In Pope Benedict’s letter to the Catholics of Ireland released on 20 March and signed the previous day there was a half hearted and at times confused response to the abuse that has ravaged Ireland and the Church in Ireland to its very core.
The letter was promised when Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and the scandal ridden Sean Cardinal Brady of Armagh visited the Vatican to brief Benedict on the then recently released Murphy Report.
In his letter Benedict addresses each group of what remains of the faithful in Ireland. He says that “I am confident that, as a result, the bishops will now be in a stronger position to carry forward the work of repairing past injustices and confronting the broader issues associated with the abuse of minors in a way consonant with the demands of justice and the teachings of the Gospel”.
While this maybe true he also lambasts the bishops for not acting properly when he says “the often inadequate response to them on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities”.
There is still more contradiction when he says that “It is true, as many in your country have pointed out, that the problem of child abuse is peculiar neither to Ireland nor to the Church. Nevertheless, the task you now face is to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community”, thereby implying that it is only Ireland that has this problem.
He continues outrageously and disturbingly noting that “the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected.”
This shows he is either ignorant of Irish history, is unhinged from reality, or extremely badly advised. All three are not beyond the realm of possiblity. He is implying that the rise of secularisation is a contributary factor in the henious abuse of children. Even worse, some people actually believe it .
When he says “The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it”. What that has to do with the abuse and willful cover up of children I have no idea – and frankly don’t what to know. How can the victims get any kind of closure or indeed, know that the Church is trying to reform its ways when statements like these are being made!
The pope continues, saying that “Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found.” Yet those who believe this are extremenly naive. Rome will choose those bits that suit it and leave out any disucssion that doesn’t.
Many in the liberal media have pointed the finger at Latin Rite clerical celibacy – and while it would be misguided to blame this alone, it would be unfortunate to leave this topic off the agenda completely. Anything less is most certainly not a “clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes” as Benedict would have us believe is taking place.
Regretably he says that one of the causes was that there was “misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church”. It was not only “misplaced” it was down right WRONG. Placing innocent children in the care of known abusers is say it, evil.
Thankfully he does say when talking directly to the victims that “It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel.” However, when mixed with some of the comments above there seems to be little co-ordination in the response, or at least several authors, each with their own ideas and none consulting each other – if it is true – a worrying problem.
When addressing the bishops of Ireland, he says that “It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed”. He says that “Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives”.
Something that seems to be lacking, thus far, in the case when Ratzinger was Cardinal-Archbishop of Munich in the early 1980s. Even worse “Peter Hullermann, a priest who sexually abused minors in the late 1970s and was transferred to Munich in 1980, initially for treatment, but was later allowed to return to full pastoral duties”, when Ratzinger was still the ordinary of the diocese. It was only on the 15 March, that Hullermann was suspended from his current position – a damning indictment of the way the Church only responds when it has to.
Benedict continues in the Letter, saying that an “Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations” will take place. This goes against the very start of the letter where he states clearly that he is very “confident” that this bishops will do their duty.
I can only hope that whatever happens is in the best interests of children and that the chaos that is engulfing the Church in Europe and now, Latin America, brings a Church that is ever closer to Christ himself.