Thursday 25 December 2014

Time for Cardinal Connell to do penance for his sins

Published 16/12/2009 | 05:00

CARDINAL Desmond Connell, the master-spinner of 'mental reservation' and premier living luminary of the clerical rogues' gallery who covered up for the abusers, has remained bolted in his Dublin northside mansion, cocooned from public outrage.

Apart from a statement seeking forgiveness in the aftermath of the November 26 publication of the damning Murphy report into the Archdiocese of Dublin, the 83-year old Prince of the Church has shunned the media to explain his disgraceful and negligent stewardship.

Although hiding away in his splendid retirement residence in Glasnevin's Iona Road, journalists and photographers have found that, as far as they are concerned, His Eminence is not at home.

Sheltered in his ultra-conservative and deeply medievalist Catholic world view, Cardinal Connell since his appointment as archbishop in 1988 has never concealed his contempt for journalists whom he disdainfully dismisses as "you people." He is 'Monsignor Unaccountable'.

Perhaps, as is warranted in the Murphy report's clinical dissection of his refusal until late 1995 to report allegations of paedophile rape to gardai -- and give access to law enforcers of secret dossiers on sexually aberrant clerics -- his door may now open to a knock from the special unit of Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony, set up to review how Church and State dealt with complaints and to report to the commissioner about possible criminal referrals to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Let us, therefore, leave it to the guardians of the law to follow up lines of inquiry based on Murphy. Let us examine the former professor of metaphysics as a case study for weighing up his moral and ethical responses to the rightful demands of victims of clerical abuse for resignations of bishops and officials implicated in the report.

Answer: Not a squeak has been uttered from the cardinal's sacred lips in support of the righteous demands of victims for justice.

Case Two: Almost three weeks after the report and over a week since Archbishop Diarmuid Martin wrote to bishops and others named in the Murphy report for explanations of their handling of complaints, no serving churchman has fallen on his crozier or made an act of public restitution.

Archbishop Martin has not given names of his correspondents on the grounds that he is bound to secrecy in law regarding ongoing inquiries for a second report by the Murphy Commission. Is Cardinal Connell on his successor's list?

Answer: The silence of the grave in Glasnevin.

Case three: Archbishop Martin on national radio virtually accused Cardinal Connell of lying on oath when he dismissed instances of His Eminence's "mental reservations" as being economical with the truth. Why has Cardinal Connell not publicly replied at all to this grave charge from Archbishop Martin?

Answer: "I do not want to bring Mother Church into disrepute."

Case four: Since Cardinal Connell's retirement in 2004, Archbishop Martin has made generous finances available for his predecessor's upkeep -- including the diocesan-owned house, a housekeeper, a priest-secretary, a car and driver, his domestic bills and foreign travel to Rome and Lourdes, etc.

As Archbishop Martin's media office refuses to deal with any questions concerning the cardinal, would he inform us if he is a totally kept man of the diocese? Or does he make a contribution to his upkeep from his own resources, be it from family inheritance, his pension as a UCD professor and any emoluments which he may receive as a cardinal?

This Christmas when St Vincent de Paul cannot cope with the demands on its resources, when social welfare and child care recipients, as well as the unemployed, struggle on bare essentials, will the €5 placed by an arthritic widow into the church plate at Mass in Aughrim Street or Sean McDermott Street be going towards the purchase of briquettes for Cardinal Connell?

Will the family donation in the collection envelope from the well-heeled clergy in Terenure or Ballsbridge be towards Cardinal Connell's petrol and books?

Answer: Until these questions are answered by the Red-Hatter, we must assume that Cardinal Connell is living a life worthy of his lofty station from the charity of the Catholic faithful and the diocesan coffers.

The diocese is hit by a bill of over €20m in compensation payments to victims, much through Connell's slow response to the sheer scale of abuse in the archdiocese. The advice from the Chicago diocese is to hit the Church's stomach by withholding 'dues' until it becomes accountable in all areas of decision-making, including finances.

Epilogue: At his first news conference as archbishop-elect of Dublin, Desmond Connell said he was not setting out to write a glorious page in the history of the diocese. Instead, he has authored the diocese's most inglorious chapter.

All he wanted, he added, haughtily, was simply to do the will of the Father. Instead, the work of Satan flourished through the misdeeds and omissions of the men of the cloth.

Penance: This Christmas, Cardinal Connell should commune with his God, his Blessed Mother and his Beloved Guardian Angel. They will tell him: give the Pope back your Red Hat, give alms to the victims and get Thee to a monastery.

cooneyjohn@eircom.net

Irish Independent

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