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Vatican dinosaurs haven't gone away, you know

Just when it looked like they were reeling on the ropes, they're coming back swinging to reassert their traditional values.

I'm not referring to those wretches in Fianna Fail, still stumbling about like political zombies with all credibility long gone, but our old friends in the Catholic Church.

In the past week we've seen the Church and one of their more prominent lay bootboys mount a counter-attack on two fronts over issues which they feel attack their central tenets.

First we had the reaction of the Association of Catholic Priests to Justice Minister Alan Shatter's proposed legislation in which a possible 10-year jail term awaits those who fail to pass information about child sex abuse to gardai.

If that were to involve priests breaking the seal of the confessional though, priests would not do that, said the Association.

Now, given that they're members of an organisation which, while it does bring solace to many people, also happens to be the world's most prominent paedophile protection ring, you'd imagine that the good fathers might be prepared to take a hit on this one, even if only for a rare bit of good PR. Not a bit of it.

Their spokesman, Fr Sean McDonagh, stated : "I wouldn't be prepared to break the seal of confession for anyone -- Alan Shatter particularly." That last phrase added a nice flourish.

This last-ditch defending continued throughout the week, with Fr Michael Twomey going on to Tom Dunne's show on Newstalk on Thursday to defend the Church's stance.

In the face of a tirade from listeners, he made no bones about stating that the law of 'God' took precedence over the law of the land and if it meant going to jail for refusing to pass information along to the gardai, then so be it.

In some ways, one can admire how they're fighting their corner. They're obviously worried about losing their core audience and are adopting a hardline stance. You call yourself a Catholic but are in favour of married priests, women priests and gay marriage? Well, bugger off and join the Protestants, so. This 'our way or the highway' approach also extends to abortion in any form, even to the extent of a woman being forced to carry a child with no prospect of life through to term and at great risk to her own health and in this respect Senator Ronan Mullen played a stormer during the week.

He must be very proud of himself.

- GEORGE BYRNe


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