On your letter column on August 28, Patrick Dalton wrote of us being collectively responsible for the society we live in – going on to say, “who said stop when families handed over their ‘fallen’ daughters to institutions? Who said stop when the State broke up struggling families and put their children into care? Who said stop when Irish priests, brothers and nuns abused these citizens?”
So, Patrick Dalton believes we are responsible collectively and that “the shame of this inaction lies with us alone”. For centuries the Catholic Church has had tremendous power in Ireland; communities respected, looked up to religious priests particularly. I believe the Church had excess power. Power is a gift and if divinely given has wonderful potential to help people to better their lives.
Instead, children were violated in shocking ways by misuse of power, pregnant girls and unmarried were sent to mother and baby homes to have their newborn infant maybe sold abroad.
In the mother and baby home in Tuam hundreds of babies’ bodies were hidden away in a sewer-like condition, without respect or dignity. Powerful priests abused innocent boys like Colm O’Gorman, during his early teen years, a cruel betrayal of trust at a vulnerable time in a young boy’s life.
The list of abuse and horror goes on. During the Pope’s visit my head was spinning. I halfheartedly watched parts of the visit on television, my thoughts and heart were with the victims, the survivors of abuse and of Magdalene laundries and mother and baby homes.
While in Ireland, Pope Francis apologised for the various abuses and asked for forgiveness.
What is crucial is to make reparation for the terrible wrongs done. Reconciliation occurs when the perpetrators try to make amends. Strong action is needed, child abusers banished from ministry and objectors to canon law changes being fired immediately.
Minister Catherine Zappone’s initiative holds a glimmer of hope that people of her tenacity may persist and insist on the acknowledgement of the Church wrongdoing, and maybe the Church may make use of the opportunity to amend some of the harm to make amends so help those suffering after abuse to find some healing.
Maybe then we may get more Catholics attending mass instead of the shrinking numbers in many churches. Maybe then there would be hope for the falling star of Catholicism. Maybe then only then with an attempt at reparation made we could attempt to move forward have real trust in others especially religious priests and nuns again.
I hold my breath and wait for that reparation. It is the very least those who have been so deeply hurt, betrayed and traumatised deserve.
It should happen as quickly as possible, as suggested by Catherine Zappone.
It is only when this occurs that the Catholic Church might win back some of the trust it has lost and some of the hurt repaired that has been inflicted.