Lessons from Cloyne Sex Abuse Report — Time To Remove Power from Bishops

A watershed has been reached in Ireland’s relationship with the Vatican

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.


All posts mentioning the Cloyne diocese




22 thoughts on “Lessons from Cloyne Sex Abuse Report — Time To Remove Power from Bishops

  1. If you’ll permit a nit to be picked … there is a town called Cloyne. Christy Ring came from there, and George Berkeley was its [CofI] bishop.


  2. Yes. I know. There’s a town (or maybe a village) but not a region. Hopefully you’ll see beyond the detail and accept the point I’m trying to make.

  3. Absolutely. On the rest, I’m with you all the way.

    I rather like the idea of breaking diplomatic relations with the Vatican. In one sense, it would be meaningless, but the shock value would be enormous. Action shouldn’t stop there, though.


  4. Not sure if anyone has ever been in the Vatican. The money dripping from the walls in there is disgusting ansd shocked me when I went to visit. I lived in Rome and only went back to the Vatican because tourists who came over wanted a gander. Other than that I wouldn’t go near it, and wouldn’t recommend anyone going near it. Ever. Most South American countries are poor yeah? How come the Vatican never helped them out instead of pouring the money into the Vatican walls and murals etc etc over the centuries. Disgusting and corrupt.

  5. If I am following this correctly, is the Sean Brady you mentioned the same guy that had two 10yr old boys sign a secrecy document when they tried to report being abused ? and then did not inform the police ?
    And this Sean Brady is the boss catholic for Ireland ?

    I have to admit to being throughly confused, after all the sex abuse revelations, not just in Ireland but globally, the church still has control of your school system ?

    Are they cheaper ? is that part of the reason ? is having these guys run things more cost effective than if it were run by lay people ?

    Excuse the barrage of questions but upon reading back thru several related posts it most certainly seems a common theme………how and why being the most prevalent………how and why was this happening to kids ?……how and why did it go on for so long ?…….how and why did the church hide it and protect abusers ?…….how and why are do these people still have anything to do with children ?…………how and why do they have any relevancy to the society ?

  6. Would it help if the government decided to invite the Vatican, through its nuncio, to start dicsussions leading to the establishment of a Church-State concordat? Clearly defined lines of responsibility might be laid out in a negotiated concordat. Ireland may be one of the few west European democracies that has no clearly demarcated relationship with the Catholic Church. Garret FitzGerald, a liberal Catholic among other things, wrote about the absence of formal Church-State consultation arrangements in his book of essays, Reflections on the Irish State.

    Bock has emphasised the point that male bishops who have been Patrons of schools where sexual abuse of children took place are unfit to be the ultimate controllers of schools. The control of schools should be community accountable, and obviously bishops and parish priests have not been accountable to communities in the catchment areas of school enrolement.

  7. If even a significant minority of Irish people, say 30 or 40%, were half as angry about this as you (or I, and other posters here) are, we would have done something about this by now. But there is something very wrong with us. Most countries would have taken far more radical action (I’m talking violence here) than anything we are fantasising about here.

    There is a letter in today’s IT which says a lot. The writer outlines his dismay etc at the carry on over recent years, and then says ” I have now lost all hope and I ask for guidance from the church as what to do now.”

    He’s asking guidance from the church. I mean what the fuck, I had to read that twice, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. You’d feel like screaming at him that he deserves everything he gets, wouldn’t you? Honestly, this shit makes me deeply depressed and ashamed of being Irish.

  8. I am sure that most people would be jailed for the cover-up (and hence facilitation) of such appalling crimes as the rape and torture of children. In Ireland, jail is too often reserved for trivial and relatively inconsequential crimes like petty theft and non-payment of fines and TV licenses.
    As long as the skangers and skobes are fucked into jail, everything will be ok.
    The worst punishment that their lordships (or is it “Graces”?) will endure will be early retirement in a comfortable “palace”.
    One wonders,
    why aren’t the churches and courthouses being burned to the ground?

  9. Not a bit surprising..seen an old bat on the telly saying she felt sorry for the bishop..the fucking bishop!!!..no sorrow for the victims.Ah well thats Ireland for you.You can be guaranteed the churches will be packed again next sunday.This might even increase the attendance and support.Similar to how revelations of corruption against Fianna Fail increased their support in the 2006 elections.

  10. I agree completely with the above statement but would also like to enquire,why is it that the democraticly elected representatives of the people are treating this cabal of morally backward child rapists as if they were a superior fom of human species? Unless,of course,they believe they are! No other organisation would be afforded the deference,this shower have been shown,so its time our government stopped asking and stareted telling these degenerate old pederists the game is up.Confiscate all properties,lands and freeze all assets here in Ireland.Arrest,charge and jail all guilty rapists.And if the fuckers in rome dont like it,they can send over their military forces to try and take them back.

  11. Make no mistake about it, priests RUN our primary schools – 93% of them.
    Priests regularly meet one-to-one with our children, hearing their “confession”.
    Priests insist on altar servers serving morning mass, making them miss school and their education while they’re there.
    Priests call to every primary school in Irealnd every single year to check that religion is being taught fully.
    The Bishup looks at the books of every primary school in Irealnd during his Parish visitations.
    Teachers are bullied into complying because they can be sacked by law if they don’t uphold the Catholic ethos e.g. if the live in sin; have a child out of wedlock; are gay etc… etc… etc…
    Other workers are protected and cannot be discriminated against under these grounds, teachers can be and it’s legal.
    Why are they still running our schools?
    They have friends in high places.
    They are often the ones in the high places!
    People are sheep.

  12. Simplest punishment is cancellation of tax-free status for religion,any religion.Imagine the additional revenue for our impoverished state coffers.The Irish are as smart as any but silly where religion is concerned.The catholic church is nothing more than a business.Irish people need to cop on.

  13. Class the Catholic church as a criminal organisation and BAN it on the grounds of facilitating paedophilia and selling a non existant product called Heaven.

  14. As a 58 year old American who was physically and sexually abused/harrased by nuns in Catholic grammar school and high school and by one particular nun as a seminarian at St Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia over an 18 month period, I can attest to the life changing and Faith cracking experience of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy. But unfortunately as in all tragedies, there is more to this than mere sexual or physical abuse.

    There is a certain sociopathic side to this kind of “religion” that for reasons unknown to me make it all the more easily carried out in tightly rigid and hierarchical churches like that of Rome or the Anglican church or the Eastern Orthodox churches. Bishops are allowed to act and “lead” like the barons and princes that they actually were in the Middle Ages. They are allowed to continue in that role even though that world has been dead and gone for many centuries now. In effect, the world often turns a blind eye to the fact that the Church is now a rather minor player in world power centers. It is this “turning of the head” away from the daily medieval practices in these churches that facilitates children being hurt by these erstwhile potentates or their lieutenants.

    From an organizational pt of view, these churches are anachronisms at best and dangerous hold overs from much darker times in human history at worst. In a sense, the very structure of these churches lends itself to hiding and incorporating this abusive behavior into these closed, male dominated and often very sick paradigms that actually rule these bodies. In a word, they are allowed to operate without any real transparency or accountability to the larger community. This is dangerous on its face. When you delve deeper it is actually psychopathic. Who would allow this kind of freedom from oversight from any other type of organization that brings in millions of dollars and oversees thousands of children in each diocese each month?

  15. If the RCC cannot accept the morally correct laws of Ireland, they should be instructed to withdraw their clergy to the confines of the Vatican… If that is too complicated for them to understand, I will restate it. They should get the hell out of Ireland.
    As a individual choice, I encourage clear thinking Irish to quit financially supporting this morally corrupt society.

  16. They don’t accept the democratically-elected parliament’s laws, and why should they when every parliamentary session begins with a Catholic prayer, and the preamble to the constitution invokes a Catholic demi-goid?

  17. 1. The Catholic Church, as an Institution is proven to be a criminal organisation, which has operated a global conspiracy to obstruct justice, to protect thousands of cruel, dangerous and active pedophiles, bullies andchild beaters, and worse to enable them to continue their abuses. All to protect the ‘image’ of the Catholic Church.

    2. The fact that there may be good people within that Institution is irrelevant, if those ‘good’ people do not DIRECTLY confront the proven criminal activity, and bring evidence before the public to identify all those involved so that Civil Authorities can take the matter further.

    The fact that the ‘good’ people within the Church have utterly failed to face the full truth and meaning of what has been going on, and act accordingly, gives the lie to their claim of ‘goodness’.

    3. There is also evidence that child abuse (child mistreatment) was and is still more common than the public would like to admit. That abuse falls into what is called ‘intergenerational trauma patterning’.

    Until a generation (or an individual) resolves the trauma they survive, they are forced to ‘cope’. This coping leads to suppression of feeling, of truth, of awareness. That makes more abuse, more dysfunction all the more likely, as it sets the psychological milieu which children have to adapt to.

    Marketing, Grades, Peer Pressure to buy whatever sneakers or mobile phone…., all are signs of this.

    4. The fact that our Systems of Governance in Ireland are undermined by corruption, and by dysfunctional behaviour, ought to be seen for what it is : a sign of a profound ‘disease’ or pathology that permeates Irish Society at every level.

    5. The fact that, even still, there is very little support amongst Irish people for Survivors, that it is mostly through the continued efforts of a few courageous men and women, that these abuses have been reported and the information put into the public domain.

    6. Irish Society is sick, and needs to recognise it. Not that Ireland is the only country of which this could be said.

  18. It is time to overhaul the whole education system. The church cannot be trusted and are sending very emotionally scarred people out into the world. I am so glad the government there is making a stand….so overdue.

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