Tuesday 22 August 2017

Casey scandal was 25 years ago but Irish Church still has head in sand

Bishop Eamonn Casey's son Peter with his mother Annie Murphy
Bishop Eamonn Casey's son Peter with his mother Annie Murphy

Sarah MacDonald

BBC Radio 4 broadcast a series a few years ago called 'What If'. Hosted by historian Professor Christopher Andrew, the Cambridge don would ask what if some of the major turning points in history had taken a different path. What if the Germans had discovered that the Allies had cracked the Enigma code; or what if George Washington had lost the US War of Independence?

If they ever resurrect the programme, they might consider asking what if Bishop Eamonn Casey hadn't fled Ireland after it was revealed in 1992 that he had fathered a child with Annie Murphy while Bishop of Kerry. What if the popular prelate had stayed and faced the music and answered the questions that needed answering, would Irish Catholicism have benefited? Would the Irish faithful have been forced to grapple with some of the questions that they are only today addressing, such as the value of mandatory celibacy for Catholic clergy?

It is possible to argue that had Bishop Casey stayed instead of running away, first to the US and later to Ecuador, he might have formed a relationship with his son sooner. The plain people of Ireland might have forgiven him sooner and the Irish hierarchy might have taken its head out of the sand sooner on a host of issues.

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