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It's ok not to report crimes if you're a priest

by Frank Schnittger Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 08:30:58 AM EST



Father Brendan Smyth
Cardinal Sean Brady, Primate of all Ireland, presided over an investigation into the activities of the paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth in 1975 at which the abused children aged 10 and 14 were made to swear an oath of secrecy and not report their abuse to the civil authorities. Fr. Smyth was banned from hearing confessions in the diocese but was moved to other dioceses where he went on to abuse a total of 74 children for another two decades until he was finally brought to book in 1994.

Today, on the national radio, the spokesman for the Catholic Church, Monsignor Dooley, a former professor of Canon Law, argued that Priests are in the same privileged position as lawyers who are not required to report their suspicions that their clients may have committed a crime. A priest is bound by the secrecy of the confessional, he argued, despite the fact that the investigation over which Cardinal Brady presided was not conducted under the seal of the confessional.


But surely, even if you accept that rather dubious point, it is a criminal conspiracy to cover up a crime and to bind others to do so - for which a lawyer, too, would be liable to prosecution?  Cardinal Brady, meanwhile, falls back on the old defence that it is unfair to judge people on their actions of 35 years ago by the standards of today - again forgetting that it was the Catholic Church who enforced the standards of 35 years ago, and that it was as much a crime to commit paedophilia and to cover up such crimes 35 years ago as it is today.

Needless to say, no criminal proceedings against Cardinal Brady are impending or expected. Monsignor Dooley argues that it was the Gardai who were at fault for not bringing a prosecution against Father Smyth earlier, despite the fact that it was Cardinal Brady who ensured that vital evidence was withheld from them.

What is even more amazing is that Cardinal Brady feels there is no reason why he should resign even though he has previously said he would resign if it could be shown that his actions or inactions led to more children being abused. Clearly, he feels he can rely on the precedent set by his leader, Pope Benedict, who presided over the cover-up of child abuse during his time as Archbishop of Munich.

Mary Raftery, writing in the Irish Times, argues that the fundamental problem is not the vow of celibacy, but the vow of obedience, and that Path the cardinal must follow is clear

When clerics are shown to have blatantly breached the principles they preach, they must accept the consequences and resign

THERE IS a phenomenon known as a religious conscience. It is an entirely different animal to the consciences which you and I as ordinary people are expected to have and to heed. Both types tell us - at least in theory - what is right and what is wrong. But the religious conscience marches to a different drum.

Its beat fills the ears of most bishops, priests and brothers, and it drowns out other sounds. It tells them that the most important determinants of what is right and what is wrong are the vows or promises which they made on ordination. Follow these, they are told, and you will inherit the kingdom of God.

All very fine, you might say. Surely no vow or promise could include an instruction to cover up the sexual abuse of a child by anyone? Nor be interpreted to prohibit the reporting of a crime to the police?

But strange as it might seem, it is in fact these vows - or at least one of them - which is a key reason why the Catholic Church has at its highest levels become so entangled in the deceitful web it has made to hide and protect the criminals in its midst.

What lies at the heart of the church's failures is not, as many people assume, the vow of celibacy - it is, rather, that of obedience.

And obedience is writ large over the latest scandal to hit the church. Cardinal Seán Brady is at pains in his statement yesterday to emphasise that his involvement in the meetings at which victims of serial child rapist Brendan Smyth were asked to swear an oath of secrecy was "at the direction of bishop McKiernan", his then boss as bishop of Kilmore.

-----snip

That this concept of obedience has had such a fundamentally corrupting influence on every level of church governance is a reality that priests, nuns and bishops have been slow to realise. But it is now on the point of imploding as a central tenet of a church whose supreme leader, Pope Benedict, has himself become implicated in the cover-up of child sex abuse when he was archbishop of Munich.

As far as Cardinal Brady is concerned, the path he must follow is clear. The Nuremberg "only following orders" defence did not work in 1945, and it should not be permitted to work now. Society has a right to expect that individuals should take responsibility for their own actions.

Ireland has moved on a long way in the past 35 years, but many legacies of the ancien regime remain. For instance the Catholic Church still manages 90% of the primary schools in the country and controls the appointment of Principals and teachers despite the fact that all salaries are paid for by the state out of taxpayers money.

In many parts of the country it is impossible to send your child to a non-religious school. This imprinting of the young is central to the power base of the church which means that the church has maintained management control long after virtually all teachers have become secular, lay, and (oh the horror) non-practising in many instances.

And under the current craven government of Brian Cowen, nothing very much is going to happen about that state of affairs any time soon.

Display:
I have not seen the issue of whether Cardinal Brady can be prosecuted discussed in the MSM.  I presume the statute of limitations would apply and the issue of whether Priests have privilege in the same way as Lawyers is untested in the Irish Courts as far as I am aware.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 08:48:33 AM EST
We have to be careful here. The social construction that Catholic clergy (or any other supposedly elite group, such as Jewish bankers, etc.) are Perverts/Illuminati is an ages-old hate narrative.  In the current news of the day, which started in the Anglo world and is now spreading throughout Christendom, the dominant implied narrative is that pedophilia and other sex crimes, and the enabling/cover-up of such acts, are more of a problem for Catholics than other groups, when no such case has ever been explicitly made or is even believed to be true.  

All we can say is that even one such act is horrible, and covering up even one such act is a grave error of administration and requires accountability.  But we have no evidence at all to suggest that other care providing and educational organizations in society have done a better job in protecting kids than the Catholic Church has.  Also, laws and the prioritization of policies regarding sexual abuse IS much different now than it was 35 years ago, when a certain film director named Roman Polanski could flee American prosecutors to continue a very successful artistic career and social life in Europe. Films such as "Lolita," and fine art exhibits containing a 10-year old nude/erotic photograph of Brooke Shields were popular elsewhere in the world while the acts of abuse by a priest was occurring in Ireland.  (The Brooke Shields photo was recently on display again, this time with cultural disclaimers, at the Whitney Museum in NYC in January.)

Furthermore, just about anyone who has worked closely with Catholic clergy can attest that accusations of sexual crimes and/or homosexuality are, throughout history, by far the most common complaint heard by church officials and are almost always fraudulent accusations for reasons of revenge, jealously, unrequited love, etc.  For that reason, it really is pretty Kafka-esque to now try to hold people like the Pope, or the Pope's brother, or other high level officials in a billion member multinational institution liable, post-hoc, for actions that occurred three decades ago and never became a social priority until recently.  

But that doesn't mean that it would not be the honorable and virtuous thing to do for the Church and everyone involved that the Primate of Ireland resign his position to atone for institutional negligence that has truly hurt people, even if it were more prevalent throughout society than in the Church itself.  It would likely go far in protecting children both within and outside of Catholic institutions, and would be an act of true leadership than could restore a lot of lost credibility in Church institutions.

by santiago on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 05:11:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your consideration for proof etc would hold more water if we hadn't had the serial convictions in the USA where the church hierarchy colluded to move paedophile priests around to avoid detection by the authorities, even allowing one to flee justice to the Vatican as the net closed in.

Equally this pattern has been repeated in Ireland and now germany and austria where there have been a string of convictions against priests and affiliated organisations not just for child abuse and cruelty, but time and again the hierarchy attempted to close ranks and bury evidence.

It's not a case of whether the church has a higher preponderance of the beastly within its ranks, that's a matter of debate at a far more informed level than I can provide, it's a case of a repeated pattern of hiding evidence, protecting the guilty and intimidating the victims, all in the "good name of the church". That is the problem; if the clergy co-operated with the law and coughed up these people as soon as they were suspected, you'd hear nothing of this. Nothing. But as Nixon found, it ain't the crime, it's the cover up.

equally, to say that social mores have changed in 35 years is frankly scandalous. When has it ever been acceptable for children to be raped ? I don't care how far back you go, when did Jesus sign off on that one ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 05:24:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not just in the US, of course - evidence of institutional perversion, violence and criminal collusion has appeared everywhere that accusations have been investigated independently.

You don't need to invoke the Illuminati to understand that the Catholic church is utterly corrupt, has no moral compass beyond power and expediency, and cannot be trusted with any individual's welfare.

Dishonesty about paedophile activity is hardly the only form of mendacity sanctioned by the Vatican.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 06:12:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's how you might go about proving that what you just said is not a classic hate narrative (and I know you're not a hater, so I'm not accusing you of that):

Do research to find evidence on numbers of accusations and legal outcomes of Catholic defendants in sexual abuse cases and compare it, fairly, to proportionally equivalent numbers of non-Catholic Church defendants, with all of the appropriate or necessary controls/explanations for institutional bias (pro-or anti-Catholic), such as those commonly used in research where racial bias is an issue.

Being an employee or clergy member of Catholic institution is the independent variable, and being accused and/or found guilty in some way of sexual abuse or cover-up of said abuse is the dependent variable.

Null Hypothesis: There is no difference between Catholic institutions and non-Catholic institutional affiliation.

Alternative Hypothesis: There are proportionally more accusations and/or guilty outcomes among Catholic institutional affiliates than non-Catholic ones.

To my knowledge, no one has ever done this study, and largely it's because no one who has considered it seriously believes it to be true or useful -- it's an uninteresting question. Let me know if you find differently.  

Until such evidence becomes available, the only honest approach is to accept the null hypothesis -- that this is not a Catholic problem, but rather it is an individual problem, and that any narrative which implies otherwise is potentially a hate narrative.

by santiago on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 06:49:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice try, but of course that assumes that cover-ups never happen.

It's quite hard to prove wrong-doing when you own the judiciary and reliably claim that your unique status puts you above the law.

Unfortunately, sooner or later that unique status breaks down.

'Endemic' rape and abuse of Irish children in Catholic care, inquiry finds | World news | guardian.co.uk

Rape and sexual molestation were "endemic" in Irish Catholic church-run industrial schools and orphanages, a report revealed today.

The nine-year investigation found that Catholic priests and nuns for decades terrorised thousands of boys and girls in the Irish Republic, while government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rape and humiliation.

The high court judge Sean Ryan today unveiled the 2,600-page final report of Ireland's commission into child abuse, which drew on testimony from thousands of former inmates and officials from more than 250 church-run institutions. Police were called to the news conference amid angry scenes as victims were prevented from attending.

More than 30,000 children deemed to be petty thieves, truants or from dysfunctional families - a category that often included unmarried mothers - were sent to Ireland's austere network of industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels from the 1930s until the last facilities shut in the 1990s.

How much more evidence do you need to accept that there's a problem?  

You're attempting to spin this as occasional one-offs mixed in with false accusations. The reality is that when abuse is investigated, it reliably reveals thousands of cases.

Of course abuse happens in other institutions - our treatment of asylum seekers in the UK is nothing to be proud of. But no one claims that the prison service here is any kind of moral authority.

The Catholic Church very much does claim to be a moral authority - in fact it claims to be the ultimate moral authority on this planet.

So when it turns out to be rather fond of doling out sadism and abuse to innocents, scepticism about its claim to the moral high ground becomes unavoidable.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 11:37:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<blockgroups>Nice try, but of course that assumes that cover-ups never happen.
</blockgroups>

I assume no such thing. In fact, I assume they do occur, as I've mentioned in my comments. But you can't make the assumption that cover-ups happen any more in Catholic institutions than in non-Catholic ones without providing evidence on non-Catholic cover-ups or the lack thereof first. And at least from what I can report on my own reading and conversations with professionals in the field -- child psychologists, social workers, and lawyers, for instance -- no one to date is convinced enough that it is a "Catholic problem" to even bother to research it systematically. Yet the narratives of folks like you say the opposite. It's enough that it happens at all to justify an involvement of criminal and civil justice, but that doesn't mean we can use such cases to support an overall institutional indictments of the Catholic Church, at least if avoiding participation in hate narratives is important to you.

We should hold the Catholic Church and other religious organizations to higher standards.  But, even with the sex abuse scandals, we have no reason to believe that the Church isn't still achieving higher standards than the rest of society.  In order to argue that it is not, you have to produce evidence on sex abuse in the society at large. Right now, we still have as much reason to believe that sex abuse, and cover-ups of sex abusers, still occur less frequently in church administered settings than in non-Catholic institutions as we have of believing the opposite.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 11:31:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely the null hypothesis should be that the inclination to abuse and coverups is no greater in the Catholic Church than outside it.

However, the ability to get away with coverups is massively greater, simply on account of the depth, opacity and financial and political power of the Church.

We are rightly more concerned about signs that point to a willingness in the armed forces to use violence for (domestic) political ends than we would be about signs pointing to a willingness in some religious minority to use violence for political ends. Similarly, signs of conspiracy to evade civil justice is more serious in a multi-billion € transnational corporation and political propaganda machine than in your local, independent orphanage.

The volume and magnitude of the criminal activity is also likely to be greater, simply because more effective coverups means that offenders can get away with greater enormities and get to repeat them more often before they are caught.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 08:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the problem:

The vast majority of cases brought, and there have been thousands of them, result in no conviction or in outright acquittals.  

(Sources: I have the personal experience in this case of knowing both one of the leading lawyers in the US who prosecutes civil suits against the Catholic Church and one of the most successful attorneys defending priests against such accusations. (Both are big contributors to Democratic party causes which is how I got into their circles.)  I have also had the misfortune of having twice had two priest friends of mine fraudulently accused.  In the first case, I was just out of college working in Latin America where I discovered the gravely injured body of a rural priest from Columbia.  He had been stoned nearly to death by some people in his town because he was gay and had been accused of sexually molesting a young adult man who worked with him.  Everyone involved eventually recanted and agreed that the priest had done nothing at all, but that they thought he deserved stoning anyway just for admitting to the young man that he was gay. This is still a common problem of clerical life in rural 3rd world areas.

In the second, more recent case, a very popular and successful young priest was accused of raping the juvenile daughter of a prominent local community personality.  It turned out, after being confronted with taped evidence and other solid testimony, that the woman admitted to filing fraudulent charges because she had wanted to have an affair with the priest and was rejected by him in an indelicate manner. People are really complicated and not always rational, and this is a very common situation in which many priests find themselves throughout their careers.  

The problem, of course, is that once such an accusation is made, you can never be sure about the person again, regardless of how much exculpatory evidence exists, as it did for my two friends. That is why it's still good policy to investigate these things first internally before people's lives or careers (both accuser and accused) get destroyed. Unlike criminal rape charges brought by women, child sexual abuse charges are almost always found to be false or fraudulent.  Consequently, only a small percentage still result in convictions or a significant award of civil penalties, but just the accusation, if public, can destroy a lot of lives, so there is a very high degree of ambiguity in what on the surface seems a black and white issue of child protection.)

There certainly have been some convictions, however, and there is simply no excuse for even allowing one incident to occur, particularly for an organization that wants to be known for both its protection of children and for moral righteousness.  But there simply has never been any evidence, or even argument presented, to suggest that Catholic priests, as a category, are more likely to engage in criminal sexual activity or cover-ups than any other category of care-giving professionals, even though that is the implicit narrative of virtually every news story or blog on the matter.  That's what makes it potentially a hate narrative and why we must be careful with it.  

Indeed, for someone who has the curiosity and time to do so, an examination of cases (which one can easily do by googling an attorney in a news story and looking at the other cases in online court records that the attorney has also worked on) will likely show that there are simply more criminal sexual cases and civil accusations of cover-ups outside of the Catholic church in public schools, child care centers, etc.  And you'll likely see that most of them, but not all, also end up being thrown out of court or settled for the insurance company no-admission-of-guilt minimum (same as acquittal in American civil suits).

by santiago on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 06:24:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a really big problem with the alternative narrative you present, Santiago, even though I respect your intention to have a fair and balanced approach to the whole issue.  I appreciate you approach is in part conditioned by the personal experiences of your friends, but mine is also conditioned by my late wife's 20+ years as a social worker in Ireland where she came across so many hideous cases of abuse that it would challenge your belief in humanity.

The common factor in those cases of child abuse - and let us not confuse homosexuality with paedophilia here - is that the abuser was almost always in a position of authority over the abused - as a teacher, priest, father, uncle, or treasured family friend - and that the child was often not believed when the first accusations were made.

Yes, prosecutions were rare, and convictions were rarer still, but this is because most children couldn't face the highly adversarial system of justice we have here - so much so, that many described the experience of going to court as akin to being raped a second time.  

It is estimated that less than one in a hundred cases of abuse resulted in a successful prosecution, and that was not just because of the reluctance of the courts to find against highly respected and esteemed members of society, but the odds of proving a case were simply stacked against the victims.  

It is only latterly - with DNA testing, that it has become more possible to establish forensic standards of proof acceptable to the courts in a higher proportion of cases.  However I have direct experience of a perpetrator getting off scott free because of his Lawyer's success in intimidating the victim and potential witnesses.

And in all her years of working with both abused and abusers, my wife very very rarely came across a false allegation. Often the motivation for prosecution was not revenge or financial compensation, but a simple desire for recognition of the wrong committed, an apology, and an assurance that the perpetrator will not be able to re-offend.  

Yes, there is nothing more horrible for someone falsely accused.  But  family law cases involving minors are held in camera and the offender cannot be named unless a prosecution is successful - and sometimes not even then if it would assist in the identification fo the victim.

So I am afraid you are in danger of falling for the alternative institutional defence narrative, that Priests were no worse than the general population, ("a few bad apples"),that the Church had to protect their priests against false accusations, and that many of the allegations were dubious at best.

The reality, in Ireland, at least, is that Paedophiles tended to gravitate towards positions of authority were they could have  trusted contact with children, the opportunity to groom them, and the means of silencing them.  The role of Priest in traditional Irish society was ideal for this, and there have been virtually no allegations against priests of non-catholic denominations.  

Whether this can be proved to be statistically significant given their smaller number, I don't know, but we should also consider that a Priest in a non-catholic denominations tended to have a much less authoritarian role, was much less embedded in the Civil society power structures of the state, and was much less the object of uncritical obedience and veneration.

But where I really take issue with your narrative is the suggestion that the Catholic Church shouldn't be subjected to a higher standard of judgement than your average criminal or family member paedophile.  Of course there were paedophiles outside the Church.  But they were not held up to be the vicars of Christ and God's representatives on earth.  Of course there was abuse in secular institutions.  But the Catholic Church basically ran the show when it came to schools, hospitals, orphanages etc. and it demanded obedience, deference and severely punished those who failed to conform.  It was an enforced order which facilitated the abuse of authority to abuse children and where children's voices were not heard.

I would also contest your apparent belief that there is nothing inherent in catholic theology and canon law which resulted in a higher incidence of abuse - men forced to be celibate from 14,sexual repression, extreme emotional immaturity, a culture of absolute and uncritical obedience, widespread extreme physical cruelty, fascist political beliefs, the subjugation of women, and extreme authoritarianism.  

But that is not an argument that is widely made in the media and to bring it up here as part of your narrative is a bit of a straw man.  Virtually none of the campaigners for justice for victims of clerical abuse are anti-catholic as such, and some are quite devout in their beliefs.  Their outrage is at seeing their church betrayed.

And as others have pointed out here, it is not just the crime of child abuse itself, but the widespread and systematic abuse and cover-up at the highest level which ensued.  The Murphy report covered a sample of several hundred cases in just one dioceses. The Church knew about most of those allegations - many of those reports went to Rome - and the response was always the same.  Enforce silence on pain of excommunication.  Move the priest on to avoid scandal.  protect the institution at all costs.

And oh yes, the other common factor:  virtually no concern for the welfare of the victims themselves.

If the Church is now held to a higher standard it is because the Gospel it preaches holds it to a higher standard.  But frankly, it matters little what standard is applied.  It has failed at the level of the most basic human standards of decency and justice.  The full rigours of the law should be applied without fear or favour.  By all means hold cases in camera where irreparable damage might be done to the innocent.  But let;s stop making excuses for the most disgusting betrayal of trust known to humankind - done in the name of a God who "suffered the little children..."

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 08:48:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't agree with you less, and on virtually every point you've made here, but I respect your long response.  I'll pick just a few of your points, but let's start with one point I do agree with:

The common factor in those cases of child abuse - and let us not confuse homosexuality with paedophilia here - is that the abuser was almost always in a position of authority over the abused - as a teacher, priest, father, uncle, or treasured family friend - and that the child was often not believed when the first accusations were made.

However, you immediately break into a disclaimer of "Things are different here in Ireland," forgetting, apparently, that the sexual abuse scandals also were a big deal beforehand in the US, Latin America, and now have moved to the Continent as well, all following the same storyline.  So, this isn't an Irish thing at all.  It is one of two things: 1) Either there is, in fact, a global Catholic Church problem of an institutional conspiracy to protect sexual abusers, or  2) It's a re-wording of the classic elite hate narrative used in political discourse for centuries, often resulting in murder and massacre (for example, Spain and Mexico in the 20th century regarding Catholic clergy, but also the Holocaust of European Jews).  

Take this, for example:

The reality, in Ireland, at least, is that Paedophiles tended to gravitate towards positions of authority were they could have  trusted contact with children, the opportunity to groom them, and the means of silencing them.  The role of Priest in traditional Irish society was ideal for this, and there have been virtually no allegations against priests of non-catholic denominations.

Do you have any evidence for this, in Ireland or elsewhere? Because that isn't just an Irish argument you've made -- that's the typical, dinner-party reasoning made about paedofiles, care-giving professionals, and the Catholic Church anywhere. I suggest that it's based much more on an often-heard but entirely unschooled story about what motivates sexual abusers than on any actual empirical evidence, but I'm open to seeing the evidence on it, particulary in Ireland.  

Yes, prosecutions were rare, and convictions were rarer still, but this is because most children couldn't face the highly adversarial system of justice we have here - so much so, that many described the experience of going to court as akin to being raped a second time.  
 

True, but that's why you have to do a comparison between Catholic institutions and non-Catholic ones in some fair way (even if complicated by the fact that the Catholic Church predominates in such professions in Ireland -- a comparison with Northern Ireland's experience, for example.  However, your underlying point is that prosecutions are usually not successful because the system is stacked against the accuser. Also, possible, but that is only true if accusers are, in fact, usually telling the truth, and I don't think you can provide evidence that this is so, with all due respect to your wife. (Not a single false claim? (?!) Okay, but I have a lot of family members and friends in the social working profession too, a jaded bunch indeed, and that's not what even the church hating zealots among them say.)

It is only latterly - with DNA testing, that it has become more possible to establish forensic standards of proof acceptable to the courts in a higher proportion of cases.  However I have direct experience of a perpetrator getting off scott free because of his Lawyer's success in intimidating the victim and potential witnesses.
 

My argument doesn't rest on numbers of successful prosecutions. Just data on numbers of accusations made and court cases filed is sufficient.  It is possible that if the Church has a monopoly on education and child care in Ireland that it would complicate such evidence, but this isn't just an Irish issue, so data is available from the US and elsewhere.  And if it is an Irish issue, than it shouldn't be part of the narrative going on in Germany, Holland, and elsewhere right now.

And maybe the alleged perpetrator was innocent too, and his lawyer did the right thing.  It's you own experience, so I'll trust your judgement, but children lie, a lot and for lots of different reasons, and you'll find that the field of forensic psychiatry generally now accepts that the vast majority of child sexual abuse allegations are simply false, often with the child being forced by other adults to make accusations. (Source: a friend of mine -- I'm pretty invested personally in preventing child sexual abuse, for other personal reasons.)

I would also contest your apparent belief that there is nothing inherent in catholic theology and canon law which resulted in a higher incidence of abuse - men forced to be celibate from 14,sexual repression, extreme emotional immaturity, a culture of absolute and uncritical obedience, widespread extreme physical cruelty, fascist political beliefs, the subjugation of women, and extreme authoritarianism.

Your argument here rests on the wholly unfounded proposition that propensity to engage in child sexual abuse is influenced by vows to never marry or, in the case of religious orders, to never have sex, plus a bunch of common insults and Catholic stereotypes thrown in. (As if English public schools were known for their liberal children's rights policies back in the day.)  I think you'll find that nowhere in the academic psychology literature has it ever been argued, much less substantiated, that sexual abstinence, even in an institutional setting, has ever been associated in any way with child sexual abuse.  Being a previous victim of child abuse and violence has been associated with increased likelihood of committing abuse children as adults, but vows of celibacy and chastity? No, I think you're just defaulting to the larger hate narrative with that one.

Finally, no where do I argue that Church officials, even up to the Primate of Ireland where it can be shown that deliberate oversight or attempt to cover up a solid allegation occurred, should not be held accountable.  I've said exactly the opposite -- I think he should resign, given the evidence of that case in the public domain so far.  However, these tragic cases should not become ammunition for one's other personal grievances with the Catholic Church, because there is no honest connection between them, despite frequent unwarranted claims to the contrary in the common narratives of these events. When these unestablished connections are introduced, for example in the manner in which ThatBritGuy introduced them in his comments, an essay on a grave injustice perpetrated by people in power over innocent victims gets reduced to a lazy hate narrative about a perverted/elite Catholic clergy. It's dishonest, and it's dangerous.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 12:48:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Firstly, I write largely about Ireland, because that is where I have several decades of first hand and second hand experience of the problem, and I write about the facts as I find them here. I will leave it to others to draw the similarities and differences in other jurisdictions. (And I never said there wasn't a single false claim.  You don't need to be disingenuous or false in making your case)

Secondly, as I said, Ireland is a poor example to take if you are trying to prove or disprove the notion that paedophilia was more prevalent in Catholic rather than secular or Protestant contexts because of the relative sizes of the samples involved, but I note you ignore my comment that I know of no allegations against a protestant priest, for example, even though you would expect at least some allegations if only on a purely random basis based on the statistical prevalence of paedophilia and incest in family relationships.

Thirdly, the fact that I know of no statistical analyses on the prevalence of paedophilia in different types of institutions or relationships - without having done a search for same - speaks more to the fact that this is not a research interest of mine, largely because I know of no one in Ireland who would dispute such a connection between a particularly authoritarian and repressive form of Catholicism and the widely reported instances of abuse.  Hopefully some such research has or is being done, and I will be more than happy to concede your point if it shows that there is no greater statistical prevalence of abuse in Catholic institutions.  (Whether any funding could be obtained for such research is a different matter which I won't go in to here).

Fourthly, I have no particular personal interest in either crediting or discrediting Catholicism per se: It is abusive relationships facilitated by extreme authoritarian structures and a lack of respect for the rights of children that I have a problem with and this can and does occur in all sorts of religious and non-religious contexts.  Reforming such institutions so that the rights of children are respected, introducing mandatory reporting, better standards of investigation, and better therapeutic follow up for victims are my main concern.  If the Catholic Church in Ireland can be reformed so that these standard are in place, then I will have no problem with it.  However the reality at the moment is that the institutional Church is disintegrating before our eyes and may soon become irrelevant to any future debate as it will have no further significant role in the lives of our children.  This is the cost it is paying for not reforming itself sooner.  Perhaps it has the diehards who mounted the corporate defences you reiterated to thank for this as they refused to acknowledge there was a problem and put it all down to an anti-catholic conspiracy.

Fifthly, regardless of the relative incidence of child abuse in Catholic versus non-Catholic institutions, the very centralised nature of power in the Catholic Church worldwide has ensured that there was a consistent worldwide approach to dealing with such allegations.  Papal documents enforced secrecy and non-cooperation with civil authorities.  Cases were fought tooth and nail almost regardless of their intrinsic merits.  (You can congratulate your friends for the success of their strategy in reducing actual court judgements in favour of secret out of court settlements).  No effort was spared to maximise the further trauma of victims due to difficult and long drawn out proceedings.  Very little help was given to victims who never sought redress through the law in the first place.  Read the Murphy report if you don't believe me.

Finally the narrative you support is all about protecting the institutional church and says nothing about acknowledging and helping the actual victims.  It is this, more than anything, which is destroying the Church in Ireland at any rate.  If that is your strategy, then so be it.  You won't get much support from most Catholics in Ireland (or Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin for that matter).  His predecessor, Cardinal Connell, threatened to take him to court in an effort to prevent him from releasing relevant files to the police.

The bottom line:  Your battle is not mine.  I have no interest in conspiracy theories for or against the Catholic Church except insofar as they impact on the safety and welfare of children.  Adults can make their own choices as to which church, what kind of church, or no church they wish to belong to.  I believe the cover-up did far more damage to the Church than the actual abuse itself.  People accept that there will be instances of abuse and it is all about how those are handled.  People who try to discredit those who are committed to child welfare as just being engaged in some kind  of hate speech or anti-catholic conspiracy do their own Church a grave injustice, in my view.  Most Catholics I know are much better than that, and I wish them all the best.  Right now they are leaving their Church in droves but many would no doubt return if they felt there were genuine attempts at reform.  But for so long as the powers that be put all criticism down to anti-catholic conspiracies, no real reform is possible, and the decline will continue.

BTW in a very clever piece of political/legal manoeuvring your friends would no doubt approve - a previous Government indemnified the Catholic Church against all damages (estimated in Billions) in return for some property which may turn out to be worth very little indeed. So the Church doesn't even need to take a hard line on defending cases.  All taxpayers, Catholic or no, will end up paying.  Far be it for me to suggest that it might have been a conspiracy between a devout Catholic minister and Church authorities to get that through the Cabinet before before the true scale of abuse as later revealed in Church files was known to the rest of the Ministers. A protestant run school, which was sued for millions because a swimming coach employed by a separate swimming club which rented the school pool abused swimmers on their premises was not helped by the state in any way. The school itself was not found to be at fault but was liable in full because the swimming club had no assets and the Irish Amateur Swimming Association - the Governing Body - was wound up. (And reconstituted as a separate legal entity soon afterwards). If there are conspiracies in Ireland, it would be hard to make the case that they are anti-catholic.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 02:43:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I take no side issue other than the side of innocent people who've had their lives ruined.  I have friends who have had their lives ruined by child abusers and friends who have had their lives ruined by fraudulent accusations of sexual abuse. In all cases in my own experience, institutional authorities were at fault for withholding the truth from injured parties and thereby exacerbating the tragedies.  And if your writing were only about the dangers of unchecked power of institutional authorities who happen to be Catholic and the threat this poses to children, I wouldn't be as concerned, and, honestly, that's pretty much the way you'd originally written it.

You wrote a good story about someone who is now a Cardinal and who in the past actually made some kids swear an oath not to tell anyone about their complaints of sexual abuse. That's a stand-alone scandal that serves your argument that he should resign - an argument I endorse wholeheartedly, as I said in my comment.  It also serves your argument for institutional changes to protect kids in the future against institutional biases to protect employees that apparently are problematic Ireland.  I endorse that argument as well.

However, the comments your essay elicited from others here, and a few narrative elements within it, provide a reason for a mild warning on hate narratives.  Namely, it is important, for honesty's sake, to qualify the Catholicism part of the flawed institutional identity at issue, or else to offer solid evidence that makes Catholicism or clergy membership integral to the argument of institutional abuse of power.  (You offer an op-ed piece, not factual evidence that warrants any claims.) If you don't, you run the risk of generating, particularly on this issue, knee-jerk class-association responses like ThatBritGuy's, which assert that Catholicism or being a priest is itself the source of the problem and not individual agents or identifiable, institutional flaws in governance systems. Just like being black is associated with criminal activity.

I had given you the benefit of the doubt based on your diary that you weren't in the same camp as other Catholic bashers who've spoken up, as usual, on this issue, but you responded with repetitions of the same class-association slurs that make up the plot of the standard hate narrative -- non-mainstream sexual commitments, an inherent tendency to abuse power among Catholic clergy , and secrecy within a class of people (Perverts/Illuminati) are the root source of the problem in Ireland -- the same found in in all other countries and throughout history, like it has been for Freemasons, Jews, Templars (Friday the 13th) and other despised elites at different times in history.  And it's the same narrative on Catholic priests being served up in popular and policy-making discourse everywhere these days regarding Catholic clergy -- not just Ireland.

And this means we need to put on our critical thinking caps regarding this whole story.  What's really the evidence and what are you really arguing for here?  Details make all the difference between a lazy diary entry and a de facto hate narrative.

If you want to claim that Catholic or clergy identity is the important independent variable at issue in your story, you've got to back it up with some researched evidence on abuse and cover-ups among non-Catholics for comparison.  Just because you haven't heard about it in the news yourself doesn't support your story if you're the one accusing others of very serious offenses by association.  A writer has the responsibility of doing the the homework, or else qualifying the shortcomings omitted material in the writing, or just holding one's tongue if honesty is important.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 03:53:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
you responded with repetitions of the same class-association slurs that make up the plot of the standard hate narrative -- non-mainstream sexual commitments, an inherent tendency to abuse power among Catholic clergy , and secrecy within a class of people (Perverts/Illuminati) are the root source of the problem in Ireland -- the same found in in all other countries and throughout history, like it has been for Freemasons, Jews, Templars (Friday the 13th) and other despised elites at different times in history.  And it's the same narrative on Catholic priests being served up in popular and policy-making discourse everywhere these days regarding Catholic clergy -- not just Ireland.

You're making all of that up.  The most I have done is made an argument that extremely cruel, repressive, authoritarian and secretive systems, almost completely concerned with protecting the institution and with little concern for the welfare of children are conducive to endemic child abuse.  That is a direct reflection of the conclusions of the Murphy and Ryan reports which not even the Church has disputed.  

If you think that authoritarianism, secrecy. perverting the course of justice and obliviousness to the rights and welfare of children are essential tenets of Catholicism then I stand guilty of anti-Catholicism as charged. However all Catholics I know are as embarrassed and outraged by what happened as I am.

The fact is there has been no comparable scale of abuse in non-Catholic institutions even allowing for their smaller scale.  It is therefore for you to prove that (at least in Ireland) there was no Catholic dimension to a problem which overwhelmingly manifested itself in Catholic run institutions.

If this feeds into some broader narrative that is not justified elsewhere, then let those who apply that narrative elsewhere justify that.  I cannot take responsibility for the fact that a writer (say) in Germany adduces an Irish parallel to an argument s/he is making in a German context.

ThatBritGuy is more than capable of defending himself.  However my experience of ET is that most contributors are either indifferent to religion or actively anti-religious, and require rational arguments or facts to support an argument rather than faith or belief.  A diary on a religious topic is always going to excite but marginal interest, but I have not detected a particular anti-Catholic bias.  All religious sentiment unsupported by facts tends to get pretty short shrift regardless of its denominational origins.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 04:39:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact is there has been no comparable scale of abuse in non-Catholic institutions even allowing for their smaller scale.  

We just don't know that this is true. Neither you nor anyone else has been able to present compelling evidence on on a very simple clarifying question about your diary -- is this an Irish problem, a social service problem, or a Catholic problem, and what's the evidence?  I hope you can see that by not specifying an answer to this question in your piece or responses, you're implicitly arguing that this is primarily a Catholic problem, not an Irish one or a general problem of society or governance. So can you back up that claim with a factual comparison with non-Catholic social service agencies?  I'm agnostic on this. I just want to see the evidence.

The answer to this question has no import at all on your central thesis that those who covered up and allowed these tragedies to occur should face some kind of justice and that reforms are also needed.  But the answer to this question does clarify an important element about the level of trust I, as a reader of your piece, can have in your thinking as writer. Frankly, if you don't answer or at least clarify your sensitivity to this problem I have to assume you don't even recognize the problem exists and it makes your whole diary suspect.

It is therefore for you to prove that (at least in Ireland) there was no Catholic dimension to a problem which overwhelmingly manifested itself in Catholic run institutions.

No, it is your job of the writer of a diary, not me, the reader, to either clarify or back up or any implied accusations against a class of people with facts and not mere insinuation. I've informed you that your evidence doesn't support an implied thesis that this is a Catholic problem, requiring Catholic reforms, or a different problem requiring different reforms.  And comments on your diary seem to have an anti-cleric or anti-Church flavor, justifying my honest questions about your piece.

Obviously you don't agree, but it's your loss as a writer if you choose to be insensitive to such issues and your readers, not mine.  I'm challenging you to be a better writer on this topic, take it leave it.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 06:04:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't give you evidence of what doesn't exist.  There has been no instance of child abuse in Ireland on any scale comparable to that which has been found to have been endemic in Catholic run institutions.  Zero, zilch, nada.  Is there some language you understand that can put this any more emphatically?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 06:38:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but you can give evidence that someone with credibility has actually raised the question and looked into it, also finding nothing.  

If no one has, then simple honesty and respect for people requires that we clarify that we can't derive any implication about Catholic institutions or clergy as a class from this -- just that we know that a problem definitely exists in at least one major provider of social services, the Catholic Church, and that those problems must be addressed as well as looked into in all other providers of social services.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 06:43:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Enough, already. I find my self sickened by the  general pettifogging tone taken here by Santiago.

Really, it reminds me of the health care debate line taken by Boehner, or the climate debate lines taken by the warming deniers.

"Prove it, beyond a reasonable doubt!"

Yeah, right. The threat from the admins in the Church was excommunication for bringing in the secular authorities.

I'm quite willing to the the church versus society in this line of secrecy at all costs. Just makes sense.

So call me a hater. To me, it's fish in the milk.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 03:34:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If covering op kiddie rape were the only problem, and if it didn't run all the way to the top, I might be inclined to cut them some slack.

But it's not the only problem. There's a laundry list of problems, including

  • Dubious financial transactions.

  • The kind of dubious connections to the second world war that have been closely scrutinised elsewhere in European society.

  • Consistent political support for criminals, like Bush the Lesser and Corruptioni, who operate under a rather unusual definition of rule of law.

  • Promoting hostile foreign meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign states.

  • Lying about reproductive health in countries where the prevalence of lethal sexually transmitted diseases make such lies amount to little more than common murder.

  • Hatemongering against LGBT people.

  • Support for unsavoury regimes in Latin America.

  • Consistent sexism.

And a long, long list of other reasons to consider the Catholic Church as currently constituted a malign influence that should be excised.

The majority of the listed points are matters of stated, official policy. Some of them it even boasts of when it's sure no civilised member of the congregation is around to object.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 08:36:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I'll note in addition that even with copious amounts of slack being cut, any organisation that demands the right to insinuate itself in government functions, such as education, must be held to a higher standard than Joe Blow down the street.

Further, the size and power - financial as well as political - of the Catholic Church reduces the amount of slack I'm willing to cut. Having a powerful organisation behind you makes it easier to cover up crimes and outright thumb your nose at the law. Having a powerful organisation at your disposal also makes it much easier to prevent, discover and take action against crimes if one is so inclined.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 09:05:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
Furthermore, just about anyone who has worked closely with Catholic clergy can attest that accusations of sexual crimes and/or homosexuality are, throughout history, by far the most common complaint heard by church officials and are almost always fraudulent accusations for reasons of revenge, jealously, unrequited love, etc.  

There have been very few allegations against alleged "victims" in Ireland that they are bringing an action for the reasons you cite.  The guilt of most of the alleged transgressors is not even disputed.  Generally they have not been convicted until decades after their initial offences and after many more children were abused.  Their victims were silenced on pain of excommunication.  At best the perpetrators  were sent to an institution for "therapy" which was known not to be effective.  Usually they were moved to another dioceses with no restriction on, or monitoring of their subsequent activities.

What you are repeating here is really the most vile, pernicious, self-serving, institutional self rationalisation ideology which has virtually no basis in fact.

False allegations are a feature of any civil or criminal judicial system.  There are huge safeguards to prevent wrongful convictions - and even more in the case of offences against juveniles which are generally held in camera.

Anybody else who is accused of a crime has to go through this judicial process.  On what basis could the church arrogate to itself the power to decide that its members need not submit themselves to the demands of civil or criminal justice like any other citizen?

To this day the Papal Nuncio still refuses to meet the Irish parliament sub-committee charged with investigating the degree of cover up.  Rome has not even acknowledged the Murphy Commission's requests for information on what files were sent to Rome.  Could they be any more contemptuous of the secular institutions of a democratic state that is Governed by the rule of law?

And BTW, church leaders are the first to run to the civil courts if they feel their prerogatives have been challenged in any way.

Can I please reiterate:  we are dealing with children here.  Many far too young to have sexual fantasies or fixations of their own.  Many were beaten by their own parents for daring to say anything against the priest.  They had virtually no prospect of a fair hearing.  The police and health services had a policy of not interfering in Church affairs.  Anybody who took up their case risked being ostracised and having their career terminated.

Have you any idea of the scale and magnitude of what went on?  Please don't extrapolate from a couple of instances were injustices were committed in entirely different contexts and buy into a whole corporate ideology which has very little to do with the reality of the vast majority of cases.

And finally - my last word on this - whatever about the Polanskis and tabloid media of this or any other age - child care professionals knew very well - 35 years ago - the scale of the damage being done to children. There may have been a great deal of popular innocence and ignorance, but that did not extend to professionals - doctors, teachers, nurses, psychologists,church administrators and social workers in the field.  Many chose to ignore it because their jobs depended on Church patronage.  But don't buy into the collective hand wringing and hand washing and selective memories now.  They didn't want to know.  

I lived through that period and had to contend with the culture of fear, blind obedience and silence.  But anyone with any integrity òr worth their professional position knew better.

What has changed is that the balance of power has changed.  The Church is no longer in absolute control.  And the main consequence of that is that children are listened to know.  There is mandatory reporting and proper independent investigation of allegations - and still a very high threshold of evidence which results in very few cases going to court.

But what has changed is not that there is any great fund of new knowledge now.  All the knowledge needed to deal with the problem was available 35 years ago.  What has changed is the balance of power.  And don't you think there is something peculiarly Christian about children being listened to and taken seriously when they exhibit severe symptoms and voice a complaint?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 10:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank, you're buying the hate narrative hook, line, and sinker, and I'm calling you out on it.  

I've worked myself to see a teacher brought to justice for abusing a child, so, yes, I do have a very good idea of the magnitude of what went on -- I claim to be an insider on this issue.  And, no, there is simply not the evidence to date that this is a large scale, institutional problem.  Rather, it is a problem where church policy has given too much credence in the excuses of accused priests precisely because child and other sexual abuse allegations have usually proven to be false and have occurred  against clergy members for centuries, often part of a concerted political narrative by state authorities aimed a silencing or destroying political or economic rivals among the clergy.  

Church policy is guilty of erring on the side of the accused, and this needs to be corrected because we now have in place larger societal protections such as the privacy ones you've mentioned in Ireland than what existed even 25 years ago.  (In the US, Latin America, privacy protections for people accused of sexual crimes don't exist, particularly in civil suits, so you may have better protections in Ireland.)

You say I don't have facts? I'm not the one making allegations of institutional problems in Catholicism here.  For all we know with the evidence presented in public to date, the Catholic Church is ahead of the curve on dealing with this now while it goes on unaddressed in the rest of society.  You're the one here using a few tragic cases in Ireland to indict a whole class of people -- in this case Catholic clergy -- here.  I'm just being skeptical about it, so the burden of proof rests on you, not the skeptic.  Show me compelling facts, and I'll change my mind.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 01:11:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
And, no, there is simply not the evidence to date that this is a large scale, institutional problem.

You mean, apart from the Ryan Report?

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Conclusions

Conclusions included:

Overall. Physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of the institutions. Sexual abuse occurred in many of them, particularly boys' institutions. Schools were run in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even on staff.

Physical abuse. The Reformatory and Industrial Schools depended on rigid control by means of severe corporal punishment and the fear of such punishment. A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from.

Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse was endemic in boys' institutions. The schools investigated revealed a substantial level of sexual abuse of boys in care that extended over a range from improper touching and fondling to rape with violence. Perpetrators of abuse were able to operate undetected for long periods at the core of institutions. When confronted with evidence of sexual abuse, the response of the religious authorities was to transfer the offender to another location where, in many instances, he was free to abuse again. The safety of children in general was not a consideration. The situation in girls' institutions was different. Although girls were subjected to predatory sexual abuse by male employees or visitors or in outside placements, sexual abuse was not systemic in girls' schools.

Neglect. Poor standards of physical care were reported by most male and female complainants. Children were frequently hungry and food was inadequate, inedible and badly prepared in many schools. Accommodation was cold, spartan and bleak. Sanitary provision was primitive in most boys' schools and general hygiene facilities were poor.

Emotional abuse. Witnesses spoke of being belittled and ridiculed on a daily basis. Private matters such as bodily functions and personal hygiene were used as opportunities for degradation and humiliation. Personal and family denigration was widespread. There was constant criticism and verbal abuse and children were told they were worthless.

Supervision by the Department of Education. The system of inspection by the Department was fundamentally flawed and incapable of being effective. Complaints by parents and others made to the Department were not properly investigated. The Department did not apply the standards in the rules and their own guidelines when investigating complaints but sought to protect and defend the religious Congregations and the schools. The Department dealt inadequately with complaints about sexual abuse, which were generally dismissed or ignored.

Why are you defending this?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 02:56:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a problem, and big and very tragic one. But is it institutional -- meaning is there something endemic to the Catholic Church as an institution that caused it?  Or is there instead something endemic to the way social services are provided that allows abuse and cover-ups to occur? Or is this something about Irish society or consumer capitalist society?  Those are the key questions, because reforming the problem differs based on what the answers are, and they demonstrate honesty on the part of the writer - a reason to trust the writer. But none of this changes the fact that people should be held accountable for the abuse and cover up that did occur.  Capiche? (Or does your skepticism end when the target of social ire is a faith organization?)
by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 06:16:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Yes, Yes. Child abuse was endemic in Catholic run institutions providing social services in capitalist Ireland.  

The solution has been to close virtually all the Catholic institutions (except some elite private boarding schools and hospitals), to de-stigmatise illegitimacy and single parenthood and allow single and unmarried parents to retain their children, to de-stigmatise poverty and provide better social welfare and child care benefits and services, to provide better state oversight of private provision of social care services, with mandatory reporting, social care orders for children at risk, multi-disciplinary case conferencing etc. and strengthening legal safeguards for children and greater provision of fostering and adoptions facilities and services.  

It's far from perfect and some at risk children fall through the cracks because of inadequate provision largely due to underfunded services or inadequate coordination of services.  But we didn't have a choice in any case since the Catholic Church has imploded with almost zero vocations of nuns, brothers and priests.  Many existing nuns, brothers and Priests have been laicised, married or left the Church altogether.

There are almost no religious teachers or nurses any more, and the role of the Church is restricted to a management role as they generally hold title to the deeds of the premises even though the services are entirely funded by the state.  Even this residual role is gradually ending with a growth of non-denominational schools and hospitals in all sectors.

The argument you make is almost irrelevant in Ireland.  The Catholic Church has been all but destroyed by a variety of factors and trends, the most dramatic of which have been the revelations of child abuse.  It is withdrawing from public life and engagement in all but the most basic ritual functions - Mass, confirmations, weddings, funerals - and even that much less so.

Virtually nobody would take your conspiracy theories seriously in Ireland.  The Church accomplished this state of affairs almost by itself.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 07:22:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, those are reasonable arguments. There are (at least) three general ways to categorize strategies of arguing controversial policies that affect people: 1) Throw out insults and insinuations meant to humiliate the target of policy and silence others. (Hate narratives.) 2) Pick and choose from "common wisdom," or the dominant narratives floating around society at any point in time and if it seems right or confirms other suspicions, go with it.  3) Organize one's thoughts in a systematic manner, similar to the way science organizes thoughts about natural phenomenon, i.e., the way lawyers and social scientists would approach the problem. I don't beleive you're using approach 1, so I think that you're really using approach 2. While there is nothing to prove that strategy #3 is superior to either 1 or 2, I think it is the most honest and fair one, so let's attempt to address your findings of yes, yes, and yes in that way:

Here's how it works:

  1. Specify, hypothosize, or theorize a reason why a problem has occurred, i.e. suggest an independent variable, backed with an argument of why you picked it. (You've done that here, regarding causal factors in the sex abuse scandals as Irishness, and Catholicness.  You argue reasonably that the sex abuse coverup scandal in Ireland is due to Catholic management of social services and Irish idiosycracies.)

  2. Specify a default hypothesis -- something reasonable and more general, a counterfactual, than the cause given in step 1 if it cannot be shown that 1 is, indeed, the causal agent you thought it was. (Often this is, "We just don't know.")

  3. Research evidence and reasonable arguments supporting BOTH the default and the alternative hypotheses.  

  4. Compare and decide if you can still honestly conclude that the hypothesized causal agent is really a better explanation than the more general default explanation.

Going through your reasoning here for Irishness as an important explanatory factor of the sex scandals:

  1. Your Hypothesis: Situations unique to Ireland have contributed to the sex abuse cover-ups.

  2. Default Hypothesis: Irishness does not really explain much about the differences between countries where cover-ups of sex abuse in the Church have occurred and where they have not occurred.

  3. Evidence and reasoning: One way we might approach this is to see if the scandal is a greater problem in Ireland than it is in other comparable countries by some measure -- more egregious, more incidences, etc. The fact that cover-up scandals have been reported in most of the Catholic world now seem complicate matters here, because it seems to invalidate the possibility of finding enough variability in the data that could be explained by Irishness, but it's still a possibility with the right evidence and methodology.  Alternatively, what can we say about Irishness evidence that Irishness is not an explanatory factor?  I suggest we just say that if sufficent evidence cannot be found to demonstrate that Irishness IS an important factor, we conclude that either it isn't or we just don't know.

  4. Evaluate and compare the evidence.  Where have sex scandal coverups been reported? Where did the story start? Can we really say that Irishness explains why they occurred in the places that they did, or is it better to conclude that such scandals have occurred in too many places already to say that Irishness has much at all to do with it?

On to Catholicness.

  1. The model: Something inherent in Catholic institutional identity, such as its internal rules, approach to civil society, etc., explain a lot about the sex abuse scandals that have plagued it

  2. Default: Sex abuse and cover-ups cannot be explained very well by Catholic identity.  Something else must be the real source of the problem.

  3. Evidence and reasoning: We already have a lot of documented evidence that both sex abuse scandals and cover-ups of sex abuse incidents have occurred, in many parts of the world now, but do we have any comparable evidence that similar social functions in the rest of society are relatively free of the same kinds of abuse and coverups?  The evidence provided in support of this being a Catholic problem has so far come in the form of the Church's own internal audits, which are credible in the sense that they did find a significant problem, and from main stream media reporting and investigation of the scandal. Since we wouldn't expect to find major reporting of a finding that nothing has occurred in non-Catholic organizations, we could accept that if there were at least some documents showing that at least some disinterested and competent people actually asked the question of whether abuse and coverups exist in the same scale outside of the church we would have comparable evidence.

  4. Compare and evaluate:  In order to do this, someone has to first find a published document somewhere that shows that anyone, anywhere, has looked into whether abuse and coverups exist as much outside of Catholic institutions or not, even in other parts of the world if you can't escape Catholic institutions in Ireland to find data untainted by Catholics. Lacking the evidence that anyone has even looked into this enough to dismiss it, we have to conclude that, at least at this time, we can't say that Catholicness really explains much of the difference between where abuse and coverups occur and where they don't.  We need data on where they don't occur first!  

So, where are comparable social services and protective custody of children being provided that have been shown to be free of the problems plaguing Catholic institutions, and what is it about them that makes them more successful?  

Asking this question this way, I argue, is the only honest way to address this issue without tainting the argument with social constructions for or against Catholic identity.

There are, of course, more possibilities involving combinations of Catholicism and nationality (as opposed to just Ireland) to consider as well, but the issue is doing it in a way that treats evidence as honestly as possible without making dishonest a priori assumptions about things based only on the dominant social narratives of the day.

Would this approach better protect children when dealing with this issue?  Yes, emphatically.  Consider that in the past, as recently as the 1970's, the importance and social priority of specifying children's rights was absent from the dominant social narratives and likely contributed to a de-prioritization of accusations of abuse in a way we would find surprising today.  Depending primarily on dominant social narratives for arguing policy consistently leads to ignoring pleas for help from the people who don't fit the narratives.

by santiago on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 03:09:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You want an alternative study?

A  few years back, I took quite a few counselling courses (most of a degree, in fact), and did volunteer work as a counsellor.

Of the people I met, spoke to and counselled who were open about having been sexually abused in that time, approximately 60% had been raped by Catholic priests. This is not a Catholic country. If priests "only" raped at the rate of the general population, one would expect to find far fewer examples than that.

100% of those raped by priests had had their families bullied into covering it up. 0% had ever taken the matter to the police. Or claimed compensation. As I recall, "They're making it up for the money" was one of the vile slanders tried on at the time.

Cry "statistically insignificant" if you will, but you seem to think that your anecdotes of the biased constitute evidence. This is what I found. And I was not alone in finding it.

by Sassafras on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 06:13:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not hate narrative, santiago.  It's revulsion.
by Sassafras on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 06:22:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's valid evidence.
by santiago on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 02:37:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are a number of different ways of organising social research, of which the empiricist model you suggest is one.  My piece started as not much more than a simple piece of news reporting and we then got into discussing competing narratives and which one better reflected the reality on the ground - in Ireland at any rate.  I never attempted to portray my contribution here as rigorous original research.  It was an amalgam of Official reports, news reports, direct contact with professionals in the field, personal and family experiences etc. plus some argumentation on my part.

The bit that interests me personally a bit more - I do not have the time to do original empirical research - is to attempt to de-construct the differing narratives employed.  I would characterise my narrative as broadly structural/functionalist with with a bit of materialism thrown in.  What were the structures at work, what role and functions did the various actors play within them, whose interests were being served?

When I recovered from the shock of your original intervention - I had never heard anyone in Ireland argue that it was all an anti-Catholic conspiracy even if some victim advocates were suspected of leftist or securalist agendas - I hypothesised your narrative as being a faith based institutional protection narrative: the real incidence of child abuse was being grossly exaggerated, the church was only doing what other organisations would have done in similar circumstances, there was no evidence of endemic or systematic abuse, the controversy was being hyped by anti-catholic propagandists opposed to Catholicism per se, it even constituted hate speech by catholic haters.

It reminded me of the Holocaust denial narrative, and then, as Jake pointed out, also of attempts by Zionists to portray all opposition to Zionism, or support for Palestinian human rights as anti-semitism similar to what has blighted European (and Christian) discourse regarded Jews in the past. I hypothesised that this was a debate going on in Catholic circles in the US where perhaps the Catholic Church is still a serious player in national and local political and social discourse.  

But I don't think you appreciate just how "discredited" that discourse is in Ireland and Europe.  Hence the dismissive attitudes of other ETers here.  Hence my argument that the Catholic Church is no longer a serious player in public policy formulation in Ireland - except for some residual elite secondary education and primary school management functions - and that even the Bishops themselves no longer seek to make the case you were making.  Several have already resigned and more will follow. And the reason is simple: the evidence of endemic abuse in Irish Catholic institutions is massive and unequivocal in countless personal testimonies, official reports, court judgements and admissions from within the Church itself.

Your narrative may still have traction within faith based communities in the US.  It feeds into popular conspiracy theories and attempts to portray the state as evil.  There may still be a culture war between faith and secular narratives in the US, but that war is largely over in Ireland and large parts of western Europe.  In Ireland it is actually devout Catholics who feel most betrayed by their Church.  Secularists were either disinterested or anti the Church anyway.

Your narrative seems, to me, to put the Church's short term interests - damage limitation, asset protection - at the risk of destroying its core message in the eyes of its own believers: that the Church represents the Kingdom of God and that ordained Priests are its consecrated and near infallible representatives.  The problem for the faith based narrative is that real danger lies within.  As such I see it as a flawed narrative which ill serves the interests it is designed to protect.  The Church is imploding not, primarily, because of some external secularist, Islamic or Protestant onslaughts, but because it has become dysfunctional where the rest of society has moved on.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 07:21:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My main concern here is not the Church -- it's individuals. By uncritically accepting the wrong narrative instead of attempting to be simply honest with the evidence, wrong policy options get framed. The Church can take care of itself, and, because it has definitely identified a problem with abuse, regardless of whether that abuse is greater or lesser than the rest of society, the Church will have to address it on its own.  That's not my concern with the anti-Church narrative here.

My concern comes from this point which you made in a recent comment (I think to Jake):

<blockgroup>The Irish police are notoriously discrete when it come to dealing with people in positions of influence, and the courts still notoriously lenient on offenders.  There really was no excuse for not reporting in Ireland.   The odds are still stacked against the victim who still does not have independent representation or advice in court unless they can afford private legal fees...</blockgroup>

The problem with this is that, if true, it just validates the argument that the Church was not, or is not, doing anything differently than civil authorities would do.  Secrecy and a perhaps overly aggressive presumption of the innocence of an accused caregiver is how the civil state treats abuse claims as well as the Church, according to your statement. And the damning reports on this issue confirm this -- its the Irish police who gave the benefit of the doubt to accused clerics as well as the now-Cardinal Primate of Ireland.

I think you and others here are interpreting my emphasis on this argument as my trying to protect the Church.  Nothing could be further from the truth. I've encountered enough ill will among Church officials in my time to feel no vested interest in helping them out of problems of their own making or oversight. What matters most to me is the narrowing of policy reform possibilities that are inherent in a blame-the Church narrative of these events.

Namely, by blaming the Church for protecting the interests of its priests from damages they may personally face if accusations are false (which they often are, even if they often enough are true as well) the narrowing of options for reform gets limited to two possibilities: Give more power to the state, and/or take power away from individuals by reducing their claims to innocence until proven guilty and allowing them to be punished before their guilt has been determined through some fair process.  It's straight out of Foucault, sexual deviancy and all -- the tyranny of a rights=based discourse.

Just because we know that the Church has failed does not mean that we should trust the state to do a better job (the principal agent problem is not automatically corrected if the state is given more responsibility than private organizations with more experience, even bad experience, in such work) or that protections of victims rights need to supersede the rights of innocent people who are accused of grave crimes.

That is why it is necessary to seriously and explicitly address, through an empirically compelling argument, that something inherent in the Church is the important causal factor here, and that it's not really something else.

by santiago on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 03:14:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
The problem with this is that, if true, it just validates the argument that the Church was not, or is not, doing anything differently than civil authorities would do.  Secrecy and a perhaps overly aggressive presumption of the innocence of an accused caregiver is how the civil state treats abuse claims as well as the Church, according to your statement. And the damning reports on this issue confirm this -- its the Irish police who gave the benefit of the doubt to accused clerics as well as the now-Cardinal Primate of Ireland.

Collusion between Church and state was certainly a problem at some levels, but the state moved on much faster than the church.  The problems I was referring to - in latter years - was much more related to the inherent difficulty of proving sexual abuse against a child - if it was some time before it was reported, if there were no witnesses, no forensic evidence, a respected adults word against a childs...  etc. a defendents rights are pretty well protected in Ireland, including an extensive free legal aid scheme for defendants (but not for victims).

However in general the states response was entirely different to the church - victims were not sworn to silence, allegations were investigated by the police, files often went to the Director of Public Prosecutions who decided (based on the likely of a successful prosecution) whether a case should go to court.  Sentencing in Ireland is hugely more lenient than the US for all offences - Murderers often serve less than 10 years - but there was also a need to educate older judges of the traumatic impact that sexual offences could have on children.  Latterly, victim impact statements have become commonplace.

There was an instance in my locality of a local policeman encountering huge hostility for pursuing a case against a local priest - however he did his job and the priest was eventually convicted. Those who thought that the church could do no wrong and that the child must have been fantasising have kept something of a low profile since.

I take your point about a wrong analysis of what went wrong leading to flawed policy recommendations for the future.  However with the Church imploding there is no choice but for the state to take over - assisted by some charities subject to state regulation.  

In another context I would also be very critical of the state response - social workers working only 9-5, lack of emergency accommodation, children ending up going from one set of foster parents to another in quick succession etc.  

It really is incredibly difficult (and expensive) to care for children when their family breaks down.  The provision of generous state benefits for single parents has actually led to a huge increase in very young single mothers who cannot care for their children very adequately according to some authorities.

In this regard I would have one last crib against the Catholic Church.  Having a child, in my view, is an incredible responsibility which you should only undertake after careful consideration, preparation and planning.  Yet the Church discouraged contraception and taught that it was a sin to try to prevent conception.  This has led, in my view, to many parents who didn't really want children, have no idea how to care for them, and who go on to neglect or abuse them terribly - with many going on into state or foster care: a very suboptimal solution at best.

So in summary - the Church got very screwed up about sex, and screwed up society in turn.  It's going to take a very long time before that baleful legacy is overcome.  Better sex and relationship education, less single sex schools, more responsible attitudes to parenthood, state funded training courses for parents, a reduction in alcohol and drug abuse, less deference to authority, but also greater personal responsibility for actions taken.  You would think that a Christian ehtic could have a role in this.  Sadly the scandals have so besmirched Christianity that the solutions will have to be largely secular for a very long time to come.


notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 04:07:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not an easy issue by any stretch, but, again, you just really do have to consider the counter-factual to assert any honest conclusions.

Yet the Church discouraged contraception and taught that it was a sin to try to prevent conception.  This has led, in my view, to many parents who didn't really want children, have no idea how to care for them, and who go on to neglect or abuse them terribly - with many going on into state or foster care: a very suboptimal solution at best.

Is Catholicism really the contributing factor in too many births among people, Ireland and elsewhere, who can't handle more kids? And if so, why isn't Catholicism a contributing factor in increased marriage rates among such people (going down), decreased divorce rates (up), or any observed reduction in incidences of extramarital sex or adultery, all of which the Catholic Church also provides specific normative direction.  It doesn't really make sense that people who ignore Catholic teaching when it comes to extramarital sex all of sudden become devout when it comes to birth control, does it? Or are you suggesting that it's all those irresponsible, albeit humorless, young couples who actually go to Mass every week who are the ones who also can't handle the children they have?

The only narrative we should be following in all of this is to keep a healthy sense of skepticism and critical thinking about what seems like common wisdom.

by santiago on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 04:56:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
Is Catholicism really the contributing factor in too many births among people, Ireland and elsewhere, who can't handle more kids?

Hmm - let's see. The Church says that contraception is sinful and evil, and people who use will spend an eternity in utter torment.

So - yes, there's absolutely no reason for the Church to be blamed when people don't use contraception and have large families they can't afford or manage.

Clearly, there couldn't possibly be any connection between cause and effect there.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 05:19:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But do people actually listen to the church regarding birth control?  Because the evidence on other sexually related activities is that they don't listen. So what explains, if your version is true, why people are such devout Catholics when it comes to birth control but not chastity?

And, regarding large families, are those really the ones who surrender their children's care to Church or other authorities?  Or are they perhaps the kids from smaller, but broken families?

by santiago on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 05:51:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - the evidence is they used to listen very much.

CJO - Abstract - Ideal family size in the Irish Republic

Irish wives have high family size preferences, the overall mean ideal family size being 4.3 children. The Irish data are compared with American and western European; they show that the ideals of wives in Ireland are significantly higher than in these other countries. The concept of ideal family size appears to possess validity in its own right, and is not solely a rationalization of actual fertility experience.

Condoms weren't legal in Ireland until 1978 - 'not legal' meaning you could go to prison for trying to sell them.

I expect you'll say there's no evidence the Church was responsible for this, but - of course - that would be some distance from political reality in Ireland.

In Africa, meanwhile, where there are a million preventable AIDS deaths every year:

BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Pope tells Africa 'condoms wrong'

Pope Benedict XVI, who is making his first papal visit to Africa, has said that handing out condoms is not the answer in the fight against HIV/Aids.

The pontiff, who preaches marital fidelity and abstinence, said the practice only increased the problem.

"A Christian can never remain silent," he said, after being greeted on arrival in Cameroon by President Paul Biya.

If people are listening less now to this kind of nonsense, that's an entirely good thing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 06:19:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, while the Pope preaches that people should not use condoms to prevent AIDS, he does preach that people should lead chaste lives, which would also prevent AIDS if people actually did it.  So what explains why people listen to the Pope in the former case, but not the latter?  
by santiago on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 06:58:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 07:59:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly!  Which is why that is the causal factor and not the Church.
by santiago on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 10:53:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, if there was no such thing as Sex people wouldn't get into trouble over it.  However since sex is pretty much a given in society it becomes a question of who, how, what kind, with whom.

Somewhere along the line the Church got it into its head that sex was almost always evil and that it was its job to control it - despite the fact that Christ had very little to say on the topic other than in the context of prostitution.

It was the Church which invented celibacy, condemned extra-marital sex, single mothers and Homosexuality (as late as the middle ages), became a haven for sexual deviancy, opposed contraception and the control of sexually transmitted diseases through protective measures - all in pursuit of some idealised notion that sex was for procreation within lifelong relationships between opposite sexes and was evil under any other circumstances.

Instead of focusing on exploitative relationships like paedophilia, sexual torture and incest it sought to create impossible norms which ended up screwing up itself and the societies within which it was/is located.

And as Ronald Regan might have said "there you go again" and fall into the same trap as the Church and seek to blame sex for everything when it is the perversion of sex by the Church which is the problem.  Sex is NOT the problem, it is NOT inherently evil, and for you to blame the human sex drive for all the problems of the Church is so perversely wrong it isn't even funny.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 11:55:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, sex isn't a problem, but cultural factors regarding sex are, and the evidence I've pointed out shows that it's the cultural problems at large regarding sex that explain the variation in the data, not the Church. If it was the Church, then we would see that BOTH increased practice of monogamy AND reduced use of birth control/STD protection would be occurring, but instead we see the opposite -- higher use of birth control and reduced measures of sexual monogamy.  The Church is thus a follower of larger cultural forces regarding sexual behavior, not the leader, and therefore it's not honest to attribute causality to it.
by santiago on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 01:19:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except that this is precisely what one would see if the Church were a causal agent and its hold over society was weakening.

Part of the problem here is that the Church's ability to control sexual behaviour is declining faster than its ability to block access to protection. The former requires nothing more than a general enlightenment of society. The latter requires both a general enlightenment of society and that the holdouts in the existing power structures are purged.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 01:37:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a sound argument, but we don't really know that this is true:

Part of the problem here is that the Church's ability to control sexual behaviour is declining faster than its ability to block access to protection.

It's an empirical question though. In societies with large Catholic populations, is it actually difficult to get access to birth control.  Statistics I've seen before on abortion would indicate otherwise. (I think Guttmacher Institute.) In Catholic Latin America, even where abortion is illegal, abortion rates are higher than in many less Catholic countries where it is legal, which means that we have no evidence that access is difficult even if where nominally prohibited.  Also, where, in Africa, Ireland, or anywhere, is it difficult to get access to condoms today? This would seem to indicate that the Church's ability to block access to protection is a bit overblown.

by santiago on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 03:13:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Access to the mechanical tools does you no good if you are not educated in their use, or if there is a sufficiently strong social stigma attached to obtaining them.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 03:21:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps, but the variation in that data can be measured by looking at places where we might think Catholic influence is preventing such education and social acceptance from occurring and seeing if it's any different from places where we don't expect Catholic influence to be strong. Offhand, I can't think of where we'd find what you suggest to be occurring, though. Catholic countries seem, well, like much more sexually relaxed places, typically, than non-Catholic areas. And this likely goes back centuries.
by santiago on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 03:32:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
it's the cultural problems at large regarding sex that explain the variation in the data, not the Church

What cultural problems at large are you referring to? The Church was THE authority on sexual behaviour in society.  The state entirely delegated its Authority on moral matters to the Church even providing in the Constitution that: "Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • Article 44.1.2:
The State recognises the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of the citizens
.

The Church thus spoke for and was regarded as the authority regulating the morals of all Catholics whether they were practising or not.  The state enacted laws implementing Catholic moral theology such as the prohibition on contraception on all citizens - Protestants and Atheists included.

By you own logic it is not only higher use of birth control and reduced sexual monogamy which are attributable to the reducing influence of the Church, but also the reducing rate of new cases of sexual in secularised child care institutations abuse being reported.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 01:48:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cultural problems: AIDS, for example, for which there are two complementary solutions offered by the Church and secular society: strict monogamy, a moral recommendation, and condom use, a technological one. In addition, discourse in secular society de-emphasizes the importance of the moral recommendation of the Church, while the Church discourages the technological recommendation of secular society.  Who's winning?

It is certainly true that in Ireland the Church has institutional advantages in contesting power that it doesn't have in most other Western countries, including other predominantly Catholic countries. And that laws reflect such power given the Church.  But does actual behavior reflect that power.  By your own admission it does not, which means, as marketing researchers learn in school, there is a big difference between what people say and what they do.  I argue that causality can only be attributed honestly to what people do, not what they say, and that means that the Church reflects society much more than it leads it, at least as far as sexual behavior or misbehavior is concerned.  

By you own logic it is not only higher use of birth control and reduced sexual monogamy which are attributable to the reducing influence of the Church, but also the reducing rate of new cases of sexual in secularised child care institutations abuse being reported.

No, I argue that neither use of birth control, nor sexual monogamy, nor incidences of abuse, can be attributed to the Church, positive or negative. Even the case of Ireland, which is pretty unique even among Catholic countries in the modern era, that's not the Church but the state that chose to solve it's problem of developing policy-making institutions by providing an explicit role for the church to do that. The fact that other equally Catholic societies found other ways of solving institutional problems for contesting power in other ways shows that what you are attributing to the Church is what you should instead be attributing to Irishness. It's Ireland that explains the variation in the data, not Catholicism.  (Which argues for changing Irish political institutions to something more secular but not for any advocacy regarding the church in other countries such as the US, Germany, or even Nigeria, for example.)

 

by santiago on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 02:42:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
shows that what you are attributing to the Church is what you should instead be attributing to Irishness

Ah so the Irish are intrinsically more inclined to abuse children and cover it up? Some would regard that as a borderline racist thesis especially as the pattern of abuse and cover-up was so similar in other Catholic countries/institutions.

You appear to regard the RC Church as something of a Deus ex Machina and not the dominant and defining influence on sexual practices (not just opinions) in Ireland.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 02:55:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think, when you look at it globally, that there may very well be an interactive effect between the Catholic Church and local idiosyncrasies.  For example, in another comment to Jake, I noted that, compared to predominantly non-Catholic countries, most Catholic societies, whether its southern Europe, Latin America, New Orleans, or parts of Africa, seem to have a much more open and relaxed -- even scandalously so by Anglo standards -- outlook on sex and alternative sexual behavior than non-Catholic ones. If sex were so repressed in Catholic tradition, how do you explain Carnival in Rio, or La Bachata dancing, for example? Bishops in such areas speak out on such things from the pulpit, of course, but it's almost a playful relationship, with a wink to the limits of mortality, not a dictatorial one like you seem to be describing in Ireland.

Instead, it seems that Church teaching on sexual morality might instead be an aggravating factor, instead of a causal factor.  Anglo culture is known, I think much more than Catholicism, for its sexually repressive character. Bill Clinton's misdeeds barely raised eyebrows in Catholic France, Brazil, and Argentina, for example.  (And, more perversely, although the same abuse scandals in the Church have apparently been occurring in Europe just as in the Anglo world, people are only just getting around to worrying about it now, almost two decades after the story first broke in the US.)

So it also seems plausible that Catholic influence on sexual behavior and the politics around it may have different effects in different societies. And the fact that Anglo culture, due to recent English and American imperial successes, is the dominant one in the world (the Anglo discourse on rights and laws is the default elite discourse in most of the non-Anglo world too), it seems entirely plausible that the cultural contradictions between Catholicism's traditional Roman outlook of law-as-ideals and the Anglo outlook of rule-of-law, or law-as-rules, could be problematic even globally, though whose responsibility it is to change seems unclear.  

by santiago on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 06:46:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People have physical and emotional needs, and it's textbook cult practice to build a hold over followers by inducing psychological stresses. One of the most effective ways to induce stresses is by creating negative emotional states around basic needs, and denying them.

The Church is unable to remove the needs - they're hardwired - but it doesn't really need to. All it needs to do is make people feel bad about having them and acting on them.

People who feel bad about themselves express that through masochism, or though authoritarian and abusive sadism - which is exactly the kind of acting out we've seen in Ireland, in Germany, in the US, and in Africa.

Sexual morality is not the issue, and never has been. The issue is power through psychological manipulation.

The Church discovered - or rather reinvented - the use of sexual and other ethical double-binds for mass political psychological control. But it was only able to enforce its brand of religious totalitarianism while it had exclusive control over the narrative space.

The fact that monogamy is waning and birth control is increasing are proof that the Church has lost its narrative monopoly - not that it has given it up voluntarily.

People mostly don't understand the distinction between process and content, which is why 'religious' leaders find manipulation so straightforward.

The Church lost its hold in the West because it was pushed out by competing narratives, not because the processes it used to try to legitimise its narratives were ever fully deconstructed. That was effective as far as it went, but individuals remain vulnerable.

Disagreeing with religion, Dawkins style, isn't enough, because content and belief are a cover story for psychological process, and arguing with the content isn't a very effective form of  attack.

The next stage of secularisation will be wider awareness of process. Once that starts happening - and it's beginning already in other areas - social and political institutions that derive their power from psychological manipulation will have a tough time surviving.

It's going to be a very interesting century.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 02:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you're talking some sense here.  

However, you're still assuming, a priori, that the Church is the principal and not the agent in this story.  Your narrative puts the Church in the role of being the one trying to manipulate repression and psychological conflicts for the ends of power, when it seems just as likely that the Church is merely the tool of other political actors toward that end.  In fact, the main scholarship of the left on this topic, in the works of people such as Foucault and Hannah Arendt among others, would put the church in the role of victim/tool of totalitarian tendencies of the modern capitalist, law-based state toward the ends you describe.

by santiago on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 03:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Once again, religion's origin is in authoritization of group leadership.

With your rhetorical skills, you can derive why you're wrong about the entire direction of your objections.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Sat Mar 20th, 2010 at 02:11:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think most serious thinkers on the topic would hold that religion ceased to provide that social function at about the time of Renaissance, when probably not just co-incidentally, the capitalist revolution in European affairs was also starting to take off. (When merchants, travelers, mercenaries, pirates, and other formerly estranged or outcast people began to have the resources to contest power with kings, soldiers, and priests.) Since capitalism, the church has instead played its other historical role -- social iconoclast. Instead of authorizing group leadership, a positive act of power, it's role within modernity is to challenge group leadership, or destroy it, a negative act of power.
by santiago on Tue Apr 6th, 2010 at 09:34:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, he does preach chastity. As a Christian he can't keep silent about it.

Odd then, that when it's priestly unchastity he has no problem keeping silent about it at all.

Apparently in the Pope's moral reckoning, millions dying of preventable AIDS is a lesser calamity than Catholic sexual abuse and its exposure.

Luckily as Frank says, the Church is imploding - its immorality is too great to support its own weight now.

Interesting times.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 08:26:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, what he preaches first, above all else, is forgiveness.  And that is an outlook on life that is as perfectly consistent, even if inconveniently so to the point of contradiction at times, with not ratting out pedophiles among your ranks as it is with upholding the Golden Rule.
by santiago on Wed Apr 14th, 2010 at 01:18:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So what explains, if your version is true, why people are such devout Catholics when it comes to birth control but not chastity?

There is a fundamental asymmetry between sex and birth control.

Birth control requires that you know what it is, know how to use it and are able to get your hands on it ahead of time.

Sex requires no prior knowledge, and while it does require some forethought, it requires less forethought than safe sex.

In short, safe sex is planned, unsafe sex is (or at least can be) unplanned. Social mores operate more powerfully on planned actions.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 09:02:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have raised so many issues there that it would take a diary to discuss or evidence each so I offer them as opinions only here.  

The basic problem, as I see it, is that there was such a "Victorian" repressive attitude to sexuality in Ireland generally - generally fostered by the Church, but perhaps also due to other factors - that the level of ignorance about all things sexual was so high.  Does kissing lead to pregnancy wasn't entirely a rhetorical question even 30 years ago - such was the level of ignorance, and of course the Church opposed sex education.  

However I accept these are complex issues and a simple liberalisation of sexual mores isn't necessarilly the answer either - although it may in part have been an over-reaction to over repression earlier.  The problem is that all morality has been given a bad name by the utterly hypocritical and repressive morality of the past.

No doubt a new ethical sensibility will emerge in response to excessively individualistic selfish hedonistic attitudes and perhaps the emergence of "green values", a greater emphasis on individual and social responsibilities, higher levels of education and self-awareness generally are a response to this.  However its hard to see Catholicism playing a lead role in this, or any very strong role in Ireland for a very long time to come.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 05:52:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
<blockgroup>

It is blockquote on ET. I recommend TribExt to easily quote with link to the stuff quoted.

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A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 04:19:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by santiago on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 04:30:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Read the Ryan and  Murphy reports if you want the facts.  Hopefully the latter will be extended to all dioceses in due course and then the true extent will be known.  In the absence of full disclosure, you are right that all get to be tarnished by dint of association.  The priests who I feel really sorry for are the ones who have devoted their lives to unselfish service in accordance with their beliefs, and who now find, nearing retirement, that a cloud of suspicion hangs over their entire institution and who are no longer accorded the respect their long service should have entitled them to.

Given you persist in accusing me of engaging in a hate narrative, this dialogue is over.  If we can't respect our good faith differences, there is no point in pursuing it.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 02:57:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no argument that a sexual abuse problem and institutional incapacity to protect victims exists in the church. I've never argued otherwise.  What I object to is the unwillingness of writers such as yourself to do the the extra bit of work required to avoid making class associations -- coloring everyone in a group with the same ugly paint -- or else presenting the evidence that such an association is valid. I really don't understand your unwillingness to be sensitive to this point.

Would you take the same approach to a story that insinuated that being gay (or other despised minority) was somehow causally relevant to sexual crimes? If so, at least you're being consistent.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 04:18:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
coloring everyone in a group with the same ugly paint

Where have I done this - beyond pointing out that the processes under which the Catholic Church investigated child abuse where based on binding victims to oaths of secrecy, ignoring civil authorities, and actively moving offenders around - thus assisting them in avoiding detection and apprehension by civil authorities.  

Given that these procedures were governed by the same code of Canon law and Vatican documents like Crimen sollicitationis, it is hardly surprising that the same patterns are evidenced worldwide.  All the Bishops who did this reported directly to Rome where their reports remain held in secret to this day despite the fact that they contain details of criminal behaviour on a vast scale.

How can you you expect such behaviours not to tarnish the institution that practised them on such a scale in Ireland and elsewhere?   Can you give me an example of any other organisation/religious institutions which did so on such a scale and which invokes diplomatic privilege whenever civil authorities seek details on individual cases?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 05:13:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You hadn't. At least not in explicitly in your piece, which is why I was surprised by your hostility to what I thought was a friendly comment.

But you didn't clarify that you weren't doing that either, and I think you should have because comments on your piece, like comments in general on this topic, were doing so, having gleaned that message from your diary, intended or not.  That's what hate narratives -- any narratives really -- do.  People take messages because of familiar stories they are already familiar with, unless clarified by the writer to focus on something else.

If you're making an argument that there are institutional reasons for the abuse within the church, and specifying them, that's something I have a lot more trust in, and I think it's a reasonable one.  There are arguments both ways on it of course -- mostly that such documents seem to actually encourage outing and getting rid of problem priests, not protecting them, even if secrecy is a part of them (secrecy is an important part of civil and criminal complaints too, as you cited earlier) so it would become a story of unintended consequences more than one of willful conspiracy if true, with different policy reforms needed.  But clarifying arguments like this go a long way toward separating writing that is critical of a social class from a poisonous narrative meant to silence that class and others.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 06:39:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few tragic cases in Ireland !!!??? I take it you are entirely ignorant of the numerous cases in the USA where, not just a few bad apple priests found guilty, but time and again the same pattern of cover up occurred. Over decades at least, as has been finally admitted in open court. At least two major administrative regions of the catholic church in America have complained they would be bankrupted if the compensation claims against their collusion were to be paid in full.

There have been several scandals in Ireland, Frank knows this better than me and, I suspect, you yet you continue to dismiss him. There are other sex abuse crimes moving to trial elsewhere in Europe, Austria and Germany both spring to mind (no, I'm not talking about the papal one).

As I said elsewhere, this isn't about the crime, it's about the cover up. Time and again you skate away from that and change the subject. STOP IT. Step back and listen to yourself. You're simultaneously trying to belittle this as an isolated incident, yet which is somehow equally redolent of some worldwide conspiracy of false allegations that almost never stand up in court. This way lies madness.

This isn't about some change in public morality, as if priests abusing sexually children with the collusion of their "management"  has only recently been seen as a difficulty. It's not about the priests who attacked children, it is about a hierarchy who preferred that children were left at the mercy of the (few) predators in their midst rather than damage the good name of their institution. Listen to yourself please. I appreciate you want to protect an institution that is important to you, that somehow an attack, any attack on it is an attack upon your faith. But what you're doing is exactly what the hierarchy did, deny the events and the scope of them, belittle those who report it, call them mistaken or attention seekers or brush it under the carpet.

I see their need as desperate, they've allowed themselves to believe that any chink in the image of absolute verity shakes the foundations utterly. A strong church would not need to be so fearful, but these are weak people and it does you no good to defend them.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 03:14:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, is this different than what occurs in non-Catholic institutions? It might be, but until the evidence is offered that it is, any story writing about it must qualify itself as such, or else it runs the risk of engendering hate for political or other ends.  Is being Catholic clergy part of the relevant identity to the story or not? Is being black part of the relevant identity in a story of urban crime or not?  It's the responsibility of the writer to be careful, honest, and accurate in the presentation evidence and the narrative of the story.

However, even if it turned out that abuse and cover-up are, in fact, less common in Catholic institutions than others, it still would not change the fact that such abuse is a major problem in its own right that needs addressing in the Catholic Church, as well as justice for the victims.  It doesn't excuse anyone.  

But that's not the story that people read when the writer isn't sufficiently careful about making class-associations with things that people despise.  In a careless story people read, "Priests are perverts and bishops protect them, and the Catholic Church is a corrupt and evil force in the world."  If that's your thesis, then it's not really a story about abuse of power -- it's a story about hate, legitimate or not.  But if it is supposed to be a story about abuse of power and protecting innocents, then care must be taken regarding unjustified class associations.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 04:09:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, you are impossible. It's as pointless to debate this with you as trying to introduce evolution to a Creationist.

You obviously have too much of a a vested interest in not hearing and I am done with this futile exercise. I just hope no child has only you to call upon should a priest get too friendly. You do not listen and you never will.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 04:38:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't the same pattern of cover-up of sexual abuse, documented in the US, also existent in public schools and other care-providing institutions there which have also been sued or otherwise penalized in large numbers there? Or is it largely absent outside of Catholic institutions?  That's the most  relevant question for addressing the problem of protecting children because if it is present in society at large as well, then such cover-ups are a wider social problem of governance that needs addressing, not limited to being a Catholic problem.  

But what's the evidence?  I don't know myself, so that's why I ask authors like Frank to provide it while they provide helpful fodder for faith-bashing.  We know now that such a problem exists in the Catholic Church, but why does the narrative of the topic stop at the Catholic Church as if it is a Catholic problem primarily and not a more general problem in a society that for years has had an undercurrent of child sexual objectification?  Skepticism shouldn't rest just because the target is a faith based organization.

by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 05:05:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that sexual abuse is a crime, it is hardly surprising that the perpetrators should seek to cover it up wherever they happen to be.  However that is a law enforcement problem which should be addressed by the police.

What is different with the Catholic Church is that it had an official world-wide policy of covering it up, codified in canon law and other Papal documents, which resulted in victims being sworn to silence, perpetrators being moved on to avoid detection and to facilitate their behaviour elsewhere, and the civil authorities not being informed. This didn't happen with any other Church in Ireland though perhaps you can find examples of small sects elsewhere in the world with a similar pattern.

To this day the Vatican and local Catholic dioceses invoke diplomatic and clerical privilege to avoid handing over incriminating evidence to the police.  If this were done by any other organisation, it would be declared a criminal conspiracy and prohibited from operating in the state at all.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 05:37:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lawyers, journalists, and psychologists attempt to withhold evidence all the time too, with varying degrees of success, and for many non-nefarious reasons. So I think it's a good assumption that the Church might also justify its use of legal maneuvers to avoid hurting innocent people with public embarrassment in much the same way. But is this also an institutional source of covering up abuse?  Yes, I can see where that might very well be a root cause of the problem.  What's the best way to address it though? Can the police in Zimbabwe be trusted as much as the police in Ireland?  And are the police in Ireland, or Mexico, or the US, or France, really more trustworthy than a priest, so what should be the criteria for a global organization?  These aren't black and white questions, but they are interesting ones.
by santiago on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 06:54:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can I commend the Charter of fundamental rights of the EU to you?  It enunciates it simple language the rights pertaining to citizens of the EU (in almost all member states - including Ireland).  The over-riding consideration has to be what is in the best interests of the child - as decided, ultimately, by the European Court of Justice.  It may seem harsh to say so, but the best interests of the child must over-ride all other considerations - the good name of caring institution included.

Article 24
The rights of the child
1. Children shall have the right to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being. They
may express their views freely. Such views shall be taken into consideration on matters which concern
them in accordance with their age and maturity.
2. In all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institutions, the
child's best interests must be a primary consideration.
18.12.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 364/13
3. Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct
contact with both his or her parents, unless that is contrary to his or her interests.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 08:01:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and I think the existence and credibility of such policies in the EU provides exactly the support needed for advocating that the Church in Ireland and the rest of the EU make it's internal policies that exist for the same ends consistent with civil authorities. It should relinquish power over child protection to the state in EU areas, in other words.

Part of that discussion would require due diligence on the part of Church authorities that children are, in fact, demonstrably safer today under the civil institutions of the EU, because such has arguably not been the case historically in Europe and even possibly presently elsewhere, but I'm certainly compelled by the public available evidence on the Irish scandal that more civil oversight rather than church oversight may have prevented the cover-ups had people actually prioritized child protection during in the 1970's like they do now.

by santiago on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 11:30:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, it would just require demonstrating that children are no less safe in the care of secular authority than in the care of confessional groups, since the default position in civilised society is that religion has no business insinuating itself into the mechanics of governance. If a religious group wishes to arrogate that power, it needs to demonstrate convincingly that it has something to offer in return.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 04:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True enough, but I would argue that it's not that religious groups have no business insinuating themselves in governance, but that religious groups ought to have no institutional role in governance greater than any other element of civil society.  Everyone has to be able to insinuate themselves in the mechanics of governance in a democratic society or else just a governing elite is left to do it.
by santiago on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 05:09:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
religious organisations can play a role in political discourse IF they abandon their claims to being on higher ground, because they supposedly are defending uncontestable absolutes. Religious organisations can't do debate because they're never wrong: their whole purpose is to propagate the absolutes they stand behind, and no compromise is possible for absolutes.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 03:53:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But in practise, it is hard to distinguish between a group of individuals exercising their democratic right to participate in governance, and who happen to be religious, versus a religious group arrogating undue influence on secular matters.

Which presents another good reason why political advocacy groups should not be allowed to claim religious exemptions in their hiring practises, etc. It ferrets out the worst fundagelicals without having to snoop around at their internal meetings.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 06:12:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aren't human rights just another claim to incontestable absolutes? (That's what Michel Foucault argued anyway -- that the rights-based discourse of law and the state merely replaced the tradition based discourse of the church in modernity, and not necessarily providing any greater human freedom in thee process.)
by santiago on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 02:36:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Charter of Fundamental rights codifies the rights of EU citizens.  They are not absolutes, they are not incontestable, and sometimes one right has to be balanced against another - reference my previous example of the rights of a child to access to its parents "accept when not in the child's own best interest".  The European Court of Justice has the task of adjudicating on the correct balance in specific instances as does the International Court of Justice and other Courts set up be international treaty between sovereign states.

The very fact that human rights are so controversial - e.g. in Gaza - should make it obvious that they are not universally accepted absolutes.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 02:49:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but you won't hear that disclaimer from anyone arguing for any specific right to respected, which is why it is equivalent to a religious groups' political claims for social justice in some area. A claim to specific rights for women, for example, is a claim to some presumed truth about decency and dignity, not might or mere circumstance. And that's no different than arguing that respect for women comes from God's intentions for humankind.
by santiago on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 03:20:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"...the default position in civilised society is that religion has no business insinuating itself into the mechanics of governance."

Santiago won't touch this.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 04:06:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
So I think it's a good assumption that the Church might also justify its use of legal maneuvers to avoid hurting innocent people with public embarrassment in much the same way.

There's absolutely no evidence that the Catholic Church systematically uses legal maneuvers to avoid hurting innocent people.

And there's plenty of evidence that the Catholic Church has systematically attempted to cover up criminal activity.

Lawyers, journalists, police and psychologists are not a monolithic pseudo-corporate multinational, and are hardly comparable to the Church's institutionalised attempts to claim moral authority while deriving political influence through deliberately sanctioned abuse.

The closest comparable organisation is Scientology - and not even Scientology has been credibly abused of systematic child abuse.

This is one of the rare situations where the moral questions are entirely black and white.

'Other people do it too' is hardly a defence against them - because they don't on anything like the same scale, or for the same reasons.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 09:38:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a valid argument that Church's level of power in some societies mean that restrictions on that power might be appropriate even if such restrictions are not placed on comparable service providers that aren't organized on a billion member scale. But the rest of statements just reflect your anti-religious bias absent honest evidence of support. You just don't trust people who believe in God, especially people with lots of followers, so you feel comfortable letting your normally healthy skepticism take a vacation and go on assuming any negative story about such people is true without considering the possibility of alternative evidence. It's fundamentally dishonest and lazy, but if it works for you, great.
by santiago on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 11:37:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't care if people believe in god. Generally it's most useful to look at people's actions - which is why I don't trust people who abuse children, and then lie about it and try to cover it up.

This isn't moral rocket science for most people, and healthy skepticism can draw its own conclusions when there's such overwhelming evidence of wrong doing.

You're clearly deciding to ignore that evidence, or to keep lying about it knowingly and hoping that no one will notice.

Well - good luck persuading anyone with that, here or elsewhere.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 07:35:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, is this different than what occurs in non-Catholic institutions? It might be, but until the evidence is offered that it is, any story writing about it must qualify itself as such,

So having been caught, the argument isnt even everyone else was doing it, rather everyone else might have been doing it, and untill you can prove they werent, its unfair to pick on the poor catholic church? Give me a break. thats a laughable line to even consider taking

Is being Catholic clergy part of the relevant identity to the story or not?

Damn right it is, and arguing  that there is anything other than a culture of moral exceptionalism amongst the hierarchy of the church worldwide becomes more laughable with every extra report and court judgement handed down in countries worldwide Is the catholic church an oppressed minority? Being the only Church that has a seat on the United Nations, and can make use of diplomatic immunity, then its probably the least oppressed religion on the face of the planet. I am an atheist, anyone who wants to believe in any invisible being has the right to, but the point where they start saying that they have a moral superiority, or that I should live under their religious rules, or that they should be able to avoid the rules that everyone else has to because they have the permission of their "imaginary friend" then  that's where there rights end.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 10:43:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm calling bullshit on the "hate speech" narrative you're peddling here. The comments you object to are well within the realms of accepted political discourse. And the Catholic Church is a political organisation. As long as the Church insists on sticking its nose in political affairs, it doesn't get to cry "hate speech" when people shove politically (in)convenient sex scandals up its ass.

American Democrats didn't get to cry "hate speech" when the Banana Republicans went after Clinton with every propaganda trick in the book - including a couple of pages they'd written themselves. Nike doesn't get to cry "persecution" when its political enemies bash it over the head with a child-labour scandal. Shell doesn't get to piss and moan about bias when people point out that it's funding civil wars in Africa.

And, incidentally, as long as the Catholic Church insists on peddling homophobia, and supporting far-right idiots, I'm one of those political enemies who are willing to use any sex scandals as a blunt instrument to beat it into submission.

When they stop playing politics, I'll stop using political tactics against them. But right now they're playing a shell game where they're a religious group here, a business there and a political action network over yonder.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 08:49:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are, of course, perfectly entitled to oppose the Catholic Church for any number of reasons - its historic support for fascist dictatorships; its opposition to gay rights, the use of condoms to prevent aids infection or women's equality etc.  But I think it would be wrong to use the child abuse issue as just another stick to bash the Church with in support of a larger agenda.  Certainly in the context of this diary, the question is whether the Catholic Church is more culpable that other non-Catholic religious/secular organisations in terms of the incidence of child abuse.

Santiago asks whether there is any evidence that child abuse is more prevalent in Catholic run institutions than others and the answer in the case of Ireland is yes - but I couldn't prove that on a larger global scale especially when you consider the scale of child labour abuse in India etc.  It is a reasonable question for research.

Secondly, he seemed to argue that the way the Catholic Church covered up instances of abuse was no different to cover-ups elsewhere - and again I argued that the formalised, centralised and consistent nature of the policies applied - silencing of victims, transfer of offenders, non-cooperation with civil authorities what unique in scale, longevity, and consistency across many different jurisdictions.

Thirdly he implied that the vast majority of allegations were simply mischievous and false and pointed to the small proportion of successful prosecutions as evidence for this.  I argued that this had more to do with the culture of deference and silence, the power of the Church in Ireland, the connivance of professionals whose jobs depended on Church patronage, the vulnerability of victims, the difficulty of surmounting the evidential hurdles, and the policy of making secret out of court settlements to prevent successful prosecutions and the attendant publicity.  Added to this is the fact that most victims don't want to go to court at all, just want to forget the whole thing, have buried it deep in the subconscious, and remain scared, scarred and damaged by their experience.  An acknowledgement of wrongdoing and an apology would have done so much to help healing in those instances.

Fourthly, he argued, that it was all an anti-catholic conspiracy invented by political opponents in the same way as anti-Semitic mythologies were invented by Jew haters. You are in danger of playing into that narrative if you simply use the child abuse issue as another stick with which to beat the Church with regardless of the merits of the argument.  What bothered me about that argument was actually almost the reverse: his denial of the seriousness of the child abuse prevalence within the Church and the way it was managed by those in Authority was almost akin to Holocaust Denial in my eyes.  It was almost like he was saying that Hitler wasn't really an anti-Semite at all: it was just a few bad apples in the Nazi party who should have been managed better.  The Hitler in this case, was not of course any one individual, but an attitude towards children that they could be used or abused more or less as those in authority wanted.

I don't want to over-state the case or over use the analogy, but when Santiago started talking about conspiracies against the Catholic Church I found it reminiscent of the Holocaust denial narrative.  How many dead Jewish bodies did they actually find in Auschwitz anyway?  What evidence do we have that Hitler knew what was going on? How many Nazis were actually convicted of Mass murder? Some of the Jews were probably criminals anyway... you get my drift

Children are no angels, and times were hard.  In many ways the Irish state abrogated its responsibilities to the Catholic Church. The training and resources many of the Church institutions had were pitifully inadequate.  In part the Church created the problems by ostracising unmarried parents and mothers.  But it also inherited problems created by imperial domination, famine, class inequality, war and civil war.

So I'm not really into the blame game.  I want the problem fixed and will oppose anyone who puts their interests above the best interests of children.  The Catholic Church has almost been destroyed by this crisis in Ireland.  Now we have to pick up the pieces and manage the fall-out. Its not going to be easy for anyone.  There is such a legacy of pain and suffering which will be with us for generations to come.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 10:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But I think it would be wrong to use the child abuse issue as just another stick to bash the Church with in support of a larger agenda.

It's not just another issue to bash the Church over the head with. However, my point was that it is also another issue to be used to bash the Church over the head with, and people don't get to cry foul when it's used as such.

Certainly in the context of this diary, the question is whether the Catholic Church is more culpable that other non-Catholic religious/secular organisations in terms of the incidence of child abuse.

santiago's objection seems to be that the Church is no more culpable than other organisations in similar positions of power - that is, if you have any reasonably tightly knit old boys' network that cuts across several layers of formal jurisdiction, you'd expect it to abuse its power.

That's a fair point, as far as the specific Irish issue goes - replacing the Church but not the institutional system of authoritarian childcare, incestuous (you should pardon the term) political old boys' clubs and assorted nepotism would probably not make the abuse go away. Forcing the Church to comply with civilised standards of childcare and breaking up the clubby relationships between judges, police officers, childcare professionals, politicians and pundits would probably solve the problem without necessarily requiring the Church to be removed from childcare functions. The Church may be politically opposed to such a reorganisation because it is politically in favour of authoritarianism, nepotism and legal impunity for its own membership. But that's not a particularly confessional issue - secular far-right extremists run on the same kind of platform.

There are other good reasons to want to remove the Church from childcare functions, such as secularism and freedom of and from religion (and the fact that the Church lends political support to authoritarian thuggery). But in the particular matter of child abuse the difference between a confessional organisation and a non-confessional organisation with a similarly authoritarian structure and power is likely to be slight.

Of course, the fact that it is hard to find a non-confessional organisation with the kind of power that the Catholic Church makes the question somewhat hypothetical. Your best bet would be to look among (other) transnational corporations. But they are less intimately involved with childcare, so the abuse you find there is likely to be of a different kind - allowing foremen to rape factory workers, murdering union organisers, employing slave labour, poisoning the local water supply, and so on and so forth.

Secondly, he seemed to argue that the way the Catholic Church covered up instances of abuse was no different to cover-ups elsewhere - and again I argued that the formalised, centralised and consistent nature of the policies applied - silencing of victims, transfer of offenders, non-cooperation with civil authorities what unique in scale, longevity, and consistency across many different jurisdictions.

I don't think that's the case among groups of similar power and organisation. (Other) transnational corporations play the same kind of legal shell games, with the difference being mostly that they don't whine quite as much when they get caught.

Fourthly, he argued, that it was all an anti-catholic conspiracy invented by political opponents in the same way as anti-Semitic mythologies were invented by Jew haters. You are in danger of playing into that narrative if you simply use the child abuse issue as another stick with which to beat the Church with regardless of the merits of the argument.

I understand your point about the rhetorical demerits of playing into that narrative, but on the factual merits of the case, it's bullshit to compare the Catholic Church with Jewish minorities. (Given the role of the Catholic Church in whipping up antisemitism, it's also rather tasteless, but that's politics for you.)

A more apt comparison in terms of power, political aspirations and organisational structure (and the degree of persecution complex and paranoia) would be comparing the Catholic Church to the Israeli military-industrial complex. We don't accept the propaganda that bashing Israel or the Israel Likud lobby is equivalent to antisemitism, and we shouldn't accept the propaganda that bashing the Catholic clergy is equivalent to fomenting hate against the Catholic laity.

So I'm not really into the blame game.  I want the problem fixed and will oppose anyone who puts their interests above the best interests of children.

And on that specific issue, I will have to defer to your superior knowledge of the local conditions, which is why I don't really touch upon the specific Irish questions. I hope you'll keep educating me and the rest of ET on those matters. I assure you that I'm hearing your recommendations, and they sound intuitively reasonable. But I can't claim the necessary local knowledge to comment on them in more specific terms.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 06:01:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
we shouldn't accept the propaganda that bashing the Catholic clergy is equivalent to fomenting hate against the Catholic laity.

Agreed, and your Likud analogy is perhaps more apt than my Holocaust denial one.  But I'm not even bashing the Catholic Clergy in general - many were entirely innocent of child abuse or complicity in its cover up.  What I am concerned with is that there seems to have been a globalised system, supported by episcopal appointments being made made on the basis of proclivity to supine obedience, direct reporting to Rome, and clearly laid out guidelines for how to deal with allegations of child abuse - keep all investigations in-house, don't inform the civil authorities, silence he victims, move on the offenders to avoid scandal, protect the good name and assets of the institution at all costs - that were consistently applied across many jurisdictions.

I can accept Santiago's point that one might have qualms about reporting an instance of abuse to the civil authorities in (say) Uganda, particularly if they implement the death penalty for homosexuality - at the behest, inter alia - of protestant fundamentalist groups in the US.  But that really doesn't excuse not reporting cases were prima facie evidence of abuse has been established and where there is a danger that the suspect might re-offend.  

The Irish police are notoriously discrete when it come to dealing with people in positions of influence, and the courts still notoriously lenient on offenders.  There really was no excuse for not reporting in Ireland.   The odds are still stacked against the victim who still does not have independent representation or advice in court unless they can afford private legal fees...

Bashing the Catholic Church in Ireland now is a bit like kicking a half dead dog. The Catholic Church used to be a state within a state.  Now its a belief system almost without a home.

Cardinal Brady 'ashamed' over failure to uphold values - The Irish Times - Wed, Mar 17, 2010

The Catholic Primate Cardinal Séan Brady said today he "will reflect on what he has heard from those who have been hurt by abuse."

In his St Patrick's Day homily at Armagh Cathedral this morning, Dr Brady said he was "ashamed" by the fact that he has not always upheld the values that he professes and believes in.

There has been calls on the cardinal to consider his position after it emerged at the weekend that he had conducted canonical inquiries into allegations of child sex abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth 35 years ago, involving two young people, without reporting the allegations to civil authorities.

Speaking today, the cardinal apologised again to victims of clerical child sex abuse.

"This week a painful episode from my own past has come before me. I have listened to reaction from people to my role in events thirty five years ago," he said.

"I want to say to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on my part that I apologise to you with all my heart. I also apologise to all those who feel I have let them down. Looking back I am ashamed that I have not always upheld the values that I profess and believe in," he added.

In his homily the cardinal said there was a need to take responsibilty for any mismangement or cover-up of child abuse.

"We must humbly continue to deal with the enormity of the hurt caused by abuse of children by some clergy and religious and the hopelessly inadequate response to that abuse in the past," said Dr Brady.

"For the sake of survivors, for the sake of all the Catholic faithful as well as the religious and priests of this country, we have to stop the drip, drip, drip of revelations of failure," he added.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has also called for the opening of Church files to obviate the need for the state to extend the Murphy (Dublin) enquiry to all dioceses in Ireland.  There have already been similar enquiries in two other dioceses - Ferns and Cloyne.  With an ageing an declining clergy in any case, there may be very few men left standing if all the files are indeed opened.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 07:42:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
["For the sake of survivors, for the sake of all the Catholic faithful as well as the religious and priests of this country, we have to stop the drip, drip, drip of revelations of failure," he added.]

You should pardon the reference to venereal disease and its long term consequences...

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 04:17:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Primate the same as Pontiff?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 11:05:54 AM EST
Nope - it means he is the most senior cleric in Ireland (North and south) and a member of the Roman Curia which elects the Pontiff.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 11:10:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you can have the Pontiff of Alexandria. The Pope is the Pontiff of Rome. The archbishop of Dublin (Primate of Ireland, as opposed to Primate of ALL Ireland) is the Pontiff of Dublin.

So Primate must mean Pontiff of Pontiffs (mafia-style) ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 11:42:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The term Pontiff is used in Ireland exclusively to refer to the Pope. Whilst the Primates are the most senior Roman Catholic prelates in Ireland, the other Bishops in fact report to Rome, not to the Primates.  This is how the Primates and "brother bishops" manage to avoid taking any responsibility for the demeanours of their colleagues several of whom have belated resigned for their failure to act appropriately in cases of child abuse in their diocese.  The situation is further complicated by the fact that Father Brendan Smyth was not a diocesan priest, but rather an ordained member the Norbertine order, a "religious congregation" of priests and thus came under the Authority of his Abbot.

Whilst the RC Church often seems monolithic to outsiders, it is in fact rather a Byzantine structure which facilitates a lack of clear accountability and responsibility for decisions taken.  Indeed, although all Bishops are appointed by Rome, report to Rome, and indeed did report cases of sexual abuse to Rome, Rome enforced a veil of secrecy and yet has taken no responsibility what occurred and to this day refuses to cooperate with civil authorities.

see also No Bishop will go to prison

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:17:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pontiff - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Christianity

The word "pontiff", though now most often used in relation to a Pope, technically refers to any bishop. The phrase "Roman Pontiff" is not tautological, but means "Bishop of Rome", as "Alexandrian Pontiff" means Bishop of Alexandria.[1] In the same way, the adjective "pontifical" does not refer exclusively to the Pope: a Pontifical Mass is a Mass celebrated by a bishop, not necessarily by a pope. From the adjective have been formed the nouns "the Pontifical" (the liturgical book containing the prayers and ceremonies for rites used by a bishop)[6] and "pontificals" (the insignia of his order that a bishop uses when celebrating Pontifical Mass, not papal insignia, such as the papal tiara).[7]

I think the RC use of Pontiff is connected with the rise of the Pontiff of Rome to a position of power over the rest of the church. Except of course the parts that did not accept the power grab, primarily the orthodox churches.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 01:48:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem somehow surprised.

You're talking about the man 10th or so in the order of precedence in Northern Ireland. A prince of the church that supersedes and will outlast your silly governments and secular laws.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:17:59 PM EST
Not at all.  Isn't the whole point of an order of precedence that it confers on you the right to screw those below you.  Only in a small territory like Northern Ireland could you have an order of precedence which runs to thousands of people all with a petty rank in the grand order of things.  (What I want to know is why the Grand Marshal of the Orange Order isn't on the list!).

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:27:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Too working class.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:38:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So we shouldnt get rid of  the Royal family, because that would put the Church first in the Order of precedence?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 02:09:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
because whilst talent is temporary, class is permanent!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 02:51:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Resign?  Shit, this guy will wind up the next Pope if Benedict is any indication.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:29:01 PM EST
Personally I would rather that none of these clerics are charged. Simply because the rising tide of revulsion against their continuous behviour and their ability to avoid the consequences of them will eventually completely overwhelm the catholic church. Not just in Ireland, but across europe.

And a good thing too.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:34:42 PM EST
And they may continue to abuse if not charged and jailed. What would you consider those children? Collateral damage? Means to an end?
by gioele (gioele(daught)sandler(aaaattttt)gmail(daught)kom) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 03:00:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your question is actually beside the point since I don't believe anyone'll be charged anyway. Justice and the good name of the dominant church are rarely even kissing cousins in most countries.

Yes, it would be marvellous if the Gardai were to seriously consider clearing out the stables, but as Frank points out, they are the political classes are too deferential to the hierarchy who allowed the problem to fester while the church is far too protective of their own to ever give out more than name, rank and number.

that's why I opt for the rising tide of revulsion. it's the only way to get the message across, papal paranoia or no.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 05:11:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Labour calls for Brady inquiry - The Irish Times - Mon, Mar 15, 2010
The Labour Party has called on gardaí to initiate a criminal investigation into the role played by Cardinal Sean Brady in a 1975 canonical inquiry into sexual abuse of children by the paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.

The party's spokeswoman on Social Affairs Roisin Shortall said today that Dr Brady, then a priest in the diocese of Kilmore, had not passed onto the civil authorities the evidence of serious criminal offences perpetrated by Fr Smyth on two children that presented to the inquiry.

She said the second matter relating to Cardinal Brady's role that should be referred to the Garda Siochana was the requirement on the two children, a boy aged 10 and a girl aged 14, to take an oath of secrecy.

"Under the Offences against the State Act 1939, it's an offence to given an oath for the purposes of covering up a crime.

"The Labour Party is calling for a Garda investigation into the role of Sean Brady in this entire affair," said Ms Shortall.

She said that many people would also be "appalled at yet another senior cleric trying to defend the indefensible on the airwaves.

"It's bad enough that a priest abused a number of children. It's really beyond belief that in a situation where children were required to take an oath of silence to hide it," she said.

When asked should Dr Brady resign, Ms shortall said it was not the place of a TD to call for a resignation, saying that was a matter for church authorities.

She continued that she was concerned about what she called "serious ambivalence" about criminal activity surrounding young children.

"This again raises the issue of the appropriateness of the church authorities being involved so centrally in our education and health services," she said.

The party also said there was an onus on the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to give a public update on the progress made by the Garda Siochana in its investigation of offences uncovered by the Murphy inquiry.

Ms Shortall said that Mr Ahern said he had handed a copy of the report to the gardai last July, yet nothing has been heard of the investigation since then.

She added that the Labour Party also supported the Murphy inquiry being extended to other dioceses.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 03:00:39 PM EST
If you want to attract negative gardaí attention, perhaps the best way to do it would be to persuade the bishops to go on strike.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 06:15:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and, God love them, most of 'em deserve it.

And Frank, I know this is not what your diary is about. Because at the end, education, is really what we are talking about....that is what this is about. Prosecute them, yes. We must make sure our children are protected, we must ensure that future generations are not exposed. And importantly, that the educational system be out of the grasp of control. It's in their interest, and ours.

There is no reason the Church should have that sort of educational power. And, how to say, the Church does a very good job educating children...but only in social environments where there are viable secular alternatives. Secular makes the Church better and, let's face it, when this condition obtains (e.g. a rigorously secular society) the Church makes Secular better. We are after the same things after all, a good society where we take care of one another properly.

Not saying to hold back...just that, as in France 100 years ago, we may still have some allies, even as we pass over such atrocities with nothing but contempt.

 

by redstar on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 06:23:41 PM EST
the one big insight to me in this whole sad sordid story is becoming better aware what role the Catholic Church has played in the history of Ireland. I always sorta knew it was relevant, but hadn't appreciated before the degree of entanglement the Church had and still has in public Irish life.

It is things like:

European Tribune - Comments - It's ok not to report crimes if you're a priest

Ireland has moved on a long way in the past 35 years, but many legacies of the ancien regime remain. For instance the Catholic Church still manages 90% of the primary schools in the country and controls the appointment of Principals and teachers despite the fact that all salaries are paid for by the state out of taxpayers money.

that drive it home.

I find it also telling to read that many of the people who've stepped forward with their stories really, really want to see the Church apologize, even more than they'd want monetary compensation.

Thanks for your post Frank.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 06:51:12 PM EST
The militant and at times murderous anticlericalism during Spain's Second Republic and Civil War, as well as France's Laïcité can only be understood in the context of similar historical weight and entanglement in public life of the Catholic Church in the ancien régime in all of these countries.

Italy is still very much under direct political influence of the Papacy.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 07:08:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Questions for Cardinal Brady
THAT THE clerical abuse scandal in the last few days should have reached up to touch both Cardinal Seán Brady and Pope Benedict, and has seen new abuse inquiries spread from Germany to the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, speaks with sad eloquence of the extent to which it has contaminated the Roman Catholic Church's entire body, morally and organisationally.

In both the cases of Fr Brendan Smyth in the diocese of Kilmore and that of Father `H' in Munich, in 1975 and 1980 respectively, the church authorities decided that an abusive priest would be dealt with internally, and in both imposed a vow of silence on the abused with disastrous effect. In both cases the process, now repudiated by the church, allowed the abuser to return to reoffend.

The degree of culpable, direct responsibility of both Dr Brady, then just a priest who took evidence from the abused and then evaluated it on behalf of his bishop, and of the then Cardinal Ratzinger, whose deputy dealt with the case, is clearly disputable. Both were cogs in a process established under canon law and both can point to a failure of others. But does that absolve them as citizens of a duty of care and of obligations under the criminal law to notify the civil authorities?

Had the Garda been informed then of Smyth's abuse a subsequent 18-year trail of misery initiated by a man known to his order as a serial abuser since the 1940s could have been ended. Did the senior members of the Norbertine Order who attended one of Dr Brady's interviews with an abused child really not give any intimation to him that they were dealing here with a man with a history? The church should publish his reports.

The enforcement of silence was particularly pernicious. Msgr Charles J. Scicluna, the director of a tribunal inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's doctrinal arm, over the weekend dismissed the idea that secrecy was imposed "in order to hide the facts". Rather, he said, it "served to protect the good name of all the people involved, first and foremost, the victims themselves, then the accused priests who have the right, as everyone does, to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty".

That simply does not wash. Why then the continued silence even after adverse findings against a priest? And, as the Murphy report found, the Dublin archdiocese's preoccupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, "at least until the mid 1990s were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities".

Ultimately, however, the questions which must be answered by Cardinal Brady are whether he can still speak with clear, untarnished authority on the abuse issue? Whether he can still convincingly lead his brother bishops out of the most profound crisis in the Irish church's history? His authority to lead the Catholic church in Ireland is severely damaged.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 09:17:00 PM EST
... in the arrogance of the clergy and the continuing complicity of the political elite and much of the laity in Ireland.

Our fundamental problem is that we never had a native reformation nor a social revolution here, for unique colonial / imperial reasons.  Instead we had a nationalist event that constitutionally locked the ruling class and Catholic church into power.

by Pope Epopt on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 07:17:05 AM EST
Vatican completes Legionaries investigation - The Irish Times - Tue, Mar 16, 2010
The pope ordered the investigation last year after the Legionaries acknowledged its late founder, the Rev Marcial Maciel of Mexico, had fathered a daughter and had sexually abused seminarians.

Since then a Mexican woman has come forward saying she had a lengthy relationship with Maciel, that he fathered her two sons, adopted a third and sexually abused two of them.

The disclosure of Maciel's double life has caused enormous turmoil inside the Legionaries and its lay affiliate, Regnum Christi, particularly because information initially released by the leadership was less than forthcoming. The order had essentially created a personality cult around Maciel, teaching that he was a hero whose life should be studied and emulated.

-----snip

The Legionaries was formed in 1941 and became one of the most influential and fastest-growing orders in the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II championed the group, which became known for its orthodox theology, military-style discipline, fundraising prowess and success recruiting priests at a time when seminary enrolment was generally dismal.

The group says it now has some 800 priests and 2,600 seminarians worldwide, along with 75,000 Regnum Christi members.

The Vatican began investigating allegations against Maciel in the 1950s, and again in 1998 after nine former seminarians said he had abused them when they were boys or teenagers in Catholic seminaries in Spain and Italy from the 1940s through the 1960s. Later, others came forward.

But it was not until 2006, a year into the current papacy when the Vatican instructed Maciel to lead a "reserved life of prayer and penance" in response to the abuse allegations.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 09:40:37 AM EST
Wasn't there some bishop in Ireland (Galway?) who had a few dalliances on the side resulting in a fine family.

Who would ever have known that Father Ted was a documentary ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 03:22:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bishop Casey was actually quite popular and many of his parishioners felt that (after a due period of repentance and exile) he should have been allowed back in some humble capacity.  Instead he was dealt with quite vindictively by the Authorities.  I suppose you could argue that "if you live by the sword..." but perhaps the Church was alarmed by the forgiving attitude of most people towards a Bishop who had broken the vow of celibacy.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 03:49:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's always amusing when you get more forgiveness from churchgoers than Church authorities for relatively minor infractions, and vice versa for the more appalling crimes.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 09:46:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sexual Abuse of Women in the Church | The Lay Scientist

There has been widespread media coverage of the abuse of children by Catholic priests and few people are now unaware of it.

There has been almost no publicity about the abuse of women by male members of the clergy and, despite the evidence, the Church appears to have done nothing.

Some women do have fully consensual relationships with male clergy but they are a small minority. When their stories make the media, they are usually of the more lurid 'priest has mistress and secret children' variety.

There is some abuse of adult men but a 2008 survey in America found that 96% of the victims were female.

Abuse falls into two categories, congregants and nuns.

Research findings about the prevalence of this abuse vary. One American report states that 'although clergy of any denomination can sexually exploit children, teens, men or women, over 95% of victims of sexual exploitation by clergy are adult women'. Another study found that 3.1% of regular women congregants (women in the congregation) had suffered sexual abuse.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 04:45:46 PM EST
The pope's entire career has the stench of evil about it. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine
On March 10, the chief exorcist of the Vatican, the Rev. Gabriele Amorth (who has held this demanding post for 25 years), was quoted as saying that "the Devil is at work inside the Vatican," and that "when one speaks of 'the smoke of Satan' in the holy rooms, it is all true--including these latest stories of violence and pedophilia." This can perhaps be taken as confirmation that something horrible has indeed been going on in the holy precincts, though most inquiries show it to have a perfectly good material explanation.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 06:18:34 PM EST
Archbishop Martin calls for clerical accountability - The Irish Times - Tue, Mar 16, 2010
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said information being held by diocese and religious congregations about clerical sex abuse in Ireland should be released, saying "people want the entire truth to come out."

While he refused to be drawn on whether Cardinal Seán Brady should resign over his role in canonical investigations in 1975 in which victims of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth were asked to swear an oath of secrecy, Archbishop Martin called for accountability.

"I have always said that it is not my job to tell people to resign or to tell people to stay," the Archbishop said.

"I have never done that. People should be accountable, render account of what they've done. Resignations are personal decisions."

Speaking before attending an ecumenical service at City Quay Church in Dublin city centre, Archbishop Martin emphasised the importance of disclosure.

"What is very important in all of this is that the truth comes out. I am worried about this because you are talking now about information that is there in various places - in diocese - in religious orders. People want the entire truth to come out," Archbishop Martin said.

When asked what message he had for victims of Fr Smyth, Dr Martin said:

"All I'll say is Brendan Smyth should have been stopped from the first time it was known that he abused. I don't know when that was. Thank God we have measures today which would hopefully have done that. But how a person would have abused and continued to abuse for so long - eighteen years after and God knows how many years before."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said tonight that Cardinal Brady should consider his position.

Mr McGuinness, who is on a trade and political mission to the US capital for St Patrick's Day, expressed grave concern about the reports and suggested it was time for the Cardinal to consider stepping down.

"I am a Catholic, I do my best to practise my religion and I think that many Catholics throughout the island of Ireland will be absolutely dismayed at these latest revelations and I do think the Cardinal should consider his position," he said.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 16th, 2010 at 08:40:57 PM EST
italy is quite retarded as to gay rights, much of the country is homophobic compared to other parts of europe such as france, england, germany.

i definitely ascribe this to the influence, ubiquitous and to my instincts mostly pernicious effects of the catholic church on society.

this is a great shame for the good priests and lay catholics who persevere within the institution to better the world, according to jesus' teachings.

it's with heavy heart, but here's how i think the church has got so sexually twisted over the centuries. sometimes i have gone to massage at a ex-convent, now a hotel. this place always gave me the shivers, in the middle of stunning countryside, the place had an aura of darkness that made working there difficult on some level, though i worked also at a villa a few miles away, and felt nothing but positive energy there.

i was told that the church used to shut away girls in the convent for being difficult or rebellious, a sort of prison, and when i heard that, i understood why i felt so much pain in the walls. i have worked at other ex-convents without that ugly feeling, maybe the women there had some choice.

i suspect that if a mother knew her son was gay, it was a relief to know he could find a sanctioned 'safe place' in the arms of the church, where his lack of attraction to women could be rationalised.

i think the mothers even subconsciously knew that the church was basically a homosexual organisation, and its efforts to help humanity were collateral to that fact. the church's power was so close to total for centuries here, it was probably worth it in many a mother's judgment to 'overlook' the distasteful sexual practices many priests were indulging in, in order to have that 'safe' haven maintained, and the shame of an unmarried non-breeder in the family was discreetly swept under the church's rug.

having stuck my head in the vatican on a visit to the Unholy See, i will never forget the feeling of evil i felt emanating from that place, as the words 'homosexual cabal' echoed in my mind, as i shuddered and walked away, fast. the 'chosen for their cuteness' swiss guard in their medieval drag and blond curly locks, in counterpoint to the sinister crow-like characters in their black and brown hooded robes, it had such an ancient, repulsive vibe, i felt weird for a while.

 god made all kinds of love, and it was the shame and misunderstanding, the taboo that had created such a perverse atmosphere, the banishment from the heterosexual community perhaps, and an immense compensation for the inferiority ensuing from that, which caused the split, and what then seems to be a kind of revenge.

"you hate us and want us out of your hair, well we'll amass so much power we'll have you begging for our approval, or to take that gay son or daughter off your hands so you can face your neighbours...

and we'll diddle your kids, and you'll be so afraid of the hell we've painted on your imagination-screen as children, you'll let us get away with it."

many places even had a woman, a spinster who was the village priest's lover, even bearing his children, everyone looking the other way, so it's not just homosexuality or pedophilia that are the problem, it's the whole cog-diss around sex.

attending (nominally c of e) public school in 60's england, there was a similar double standard around homosexuality. the school priest was gay, but didn't act out, the poor guy was as tense a human as could be, his conflict was palpable, looking back i have nothing but pity for him, so close, but so far away. a tortured man...

it was common knowledge there was all kinds of really nasty sexuality throughout the school, but no-one said a thing, it went on entirely unimpeded. i was raped the first week i was there, and did not even think of reporting it, i was far from the only one. i don't even hate him for what he did, as he was running the same program laid on him, probably. sexual was only one of other forms of abuse, corporal and psychological, sadism seemed like the very raison d'etre for the place...

i just cried, but no-one cared.

the matron came around before lights out and asked us if we had 'done our big job' that day, duly inscribing the answers on a chart.

then after the lights were out it was mayhem, some consensual.

i think those who have integrity in the church will have to leave it, as unless something huge happens, their credibility as a safe zone for kids will continue to be shredded daily, and eventually the hypocrisy will implode any vestiges of spiritual authority still adhering to their tattered reputation.

i agree with helen and jake, they have gone so far too far, for too long, and they refuse to take responsibility, ensuring their fate. i suspect that even if they came clean now, the lawsuits would reduce the vatican treasury to dust, along with all their hip-hop bling, ferragamo pumps and satin ballgowns.

considering their betrayal of the social pact they were created for, i'm surprised how little they are hated. i'm surprised anyone can still call themselves a catholic, i'm surprised the vatican isn't an empty shell, its tenets and dogma flushed down the toilet of medieval history. they have been so wrong, so inhumanly wrong on so many vital issues well-listed in this thread, this should be the last straw.

santiago's arguments are lucid and rational, and products of a mind well trained in logic, but they  remind me of jesuitic thinking, it slices so finely, is rigorous, yet seems ingenuous in the face of reality.

the idea that jesus, a man of poverty and humility, would recognise any of his teachings in the triumph of absolute pomp incarnated in the vatican and its denizens seems nothing short of insane.

anything that unmasks this cabal is good news, they are an impediment to christian faith, all the worse for their claims to exclusivity and righteousness.

let st francis be an example of christianity, he walked his talk, and loved as jesus did, despised finery and preached outside of churches.

just looking at ratzi's pinched mouth and swivelling eyes is sickening, i feel so sorry for all the poor, uneducated people still under his sway, whose faith is crumbling as fast their moral icons in rome, with all the revelations coming out from under the rocks of fear.

italian mamas aren't quite so ashamed any more if their sons are gay, so there goes that market... next up those still brainwashed in latin america and africa...

 

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 09:50:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You appear to be arguing that the RC Church (in particular, though not exclusively) became a haven from society for the sexually deviant - paedophiles, homosexuals etc.  (I'm not suggesting that homosexuality is deviant in any sense other than that it was not accepted as "normal" by the the dominant sexual mores of the time).

You are then further arguing that the sexually devient then took their revenge for their suppression by society by "acting out" their anger against the young entrusted into their care.  (Certainly Father Smyth appears to have been quite open about his paedophilia, arguing it was consensual and harmless and ignoring the religious and authoritarian context which made it possible).

If you are correct, then the liberalisation of societal attitudes to homosexuality is the greatest possible threat to the Church - as it removes all necessity for homosexuals to join the Church in order in order to attain respectability.  "Vocations" will plummet if it is no longer necessary to join to in order to attain respectability for sexually deviant behaviour.

Removing the vow of celibacy within the Church would have a similar effect - as it threatens the dominance of homosexuality and homosexuals within its ranks.  It also removes the need for the naturally celibate or disinterested to join the Church in order to rationalise and obtain sanction for their lack of reproductive behaviour - status in secular society often being linked to prolific fatherhood.

Of course the whole process depended on maintaining the fiction that no sexual activity took place within the Church at all - at great sacrifice by the professional joiners - and thus deserving of great admiration and reverence from those who knew they could never achieve a similar feat.

Hence the subterfuge, the secrecy, the denial, the moving on of suspects before they could be found out by secular society.  There is a social science principle I am struggling to enunciate which goes something like this: Institutions set up in emulation of one set of principles end up becoming almost exactly the opposite, but they must deny the existence of any contrary tendencies in their ranks, and thus those contrary tendencies develop unchecked and indeed protected - as their discovery would destroy the raison d'etre of the whole institution in the first place.

It is something more than the law of unintended consequences:  It is more like an eastern principle of yin and Yang: strive for Yin and Yang ends up taking you over!

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 09:21:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
There is a social science principle I am struggling to enunciate which goes something like this: Institutions set up in emulation of one set of principles end up becoming almost exactly the opposite, but they must deny the existence of any contrary tendencies in their ranks, and thus those contrary tendencies develop unchecked and indeed protected - as their discovery would destroy the raison d'etre of the whole institution in the first place.
 

spot on...any action has a counter reaction.

Frank Schnittger:

If you are correct, then the liberalisation of societal attitudes to homosexuality is the greatest possible threat to the Church - as it removes all necessity for homosexuals to join the Church in order in order to attain respectability.

yes, and this is why ratzi can condone and forgive what's going on inside his church, while decrying those same vices, full of pseudo moral indignation.

romans (applauded by pharisees) hacked jesus' body, the present church has hacked his message, completely inverting it.

the only things holding it together now are habit and sentiment, some will cling to anything, even a sinking raft...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 12:57:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I feel a new diary theorising the causes of sexual abuse in religious institutions coming on...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 02:52:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're talking about Freud's "polymorphous perversity", the incredibly ingenious reactions of the psyche to ideological forcing.

Align culture with our nature.
by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 04:31:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My thanks to all who have read, recommended or contributed to this diary thread which I have found to be an interesting exchange of views.  I'm considering doing a follow-up on the competing narratives which have been articulated here which may help to lift the discussion out of a mainly Irish context. The conflict between faith based and social science based narratives may be of particular relevance in the US, Africa and other parts of the world where similar problems have emerged.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 07:47:13 PM EST
"...The conflict between faith based and social science based narratives..."

Substitute "governance theories" for "narratives" and you've got what's been in the back of my mind as the final refutation of santiago's peevish logic-chopping.

Science destroys absolutist narratives, such as the Roman Catholic Church relies on.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 04:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
with any organised religion is that they dabble into politics armed with absolutes (God, Good, Truth, etc...). Any means justifies the ends, since the end is so much more important than anything that can happen down here.

This is deadly in politics and in normal life.

What's the saying? Oh yes: "absolute power corrupts absolutely." The core business of the catholic church is absolute power. It is absolutely corrupt to the core, as a political institution, and being labelled a club of pedophiles and pedophile lovers is a just reward and probably still too nice to them.

That doesn't mean that catholics as individuals (including most priests, presumably) are not good people, and that they do not behave in accordance with the teachings and values of the church, which, if actually followed, give a fine result. But the church as an institution is fundamentally corrupt.

Individual faith is fine.
Organised religion is undistinguishable from totalitarianism. Pedophilia is one of the many natural outcomes of that. T


Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 03:47:53 AM EST
the fundamental problem with any organised religion is that they dabble into politics armed with absolutes (God, Good, Truth, etc...).

I don't think that's the issue. After all, when you peel away all the rationalisations, every political ideology boils down to some unchallenged axioms that are never entirely abandoned or disproved, only evolving over time.

The problem with religion dabbling in politics is that it's considered uncouth to call bullshit on religious narratives and demand to see some evidence to shore up the more explicit assumptions.

Well, if I don't get to call bullshit on your narratives without you acting all huffy about it, then you don't get to bring those narratives into substantive matters such as the governance of my country. That seems like a fair deal to me.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 06:27:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
After all, when you peel away all the rationalisations, every political ideology boils down to some unchallenged axioms that are never entirely abandoned or disproved, only evolving over time.

so true...

i think the biggest challenge facing those of religious persuasion is not to succumb to groupthink.

the best ideas often don't scale up well, distortion and dilution dampen enlightenment into dogma.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 01:02:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"...the biggest challenge facing those of religious persuasion is not to succumb to groupthink."

You think any two people in history could come up with such fantastical stories as the churches tell WITHOUT groupthink?

Religion IS groupthink. The origin of religion is authoritization of group leadership.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 04:39:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
religion is only groupthink when it's not your religion, heh. (snark)

your point is accurate, but humans need leaders sometimes, and to have ones ready for those times.

true?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 02:11:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They also like to belong to communities with shared beliefs and values - and that has always been a human need/desire that religions have catered for.  Part of the anomie of a modern pluralist fast changing society is that such "normlessness" and rapid change makes people feel insecure and uncomfortable and so they cling to ancient beliefs and organisations which appear to offer a cosy consensus and a reassuring place in their world.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 02:24:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A LOT of people don't subscribe to groupthink. Some because their parents vaccinated them against the virus, some because they were naturally immune, some for a variety of reasons.

Humans vary widely in their social relations. Yes, we were originally adapted to small groups. How much can that be modified by atomizing influences in society?

I don't know, but society seems to be limping along. Barely.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Sun Mar 28th, 2010 at 02:16:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
View of Monsignor Dooley rejected - The Irish Times - Thu, Mar 18, 2010
Archbishop Dermot Clifford has distanced himself for remarks made by Monsignor Maurice Dooley over the reporting of allegation of child abuse to the appropriate State authorities.

In a statement released this afternoon Bishop Clifford said views expressed by Msgr Dooley "are his own personal views" and "do not represent the policy or the practice of the Catholic Church in Ireland today concerning the reporting of allegations of abuse to the civil authorities, North and South."

In an interview during the Today with Pat Kenny  show on Monday Mgr Dooley said Cardinal Seán Brady "had no obligation whatsoever" to report allegations of abuse to the Garda Síochána when he first learned of them as a priest 35 years ago.

Msgr Maurice Dooley, a former professor of canon law, said it was neither a civil crime nor a sin against the law of God for the clergy not to report such matters to gardaí.

Asked by Kenny if it would have been better for Cardinal Brady to have gone to the Garda in 1975, when he was working as a priest under bishop of Kilmore Francis McKiernan, Msgr Dooley replied: "I don't think so.

"Fr Brady was dealing with a particular in camera investigation within the church. It would be a violation of his obligations if he went to the police on that. What he did was to go to the bishop, pass the report back to the bishop.

"The bishop, within the context of the church law, silenced this particular paedophile priest and that was all the church could do."

When put to him that had the then Fr Brady gone to gardaí many other children would have been saved from abuse by paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth, Msgr Dooley said this was "hypothesis".

He said it was the duty of abuse victims and their parents to report instances of abuse and the duty of gardaí to investigate them.

However, in the statement issued today Bishop Clifford said: "As his bishop and on behalf of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, I want to state that all concerns that come to light are reported fully and without delay to the State authorities.

"The policy and practice of this diocese, and every diocese, is to report all allegations to the statutory authorities.

"As a consequence, I have spoken to Monsignor Dooley today and he assures me that he will not be speaking again in this controversy.

"I regret the distress, anger, and confusion that Mgr Dooley's remarks have caused in recent days to all concerned."



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 18th, 2010 at 03:18:49 PM EST
Pope blasts Irish bishops over sex abuse cases and tells victims: 'I am truly sorry' | World news | The Observer

Reports on abuse commissioned in Ireland have singled out a letter written by the current pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, in 2001 instructing bishops to report all abuse cases to his office at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for confidential handling. Vatican officials have said the measure was designed to prevent cases being covered up at local level, but Irish bishops reportedly understood the letter to mean they should not report cases to the police. In yesterday's letter, Benedict urged Ireland's bishops to "continue to co-operate with civil authorities".

"That could be interpreted as an instruction on mandatory reporting of abuse to the police, and this is welcome, although it is not clearly stated," said Lewis. "But where the pope goes on to deal with the proper application of canon law in these cases, it suggests he has no idea that civil law supersedes canon law, that bishops should abide by civil law like any citizen."

The letter announces that a Vatican investigation, or apostolic visitation, will be carried out at a "certain diocese" in Ireland, as well as in seminaries and religious congregations. Such investigations are carried out when the Vatican believes a local church is unable to put its own house in order.

"A lot of people will be quaking in their boots in Ireland as they wait to see which diocese the pope means," said one church insider in Ireland.

But Benedict also sympathised with Irish bishops, telling them: "I recognise how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice."

Rather than blaming abuse on an oppressive, conservative environment within the Irish Catholic church, Benedict singles out the creeping influence of liberal, secular society for weakening resolve against it. "In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations," he writes.

Lewis added: "We are astounded that the pope links the problem to secularisation. It shows a misunderstanding of the dynamics of sexual violence and suggests there is little hope the church will ever know how to respond."



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 21st, 2010 at 03:35:37 PM EST
Despite the fact that it was in a church dominated by arch-conservatives that the abuse happened and was covered up by the most authoritarian if not downright fascis of Bishops - who systematically sidelined all attempts at Liberal reform initiated by Vatican II.  Whistle blowers were silenced.  Reformers had no influence.  Only the most conservative were promoted...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 21st, 2010 at 04:02:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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