Saturday 14 December 2019

Blind faith

- When I close my eyes and think of the Catholic Church of my youth, images of stained-glass windows, soaring arches, marble altars and haughty pulpits come to mind.

The parish priest lived in a cut-stone detached house as would befit a person of prestige and status.

A bishop complete with purple socks and princely robes resided in a palace; come confirmation day he arrived at our school in a black Mercedes.

The priests who taught me were, on the other hand, the finest of men. They belonged to the Holy Ghost Order, they did missionary work and lived modestly, they were enlightened and insightful.

We respected them because they lived by the word of God and they practised what they preached. Life experience had prepared them to be humble servants in the name of a greater good.

They didn't bother us with the thinking of Rome, they were, by and large, country men doing their best, with good hearts.

The idea that the reputation of the church was more important than the protection of a child's innocence would be anathema to them.

The notion that it was more important to protect the corporate brand of Christianity as decreed by a boardroom in the Vatican would have been completely alien to their moral compass.

It is, therefore, a wonder that a cardinal who is an authority on theology, and the Primate of All Ireland, can be so blind to the ruinous consequences of his actions.

Another searing example, as if we needed one, that for evil to triumph, it is enough that good men do nothing.

Name and address with editor

• Would the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady alone be of any lasting benefit to the victims of abuse involved in this current church scandal, or indeed to any of those countless victims of clerical abuse?

Even if the cardinal were to tender his resignation, it would not be accepted. Equally, we have seen how the Vatican responds to cardinals who do resign over their involvement in the cover-up of clerical abuse.

Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston found himself elevated to a senior role within the Roman Curia.

The issue of full responsibility for the cover-up of abuse will never be fully addressed or healing be allowed to take place until the true source is uncovered.

We now need just a few of those in authority who played either an active or passive role in the church's cover-up to break ranks and disclose the true involvement of the Vatican in the masking of the truth.

Can anyone still fail to see that all roads lead to Rome in how the local church authorities dealt with the child abuse scandals? The irony is that those who stay silent to protect the church are doing it the greatest long-term damage.

How many more revelations and disclosures lie ahead before the victims can find true justice and healing can begin?

Adrienne Garvey
Dublin 8

• It seems that Judgment Day has finally decided to roll up at the doorstep of one Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, and its hierarchy still cannot read the writing on the wall.

What's even more heartening is that the Man in Black himself, the very antithesis of religious princes, managed to describe their attitudes to a tee in his anthem 'The Man Comes Around' -- "whoever is unjust let him be unjust still" -- etc.

What a deliciously simple twist of fate.

Liam Power
Bangor Erris, Ballina, Co Mayo

• Cardinal Sean Brady claims that recent revelations about his role in the failure to curtail the rape and torture of children by the monstrous paedophile Brendan Smyth, "are not a resigning matter".

This claim warrants closer analysis: participating in an explicit interview of an abused child without the knowledge or express consent of the child's parents?

This is not a resigning matter.

Failing to alert the legal authorities about ongoing instances of child torture?

Not a resigning matter.

Receiving detailed information about the grooming of a child by a paedophile, and failing to pass that information to the child's parents?

Not a resigning matter.

Eliciting sworn oaths from child victims forbidding them to reach out to anybody who might help them, thus shackling them in solitude and fear within their living hells?

Not a resigning matter.

I wonder if Cardinal Brady might enlighten those within and outside of his flock -- what the bloody hell is a resigning matter?

Alan Murphy
Citypark, Citywest, Dublin

• Cardinal Sean Brady should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to merely 'consider' his resignation. He should be exiled, pure and simple. Even that would be too good for him! In spite of this country's traditional obsession with religion, so many of our 'authority' figures have no moral backbone at all.

Florence Craven
Maynooth, Co Kildare

• "I was only following instructions" is not a valid excuse for failing to prevent childhoods being destroyed and children being mentally scarred for life.

It wasn't a valid excuse in the concentration camps of World War Two when Jews were being slaughtered, nor should it be in the more recent dark and shadowy affairs of the Catholic Church.

The church should be giving moral leadership in troubled times, not concealing the truth, acting in a state of denial, frustrating investigations into wrongdoing and impeding justice.

If its current leadership can't provide this, then they should step aside for people who will.

RA Blackburn
Abbey Hill, Damastown, Co Dublin

• Bishop Eamon Casey had sexual relations with a woman.

They banished him.

Fr Brian D'Arcy spoke out on matters of concern to his flock.

They censored him.

Sean Brady was informed of some of the activities of paedophile Brendan Smyth. He did nothing with this information. They elevated him to cardinal.

And they call on Fr D'Arcy to apologise! Need I say any more?

Martin Duffy
Nurney, Co Carlow

• Cardinal Sean Brady seems to justify his actions by invoking the context of the time.

He appears to imply that he was not fully aware of the true horrors of the actions of the predatory paedophile priest Brendan Smyth -- who would be left at large to violate children for four decades.

He claims that at that time he was unaware of the "impact" on the child of such crimes.

He does seem to have been aware of the "impact", however, that such revelations might have on the good name of the church, as the child victim was sworn to secrecy, the authorities were not informed and every step possible was taken to guarantee that no word of these appalling crimes would make it into the public domain.

If he cannot see the immorality of this and still feels comfortable to be the titular head of the church, God help him.

R O'Brien
Killiney, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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