I’m sure Marc Ouellet is a decent man, and a learned man too. He has a doctorate in theology, otherwise known as Stuff We Made Up, besides which he held down all sorts of impressive-sounding jobs in the Vatican and in various universities as Professor of Made-Up Stuff.
Why is he important?
Well, Marc is the guy Ratzinger sent to Ireland as papal Legate following the exposure of the Catholic clergy’s orgy of child abuse. He’s what Tom Wolfe would have called a flak-catcher, there to take the inevitable abuse.
I didn’t hear what he said, but from the pictures, Marc could have done better for a man sent to express genuine humble contrition on behalf of the organisation he represents. .
The former archbishop of Quebec turned up dressed like a prince of the church to greet our atheist president, his well-fed belly straining against his red cummerbund as he preened in all his cardinal glory, but that’s not the real story. That’s just a hint of the man’s self-importance.
According to news reports, Marc Ouellet met victims of clerical abuse while he was on a pilgrimage to Lough Derg, which seems rather strange. Lough Derg is a place of Catholic pilgrimage and therefore I don’t know what abuse victims consented to go there and meet him at his centre of power. I can only presume that these victims are the ones who decided to remain attached to the Catholic church, despite all they suffered. Would it have been too much to ask that Marc Ouellet should go to someplace neutral, without his fancy vestments, and talk to the other victims there — the majority who turned their backs on his church forever?
When he met the victims at Lough Derg, was he dressed like a 15th Century Venetian potentate or did he wear more humble dress –jeans and sweater, for instance? I don’t know. It might well turn out that he did exactly that, but from the news reports, it doesn’t look promising. It looks as though the Vatican still thinks it has the upper hand, even though the Eucharistic Congress was a gigantic flop as far as Irish people were concerned.
Nobody turned up, in contrast to 1932 when Ireland was in thrall to the Vatican, and believers thronged the streets. The party was a flop, and yet this cardinal sought to seek forgiveness while failing to reach out to the victims who no longer have anything to do with his church. Luckily, the Irish State has finally woken up to the fact that these guys are what they are and they’ll never change. Their Canon Law has no status under our constitution and they will have real law imposed on them whether they like it or not.