They just don’t get it, do they?

Bishop Willie Walsh is probably the best of the Irish Catholic hierarchy. He’s an affable, humble and self-effacing guy. He believes in reaching out to his people and he goes among them as an equal. He has a genuine sense of empathy with others and he is never arrogant, unlike so many of his colleagues.

Willie, as I said, is probably the best of them.

Fr Con Desmond came to Willie, his bishop, in 1995. It was just after Father Brendan Smyth, the notorious child-rapist, had been arrested. The country was enraged with the clergy and talk of clerical sexual abuse was everywhere. Fr Desmond was bothered by this new climate, with good reason, as it later turned out, and he turned to Willie Walsh for advice.

Now, put yourself in the Bishop’s place. Here comes this guy who works for you, and he says Willie, I’m bothered by this new climate. People are very annoyed at priests for raping kids and I want to tell you about something I did a few years ago.

What would you think he was trying to tell you? You’re the Bishop, and you’re thinking, Climate against raping kids. OK. You’re also thinking, He wants to tell me something.

Let’s see. What could it be? Maybe he didn’t pay his TV licence? Ah no.

OK then. Perhaps he stole some toffee-apples from a blind shopkeeper? No, Ted.

Right. Possibly he had two pints and drove home, the rascal? Nyet!

OK then. One last go. I know. I have it now: he knocked on a door and ran away! Ah-aaaaH!

Look, says Willie to this priest, I hope you’re not going to tell me anything about shagging kids, because if you do, I’ll have to tell the cops.

Father Con pauses for a second. Ah Jesus no, Willie. I was just going to say that I didn’t pay my TV licence, I stole a toffee-apple, I drove drunk and I rang a doorbell.

Right, says Bishop Willie. Off you go then.

Later on, Willie sent Fr Desmond to a shrink who said he was no danger to children.

That’s grand, says Willie. Carry on as a priest, visiting schools and hospitals, and blessing swimming pools. I’ll say no more about it.

Fr Con Desmond was recently convicted of sexually abusing a child in 1982.

As I said, Bishop Willie Walsh is probably the best of them. Imagine what the rest are like.


Sean, (can I call you that?)

12 thoughts on “They just don’t get it, do they?

  1. I was saying over on the Swearing Lady’s blog that it sounds an awful lot like what we had here in Boston a few year’s back. If Willie’s anything like Law, then he’ll wind up with a cozy post in the Vatican for his non-deeds.

  2. I knew Willie Walsh when he was a teacher in sec. school and I’ve met him since then when he confirmed my kids. He was and still is a really nice and genuine guy. He was 6 months in the Bishop’s job when this priest came to him. There was no church or state guidance on what to do in such cases so he had to go on instinct.
    He will never make the Vatican. I don’t think he would want to anyway. He has gone against conservative church thinking too many times.

  3. smb:

    Nobody said Willie isn’t a nice guy.

    The issue is how he handled this particular incident, and more especially, as I pointed out, that Wilie is probably the best of the bishops. This doesn’t give me much confidence.

    As regards special guidance from his church, or from the State, it doesn’t take much training to know that shagging kids is wrong. After all, the bishops were quite certain that contraception was wrong, even though they all claimed to have no personal experience of the matter!

    Either they know right from wrong or they don’t. They can’t have it both ways.

  4. People!! are you living in the 21st century!!?? What’s wrong with you?
    you all know very well that the tv license, now days, is another lame excuse, for the government to raise funds from the poor us…yes it made sense in the 1930, 40, 50’s until the 1990… when in this country were just a few people and for a national tv station to run, the people needed to help out( and it made sense ), but now, we are at in the 21st century, battle of the fittest!! hello!! what ever happened with the right to free, uncensored information, the right to access this information freely and at whatever time you want??? we have the right to choose, a freedom of choice, there is not only the national tv station, we have other choices, if the national tv can not manage themselves than good luck and nice knowing you. But don’t ask the people to chip in, when we have so much choice.
    tv licensee? a licensee for a TV?? you realize the times we are living now are much different then the time that this law was issued!? is like that law in England where in some particular time of the day, on a particular street in London you could kill a Scott and get away with it. Yeah …That old!!
    You do realize that the national tv stations are making their monies from other sides and not the tv license …i.e. commercials…yeah a good example!! if I pay for a a national tv station to survive I expect that I am not going to be cluttered with people that are trying to sell me things that I don’t need.
    we should all stop paying this ridiculous tax!!

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