The report of the Commission inquiring into the Dublin Archdiocese was published today, with some details omitted but before I go on, let me just say something.
You probably know that the report has torn the Irish bishops to shreds, called them a bunch of lying hypocrites and exposed them for the miserable, pathetic, cynical, self-serving inadequates they are.
Well, let me just draw your attention to one aspect of the report, which is the bit that deals with their claim that they didn’t really know much about child abuse. Their famous “learning curve”.
This is what the Commission’s report says:
Officials of the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities have repeatedly claimed to have been, prior to the late 1990s, on a learning curve in relation to the matter. Having completed its investigation, the Commission does not accept the truth of such claims and assertions.
Do you remember kindly old Cardinal Cathal Daly who, after Fr Brendan Smyth was exposed as a serial rapist, explained that he didn’t understand such matters, and that was why he didn’t try to stop the rapist from raping children? It struck me as deeply dishonest of old Cathal at the time, because he seemed to know a great deal about sexual relationships between consenting adults. Enough, in fact, to pronounce from on high about things that were none of his business and even attempt to influence the law of the land. Just as his fellow bishops did.
Never forget that these guys who are the subject of a report exposing them as collaborators and accomplices in child abuse are the same people who saw fit to interfere in the legislative process and sought to influence the outcome of referendums on matters in which they had no competence. Of course, we now see that they have no competence in anything, and the question has to be asked. What are they there for?
The Commission concludes that the Catholic hierarchy lied when they claimed not to understand the seriousness of child sexual abuse. In fact, far from not understanding it, the diocese cynically took out insurance in 1987 to protect itself against claims, while at the same time denying every claim and accusing victims of inventing false stories.
The report says that the bishops systematically covered up sexual abuse and were more concerned about protecting their organisation’s good name and looking after the criminals who abused the children than they were about the welfare of the victims. According to the report, the welfare of children, which should have been the first priority, was not even a factor to be considered in the early stages.
The Commission finds that every Archbishop of Dublin since World War II has either covered up the crimes of abusers or obstructed investigations by the civil authorities. It finds that senior police including a Garda Commissioner and two chief superintendents, colluded with the bishops to conceal crime and protect the criminals.
The connivance by the Gardaí in effectively stifling one complaint and failing to investigate another, and in allowing Fr [name deleted] to leave the country is shocking. It is noteworthy that the Commission would not have been aware of the Garda activity in question were it not for the information contained in the Church files.
The commission finds that many victims who went to the church authorities with complaints were dismissed, intimidated and lied to
.… the focus was on the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of the good name, status and assets of the institution and of what the institution regarded as its most important members – the priests.
The report shows that some individuals, including the much-revered Archbishop McQuaid, and Donal Murray, the current bishop of Limerick, were an absolute disgrace in the way they treated complaints of abuse.
Bishops did their best to avoid applying the law of the State. They failed to act on complaints, even appointing abusive priests as chaplains in children’s hospitals and concealing details of abusive behaviour, resulting in more children being abused by the same people. They dismissed and trivialised the suffering of victims. They lied. They cheated. They perverted justice. They sheltered known criminals. They misled police. They withheld information.
The report finds that in many cases, clerics believed that their own private rules, Canon Law, were superior to the law of the land, and that certain public officials seemed to believe the same thing. The State authorities facilitated the cover up by not fulfilling their responsibilities, the report says, to ensure that the law was applied equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes.
It indicates that the primary loyalty of the clergy is to Rome and not to this State, or to put it another way, these clerics have relinquished their Irish citizenship through their vows, and now regard themselves as a colonising power.
I think what strikes me most strongly is the complete failure on the part of the entire Irish clergy to comprehend the harm that they have inflicted and continue to inflict, and we have no reason to believe that anything has changed since the investigation started.
To all intents, this Mafia remains intact, disloyal to the Irish State and without respect for domestic Irish law. Even today, what some people refer to as the HSE audit is nothing more than a questionnaire circulated to the bishops, to be falsified at their discretion, just as they have falsified everything else they submitted to the authorities. These are the same people who have consistently refused to cooperate with the police, save for the honourable exception of Diarmuid Martin.
The chapter on Discovery is interesting.
In 2006, the Commission wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Inquisition) headed by one Josef Ratzinger. They asked for information on the promulgation of the document Crimen Sollicitationis, (a document advising bishops on how to deal with sexual abuse,) as well as information on reports of clerical child sexual abuse which had been conveyed to the Congregation by the Archdiocese of Dublin in the period covered by the Commission. The CDF did not reply.
The report goes on: However, it [Ratzinger’s CDF] did contact the Department of Foreign Affairs stating that the Commission had not gone through appropriate diplomatic channels. The Commission is a body independent of government and does not consider it appropriate for it to use diplomatic channels.
According to the report, The Commission wrote to the Papal Nuncio in February 2007 requesting that he forward to the Commission all documents in his possession relevant to the Commission’s terms of reference, “which documents have not already been produced or will not be produced by Archbishop Martin”. The letter further requested the Papal Nuncio, if he had no such documentation, to confirm this. No reply was received. The Commission does not have the power to compel the production of documents by the Papal Nuncio or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Commission again wrote to the Papal Nuncio in 2009 enclosing extracts from the draft report which referred to him and his office as it was required to do. Again, no reply was received.
So much for the Vatican’s concern with clerical child abuse in Ireland.
Now is the time for this country to regain its self respect by investigating the activities of these bishops, each one of them, and bringing them before a court to answer for themselves. These people have no understanding of morality and the time has come to remove all power from them. Amazingly, those who claimed to have the inside track, the direct line to head office, were clearly the ones who simply did not know the difference between right and wrong.
So why exactly would anyone listen to them now? How could any Catholic parent in this town feel comfortable next year when their young child goes to confirmation and that ceremony is presided over by a man like Donal Murray, who also remains patron of many primary schools?
Why would a man like this be entitled to control any institution in which children are taught?
Forget about leaving the United Kingdom. This is the true test of Irish independence. If we fail this, the experiment is finished.
As ever, Nell McCafferty expresses the anger better than most.
Previously on Bock
All Bock posts on the Murphy Report