Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Cardinal Sean O’Malley from Boston, are saying some prayers today, asking forgiveness for the way their church treated victims of clerical sexual abuse. They call it a Liturgy of Lament and Repentance (as opposed to an ordinary, uncapitalised liturgy of lament and repentance) and during it, the princes of the church will wash the feet of a group of people who suffered in various ways through abuse. This is a symbol of apology.
Diarmuid Martin is a decent fellow and I have no doubt he’s sincere in what he says, but would it not have been more appropriate to drag along a few of his fellow bishops to do the foot-washing? After all, they’ve been pretty good at washing their hands of this filthy business for years now, so perhaps a few feet might make a welcome change. Indeed, if anyone needs to be cleansed, it isn’t the victims, surely, but the perpetrators and those who failed to stop them. People like Bishop Eamon Walsh, who stood up at a meeting and suggested telling the police about a notorious priest-rapist, but promptly sat back down again when he was told by a grumpy old Monsignor to shut his mouth.
In his own words:
I wasn’t a month in the job as a bishop, and I stood up at a meeting and I said that not alone should the police, who were already informed about an individual, but we should say where he was living and the number of his car, because I felt he was a danger.
Somebody give that man a medal.
Monsignor Sheehy’s views on the matter speak volumes:
I think it important that every one of us should at this stage avoid any excessive reaction – no matter what the civil law may say.
Note: No matter what the civil law may say.
Another candidate for dragging forcibly in front of the outraged victims might be Cardinal Seán Brady, who interrogated victims of abuse, swore them to secrecy and, after much reflection, found himself innocent of wrongdoing. Or what about his predecessor, Des Connell, who fought tooth and nail to prevent diocesan documents being given to the Murphy inquiry and to obstruct its workings?
Maybe both of these guys might benefit from being down on their knees begging forgiveness.
What do you think?
Or even Ratzinger himself, who tried to justify clerical sexual abuse by saying it was a long time ago. As long back as 1975, when nobody knew anything because we were all too innocent. That was the year the Sex Pistols played their first gig, Monty Python made the Holy Grail, Gates founded Microsoft and Springsteen released Born to Run. Not exactly the Dark Ages.
O’Malley, who entered a seminary at the age of 12, leads an Apostolic Visitation to Ireland to put the skids under the local gobshites who allowed this PR disaster for the church to happen.
Ratzinger is not happy. O’Malley, Sie haben ze ridiculous Irish-priest name. Getten Sie over zu Irland, schnell and tellen Sie those Dummkopf arschholes on their bike jumpen fukken pronto making. Amen.
And that’s why Seán is here, bringing with him all the vast life-experience of a man who hasn’t lived in a normal family since he was twelve.
I think this foot-washing is going to be a tougher job than they thought. How will they get around to washing the feet of all the victims, especially with the decline in the priesthood.
Do you know what would make more sense? They could buy a couple of thousand electric foot-spas, and bless them all in one go. Shazam!! Suddenly you have an endless supply of fizzy holy water. Then they could send the foot-spas out to all the churches in the land and install them in the now-defunct confessionals. If you feel abused, just slip your tootsies into the healing bubbly waters of profound apology, and suddenly everything is all right again.
If they do it right, every time a foot is washed, the machines could send an automatic signal to a central church database so that Ratzo can scratch another name off the list of people he needs to apologise to. They could set up a guilt repository for the bishops, like a bad bank, and each time a victim uses the Holy Spa of Repentance, the system could credit a standard unit of forgiveness to the bishop’s account.
What do you think? Are we onto something here?
I asked one victim of abuse, Paddy Doyle, for his views on this and here’s what he replied:
I’ve just come back from the Pro Cathedral where I was part of a protest outside the place.
One lady who wanted to get into the Cathedral to hand the bishop from Boston a letter about the abuse she had suffered as a child – she was a Magdalene woman – asked me if I would go with her into the Church. This lady was very upset and needed to just see this guy the Pope had sent over to sort out all our problems of child abuse!
Anyway, I went to the side door of the Cathedral with this lady. She was refused permission to enter the place but then so was I. Some of what appeared to be the Archbishop’s henchmen and the Gardaí told me I would not be permitted to enter the church. The strange thing is that when I was a child I used to be beaten into various churches to serve mass, now as an adult I’m deemed to be trouble and not allowed into the house of God!