It seems as if a whole generation of Irish Catholic churchmen may have to settle for whatever comfort Powell’s blanket offers. They may have to leave their bishops’ palaces held in ignominy by those of us who cannot accept that they have any future role to play in our public or spiritual lives because of the evil collusion and appalling abuses related by the Ryan and Murphy reports and the roles they played in this Irish holocaust.
The acceptance yesterday, by Pope Benedict, of the resignation of the Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray was inevitable and before very long more he may have the company of other members of the hierarchy.
That there has been such prevarication, such shameless hiding behind unbelievable, self-serving pleas of ignorance, such circling of the wagons all the while invoking canon law as if it had even the slightest relevance in anything to do with the protection of children from recidivist, consecrated paedophiles has added considerably to the toll inflicted on Irish Catholicism.
This damage may well be exacerbated by the fact that Bishop Murray tendered his resignation to a man who has played a role in this outrage for many years.
Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote to every diocesan bishop in 2001 instructing them to refer all allegations of child sexual abuse by clerics to Rome where a course of action would be decreed. Not satisfied with this astonishing intrusion into this country’s independent justice system the audacity was compounded when he sent a note, also written in Latin, instructing that the contents of the first note remain secret.
Apart from sabotaging the protection of children this instruction compounded the outrage. It also confirmed that not only were the Irish hierarchy protecting paedophiles so too were the highest offices of Catholicism.
The consequences were seen in our courts yet again this week when Fr Thomas Naughton was jailed for abusing a boy at least 70 times in Wicklow, between 1982 and 1984. One of the reasons Bishop Murray had to resign was that when parents complained to him about Naughton they were dismissed.
This has been an exhausting year for anyone who cares for this country and believes in honesty, justice and love of your fellow man. Shocking revelation has followed disturbing revelation, outrage has been heaped upon outrage. If any of the bishops criticised by Murphy have any understanding of how their roles in this sorry, appalling affair are seen by ordinary citizens, especially those facing a crisis of faith because of these scandals , they will immediately resign.
We’ve had too much costless contrition, too much breast beating and far too many promises of a renewed and open church. These men have shown that they had no regard for children abused by paedophiles they sheltered to protect their church. By not accepting the inevitable the will destroy what little is left of the authority of the organisation they did so much wrong to protect.