This is not the Lord of the Rings. This is Ireland in the 21st century, and the Cloyne report is about events that happened, not a millennium ago. Not even a half century ago. The report includes events that happened two or three years back. Today, in other words.
After all the bishops’ talk of learning curves, and nearly twenty years after the Brendan Smyth affair brought down a government, we discover not only that a bishop had no interest in protecting children, but that the man he appointed to deal with complaints has little respect for Irish law compared to Roman Catholic rules, which he regards as superior in all respects.
There is no place called Cloyne, except in the minds of the clergy. The so-called Cloyne report is about North Cork, a real place with real people, not some demented ecclesiastical Middle Earth. And the inhabitants of Cloyne are not Hobbits but real people, who were terrorised, unfortunately, by the fiends of Sauron Magee as he languished in his Dark Tower, aka Cobh Cathedral.
They don’t get it and they never will, these agents of a foreign state who wield so much power in our society, and who control the very places where child victims are to be found : our primary schools.
When I say that they represent a foreign state, I only repeat what the Papal Nuncio said when he refused to answer queries from the commission of inquiry. He claimed diplomatic immunity. And yet, this same foreign civil servant is the conduit by which Rome instructs its agents, the bishops, in this country.
Our children are our only wealth. Why would we submit anything so precious to the control of a self-proclaimed foreign country? Why would we cede sovereignty to foreign agents who not only have no interest in protecting our children but, as in the case of John Magee, actively lied to the government, the health service and the police, concealing vital information about the crimes committed by his staff?
Is there anything special about the North Cork diocese? I don’t see why there should be. I see no reason to presume that Magee was in any way unique, except in the fact that he himself is the very model of a clerical apparatchik, a private secretary to three popes and very close to the thinking of those in the Vatican. And if the Vatican’s man could have been so indifferent to the crimes of his own people, why should we suppose that the home-grown bishops are any better?
Let me repeat something that I have said many times before. These people are in control of our schools.
Why do these people still have the power to put child abusers in control of our children? Child abusers like the pseudonymous Father Calder, who, according to the report, threatened a school principal with loss of pay when she refused to release children into his clutches for “private” confessions. How could he get away with this? Because of the medieval patronage concept whereby the local bishop becomes the patron of every school in his area. Calder had already been identified as a danger to children, yet Magee appointed him to the position of chairman of the board of management. In that capacity, he was able to tell the principal that he would refuse to sign her pay cheque unless she facilitated his plans to sexually abuse children.
Furthermore, Magee’s delegate, Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan tried to intimidate this school principal when she complained to him about the priest’s behaviour. This same character disagreed profoundly with the Irish bishops’ own child protection policy, as did the Vatican, and even today we hear Cardinal Sean Brady issuing more mealy-mouthed, empty statements of regret.
Look at the surreal moment when Brady veered into a parallel reality: “If there is one positive thing to come out of this it is the confirmation that the church structures have been proven to be effective”. These are the same bishops who fought against their own board for safeguarding children, refusing to hand over files under the dishonest and spurious pretext of data protection, even though they knew full well this objection had no legal substance whatsoever.
They obstructed their own inquiry, and yet Brady feels able to claim that the church structures are effective.
Is there no limit to the delusion and dishonesty of these people?
Ireland has been forced to confront some very harsh financial realities over the last two or three years, and many more are yet to come. Now is the time to face another reality, and strip power from these unstable, unqualified and dangerous men.
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