Friday 24 March 2017

Facts aren't the same as the truth

The argument about confession goes to the heart of the canker of special privilege, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Bishops deal in eternity, not tomorrow's headlines. All the same, they'd be foolish to ignore the results of the online poll on the Independent website last week, which found that almost nine out of 10 respondents believed Enda Kenny was right to stand over his comments about the Vatican obstructing the investigation into child abuse allegations, despite a lengthy statement from the hierarchy in Rome denying any wrongdoing.

Men in dog collars thronged the airwaves, demanding the Taoiseach now withdraw his angry claims in the Dail, made following the publication of the Cloyne report; some even wanted an apology. But they made the classic error of mistaking facts for truth. The facts were, according to the Holy See, that they didn't do such and such a thing on such and such a date. The truth was that the Catholic Church has dealt poorly with the most vulnerable of its flock. It was that truth to which an angry Mr Kenny was giving voice, and which he was entirely right last week to stand over.

It's a pity the Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, didn't learn the lesson from the positive public response to his leader's tenacity. He let facts obscure

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