vatican, because he spoke about options that the church may need to consider, such as an end to mandatory celibacy.  

It seems to me that being orthodox, as the present leadership defines orthodoxy, is more important to Pope Benedict XVI and the Curia, than being a member of the hierarchy that protects innocent children from abuse. reports that at least 19 bishops in the USA have been found to be predator abusers.  How many of them have been removed from their positions by the Vatican?

The top-down structure of the Roman Catholic Church came in the 4th century when Constantine made Christianity the state religion.  The early Church was a democracy to some extent.  

When will the present occupants of the Vatican give-up being princes and return to being servant-leaders as Jesus was?  We all deserve to have our voices heard, and this includes the bishops, who have been treated like puppets of the Pope instead of leaders in their own right. 
Anne Chapman
9 years 2 months ago
David, what about the wolves who preyed on the children?  What about the wolves who allowed them to prey on the children?

 Do you have no concern for the children?
Charle Reisz
9 years 2 months ago
To Anne Chapman, In regards to your first comment on todays article,

This says it all and says it very well.  I congratulate the author of this response to a very biased article that was not worthy of being published in "America".
ed gleason
9 years 2 months ago
Two centuries of anti-clericals, allied with commies, atheists, masons, anarchists and the Mafia could not inflict such damage on the Church as has the crop of bishops that have blundered in governance  the last 25 years or more. 
As for the hysterical comment that under a proposed  new law  priests will have to reveal confessional material.. WoW  maybe if this fantasy law was passed and a priest or two went to jail, the Catholic Irish left would rise to his defense which would be one way to get back any credibility.. (-:  .. A/B Martin should be in the daily prayers of all with Irish blood/DNA.
Molly Roach
9 years 2 months ago
Ireland has paid for its Catholic faith with blood and the sufferance of occupation which it overcame.  The loyalty and devotion of the Irish to their faith cannot be doubted.  Enda Kenny simply declared that Ireland will not pay for depraved ecclesial leadership with the innocence of its children.  To characterize such a declaration as "hysterical anti-clericalism" is mad. 
Brian McDonough
9 years 2 months ago
The Cloyne Report may remind some readers of the remark in Robert Grave’s I Claudius: “Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.” Is the Catholic Church’s hierarchic structure specifically designed perpetually to permit its priests to poison and victimize Catholic children with their known pathological sexual dysfunction? Is the Church’s undeniable culture of clerical pederasty in its core? Is the Church a private club for pedophiles, their protectors, and their enablers? Is the Church an utterly immoral institution and a truly unGodly organization? How would a reasonable reader answer these questions after pondering [1] the McCullough Report, [2] the Murphy Report, [3] the Ferns Report, [4] the Ryan Report, [5] the McCoy Report, and now [6] the Cloyne Report? How many more Reports will there be? How many Reports must there be before the Church ceases protecting itself and solely protect its children?

Are there no diamonds in the rough of Cloyne, Ferns, Raphoe, Limerick, Galway, Dublin, and all Ireland? Is there no one “at the top” to stop the Church’s child abuse, once and for all, finally? Yes. Consider who, among the Church hierarchy itself, has been condemned by the hierarchy precisely for siding with the victims and not the Old Boys Club? The Cloyne Report may remind some readers to review the criticisms made by Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Dublin Dermot O’Mahony of Father Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland: “The archbishop did nothing to counteract the statement of the Murphy report, widely circulated in the media, that the majority of clergy knew and did nothing”. . . “To suggest our approach failed to take cognisance of the safety of children is inaccurate and unjust. The acceptance by media and current diocese policy that a cover-up took place must be challenged.” [See Irish Times articles of January 27, 28, Febuary 5, 2010.]  Given the Cloyne Report, Father O’Mahony’s statements are contemptible rubbish, as were similar criticisms of Archbishop Martin by some lackey priests.

The Cloyne Report is a scathing denunciation of those who criticized Archbishop Martin and a complete vindication of the approach that he has taken. The Cloyne Report reveals that Archbishop Martin is a diamond in the cesspool that is a Church hierarchy of pedophile protectors and enablers.

Were there more priests and Bishops like Diarmuid Martin, there would be no need for [1] the McCullough Report, [2] the Murphy Report, [3] the Ferns Report, [4] the Ryan Report, [5] the McCoy Report, [6] the Cloyne Report, and the other Reports that must necessarily follow, because the Church’s poisons will continue to hatch out perpetually until it finally ceases protecting itself and solely protects its children. 

Only when the Church starts protecting itself by protecting its children will it finally eradicate its poisons and have no need for apologists like Ivereigh who try to defect responsibility onto anyone but the ''Cabal'' of the Vatican hierarchy, which is the term that Archbishop Martin used to described them in a recent interview. 
John Page
9 years 2 months ago
Increasingly, the present pontificate and the pontificate of Pope John Paul II have asserted, in contradiction to the more nuanced teaching of the Second Vatican Council, a "universal jurisdiction." Bishops appointed since the mid-1980s on have acquiesced in that retreat from the Council's understanding of the local bishop's role, and have accepted their appointments on those terms. But when a difficult situation, such as the Irish bishops now face, arises, Rome is quick to place the blame and the need to respond on the local episcopate. You can't have it both ways.

Can the Roman Curia (and the papacy) really claim to have every answer under heaven for a universal Church of a billion people? What, after all. is the role of local conferences and of bishops in their dioceses?

The present Irish government is no longer beholden to episcopal approval as was the case even ten, five years ago. It should not be held responsible for its predecessors' total submission to an overweening hierarchy, with power to make or break political careers, as was the case from the establisment of the Republic till very recently. "In the name of the Most Holy Trinity." Kissing rings in obsequious deference is now seen by the people of Ireland as a total and embarrassing anachronism.

Enda Kenny, according to recent polls, is at present the most popular politician in Ireland. He represents a new generation that has broken with the theocracy of the past. To label him "anti-clerical" is a gross (and convenient) exaggeration, an exaggeration perpetuated by Roman ecclesiastical apologists, both in Ireland and, evidently, in England. And in the US too.
9 years 2 months ago
We're told by one blogger that public scandal induces hysteria.
Who said so, what proof or is this another shoot fom the hip approach?
What we really need here is tro hear again from Mr. ivereigh and if he stands by his post. and, if so, why?
Crystal Watson
9 years 2 months ago
I just got around to watching the youtube of the Irish prime minister's speech about Cloyne - it wasn't hysterical at all, and it did mention alos the government's role, as well as the church's role, in the problem.  It's worth a watch ...
Bill Mazzella
9 years 1 month ago
I  congratulate many here who defend the children and have grown up out of the tentacles of clergy who are more concerned about empire and protecting it than preventing predators from getting justice and removal from positions where they might harm others. The good news is that many Catholics have are growing up and realizing that Conscience is the indubitable quality of a Christian as St Paul notes.
Rory Connor
9 years 1 month ago
How many contributors here are aware of what has actually happened in the Cloyne diocese?  For several years now the Gardai have been investigating claims of child abuse in the diocese and the following is the result:

An allegation of reckless endangerment against former Bishop Magee was dismissed by the Director of Public Prosecutions in October 2010.

In May 2011 Father Dan Duane a 73-year-old retired priest from Mallow, who was on trial charged with indecently assaulting a woman 30 years ago when she was a teenager, was found not guilty by direction of the trial judge in Cork Circuit Criminal Court (or in colloquial language the judge threw the case out of court without letting it go to the jury).

HOWEVER in November 2010 Fr Brendan Wrixon was given an 18 month suspended sentence for gross indecency - which consisted of mutual masturbation of a 16 year old youth in 1983.

And those to date are the results of several years of Garda inquiries. (There is another trial coming up in next November I think, and that may be the very last.) Since investigating child abuse is a specialist function, the Gardai who spent years investigating decades-old claims against priests, would otherwise have been involved in the prevention of child abuse today. THAT should be the real scandal!
Andrew SB49
8 years 11 months ago
Cardinal Ratzinger says that the standards of democratic civil society do not apply to the church: 'Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church."

The Taoiseach says: "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."

The pope's response: "The Holy See expects the Irish Bishops to cooperate with the civil authorities, to implement fully the norms of canon law"

Basically the Holy See is placing it's rules and regulations, AKA canon law, ahead of the laws of democratic society.

The Taoiseach's riposte was to welcome the Holy See's commitment to dialogue and co-operation with the Government:

"In welcoming this commitment, the Government expects the fullest co-operation from the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Ireland and all other relevant bodies with a view to ensuring that Ireland is a society fully safe for children and minors and that all of those with responsibility for the welfare and care of children in this country are fully subject to Irish laws and requirements,"

Points to note:

Mandatory reporting is still forbidden by the Church's canon law rules.
When Josef Ratzinger, was head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), he personally investigated 3,000 cases of child abuse, and he did not refer ANY of those cases to the civil authorities nor did he recommend to the bishops, in authority over the abusing clergy, to pass the cases on to the civil and legal authorities in their respective countries.

The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is the office in the Vatican that ignored requests from the Murphy Commission for cooperation into its inquiry. They never even bothered to acknowledge the Murphy Commission's requests.

Some of the information the Murphy Commission requested may reference Ratzinger's role in the cover-up of child abuse in Ireland by bishops.


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