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Church weapon was total secrecy

Sir -- Ministers Shatter and Fitzgerald have put in train changes to the law which we hope will once and for all rein in this out-of-control organisation, the Roman Catholic Church.

For too long has this organisation pursued its autocratic rule of Irish Catholics, not to mention equally deferential Catholics throughout the entire world.

The sight of an Irish government sitting in cars outside a Protestant cathedral from which our President Dr Douglas Hyde was buried was an utter disgrace. The Catholic Church would have excommunicated any or all of them with the temerity to enter! Thankfully those days are behind us.

But the main weapon of this Church has been secrecy, and this is what is worrying me now. The Government proposes that the seal of the confessional is no longer to be accepted as a reason for not informing the gardai of child sexual abuse And with this I totally agree. Make no mistake about it, Ministers Shatter and Fitzgerald are going to have to stand up to a massive backlash organised by the Church.

Let us not forget that it was secrecy that launched Brendan Smyth on his vile international abuse of children, when two victims were sworn to secrecy when they reported the abuse to the Church.

Is the seal of confession worth the destruction of one innocent child? If I were asked that question in relation to one of my children, I would give a resounding no. And I believe that even the most ardent supporter of the Church would have any other reply stick in his/her throat if he or she were to tell themselves the truth. Therefore this provision in the proposed law must not be struck down for any reason, and all pressure from the Church must be vigorously resisted.

If we do not grasp this nasty nettle now, we are going to condemn more children to the vile results of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

Which one of us wants that?

Tom Barrett,

Foxrock, Dublin 18

Sunday Independent