Two friends are chatting over a pint and and one of them is trying hard to explain what a Freudian slip is.
Look, he says. It’s when you mean to say one thing, but something completely different comes out.
Give me an example, says the other guy.
All right, he says. This morning, I was having breakfast with my wife, I meant to say “Pass the salt, my darling”, but instead I said “You bitch, you ruined my life!”
Poor old Bishop Kirby of Clonfert is a martyr for the Freudian slips. Only a month ago, he was telling us that he used to think child abuse was nothing more than a friendship that crossed a boundary line, when of course, what he really meant to say was I knew damn well it was a crime, but I wasn’t going to admit it.
And then he told us that he had moved an offending priest to a new parish but that he was unaware of any more child abuse happening. But of course, as we discover thanks to the Irish Times, what Bishop Kirby really meant to say was that he knew of sixteen more children the priest had abused, nine before he was moved and seven more in his new parish, because that priest had admitted it to his face when he visited him in prison.
And of course, when the bishop said as follows:
I literally thought, and you can put it down as gross innocence and naivety, that if I separated the priest and the youngster that it was a friendship that crossed the boundary line …
What he really meant to say was this:
I wasn’t separating a priest from one youngster. I now know perfectly well that he raped nine children before I moved him, because he told me so himself. Sorry for the mental reservation.
But I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make when you’re as prone to Freudian slips as Bishop Kirby seems to be.
From his statement the same day, Bishop Kirby informed us that
I profoundly regret and apologise for moving the priests concerned to different parishes thereby placing others at serious risk … Whilst no further abuse has been reported, this act was a grave mistake on my part. I operate very differently now and will continue to do so in the future.
Of course, when he said no further abuse had been reported what he really meant was that he knew of 22 children who were abused, before and after he moved the priests around, including one child abused by a priest officiating at his father’s funeral. But again, it’s an easy mistake to make.
No further abuse. Twenty-two children abused. You can see how a bishop might get mixed up, especially when he’s struggling to overcome a major Freudian problem.
In his special message to the people of his diocese, Bishop Kirby said There is no question but that I made serious mistakes in the early to mid-1990s by moving two priests who had abused into different parishes. Of course he meant four priests, not two, but that’s only a detail, right?
And then he goes on,
Whilst I am not aware of any abuse allegations from the parishes to which they were moved, it is important for you to know that I operate very differently now and will continue to do so in the future.
It happened to me earlier today. I meant to praise Bishop Kirby for his courage and honesty, but somehow ended up calling him a miserable liar.
Damn those Freudian slips.