Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Pope's Apology Isn't Enough

The news that Pope Benedict has written a letter to Cardinal Sean Brady apologising for the Catholic Church's role in the Irish child abuse scandal is, of course, a welcome development. But it does not go far enough. The Pope makes no apology for the cover up, and he seems quite content for those who perpetrated these terrible misdemeanours to remain in office.

No one in the Irish Catholic Church seems to be willing to stand up and accept culpability for what went on. Wouldn't it be nice for Cardinal Brady to accept that someone's head has to roll, and it should be his? Instead, he stands by while men of cloth, under his rule, give interviews to radio stations saying that they would not report paedophiles to the Police because of the "need for confidentiality".

I spoke about this on last night's Stephen Nolan Show. Stephen had interviewed a man called Monsignor Maurice Dooley on his show the night before. I was listening at the time and felt almost physically sick at what I was hearing. He made clear that his church's rules were more important than the physical safety of vulnerable children. Would he report a paedophile priest who he knew was abusing kids? No, he said, he most certainly would not.

And this "Man of God" has no doubt preached his sermon today, somewhere in Ireland. The Catholic Church has "distanced itself" from Monsignor Dooley. Not sacked him. They have distanced themselves. And it shows that the Catholic Church of Ireland has a long way to go before a line can be drawn under this terrible period in its history.

If you would like to hear the 10 minute discussion between Stephen Nolan, Olly Mann and myself on the Nolan Show from last night - I promise you it is worthwhile - click HERE and scroll in 2 hours 10 minutes.

31 comments:

Frugal Dougal said...

I've been trying to support the Pope but you're right, the apology hasn't gone far enough. Too many clerics with "something on" somebody at the Curia?

Priests can't be sacked in the sense that the rite of ordination confers the sacrament for life, but they can certainly be banned from exercising priesthood by eg saying Mass, hearing confessions, etc. This should be used much more.

Sean Haffey said...

The sad thing is that whenever people think of the Catholic Church nowadays, they think of this abuse, to which a blind eye was turned for too long.

It's time for the Church to act decisively to end this and punish the abusers.

It's time for everyone else to remember the millions of Catholics every day who bring help, food and education to the poor across the world.

John said...

Iain, I'm a prolific reader of your blog and feel compelled, as an Irish Catholic, to comment this entry.

Firstly, the letter wasn't written to Cardinal Brady, it was addressed to all Irish Catholics and was read out at all masses over the weekend. It just so happened that Cardinal Brady was the first public figure to read the letter in public.

Secondly, Msgnr Dooley is a total fool. He has been disowned by his colleagues and his bishop - to give him airtime or suggest that his views represent those of the hierarchy or lay people is extremely misleading on the part of the media. It's akin to Michael Portillo's views being taken as representative of the official Conservative Party.

This whole issue is so sensitive and emotional that the real issues at stake risk being glided over, in order to give people like Msngnr Dooley airtime. He is a retired, out-of-touch crank. He does not say masses and will not have preached anything from the pulpit over the weekend.

tankus said...

Letters of apology ...

Good enough for Gordon , Good enough for the Pope .

And stuff the suffering !

matterhorn said...

In so many parts of the world the Catholic church does a power of good. So it's sad that the Pope has been so mealy mouthed about this. Jesus would have been furious (as he was with the money changers - or was it lenders, I forget). Is the Pope Catholic? Never mind that; is the Pope Christian?

lisztomega said...

Dear Iain,

The Pope has apologised for significant past institutional failings. What makes you think there is an ongoing issue? Cardinal Brady could have retired a while ago, and avoided a lot of misery, but he didn't. It is not hubris or conceit that keeps him there, he is obedient to the Pope and will resign if asked to do so. He is just trying to serve the Church, as he has done all his life, however imperfectly. It's hard to know what you and other critics want. The Pope is not a CEO, and the Church is not a multinational company, it's the Church. Incidentally, today's Gospel reading is the magnificent depiction of the woman "taken in adultery". Perhaps you know the coda: "..let him who is without sin cast the first stone".

Ben said...

Dear Iain,

The Pope has apologised for significant past institutional failings. What makes you think there is an ongoing issue? Cardinal Brady could have retired a while ago, and avoided a lot of misery, but he didn't. It is not hubris or conceit that keeps him there, he is obedient to the Pope and will resign if asked to do so. He is just trying to serve the Church, as he has done all his life, however imperfectly. It's hard to know what you and other critics want. The Pope is not a CEO, and the Church is not a multinational company, it's the Church. Incidentally, today's Gospel reading is the magnificent depiction of the woman "taken in adultery". Perhaps you know the coda: "..let him who is without sin cast the first stone".

Ttony said...

"The Pope makes no apology for the cover up"

Which bit of this part of what he wrote is so difficult to understand?

"6. To the victims of abuse and their families

You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel."

You don't have to read what people write, but it makes commenting on what they've written a bit suspect.

Knock the Irish Hierarchy as much as you like, but don't blame this Pope for everything (except, of course, to keep working for Murdoch).

Half The Story said...

Almost an advert for nonces to join the clergy, no?

Dawson said...

"The news that Pope Benedict has written a letter to Cardinal Sean Brady..."

What? When did that happen?

You are, Iain, yet another rent-a-gob with little or no understanding of this issue.

You jump in, head-first, expressing vacuous sentiments and numerous untruths. Clearly you do not grasp the most basic elements of this issue: so, for the good of the tens of thousands of Irish people who suffered grotesquely at the hands of Church, please either withdraw your comments or actually sit-down and come to terms with this issue's intricacies.

Jemimah said...

Iain

Out of your depth once again. Please refrain from making hasty comments on issues of which you have little or no grasp of. It's so sad to see a grown man so desperate for a bit of attention on a late night BBC radio phone-in that he'll start spewing rubbish on any issue which Nolan throws out.

Your latest "blog" is so full of crap I don't know where to begin. So I won't. Just think on and consider how much hurt you are causing to all concerned here with your half baked, inaccurate musings.

Iain Dale said...

When I see people write "you;re out of your depth" and "your post is so full of crap I don't know where to begin", I usually know I have written something people don't like to come to terms with.

If you've got criticisms to make, make them. Don't just write inanities, engage in a debate.

Pope apologises. I argue it doesn't go far enough and explain why. I go on to explain why I think the church hasn't 'got it' and why a line can't be drawn.

Take me on by all means, but let's have less of the insults.

cyberboris said...

Well I must be mad and stupid as well then. I totally agree with Ian Dale and cannot believe what I am reading on this comments page.

Richard Baron said...

It is not only in Ireland that the response is unsatisfactory. This morning I heard a German radio station (B5 Aktuell) reporting the view of the Bishop of Regensburg. Apparently he thinks that the media are out to get the Church, and are waging a campaign against the Church that is comparable to the National Socialist campaign. Methinks the Bishop doth protest too much.

Kath said...

Does anyone really listen to that guy Nolan on a regular basis, burping on air and farting. He's a disgrace. Theres better people in BBC NI, they ought to get rid of this guy.

Pope apologises. I argue it doesn't go far enough and explain why. I go on to explain why I think the church hasn't 'got it' and why a line can't be drawn.

I think they know it doesn't go far enough, but Nolan was out to get Cardinal Brady by fair means or foul. Nolan flagged up a past case where he said the Cardinal had signed a document with a secrecy clause. This particular case had been dismissed in court, and Nolan decided to try and do a retrial on the radio. It was a pathetic attempt to get Cardinal Brady.

The Cardinal is a fine man. Did he do wrong in covering up 35 years ago, yes and he admits it. It's a sordid past, nothing theydo will ever compensate victims, but Nolan didn't only report, he set
out to get Brady and failed, and showed himself to be the sort he is.

DespairingLiberal said...

It's always useful when discussing the Papacy and Roman Catholicism to come clean first about one's own position - I write as a non-theist, but it would be useful to know your position Iain.

Throughout many, many centuries, the Papacy has been a primary instrument of oppression against the poor, woman, those who held differing views and those who opposed the power of the rich. Against that background, the unfulfilled sexual cravings of it's priesthood, acted out on children and at least partly caused by the instution of celibacy amongst the priesthood, is perhaps one among many crimes.

I don't feel any particular urgency to get involved in a debate about the rights and wrongs of the Pope's response, other than to point out that his primary role is to continue to act as a primary defender of a profoundly corrupt institution, which continues to strive to maintain ignorance amongst it's adherants, social and cultural norms that were discredited centuries ago and an entirely male power structure.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that he didn't rush to side with the abused and instead worked systematically for many years to attempt to bury their stories and let off the perpetrators.

Vienna Woods said...

Iain, It seems to me that every few years someone comes forward to make allegations against the Church for something that happened 30 years ago.

Now, while I certainly don't condone abuse of any sorts - why has it taken so long? While this latest scandal in Ireland is being aired, a secondary wave ripples across Europe picking up anything which the press thinks newsworthy and that sells a few extra newssheets. Currently in Austria there is an investigation of a priest who died almost 20 years ago because of a press statement by a single former choirboy. The allegations as such can't be directly addressed because the priest is deceased and what do you know - the numerous "letters of complaint" sent to clergy in Austria and Rome cannot be discovered. Neither has the complainant retained any copies. Nor can he say to whom they were addressed.

The Roman Catholic Church has, for 20 years, since this issue was first raised, set in motion a procedure to guarantee that complaints of this type are taken very seriously indeed. In this Austrian case it is extremely doubtful that any complaint was made at all, as to bypass so many formalities is nigh on impossible.

Any Churchman, from whatever religion, that abuses boys or girls in their charge should be dealt with very seriously, but we should be careful not to be carried away by rumours, innuendo and in particular, the press.

Jemimah said...

"When I see people write "you;re out of your depth" and "your post is so full of crap I don't know where to begin", I usually know I have written something people don't like to come to terms with."

Do excuse me, I forgot that you believe in your own infallibility.

Anyways, can you point out exactly where the Pope wrote to Brady?

Your failure to grasp even this most basic of detail - i.e. who the Rottweiler's letter was addressed to - does not fill me with confidence.

You are, as described above, a rent-a-quote media mercenary.

Dawson said...

" I think you will find they are married, which makes her Mrs Clegg in my book!"

Ruddy hell Dale. Looks like you have more in common with the alumni of Hitler Youth than you thought.

How enlightened.

Iain Dale said...

And you're just a prat, as your two posts have proved beyond doubt.

Dawson said...

"And you're just a prat, as your two posts have proved beyond doubt."

Puerile, Iain, very puerile. And then, in your darkest hours, you wonder why you couldn't find the people of a lovely little shire to send you to Westminster.

I repeat:

can you point out exactly where the Pope wrote to Brady?

Jemimah said...

And you're just a prat..

Why the need to get so childish? That's really unecessary. Why have you yet to retract your error regarding who the Pope's letter was addressed to? With this error, why should people believe that you know what the hell you're actually talking about?

Ronald said...

Dawson

Intricate ? How

Priest buggers little boy
Church covers it up moves priest on does all it can to protect iys people from civil authorities.

Truth comes out.

Pope says 'whoops sorry you caught us out there'

Craig Ranapia said...

Knock the Irish Hierarchy as much as you like, but don't blame this Pope for everything (except, of course, to keep working for Murdoch).

WTF? Seriously, Titany, do you think the Pope's official titles include "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God" because it looks spiffy on the letterhead?

I expect politicians and corporate CEOs to be adept at playing pass the buck, but as a Catholic I expect a LOT better from the leadership of my church.

Craig Ranapia said...

Also, Ian, this Catholic is ashamed to see co-religionists who've engaged in ugly and vicious character assassination of the victims of the abuse and those who have had the guts to tell the truth about the Church's shameful history of placing their own comfort and reputation above common human decency. Sad to see the Pharasees come out to play when we're so close to marking Christ's death and resurrection.

And no, I don't think there is any statute of limitations for anyone who not only protected abusers -- but ended up facilitating further molestation.

Michael J said...

It is amazing to see so many apparent "Catholics" blog here in protest to Iain,s piece on this issue.
Reading these, one would think they are doing exactly what priests, bishops,in many countries and Popes have been doing for years - trying protect themselves by sweeping it under the table.
The issue is that these matters have been hushed up and now it is nearly in the open one would have thought that Catholics on this blog would have the decency to admit that The Pope needs to assure the world that all is being done to prevent this happening again and prosecuting any offenders, who ever, they are.

Vicky Simister said...

Actions speak louder than words. The bishops who turned a blind eye should be forced to resign.

http://vickysimister.com/2010/03/22/pope-apologises-for-inconvenience/

Vicky Simister said...

Actions speak louder than words. The bishops who turned a blind eye should be forced to resign.

http://vickysimister.com/2010/03/22/pope-apologises-for-inconvenience/

neil craig said...

When he apologises for the Papacy supplying $2 bn to the Croatian Nazis in the clear knowledge that they would use it for genocide
http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/carr/carr.html
& supplying Moslem terrorists with weapons, including ground to air missiles, in the equally clear knowledge that they would use it for the same http://www.mail-archive.com/news@antic.org/msg06651.html
I will start considering whether it would be possible, within the next couple of centuries, for any representative of that obscene Nazi "chuch" of kiddie fiddlers to work themselves back to something approaching moral equality to the dogs in the street.

I don't think that is ungenerous.

Jimmy said...

"Secondly, Msgnr Dooley is a total fool. He has been disowned by his colleagues and his bishop - to give him airtime or suggest that his views represent those of the hierarchy or lay people is extremely misleading on the part of the media."

Well I myself am lapsed but as i recall the honorific "Monsignor" denotes a priest holding a direct appointment from the Pope.

Treacle said...

It's simple. He's apologised for the abuse, but he hasn't apologised for the cover-up, and he's not going to do anything about it. He should immediately sack Brady (and Dooley), announce that Catholic priests can get married, admit women to the priesthood, organise criminal records checks on all priests, ban priests from being with children on their own, and authorise substantial cash payments to all the victims. Why won't he do it?