Bishop Magee Resigns

They’re incapable of straight talk.  They just can’t do it.

Here’s an extract from John Magee’s resignation statement: —

I want to offer once again my sincere apologies to any person who has been abused by any priest of the Diocese of Cloyne during my time as bishop or at any time. To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon. As I said on Christmas Eve 2008 after the publication report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, I take full responsibility for the criticism of our management of issues contained in that report.

Why couldn’t he have said To those whom I have failed, I beg forgiveness and pardon?

Why couldn’t he have said I take full responsibility for concealing these crimes from the police?

Really, there’s just no hope for them.  None.



John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne — Resign You Fucking Bastard


Archbishop Suggests Widening of State Inquiry into Clerical Child Abuse

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, responding to the pope’s recent pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, has hinted that the official inquiry into clerical abuse should be extended.

Now, that’s all fine and dandy, and Diarmuid Martin is a decent enough fellow, but let me just point out one thing.

This whole scandal is about serious crime: organised sexual abuse of children and a conscious cover-up of that crime, as well as protection of the criminals.

Therefore, regardless of Diarmuid Martin’s undoubted bona fides, why are we waiting for a Catholic bishop to say the investigation should be extended?

Why doesn’t the government do what any responsible group of adults would do and investigate the full extent of the crime, whether the bishops like it or not?

Are they still so craven, in the face of all we now know about the activities of the Catholic church in Ireland that they must wait for the nod of assent from the organisation that committed the crimes?

While Diarmuid Martin is an honourable and decent man, he works for the organisation that actively suppressed investigation of child rapes, and hid the rapists from justice.

What does it matter, in such circumstances, what he or any of his colleagues say?  What does it matter what the pope thinks?

These are the people under scrutiny.  Let the State grow up and carry out its investigation with or without the say-so of priests whose credibility, as confirmed by their own supreme leader, has been undermined.

Time for Ireland to grow up.


The non-fighting Irish


Pope’s Pastoral Letter to Irish Catholics

As I read the Pope’s Pastoral Letter on clerical sexual abuse I was worried that he wouldn’t come up with practical ideas to deal with the problem.

After all, he correctly identified the cause of child abuse in section 4 of his letter:

In recent decades, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society.

Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values.

All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected.

Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel.

The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it.

In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations.

It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.

See?  Sex abuse started in recent decades and it was because the Irish people took up secular ways, and moved away from religion. Combined, with a  tendency to avoid a penal approach — well-intentioned, naturally.

It was our own fault and had nothing to do with Catholic priests, brothers and nuns raping children since the 1920s and before.

In section 11, he addresses the Irish bishops:

It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse.

Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations.

I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice.

Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred.

All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness.

I appreciate the efforts you have made to remedy past mistakes and to guarantee that they do not happen again. Besides fully implementing the norms of canon law in addressing cases of child abuse, continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence. Clearly, religious superiors should do likewise.

So there you have it.  The bishops made mistakes, especially in implementing church law.  The Pope seems to have overlooked mention of Irish civil law, but perhaps he’ll come back to that with another pastoral letter when he has time.

He understands how hard it was for the bishops to understand child sexual abuse but now, he wants them to continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence.  I have no doubt he’ll explain later what he means by area of competence.  I also have no doubt whatever that he’ll explain what he means by continue.

But, as I read through the letter, for all this wonderful understanding of the bishops, and for all this uplifting talk of canon law, I had a tiny doubt.  How was he going to fix things?

I needn’t have worried.  In section 14, he says, I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.


Here are the Pope’s concrete proposals to deal with the problem of clerical sexual abuse in Ireland:

  • Set aside Lent this year as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church.
  • Devote Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention.
  • Offer up fasting, prayer, reading of Scripture and works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.
  • Discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Give particular attention to Eucharistic adoration.

What a relief.  That will really get on top of the problem, won’t it?  You can just see the survivors of abuse, and their families throwing a party.  Thanks be to Jesus, they’re telling each other.  At long last we got what we needed.  Fasting, prayer, scripture reading and adoration of the eucharist.  That won’t be long getting those rapist bastards into the slammer.

Unfortunately, the Holy Father also seems to have overlooked the question of the Vatican coming up with money to help the survivors get on with their lives, but no doubt he’ll say something about that in his next letter.

I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of God’s own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32).

The Pope goes on to announce an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations.

He also proposes a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious.


It doesn’t matter that the Pope neglected to mention the Ryan report, the Murphy report, the primacy of Irish civil law over church rules, the role of the Vatican in all this abuse or the fact that some of his clergy are criminal rapists.

It doesn’t matter that the Pope fails to mention the active cover-up of crime by Irish bishops.

It doesn’t matter that the Pope thinks clerical child abuse in the 1940s was caused by the loosening of the church’s grip on people’s private relationships in the 1960s.

It doesn’t matter that the Pope thinks criminals will be caught by fasting, reading scripture and adoring the eucharist.

Our children are in safe hands.

By the way, I wonder why the Pope wrote only to the Catholics with his apology.  Do you think his letter to the non-Catholics is in the post?


Pastoral Letter


But It Was 1975!

I keep hearing people saying it was 1975 in discussion about clerical sexual abuse.

It was 1975.  We didn’t understand.  It was before the dawn of time.

We didn’t understand because it was 1975, as if 1975 was when proto-humans finally crawled out of the primeval soup.

This talk is usually to explain why the Catholic bishops didn’t tell the cops about priests raping children, as if in 1975 dinosaurs were roaming the earth.  Dreadfully, this argument has created a savage alliance between the apologists for abusers and those who are 35 or younger.

Bishops say it because it suits them, and the 35-year-olds say it because they know no better. In 1975  they weren’t born.

What the fuck is this talk about it was 1975?

Hold on a fucking second.  Listen guys.  It wasn’t 1875, or 1775.  It was after Elvis and the Beatles.

In 1975, the Sex Pistols played their first gig.  Bruce Springsteen released Born to Run.  Dylan released the astounding Blood on the Tracks and Patti Smith was rocking New York.

Bill Gates was founding Microsoft, the Birmingham Six were wrongly sentenced and the movie industry produced Jaws, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Monty Python’s Holy Grail and Dog Day Afternoon.

Don’t give me this it was 1975 shit.

That doesn’t get you off the hook for boning children.

There isn’t the same gigantic chasm separating 2010 and 1975 that there is separating 1975 and 1940, except for the bishops, admittedly, who always lived in a time warp.

But for everyone else, please.  Give me a fucking break.

You knew exactly what was going on.


Cardinal Seán Brady’s Apology

Seán Brady gave a homily today in which he addressed his handling of the rapes by Brendan Smyth.

Unfortunately, though the man seems well-intentioned, he’s still a prisoner of doublespeak and evasion, and apparently unable to state unequivocally that he did a wrong thing.

I’ll emphasise Brady’s weasel-phrases in boldface, followed by my  own suggested wording.  You can safely ignore the rest of his platitudes, but watch out for the suggested changes in wording.  They’re small but significant.

For your sanity, I’ve omitted some of the trite old waffle these people preach on auto-pilot, since it isn’t relevant to the rape cases.


This week a painful episode from my own past has come before me.

[This week a disgraceful episode from my own past has caught up with me.]

I have listened to reaction from people to my role in events thirty five years ago. I want to say to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on my part that I apologise to you with all my heart.

[I want to say to the people I hurt by my actions that I apologise to you with all my heart]

I also apologise to all those who feel I have let them down.

[I also apologise to those people I let down].

Looking back I am ashamed that I have not always upheld the values that I profess and believe in.

[Looking back I am ashamed that I did not save children from being raped.]

… we must humbly continue to deal with the enormity of the hurt caused by abuse of children by some clergy and religious and the hopelessly inadequate response to that abuse in the past.

[we must humbly continue to deal with the enormity of the hurt caused by abuse of children by clergy and religious and the cynical cover-up of that abuse in the past.]

I believe the period up to the Eucharistic Congress has to involve a sincere, wholehearted and truthful acknowledgement of our sinfulness.

[I believe the period up to the Eucharistic Congress has to involve a sincere, wholehearted and truthful acknowledgement of our crimes].

Like St. Patrick, like St. Peter, we as Bishops, successors of the Apostles in the Irish Church today must acknowledge our failings.

[Like St. Patrick, like St. Peter, we as Bishops, successors of the Apostles in the Irish Church today must acknowledge our crimes].

The integrity of our witness to the Gospel challenges us to own up to and take responsibility for any mismanagement or cover-up of child abuse.

[The integrity of our witness to the Gospel challenges us to own up to and take responsibility for our mismanagement and cover-up of child abuse].

For the sake of survivors, for the sake of all the Catholic faithful as well as the religious and priests of this country, we have to stop the drip, drip, drip of revelations of failure.

[For the sake of survivors, for the sake of all the Catholic faithful as well as the religious and priests of this country, we have to stop the drip, drip, drip of revelations of crime].

The Lord is calling us to a new beginning. None of us knows where that new beginning will lead.

Does it allow for wounded healers, those who have made mistakes in their past to have a part in shaping the future?

[Does it allow for arrogant bishops, those who have concealed crimes in their past to have a part in shaping the future?]

This is a time for deep prayer and much reflection. Be certain that I will be reflecting carefully as we enter into Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost. I will use this time to pray, to reflect on the Word of God and to discern the will of the Holy Spirit. I will reflect on what I have heard from those who have been hurt by abuse. I will also talk to people, priests, religious and to those I know and love.

Pray for those who have been hurt. Pray for the Church. Pray for me.

Crime Favourites

Seán Brady and the Brendan Smyth Sexual Abuse Cover-Up

This article was first published on the 15th March 2010.


Cardinal Seán Brady has featured in a good number of posts on this site.

In December 2006, I wrote to him here after he said that there was more coarseness in Irish society than there used to be.  In Seán’s  opinion, there was too much sexualisation of children at an early age, and how right he was.

What Seán overlooked though, was his personal involvement in silencing the victims of sexual abuse thirty years previously, when he extracted oaths of confidentiality from child-victims of the mass rapist, Brendan Smyth.  Whatever these broken children revealed to Seán and his fellow interrogators, would not be passed to the authorities.

And yet, for all that this holy man felt entitled to go on the airwaves two years ago and fulminate about the moral lapses of the general public, he seemed to have no qualms about interviewing a raped ten-year-old in 1975, a terrified child under an oath of silence, nor did he seem to have qualms about keeping this information to himself, without ever thinking to inform the police.

I’m sure that if Seán had remembered his role in this ecclesiastical investigation, he would surely not have complained that we sexualise our children these days more than we used to.  After all, if his colleague’s rape of children wasn’t an early sexualisation, I don’t know what is.

It’s ironic that Seán’s predecessor, Cardinal Cahal Daly, relied on an administrative defence when questioned about his handling of Brendan Smyth’s crimes.

As I recall, Cahal told reporters that he had no direct responsibility for Smyth because, as  a member of the Norbertine order, Smyth came under the control of the order’s authorities rather than Cahal’s.  Therefore Cahal Daly couldn’t interfere to stop the rapist from raping children.

In light of that, I’d be interested to know how and why Seán Brady was involved in interviewing children as a purely ecclesiastical matter, since the diocese didn’t have any authority over the criminal.  What exactly was the nature of this inquiry, if Cahal Daly is to be believed — and who would doubt the word of such an eminent churchman?

Years after Daly’s limp explanation for his failure to control a rapist, in a further irony, Seán Brady made a liar of him by intervening directly to prevent a member of another order, the Augustinians, from sharing a service of peace and reconciliation with a local Church of Ireland rector.

I heard a heartless old man on the radio this morning seeking to defend Brady’s moral failure by reference to Canon Law.  The condescending old cleric, Monsignor Maurice Dooley, dared to suggest that his church’s private rules take precedence over the law of the land, and had the further effrontery to suggest that the fault lay with the police for failing to catch the rapist.  This was even though Brady and his boss had failed to inform the police about what they knew concerning his crimes, and had placed a terrifying obligation on damaged children to remain silent.

Dooley went on to say that Brady committed no offence by withholding the information and perhaps that’s true.  But there’s another act on the irish statute book; the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, and this act explicitly forbids oaths designed to prevent a victim from disclosing details of a crime.

Administering unlawful oaths

17.—(1) Every person who shall administer or cause to be administered or take part in, be present at, or consent to the administering or taking in any form or manner of any oath, declaration, or engagement purporting or intended to bind the person taking the same to do all or any of the following things, that is to say:—

( a ) to commit or to plan, contrive, promote, assist, or conceal the commission of any crime or any breach of the peace, or

( d ) to abstain from disclosing or giving information of the Commission or intended or proposed commission of any crime, breach of the peace, or from informing or giving evidence against the person who committed such an act,

shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable on conviction thereof to suffer imprisonment for any term not exceeding two years.

If Brady had gone to the police in 1975 — and there seems to be good reason to suppose that they would have secured a conviction —  Smyth would not have been in a position to continue raping children for another twenty years.

But the church didn’t even go that far.  In reality, they allowed Smyth a free hand and unfettered access to children and did nothing to stop him.  By their actions, they facilitated the rapist.

These are the  men who for generations have lectured the Irish people about sexual morality.  These are the men who, over generations, made sexual transgressions the worst of all in their demonology, and yet the same men claimed not to understand that Smyth’s rape of children was wrong.

I don’t believe them.  Who could believe a word they say about anything?

Brady won’t resign, though, because, just like his colleagues, he doesn’t get it.  After all, it was only last week that a fellow bishop, Christopher Jones, was complaining about the unfair treatment of the Catholic church.   Seán Brady was a staunch supporter of disgraced bishop of Cloyne, even going so far as to suggest that John Magee should be allowed to remain in office for the protection of children.

Get that now: Cardinal Seán Brady, who personally interviewed raped children and placed them under oath not to speak about the crimes of the man who defiled them, last year defended a bishop who ignored the complaints of rape victims.

Be clear about this.  Seán Brady questioned small children about the precise details of how a grown man in clerical garb touched their bodies, penetrated them and ejaculated all over them.  Brady wrote it all down and swore the children to secrecy but was not sufficiently outraged to tell the police about these crimes.

What a mighty man.

This is the individual who suggested that John Magee, the bishop who ignored rape victims, was suitable to implement child-protection measures.

Why would anyone imagine such a character would resign?


Pledge signed by abused children (according to UTV news):

I will never, directly or indirectly, by gesture, word, writing or in any other way, and under any pretext, even that of a greater good or of a highly urgent and serious reason, do anything against this fidelity to secrecy, unless special permission or dispensation is expressly granted to me by the Supreme Pontiff.


Note from the Catholic Communications Office to clarify media reporting on Cardinal Seán Brady – 16 March 2010

* The State’s first Child Abuse Guidelines came into effect in 1987 and the Church’s first guidelines Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response, were published in 1996.

* In late March 1975, Fr Seán Brady was asked by his bishop, Bishop Francis McKiernan, to conduct a canonical enquiry into an allegation of child sexual abuse which was made by a boy in Dundalk, concerning a Norbertine priest, Fr Brendan Smyth.

* Fr Brady was then a full-time teacher at St Patrick’s College, Cavan. Because he held a doctorate in Canon Law, Fr Brady was asked to conduct this canonical enquiry; however he had no decision-making powers regarding the outcome of the enquiry.

Bishop McKiernan held this responsibility.

* On 29 March 1975, Fr Brady and two other priests interviewed a boy (14) in Dundalk. Fr Brady’s role was to take notes. On 4 April 1975, Fr Brady interviewed a second boy (15) in the Parochial House in Ballyjamesduff. On this occasion Fr Brady conducted the inquiry by himself and took notes.

* At the end of both interviews, the boys were asked to confirm by oath the truthfulness of their statements and that they would preserve the confidentiality of the interview process. The intention of this oath was to avoid potential collusion in the gathering of the inquiry’s evidence and to ensure that the process was robust enough to withstand challenge by the perpetrator, Fr Brendan Smyth.

* A week later Fr Brady passed his findings to Bishop McKiernan for his immediate action.

* Eight days later, on 12 April 1975, Bishop McKiernan reported the findings to Fr Smyth’s Religious Superior, the Abbot of Kilnacrott. The specific responsibility for the supervision of Fr Smith’s activities was, at all times, with his Religious Superiors. Bishop McKiernan withdrew Brendan Smyth’s priestly faculties and advised psychiatric intervention.

[Note: the Abbott took no action against Smyth.  The bishop subsequently permitted  him to resume duties as a priest in the diocese.]



William Crawley

Colm O Gorman


Unfair to Pick on Church Over Child Abuse, Says Bishop Christy Jones

You’d think, wouldn’t you, after all that has been said and done, after all that has been revealed, after all the angst, the suffering, the investigations and revelations that the Irish bishops might finally start to get it.

You might reasonably imagine that this bunch of supposedly adult, mature clerics might at long last realise what a disaster they have created by their arrogance and their stupidity.

You might have thought that they’d finally grasp the opportunity to set things straight, make restitution and in all humility set about rebuilding their church to serve the people.

You might have assumed all these things, but you’d be wrong.

Bishop of Elphin, Christy Jones, spoke to the  media at the end of a two-day meeting of the bishops, their very first plenary conference after the horrors of the Murphy report on clerical abuse were revealed.

Christy said that child abuse is being covered up throughout society and couldn’t see why the Catholic church was being singled out.  According to the bishop, 95% of child abuse is happening in the home and has been going on for centuries.  He can’t understand why the Catholic church is being picked on and singled out.

Now, this is normally the part where I blow my top and start calling the bishop a gobshite, an idiot, an arrogant, overbearing fool and a danger to children.

But not this time.

I’m so staggered by this man’s detachment from reality that I’ll just end here and leave you to ponder the significance of such a statement coming from a bishops’ conference that was supposed to be contemplating the meaning of the Murphy and Ryan reports on clerical child sex abuse.

In the past, when I said, they just don’t get it, I was hoping that perhaps one day the penny would drop, but after this, I’m afraid there’s no hope for these old guys.

They didn’t get it.  They don’t get it.  They won’t get it.

They are a danger to our children.

Time to kick them out and take control of the schools we pay for.


Bishops and Backhanders

Let’s say you’re an Irish Catholic bishop.  And let’s say you’re stuck for money, as a result of all those claims by the victims of your priests.

Let’s say you’re desperate.  If you don’t find cash soon, you might be forced to sell off all the accumulated wealth around you.  Heaven forfend, you might even be forced to live in an ordinary house like the common people.

You have a brilliant idea.  You have two brilliant ideas  — the only original notions you’ve had in your entire life, since you were taken over by the church at the age of fourteen.

Suddenly all your angst is forgotten.

Suddenly it matters nothing that you have no emotional life, that you know nothing of the real world, that you have no children, that you’ve never been laid, that the faithful no longer swallow your platitudes, that you have no understanding of human relations, that you don’t believe the religious nonsense you’ve been peddling since you were a guilty adolescent or that you’re slowly going mad from alcoholism and rage at the waste of your life in pursuit of a lie.

Suddenly, you’re a star again, just like in the old days when people took you seriously.

The first brilliant idea is to levy a charge on the schools controlled by your proxies, the parish priests, which are paid for by the government.  You’ll take money from the schools — taxpayers’ money — to cover your costs in running the schools, even though you don’t do anything for the schools.  That will pay for at least one or two abusing priests.

God how you envy those abusing priests.  You wonder what it feels like to be close to another human being, even a child.  You admire them.  You want to make sure they’re all right, and so you take money from the schools as your Christian duty.  Imagine being that close to another human being.

You envy them, and you wonder again what being close to another human being is like, but then you start to get hot and bothered, which is not good for a man of your age.

And that’s when you get your second brilliant idea.

Schools need insurance, and schools are paid for by the government.

What about doing a deal with one or two insurance companies?

What about instructing your proxies, the parish priests who control the schools, to direct  government money towards one or two favoured insurance companies to the exclusion of all the others?

It’s easy, since the parish priests control the schools by fear and bullying, and since all the teachers are afraid of them for fear of losing their jobs, even though the government pays all the costs.

Nobody is going to complain.  It’s a nice deal.

And so the schools all take out their insurance with the same two insurance companies, and the companies show their gratitude to you with a modest donation to your abuse compensation fund (and perhaps to the occasional new car).

You get to keep all your properties.  The abuse claimants get paid.  The schools get insured.

Everyone’s a winner except the taxpayer, but that doesn’t bother you too much since you don’t owe your allegiance to this country anyway.

Nice one, bishop!


Are you Paying off the Catholic Church’s Child Abuse Debts?

There was much consternation recently when the Bishop of Ferns asked parishioners to help him to pay off the debts incurred, because some of the priests in the parish abused children.

Most people were of the view that this was more denial from the church, and a demonstration of unbelievable cheek.

However, you might be contributing to this fund, without even realising it.

Well, if you are a tax payer, then some of your tax euros go towards running our schools. For example, paying teachers, buying resources and paying bills in general.

That’s fine, you say?

Yes, but did you know that schools are now being asked to pay a “Diocesan Contribution”?  Some Dioceses have asked for this payment for a few years, while others have started more recently.


Yes, the Diocese sends out a letter to primary schools with a “request” for €1 (more in many places) per pupil in the school. They follow up with a phone call (I have been told) if the money is not paid.

If asked, the Diocese will probably tell you that this is to cover the cost of running our schools.

What costs?

The Department of Education and Science cover every cost.  The Catholic Church has the power, but the taxpayer foots the bills.

The Diocese might then tell you that it is to cover the cost of examining Religion in our schools every year.

Should the tax payer (through the school) fund that?

Should school principals throw this “bill” into the bin?  That’s very difficult when the Chairperson of the Board of Management (the boss) is a priest, and an “employee” of the person sending out this bill (Bishop), and will probably insist on paying it.

Is this “Diocesan Contribution” going towards paying off child abuse debts?
I do not know.

Probably, yes, in one way or another, directly or indirectly.

How do you feel about that?


Age of Consent in the Vatican is 12

It seems that the age of sexual consent in the Vatican City is 12.


In the Vatican, apparently, you can have sex with a child of twelve without attracting the attention of the authorities.

This explains a lot.  In fact, this explains everything.

Wouldn’t you agree?