Sunday 4 December 2016

Shane Dunphy: Ferns' plea for abuse money left me shaking with rage

Shane Dunphy

Published 03/03/2010 | 05:00

Bishop Denis Brennan of the Ferns diocese
Bishop Denis Brennan of the Ferns diocese

AFTER almost two decades working in the field of child protection, it is rare that I find myself actually trembling with rage, but yesterday morning on my usual commute to work, I experienced just such a paroxysm of emotion.

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The cause for this anger was a news item which informed me that Dr Denis Brennan, the Bishop of Ferns, was inviting parishioners (and any individual priests who felt so inclined) to donate money to assist the church in footing a bill, the tally for which comes to more than €10m, to meet the legal costs of defending civil cases brought against the diocese in relation to clerical sexual abuse. In other words the Roman Catholic Church in Ferns is asking the victims of its own bitter failings to pay the price for the crime -- it is a request which beggars belief.

I grew up in Ferns. When I was eight, my class in primary school was moved to the local church for the year, while new classrooms were fitted for us in the local CBS. This was the first time I would realise that all was not as it should be. Several boys in my class were picked as altar boys to serve at the 10 o'clock Mass by the local curate. At eight years old, I could simply not understand why one of the boys in particular would come back to class after each Mass in tears. I wrote it off as nerves, or maybe that he was simply not a very good altar server, and had been chided for his liturgical failings.

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