After the release of the devastating report on the abuse of tens of thousands of Irish children in their care over a period of decades, the Roman Catholic Church has done everything in its power not to accept responsibility for what it did; not to own up to the the actions of abusers and inaction of others; and to date it has refused to order the abusers still in their ranks to plead guilty to their crimes.

They have expressed sympathy for victims, yes … but words are meaningless. Anyone can mouth words. Real contrition, as demanded by Catholic morality, is harder than that, and much more concrete. They have failed to offer any.

What they have done, is dodge and swerve all over the place trying to avoid offering anything concrete. A great example of this can be found in the new Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, head of the RC Church in Britain (not Ireland). He made some remarks on British television (ITV) which are, in a word, inexplicable. The Irish Times reports on it:

The new head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has courted controversy after describing members of the clergy who admitted abusing children in their care as courageous for facing up to their past.

“It’s very distressing and very disturbing and my heart goes out today first of all to those people who will find that their stories are now told in public… Secondly, I think of those in religious orders and some of the clergy in Dublin who have to face these facts from their past which instinctively and quite naturally they’d rather not look at.”

Where, exactly, may I find the “courage” in a bunch of people who sniveled, whined, cried, rationalized, and — when all else failed — filed a lawsuit in order to stop the report?

That’s not “courage.” No way. Not even close.

If any of these people had any true courage, they’d be turning themselves in to Irish authorities and confessing to their crimes. That they are not doing so tells me there is no courage whatever, anywhere in the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church.

The brand-new Archbishop’s remarks haven’t gone unnoticed. Even so, rather than admit he might have stuck his foot in his mouth, Nichols insists he said nothing wrong (as reported by the BBC):

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live before his installation he defended his comments as “perfectly sensible” and insisted that perpetrators must confront what they did and be held to account.

“It is a tough road to take, to face up to our own weaknesses,” he said.

“That is certainly true of anyone who’s deceived themselves that all they’ve been doing is taking a bit of comfort from children.”

The next time anyone who’s part of the Roman Catholic Church offers you any advice on morality or ethics, ask him/her what s/he’s doing to get the Church to own up to its abuse of children in Ireland and call for the abusers to confess to their crimes and do jail time for them.

Go ahead. Ask. I guarantee you won’t get an answer, other than something like, “There’s nothing I can do about it.” That, unfortunately, is not a moral answer. Morality demands more than just swerving out of the way of the matter. What’s absolutely immoral is to give perpetrators credit for having done something that they haven’t, done and will never do. Archbishop Nichols has done this. It tells me everything I need to know about his character … which is that he has none.

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