Vatican summit was just pious political theatre

THE RECENT summit of the entire cohort of Irish bishops, the Pope and senior members of the Roman Curia seems to have been little more than a self-serving display of pious political theatre based on a disjointed script played before an increasingly sceptical and despairing Irish public.

While the summit acknowledged that the failure of church authorities has resulted in a breakdown of trust, this same dialogue has resulted in no consequences, no sense of urgency, no concrete initiatives or imaginative departures intended to nurture a positive sentiment from which to progress towards recovery.

Best practice, it seems, is to be bolted on to the remnants of a culpable administration. The Pope’s comment that the current painful situation will not be resolved quickly is a cop-out that will facilitate more empty excuses and buck-passing and breed nothing but inertia and resentment.

No new resignations were apparently demanded and no resignations already offered were confirmed.

The sentiment underlying the discourtesy shown by the Vatican authorities to the Murphy Commission continues to prevail as the papal nuncio declines an invitation to a dialogue with an Oireachtas commission.

There is no evident engagement between the Vatican authorities and victims. Three months after publication of the Murphy report the fundamental issue of the accountability of bishops remains as ambivalent as ever.

Their unique practice of self-validation is clearly a case of “my way or the highway” as far as the attitude of the church authorities and the victims of clerical sex abuse are concerned.

How can best practice in any field be achieved if public sentiment towards those charged with its implementation is negative, especially when the issue in question concerns pain, anger, betrayal, scandal and shame?

The unilateral declaration following the summit by the Bishop of Galway, whose resignation was sought to demonstrate that the cobwebs of the administration in the Dublin archdiocese that presided over the abuse would be totally removed, is not an appropriate response by him either to stimulate the renewal of the faith of Catholics of Dublin or to heal the victims.

Why is it therefore tolerated by the authorities?

Is the final prolonged act of this dreadful tragedy to be based on a dysfunctional hierarchy who cling to office whatever the consequences as they pander obsequiously to their counterparts in the Vatican but squabble in public among themselves like characters in Macbeth?

Myles Duffy

Bellevue Avenue


Co Dublin

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