Church’s failure to deal with child abuse has tarnished innocent clergy

IN reply to James McGrath (Letters, March 15), if the Catholic Church doesn’t think worshippers are to blame for priests raping children, why did the Bishop of Ferns ask worshippers to pay a “rape tax”?

If, as Mr McGrath says, the church is made up of sinners, why would any moral person want to be a member? And can he explain why no bishop knew that raping children was wrong despite all of them being born into and raised by a Christian family, living in a Christian country ruled by Christian laws, educated in a Christian school by Christian teachers, studied in a Christian seminary and spent years preaching Christian values in a Christian church?

Time and time again, when confronted with a clerical child abuser and given the choice between protecting the church and protecting children, every bishop chose to protect the church. Christian values are valueless when they value institutions above children.

Mr McGrath’s repeat of the Bishop of Elphin’s excuse that 95% of child abusers are not clergy is not a defence. It is not the number of priests who are child abusers that is the problem, but the church’s response to those priests, which was to let the priest off with a few Our Fathers, bully the victim into silence, fail to report the crime to the gardaí and deny that they did anything wrong.

Mr McGrath concludes that it is an injustice to focus exclusively on clerical child abuse because it tarnishes all clergy with the sins of the few. In fact it is the church’s consistent and repeated failure to deal with clerical child abuse that is the injustice tarnishing all clergy with the same brush.

Jason FitzHarris



Co Dublin

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