| 4.7°C Dublin

Andrew Madden: Let them never preach high standards to anyone again

WE have just witnessed the grandest two days of window-dressing I have ever seen.

The bishops and the Vatican are the people who billed this event as highly significant and yet they are the ones that at the end of it produced a statement which could have been written last year.

I wasn't expecting anything meaningful and that is exactly what we have got -- nothing intelligent, nothing coherent, nothing new.

What is particularly annoying in the statement is the fact that Pope Benedict XVI asked the bishops to identify steps that might bring healing to victims.

But victims have already submitted coherent requests as to what they would like to see happen -- and those have been completely ignored.

It is completely inappropriate to ignore our submissions and then say that the bishops need to identify the sort of things that would help victims.

We had very specific requests that didn't involve a fundamental reorganisation of the Catholic Church in Ireland, which is a huge piece of work.

The things we asked for were very precise.

We asked that the Pope fully articulate an acceptance of the findings of the Murphy report. We wanted that in order to quell the rise in denial and the surge in revisionism taking place among some priests and some bishops in Ireland.

They are people who find the word of the Pope important so it would have been crucial for him to express the view that the Catholic Church accepts the findings of the Murphy report. That is a very simple thing that they failed to do.

We also referred to the resignations of three bishops that have been on the Pope's desk for some time and have not been accepted as yet, which is worrying. We asked for that to be addressed. It hasn't been.

We also reminded the Pope that we found the presence of Bishop Martin Drennan in Galway objectionable given that when he arrived in the Archdiocese of Dublin in 1997 as an auxiliary bishop, he arrived in a diocese which had already been embroiled in scandal over the way it handled child sexual abuse.

To date, he has not publicly identified a single action and said, "that is what I did in response to challenge that culture of secrecy and cover-up that existed in Dublin when I arrived". That is turning a blind eye. That is why he should resign.

We are also mindful of the fact the rest of the bishops, at the end of their winter conference last December, issued a statement and included in it an expression of shame at the extent to which the sexual abuse of children was covered up in Dublin.

The bishops also said that this was indicative of a culture that existed throughout the church in Ireland and, on that basis, we said that any other bishops who felt their dioceses would not stand up to the same scrutiny as Dublin for the same reasons should resign now and not wait for any inquiry to find against them. That issue has been completely ignored.

The last thing we asked was that bishops coming back to Ireland would come back with the expressed instruction from the Pope to obey and follow all state guidelines and protocols as they exist and as they are developed in the future in relation to child protection. That too has been completely ignored.

All of these things could have been decided in five minutes.

The church has failed children and it is now failing those children who have asked for very specific and very simple responses.

The only engagement I would be willing to have with them now is to meet Archbishop Diarmuid Martin when he comes back to Ireland and ask him the extent to which the things we asked for were considered because the two days of meetings went on behind closed doors. I would like to know why he has come back empty-handed.

The church has a future for those who want to keep their heads buried in the sand and live with the same denial that some of the bishops and priests want to do following publication of the Murphy report.

Let them never preach high standards of anything to anyone ever again given how they have behaved and continue to behave.

Andrew Madden is a survivor of clerical child sex abuse

Irish Independent