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Privileged Conversations

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jul 25th, 2011 at 10:29:45 AM EST

The debate around clerical child sex abuse continues to reverberate around the Irish polity with the Vatican calling for a more "objective" debate and withdrawing its ambassador to Ireland for "consultations" in response to the Taoiseach's stinging criticism of the Vatican's role in the crisis:

Taoiseach's speech on Cloyne motion

Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic...as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.

And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism....the narcissism .......that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.

The rape and torture of children were downplayed or `managed' to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and `reputation'.

Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict's "ear of the heart"......the Vatican's reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.

I had a letter to the editor published in the following Sunday Business post (below the fold) which dealt with one aspect of the controversy: The proposal, by the Government, to introduce legislation which would require mandatory reporting of reasonable suspicions of child abuse regardless of how those suspicions came to the attention of the person in question. The most controversial element of this proposal is that it would require a priest to break the "seal of the confessional" if someone confessed to child abuse.

There is a danger that the political response to the public anger over the revelations in the Cloyne report will be tinged more with revenge and attempts to eliminate the influence of the Vatican over Irish affairs than it is with concerns over child welfare per se. Leaving aside that private confessions are rarely heard any more, and that where a traditional confessional box is used the priest may not know the identity of the person making the confession, are there larger issues of principle surrounding civil liberties at play here? Under what circumstances should a private conversation between (say) a bishop and a priest, a doctor or therapist and his patient, a lawyer and his client or a husband and wife, be regarded as privileged?

My letter argued that the issue of child protection is paramount:


LETTERS to the editor | The Post

The debate about the Cloyne Report has quickly reduced in many instances to one around sacerdotal privilege, and particularly "the seal of the confessional".

About the only relevance of this debate to what is documented in the Cloyne Report is the allegation that the Bishop of Cloyne prepared two reports on a particular child abuser: one for Rome in which he noted that the priest concerned had admitted the offence, and one for the Health Service Executive in which that admission was not included, allegedly on the grounds that this admission may have been part of a privileged conversation between the priest and his bishop.

It is important that any ambiguity or confusion surrounding "privileged'' conversations should be removed, both for the welfare of children and for the good conscience and reputation of those with responsibility for the welfare of children.

Why should parents entrust their children to priests if they have no guarantee that their children's welfare will be the priest's overriding concern?

In practice, it may be rare for paedophiles to admit their crimes in the confessional or as part of "privileged" conversations, and they are even more unlikely to do so if they know that such an admission will be reported to the civil authorities.

Although it is possible to imagine an emotive test case, the likelihood of prosecutions for the non reporting of abuse seems remote if only because it is rare for evidence of such non-reporting to come to light.

However, it is important that the primacy of the laws of the land over Canon Law be firmly established. The crisis in the Roman Catholic Church has come about partly because bishops and those in authority viewed their responsibilities to obey Canon Law as being superior to any responsibilities they owed to the Irish state.

This led to the Vatican instructing bishops and priests to ignore their civil responsibilities and report only to Rome in documents such as Crimen sollicitationis.

This in turn led to offending priests being moved from one jurisdiction to another, and the prioritisation of the interests of the institution over the welfare of children.

Frank Schnittger

However, I am not a legal expert, and was surprised by arguments by Santiago in the course of a long conversation on a draft of the LTE in my previous diary which seemed to me to:

  1. Minimise the institutional responsibility of the Catholic Church in all of this

  2. Minimise the heinousness of the crime of child abuse, and, (in later comments) to

  3. Regard the intrusion of state power in private relationships as a greater danger than the incidence of child abuse itself

I have thus read up a bit more on the concept of privileged conversations and came across the following on this US site:

Legal Definition of Privileged Communication
Conversation that takes places within the context of a protected relationship, such as that between an attorney and client, a husband and wife, a priest and penitent, and a doctor and patient. The law often protects against forced disclosure of such conversations. However, there are exceptions that can invalidate a privileged communication, and there are various circumstances where it can be waived, either purposefully or unintentionally.

Those statements made by a client to his counsel or attorney, or solicitor, in confidence, relating to some cause Or action then pending or in contemplation. Such communications cannot be disclosed without the consent of the client. In judicial proceedings, the law allows people to refuse to disclose the contents of certain privileged conversations and writings. Communications between an attorney and client, husband and wife, clergyperson and penitent, and doctor and patient are all privileged. In a few states, the privilege extends to a psychotherapist and client and to a reporter and her source.

To qualify for privileged status, communications must generally be made in a private setting (that is, in a context where confidentiality could reasonably be expected). The privilege is lost (waived) when all or part of the communication is disclosed to a third person.

These privileges are held by the client (but not the lawyer), the patient (but not the doctor or psychotherapist), the speaking (but not the spoken-to) spouse and both the clergyperson and the penitent. The lawyer, doctor, psychotherapist and spoken-to spouse, however, cannot reveal the communication without the other person's consent. The client, patient, speaking spouse, clergyperson and penitent may waive the privilege (that is, testify about the conversation) and also may prevent the other person from disclosing the information.

One of the annoying things one finds when googling around the legal blogosphere as a lay person is that many sites are very non-specific as to which jurisdictions their prognostications refer to, and even the "About us" section fails to state what jurisdiction the advice given refers to. I am sure that different nuances to the law apply in different jurisdictions, particularly with regard to journalists and their sources and lawyers and their clients. (I am under the impression, for instance, that a Barrister, under Irish Law, is an officer of the court and can lose his licence if a client admits culpability to him and he subsequently argues otherwise in court - but haven't able to find an Irish source to confirm this).

So what is the position regarding privileged conversations in your jurisdiction? To what extent does the public good trump the right to private privacy? If we extend privilege to conversations between a Bishop and his Priest, why not between an employer and his employee?  After all an employee's prospects may be adversely effected if he testifies against his employer, and Ireland has yet to enact whistle-blower legislation.

But the bigger issue, for me, is the rights of the child in all of this. After all privileged conversations are generally between relatively powerful adults whose interests in self preservation may trump the welfare of the child.  Ireland is due to enact a constitutional amendment in a referendum on the rights of the child in the next year or so. Should that amendment include a provision that the welfare of children should trump the rights of adults to have privileged conversations about them? Who speaks for the rights of the child in all of this?

Display:
Taoiseach badly served by his speech writers
But there are other issues touching on the very nature of a modern democracy. For example, legislation that would deny the sacredness of the seal would also undermine the (broader) principle of "sacerdotal privilege" (ie confidentiality between priest and anyone who seeks pastoral or spiritual help) which is enshrined in Irish jurisprudence (cf. Cook -v- Carroll, 1945).

In turn, any removal of such sacerdotal privilege would totally undermine all other privileges of a similar nature, such as, for example, legal privilege between a lawyer and his or her client.

That privilege is one of the cornerstones of the whole administration of justice in a free, democratic society under the rule of law. The attempt to destroy the seal of confession is a most disturbing development.

It is interesting that the author (a retired moral theologian) relies on a 1945 court case to argue that all conversations between priest and anyone who seeks their pastoral or spiritual help are privileged regardless of the circumstances.  On that basis, a priest could hardly ever be called to give evidence. Why should a priest be granted such privilege before the civil or criminal law? Conversations which reveal a crime is being committed should hardly be regarded as pastoral or spiritual unless the needs of the perpetrator are elevated above those of the victim.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 25th, 2011 at 06:10:00 PM EST
Why should a priest be granted such privilege before the civil or criminal law?

Because he can do magic and you can't.

by asdf on Mon Jul 25th, 2011 at 09:46:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 05:28:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone gets to do magic!


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:35:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Conversations which reveal a crime is being committed should hardly be regarded as pastoral or spiritual unless the needs of the perpetrator are elevated above those of the victim.

No, that is wrong. It is also possible to elevate the needs of the institution of sacerdotal privilege above the needs of the victim.

You may argue - and I would not be wholly disinclined to agree - that the institution of sacerdotal privilege is not sufficiently important to warrant this. But that is a different - and much harder - case to make than the case that the victim's needs should take precedence over the perpetrator's.

(And even the latter case is not trivial - we do not permit victims to extract their own sense of justice from perpetrators, after all, so clearly some of the victims' needs are regarded as less important than the perpetrator's rights.)

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 25th, 2011 at 09:47:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First of all, I would argue that there is no such need as a need for revenge.  We may desire it, and feel better - for a while - if we get it. But it does us and society no objective good.  It doesn't heal the injury and it doesn't solve the problem. The principle of two wrongs don't make a right still stands.

I also don't see how your statement "No, that is wrong" follows from the rest of your argument. You can indeed argue that there are good social arguments for giving some individuals and some institutions some privileges which help them do good work more effectively.  However privileges also come with accountability, and when there is a history of them being abused, the individuals/institution concerned doesn't have too strong a case to shout foul if they are removed.

That argument, does, not however invalidate my argument that it is wrong to elevated the needs of the perpetrator over those of the victim - for protection from further harm, restitution, and justice - not revenge.

The institutional argument is interesting however.  Society confers a lot of power (and potential wealth) on institutions and individuals on whom it confers the privilege of having privileged conversations. It gives them a status and validation it confers on few others.  How am I different, as a blogger, for instance, if I refuse to reveal my sources about crimes being committed if a journalist for a Murdoch media outlet can claim their conversations with sources about crimes being committed are privileged?

You have to make a pretty good case that society benefits from the conferring of such a privilege, and that you are not unfairly privileging one institution over other.  Can a protestant minister claim unfair discrimination because his conversations with a parishioner are not privileged because there is no practice of hearing private confessions in his church?


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 05:47:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I also don't see how your statement "No, that is wrong" follows from the rest of your argument.

Your original argument was that the victim's (legitimate) needs take precedence over the perpetrator's, therefore a particular privileged relationship should be revoked. This is a weak argument, because privileged conversations are used not solely by perpetrators of serious crimes where there is a clear social need for the victim to be protected from further criminality.

Now, in this particular case, I do not have any great quarrel with circumscribing the institution of sacerdotal privilege so it does not cover serious crimes. I do, however, have a very great problem with ex post facto laws. They set a poor sort of precedent.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:32:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't post facto laws set a postcedent? In any case no one is talking about retro-active application of a law here (for which there are precedents), and the scope of the proposed law is limited to child sexual abuse.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 03:14:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why start worrying about the rights of kids as free agents anyway?

For all practical purposes, kids are bond slaves to their parents, indoctrinated, often abused in every way, including psychologically and physically.

They're taught anti-evidential thinking before they're even IN school. God wallopers are institutionalized in the culture.

Ireland has been a de facto theocracy for a long time, not a hell of a lot different from Kabul or Lahore.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 02:29:45 AM EST
Your "point" seems to be that Irish kids are asking for it by the simple fact of being brought up in Ireland.

Enlightening.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 05:34:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition to that, the concept of human rights is independent of the culture into which people are borne. There may be a cultural practice of female circumcision or forced marriages at age 9. That doesn't mean they are acceptable in Ireland or Lahore.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 05:52:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And what theory of "nature" are you referring to? The whole point of this diary and its predecessors is that that theocracy is breaking down and its practitioners are losing their power and privileges. What appears to be "natural" is a social construct.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 05:56:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Privileged Conversations
The lawyer, doctor, psychotherapist and spoken-to spouse, however, cannot reveal the communication without the other person's consent. The client, patient, speaking spouse, clergyperson and penitent may waive the privilege (that is, testify about the conversation) and also may prevent the other person from disclosing the information.

What strikes me as odd about the above is as follows: Suppose I have an acrimonious separation from my wife, in the course of which she reveals numerous infidelities as a means of hurting me as much as she can.  Why should I be prevented from revealing that conversation with her in subsequent divorce proceedings on the grounds that the conversation was "privileged"?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 06:10:08 AM EST
I would assume that there is a clause for that (further assuming that such information would have any relevance to divorce proceedings, which is actually not wholly obvious), in the same way that I would assume that there is a clause that permits wives who are beaten and verbally abused to reveal the verbal abuse in court.

In other words, if the person to whom you speak is the victim, his role of victim presumably supercedes his role as person of confidence. But IANAL, and Irish law has previously surprised me.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:23:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is the reasonable expectation of privacy aspect ~ is there really a reasonable expectation of privacy in what is, eg, yelled as clothes are thrown out on the lawn in an acrimonious break-up?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:42:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that the laws of evidence in Texas are pretty much the basic laws of other states regarding spousal immunity, for instance. You'll be pleased to note that, in most cases, a spouse cannot be COMPELLED to divulge confidential communications, but can decide to testify against a spouse in any case, i.e., if your wife WANTS to testify against you, she can, whether you want her to or not.  And abuse of a minor is an exception, anyway. See this discussion:
http://www.johntfloyd.com/comments/november08/08a.htm

If I recall correctly, there is no privileged communication when the communication is in regard to an ONGOING or FUTURE crime, only when the crime is in the past.  An attorney would have a duty to report the communication regarding a crime that is going to occur in the future.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 12:09:28 PM EST
Thanks for this. What I'm not clear on is to what extent the laws in Ireland/Europe are clearly enunciated in statutes, and to what extent we are relying on court interpretations of case law (although I am aware there are also different legal traditions regarding common or case law).

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 03:37:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry; I'm really just a Eurowannabe. I'll do a little research and see what I can find... tomorrow.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 03:52:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.  Whenayougonnabeaeurobabe?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 04:41:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh.  My babe years are far behind me. I DO feel like a European more than an American, but I've wanted to be a European since I was 8 years old, so that's no surprise.

Wikipedia (consider the source) has an article about clergy-penitent confidentiality that suggests that in France, at least, due to the 1905 French law regarding separation of church and state, the Concordat of 1801 was abrogated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priest-penitent_privilege_in_France

Here: "Section 151 of the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure of 1873, which stated, in pertinent part, that a minister's testimony would be void if examined as a witness in regard to facts communicated during confession or under a seal of secrecy. " According to Human Rights Watch, the German Code of Criminal Procedure recognizes other categories of privileged communication."' For example, the German Zivilprozessordnung, Section 383(1), states in part that no person is required to testify if one is the sort "to whom matters are entrusted by virtue of their office, profession or trade, which are to be kept secret due to their nature or by law, with respect to the facts to which the duty of secrecy pertains."   This is found at http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1271&context=auilr&sei-re dir=1#search=%22priest%20penitent%20privilege%20European%20law%22  p. 653.

I'd love to be finding more, but it's SO frustrating with the slowness of my connection. I'm extremely unhappy with Kabel Deutschland right now, and with internet service in the villages of Germany in general.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Sun Jul 31st, 2011 at 09:05:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks.  I'll read up some more when I get the chance!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 31st, 2011 at 10:04:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Church and State clash over secrets of confession - Independent.ie
THE Government last night stuck to its pledge to force priests to break the secrets of the confessional box and reveal abuse as tensions boiled over with the Vatican.

Relations between the Vatican and Ireland plunged to a new low as the Holy See's Ambassador was recalled to Rome to discuss the fallout from the Cloyne Report.

On top of the diplomatic row, a senior Vatican official dismissed the Government's plans to bring in a new law to compel priests to pass on details of abuse revealed in confession.

In the wake of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's scathing attack on the Vatican, Monsignor Giuseppe Leanza was summoned back to Rome so he could brief Pope Benedict XVI and senior church officials on details of the damning report which accused the Catholic hierarchy of covering up for paedophile priests.

SIGNIFICANCE

The Government attempted to play down the significance of the move.

However, the Taoiseach will not be retracting any of his comments and sources believe the Vatican is now taking the request for a comprehensive response to the report seriously.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 03:47:31 PM EST
They merely recalled the ambassador? In the good old days, they would have excommunicated the whole country.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 03:51:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An the irony is that Ireland couldn't follow suit because the post of Irish Ambassador to the Holy See is vacant at the moment... I doubt our foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore, a "socialist" and an atheist, will be in a great hurry to fill the post, what with public service cutbacks and all that to implement...we tend to prioritise Embassies in countries which provide us with a lot of trade and tourism, and the incoming tourist trade from the Vatican has been down recently, although the Vatican did appoint a commission to look into the errors of the Irish Church's ways. It appears the Vatican sees itself as well placed to advise on standard of Governance etc.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 04:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ordained gardaí could hear confession and sentence sinners on the spot - The Irish Times - Wed, Jul 27, 2011

Ordained gardaí 

With only seven Protestants in the Garda and only three seminarians left in Maynooth, it is a wonder this has not been considered earlier. An ordained garda, or "Father Officer", could hear confessions at any consecrated Garda station and judge at once if they merited a decade of the rosary or a decade in Portlaoise. A file could then be sent to the Vatican or the Director of Public Prosecutions accordingly.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 08:40:11 PM EST
Ordained gardaí could hear confession and sentence sinners on the spot - The Irish Times - Wed, Jul 27, 2011

Nama-fess 

Each confessional would be replaced with a "good box", still run by the church, and a "bad box" run by the State. Non- criminal sins would remain church business while criminal sins would be taken off their books. The process of transferring sinners from the good box to the bad box would be known as a "Hail Mary pass".



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 08:42:03 PM EST
Ordained gardaí could hear confession and sentence sinners on the spot - The Irish Times - Wed, Jul 27, 2011

Confession+ 

Newly launched by Gargle Labs (motto: "Don't Hide Evil") Confession+ is the social media tool that lets you "friend" others into your absolution, like the Garda, Alan Shatter or a drop-down menu of bishops. Similar programs exist but they make your sins known to all. Confession+ lets you group your friends into seven "circles of hell", so you can confess an envious thought to everyone, a lustful thought to everyone except your wife or a serious crime to just your priest and your solicitors.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 at 08:43:55 PM EST
because although I am not a believe, I still have respect for that institution and what it does, which makes many of the governments we commonly complain about, especially viz. the poor, looks extremely pale in comparison.

But it seems to me that this decentralisation of blame, that Santiago seems to be intimating, is part and parcel of the structure of Protestantism and Islam as well. There is no real central authority in either, and so, while everyone is to blame for the transgressions and trespasses of a few of their flock, in the end, saying so risks a certain accusation of parochialism (or worse), in the end, no one is, because plausible deniability always exists insofar as no one at the top can be held to account for those transgressions, no excommunications can occur, no public humiliation of the ecclesiastic sort can be expected.

Whereas the Catholic church, with a highly mediatised central authority (in the person of the Pope) cannot hope to pull off the same slight of hand. Such that, even avowed Catholics like Martin here a couple of years can both be openly attacked for his views as a Catholic and state solemnly that his views as a Catholic are those of the church and that the Pope would agree (and he was right in this regard).

Perhaps the Church is learning from other faiths.

by redstar on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 06:54:29 AM EST
redstar:
openly attacked for his views as a Catholic

I don't remember that. I remember the Pope being attacked, and Martin not accepting that. He was not under personal attack as you state. (Unless I missed an episode).

Of course, (by extension of what you go on to say), if a Catholic claims institutional status (I have no personal views, but the doctrine of the Church backed by the authority of the Pope) it is in fact quite impossible to dissent from Church teachings without offending the individual believer.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 07:19:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I find quite remarkable is the number of older conservative regular church going Catholics in Ireland who are quite scathing about the Pope and the Bishops and are ready to vote for David Norris (active protestant and gay campaigner) for the Presidency of Ireland.  Apparently a lot of Clergy, privately as well as publicly, welcomed the Taoiseach's scathing attack on the Vatican. Whereas before, as you state, they might have perceived an attack on the Church as an attack on them, now they are the ones attacking the institutional Church.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 08:11:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Once the wound from the conflict with Britain began to heal the Irish could begin to see the Church more as it is and less as the bastion of their own separate identity, and have acted accordingly.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 08:30:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's more of a response to the child abuse scandals and a reaction to the very strident tone the Church took against women's rights, contraception and Divorce in the 1980's. I suppose - in the larger scheme of things - the Church's historic standing in Ireland is because it was a bulwark for Irish Nationalism against British imperialism and that has become less and less relevant over the past half century - and perhaps even an embarrassment during the Troubles - when the easy identification between Catholic and Nationalist and violent Republicanism broke down.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 01:12:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you have unpacked what I implied.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 11:51:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This can only be seen as good news all around.
by redstar on Thu Jul 28th, 2011 at 05:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't remember it that way, but no matter. It was more a case of unequal burden of proof, happens a bit now and again. Certainly the one on the receiving end felt attacked.

It's long past...

by redstar on Thu Jul 28th, 2011 at 05:21:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't seem to come across as many emotive spats on ET any more, but that may be because all the dissidents have left, which, in some cases, is a pity. Being in broad agreement with the majority consensus should not be a criterion for participation and the primary objective of moderation should be to ensure a minimal civility of debate rather than to root out perceived error.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 28th, 2011 at 06:06:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is Vatican so miffed at reaction to Cloyne report
SO, ROME is miffed at "excessive reactions" in Ireland following publication of the Cloyne report. This State has spent millions unearthing what has been available to Rome all along. In October 2005, there was the Ferns report, costs to date: €2.3 million.

In May 2009, the Ryan report, estimated costs to date: at least €126 million. In November 2009, the Dublin report: costs to date €3.6 million. In July 2011, the Cloyne report: costs to date €1.9 million. Total costs so far of the four statutory inquiries? €133.8 million, with more to come.

None of this would have been necessary had the Catholic Church here and in Rome co-operated fully in establishing the truth. Instead, those that could be were dragged, kicking and screaming, into disclosing what they desperately wanted to keep hidden. So, in Ferns, abuse files on five further priests which should have been presented to the inquiry remained unavailable until an accidental discovery in the summer of 2005 - when the Ferns draft report was already completed. A "regrettable error on the part of the diocese . . ." said apostolic administrator to Ferns diocese, canon lawyer, barrister-at-law and Dublin auxiliary bishop Eamon Walsh. Four years later, Rome declined his resignation.

On May 15th, 2009, five days before the Ryan report was published, in a letter to the redress board, the Christian Brothers said the congregation "totally rejects any allegations of systemic abuse . . . or that boys were inadequately fed or clothed . . . and vehemently repudiates all unsubstantiated allegations of sexual abuse . . ." When that letter was published in this newspaper on June 3rd, 2009, a Christian Brothers statement "reflected their shame that as recently as five days prior to publication of the [Ryan] report their responses were still shamefully inadequate and hurtful".

In January 2008, the former archbishop of Dublin Cardinal Desmond Connell went to the High Court to prevent his successor giving documents to the Murphy commission. Later, he withdrew the action.

In 2008, Bishop John Magee of Cloyne and Msgr Denis O'Callaghan lied to the church's child protection watchdog about abuse there.

This formidable desire to hide the truth on the part of senior clergy in Ireland by lies, damn lies and mental reservation was not rooted in any peculiar aversion on their part. It rested entirely on what they understood was required of them by Rome.

Yet in his March 2010 pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops that "some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously", when it came to child protection. Not a word about Rome's role in any of this.

Not a word about Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos who was responsible for the 1997 letter to the Irish bishops dismissing their 1996 Framework Document as "merely a study document". Which letter, the Cloyne report said, "gave comfort and support" to those who "dissented from the stated official Irish church policy" on child protection.

In 1999, when the Irish bishops were visiting Rome they were reminded by a Vatican official they were "bishops first, not policemen" when it came to reporting clerical child sex abuse.

But apologists for Rome insist all changed in May 2001 when then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent two letters to every Catholic bishop in the world. In Latin. One insisted that both be kept secret. The other directed that all clerical child sex abuse allegations "with a semblance of truth" be sent to the congregation and it would decide whether they be dealt with at diocesan or Vatican level.

Yet, as current chancellor of Dublin's archdiocese Msgr John Dolan told the Murphy commission, this policy "was subsequently modified as Rome was unable to deal with the vast numbers of referrals".

The Cloyne report continues: "The position now, he [Msgr Dolan] said, is that all cases brought to the attention of the archdiocese before April 2001 and which were outside prescription . . . were not going to be dealt with by the CDF. It was up to the bishop to apply disciplinary measures to the management of those priests."

In effect, the Irish bishops were back where they were before 2001. As Murphy reported: "Victims have expressed disappointment that neither the Framework Document nor its successor, Our Children, Our Church (2005), received recognition from Rome, thus leaving both documents without legal status under canon law."



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 28th, 2011 at 06:14:45 AM EST
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean: The Catholic Church's Secret Gay Cabal
Favalora, who was the most powerful Catholic official in Southern Florida from 1994 until last year, stands accused of cultivating what one group of pissed-off Catholics describes as a corrupt "homosexual superculture" in the 195 churches, schools, missions, seminaries, and universities that constitute the Miami Archdiocese. If their allegations are to be believed, for sixteen years Favalora ran his organization like the don of a lavender mob, rewarding his favorite homosexual sons and forgiving their many indiscretions--rampant sex, hedonism, embezzlement, alcoholism, and the railroading of chaste priests among them--while punishing those with the temerity to complain.
by epochepoque on Thu Jul 28th, 2011 at 11:31:59 PM EST
turn slowly.  But at least they are turning.

Priest jailed for child sex abuse - The Irish Times - Fri, Jul 29, 2011

A priest (79) has been sentenced to jail today for sexually abusing a woman in Dublin in the 1980s.

Paul McGennis, of Holy Cross Diocesan Centre, Clonliffe Road, Dublin 3, pleaded guilty to eight sample counts of indecent assault on the female at two locations in the city on dates between June 1980 and May 1984.

He was this morning sentenced to six years in prison, with the final four years of that suspended due to his age and health, the guilty plea entered, and a financial contribution he made to his victim.

Announcing sentencing, Judge Desmond Hogan noted that the defendant had earlier this month apologised to his victim for the "torture" he had put her through thereby meaning that a lengthy trial was avoided.

However, Judge Hogan added that given the seriousness of the case a custodial sentence was unavoidable.

"This was sexual abuse of a young girl in her formative years by somebody in a position of trust...he must have known he was taking advantage and that his word would not be questioned. This caused additional trauma to the victim because she felt she wouldn't be believed because of the defendant's position in society," he said.

The court heard earlier this year that the abuse began when the girl was about 11 years of age and took place in the priest's house in one Dublin parish and continued after he moved to another in the city.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 29th, 2011 at 03:41:43 PM EST
Good, thoughtful diary.  

I recall, a long time ago, meeting an old nun who was the director of an orphanage in Guatemala, near the end of the civil war there when such orphanages were commonplace and full.  I was accompanied by a young woman from Baltimore at the time, and we were both doing our projects -- hers was on children's rights and she was working as an intern in the orphanage. She asked the old nun what she thought of the idea of children's rights.  Flippantly, but at the same time seriously, the nun responded: "I don't negotiate with terrorists."

Here's the way I view the issue:

  1. Children lie, cheat, steal, and do lots of mean things to each other and to adults.  Ask any parent or teacher.
  2. Children lack experience, knowledge, and wisdom.
  3. Children are easily manipulated.
  4. Children and their well-being are often used as discursive devices for which to garner support for all kinds of things which are not really about their well-being at all.
  5. Children are dependent upon others to champion their interests because they lack sufficient resources to do so by themselves, but they also enjoy almost universal support for the proposition that they deserve community support. (Which, in the hierarchy of social construction means that they are more powerful in society than "deviants," which are people who lack both resources and are deemed by society to deserve punishment instead of support.  i.e., the homeless, GLBT, illegal immigrants, pedophiles, etc.)

As such, not only do I think children should not have any exceptional rights over adults, but they should have less rights. Specifically, the rights of their caregivers to use private discretion in administering their care should take precedence over claims of children in general to protective intervention by the community.

The cost of this is that there may be cases of poor care-giving that result in tragedies involving children.  But this cost is outweighed by the greater benefit of a freer society, less encumbered by either the police power of the state or the snootiness of busybody neighbors.  The cost can also be more effectively mitigated by creating institutional obligations (positive rights) for caregivers rather than rights for children (negative rights).

by santiago on Mon Aug 1st, 2011 at 02:43:43 PM EST
Good argument, most of which I agree with - as a parent of three (now grown) children!

However everything you say about children also applies to adults and the point of specifically encoded children's rights is that they seek to redress (to a very limited extent) the imbalance in power between children and the adults who might exploit that imbalance to abuse them. This is, of course, in the context of many other rights accorded to addults.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights is now transposed into Irish law via the Treaty of Lisbon. It is an excellent document worth reading in full and article 24 deals with the rights of the child:

"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.

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."

I don't see how this encroaches on anybody else' legitimate freedoms...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 2nd, 2011 at 06:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think you're being wholly fair here. Nobody in this thread is shilling for the sort of Rousseauan children-are-virtuous-by-nature crap you're debunking.

Further, when you say that:

Children are dependent upon others to champion their interests because they lack sufficient resources to do so by themselves, but they also enjoy almost universal support for the proposition that they deserve community support. (Which, in the hierarchy of social construction means that they are more powerful in society than "deviants," which are people who lack both resources and are deemed by society to deserve punishment instead of support.  i.e., the homeless, GLBT, illegal immigrants, pedophiles, etc.)

... I feel inclined to point out that this does not make children powerful. It makes those who are viewed in society as speaking for children (or who are able to direct children to say what they want heard) powerful.

To turn high regard - or indeed any other potential power base - into an effective power base, one must be able to mobilise it and weaponise it. If one cannot do so one is a figurehead, not a ruler. Children can only independently mobilise their social support in very limited and mostly trivial contests of policy. A child may successfully leverage the social stigma from mistreating him into dictating what's for dinner tonight. He is unlikely to be able to greatly influence the law of the land.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 4th, 2011 at 09:03:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It makes those who are viewed in society as speaking for children (or who are able to direct children to say what they want heard) powerful.

That's precisely my point. Because children lack what political scientists call "power resources," they are dependent upon others with such resources to champion their interests, and there is no reason to expect that such an alliance comes without strings of some kind.  

Nevertheless, because children, as a category, at least enjoy widespread support as deserving of assistance of others, that puts them, as a class, in a significantly more powerful position than other social categories who lack both resources AND the goodwill of those who do have such resources -- unauthorized immigrants, gender minorities, and, at the extreme end, pedophiles being the best examples of the such "deviant" classes.

And if you don't have an appreciation for the capacity of children, individually or as a class, to "weaponize" the goodwill that adults tend to feel for them, then I'd argue that you either haven't been sufficiently involved in parenting or children's education, or you haven't been paying attention.

by santiago on Thu Aug 4th, 2011 at 01:52:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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