Friday 6 December 2019

'Backward times' no excuse for abuse

IT almost beggars belief that there are people defending the Pope and the bishops on the grounds that 'things were different then'.

I know Ireland was a backward, repressive country until recently, but I'm not aware that abusing children, torturing those with special needs, mistreating those in industrial schools, selling the babies of women forced to slave away in Magdalene laundries and whatever else the church is still keeping secret, were normal at any time, be it 1875 or 1975.

Just as political corruption has always been with us doesn't make it right or something we should just passively accept.

In his letter, the Pope blames secularisation but seems to ignore the fact that this abuse mentality started long before there was even the remotest hint of secularism in Ireland. It started with the reforms of Cardinal Cullen.

The use of the law, civil or canon, as an attempt at justification or explanation for church abuse shows just how out of touch those who offer a defence of it are and how deep in denial they remain. Perhaps it is because most of its defenders are old and it's too late for them to redeem their souls that they refuse to accept their culpability.

If Brady and those who defend him can't understand that then the church is in an even worse position than thought. It should hand over all files to the civil authorities and should have no role in investigations into its practices. Nor should the church have any deciding role in education. And it is not possible to ask for forgiveness on one hand, while on the other hand offering a justification for what you are asking forgiveness for and pursuing your victims through the courts to force them to keep your sordid secret.

Also, while there is some evidence that abuse is far more widespread in general society than we want to admit, the church can't abdicate its role in creating the attitudes that facilitate this. It needs to acknowledge its unique position of control in Ireland over every aspect of life. The display of evil by the church toward the poor, the needy and the sick explains the legacy of abuses in wider Irish society.

Desmond FitzGerald

Canary Wharf


Irish Independent

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