Photograph of St Aidens Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Republic of IrelandWhat the Roman Catholic Church has done to the children of one of the most-Catholic countries in the world — i.e. Ireland — is a travesty that reaches beyond the imagination. This timeline of the scandal there, courtesy of the Irish Times (WebCite cached version), shows the Church there had been insuring itself against child-abuse claims in the 1980s; allegations began emerging in the 1990s, and the Magdalene laundries became infamous by the end of that decade. Since then the Irish judiciary has undertaken a number of investigations into the abuse. The Ferns report (focused on the diocese of Ferns) was released in 2005. The Ryan Report, with a national scope, was released in 2009. The Murphy Report (focused on the archdiocese of Dublin) was released a few months later. Just yesterday, the Cloyne Report (focused on the diocese of Cloyne) was released, and as the New York Times explains, the situation is even grimmer than had been thought (cached):

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, long after it issued guidelines meant to protect children, and the Vatican tacitly encouraged the cover-up by ignoring the guidelines, according to a scathing report issued Wednesday by the Irish government.

Alan Shatter, the Irish justice minister, called the findings “truly scandalous,” adding that the church’s earlier promises to report all abuse cases since 1995 to civil authorities were “built on sand.” Abuse victims called the report more evidence that the church sought to protect priests rather than children.

That’s right, folks. This means that, even as the Irish government was wrapping up the Ryan and Murphy investigations — and four years after the Ferns Report had been released — Ireland’s Catholic bishops were still actively covering up for child-abusing clergy whom they supervised:

The Cloyne Report, as it is known, drafted by an independent investigative committee headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, found that the clergy in the Diocese of Cloyne, a rural area of County Cork, did not act on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to 2009. The report also found that two allegations against one priest were reported to the police, but that there was no evidence of any subsequent inquiry.

It’s clear the Church knew what this latest report would say, long before its release:

John Magee, the bishop of Cloyne since 1987, who had previously served as private secretary to three popes, resigned last year.

The Irish foreign ministry summoned the papal nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, to a meeting, to answer for the Holy See’s conduct. The Irish Times reports on his comments afterward (cached):

The papal nuncio today said he was “very distressed” by the report into child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne. …

“I wish to say, however, the total commitment of the Holy See for its part to taking all the necessary measures to assure protection.”

Except, the Holy See actually did nothing of the sort! The Cloyne Report shows — via documentation — that the Vatican actively worked to undermine Irish bishops’ cooperation with secular authorities in child-abuse cases, as the NY Times story explains:

Most damaging, the report said that the Congregation for the Clergy, an arm of the Vatican that oversees the priesthood, had not recognized the 1996 guidelines. That “effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures” and “gave comfort and support” to priests who “dissented from the stated Irish church policy,” the report said.

The report gave details of a confidential letter sent in 1997 by the Vatican’s nuncio, or ambassador, in Ireland to Irish bishops, warning them that their child-protection policies violated canon law, which states that priests accused of abuse should be able to appeal their cases to the Vatican. The nuncio also dismissed the Irish guidelines as “a study document.”

I blogged about this letter six months ago when it was reported in media outlets and released on the Internet. So this particular item is not really news. The Cloyne report, however, places it in perspective and demonstrates its effect on Ireland’s bishops.

Ireland’s chief Catholic hierarch, Cardinal Seán Brady, apologized — again:

Cardinal Brady issued an apology on Wednesday and called for more openness and cooperation with civil authorities. He has been fighting calls for his resignation since last year, when he acknowledged helping to conceal the crimes of one serial-rapist priest from Irish authorities in the mid-1970s.

I’ve already blogged about that particular skeleton in Brady’s closet. What a marvelous, stand-up kind of guy. (Not!)

I have to wonder how many more of these reports are going to be released; how many more times are we going to hear Catholic hierarchs express their regrets and promise to do better; and how many more times are we nevertheless going to discover that they continue to refuse to do so? How long is it going to be before the Roman Catholic Church finally admits what it has done and actually tries to make things right?

My guess is, they never will. (After all, there are Catholics who — even now — are convinced Galileo deserved to be destroyed because he insolently agreed with Copernicus!)

Final note to anyone who will complain that child abuse happens in all religions and I’m not supposed to report on the Catholic Church’s abuses … I’ve already answered that tired whine, and quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing it. It shouldn’t matter — and it doesn’t! — that other religions’ clergy abuse children. What the Catholic Church has done, is what it has done, and no amount of any other religions’ wrongdoing can possibly justify it. (That’s known as “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and is both fallacious and amoral. It needs to fucking stop.)

Photo credit: JohnArmagh / Wikimedia Commons.

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  • My uncle keeps telling me that I need to hire a hypnotist to bring back my repressed memories about my own molestation at the hands of the priests during my 11 years in Catholic school. 😉

    • PsiCop

      Sending a kid to parochial school for that many years, IS abuse … all by itself! 😉

  • Nah… that's one thing I can't complain about. I did get a very good education from those penguins with the rulers in their hands. 🙂

    • Tee hee … you just reminded me of the famous “Penguin” scene from The Blues Brothers, with the great actress Kathleen Freeman:


      Blues Brothers – Penguin by MattyP20071

      She was also famous for this scene from the movie Dragnet:

      • The Blues Bros… one of my all time fav movies. What a killer sound track, too! 🙂

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  • Danny Haszard

    Not to diminish the high crimes of the RCC but please examine the Jehovah's Witnesses who go door to door and come on our property.

    Jehovah's Witnesses pedophiles.

    Many court documents and news events prove that Jehovah's Witnesses require two witnesses when a child comes forward with allegations of molestation within the congregation. Such allegations have customarily been treated as sins instead of crimes and are only reported to authorities when it is required to do so by law, (which varies by state). It has also been shown that child molesters within the organization usually have not been identified to the congregation members or the public at large.
    These people engage in a door to door ministry, possibly exposing children to pedophiles.

    Although the Watchtower Bible Tract Society claims that known pedophiles are accompanied by a non-pedophile in such work, there is no law stating that such a practice must be followed.

    The Watchtower corporation has paid out millions in settlement money already.

    Danny Haszard abuse victim
    dannyhaszard(dot)com

    • I've never once denied this problem isn't found in other religions. I've already addressed this complaint (responding to a Catholic complaining that I only noted this when it happens in the R.C. Church) but the point remains the same: I have blogged on this happening in other religions.

      Unfortunately, I can only blog about incidents that get reported in the mass media. For whatever reason — probably because the J.W. is a much smaller religion and less institutionally-powerful than the R.C. Church — abuses by J.W. missionaries get much less play in the media. It's a numbers game, really, and sadly, the actions of the J.W. tend to fly under the radar of journalism. They shouldn't … but they do.

      I just did some Web searches on this topic, but haven't found many credible reports that I can hang my hat on and be sure of. Things like reposted articles from 2002-2003 which are no longer available on their original Web sites. It's not really enough for me to post on. I also found a Wikipedia article on the subject, but it's a kind of breezy overview (as it ought to be, being encyclopedic) and it doesn't really help me, either.

      There are also advocacy Web sites devoted to this problem. But what could I do, other than just post an entry saying, "Here are links to J.W. child-abuse advocacy sites"? That's not substantive … and I refuse to post anything that's not substantive.

      If something comes up that I can work with, I'll do so. Be assured of that. Again, I'm at the mercy of the material available to me.

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