If you want to see a classic example of intellectual dishonesty by someone purporting to be a professional, you should read Dr Marie Keenan’s article in today’s Irish Times.
It was written following a conference of clergy about something the Pope wrote: Deus Caritas Est, which translates to God is Love: not an unreasonable proposition for a bunch of clerics to be discussing, but not something to be overly certain of either, considering the state of the world.
Entitled Church must also extend compassion to clergy abusers, Dr Keenan’s article argues for more compassion to be shown to abusers:
… some of these men are met, just as the victims once were, with cold disregard by some church leaders and a harshness that is often hard to endure.
Have another look at that phrase: just as victims once were.
What does that mean, exactly? Are the abusers and the victims equivalent? Do the abusers deserve the same support as their victims? Is there no difference?
In my opinion, there’s at least one major difference: the victims were innocent, whereas the abusers are vicious criminals who attacked and defiled helpless children. This seems to have escaped Dr Keenan’s attention, but of course, Dr Keenan is a sociologist and psychotherapist — professions that have given the world the concept of neutral value-free language. The same insipid, bloodless outlook that gave us the recent notorious report on the Brothers of Charity.
Just to help Dr Keenan focus a little bit, I’ll be more blunt. Child victims deserve support. Perverts deserve jail.
Now, is that better?
The article goes on to say A little compassion would go a long way also with clergy offenders, especially when they have taken responsibility for their offences, engaged in treatment and served prison sentences.
Reality check coming up, Dr Keenan.
They didn’t take responsibility for their actions. They were caught.
They didn’t freely engage in treatment. They were forced to.
They didn’t voluntarily serve prison sentences. They were jailed.
You see, what sickens me about Marie Keenan and other apologists for criminal behaviour is their attempt to create an equivalence between abuser and abused. This, in my opinion, simply multiplies the original insult, and leaves victims feeling a bit more soiled than they already were.
At the end of the article, Dr Keenan asks, can someone please explain to me why the Dublin archdiocese has now decided to employ a retired detective sergeant to police its clergy, when these men are very obviously in need of care and compassion?
I didn’t know the diocese had made such an appointment, but it’s a welcome development, and I would have thought the answer to Dr Keenan’s question is obvious: the diocese had to hire the detective because their priests raped hundreds of children. Not a difficult equation for somebody with a big “Dr” in front of their name to work out, I would have thought. Especially a therapist who works in a church-run treatment centre for abusers.
The piece ends on a plaintive note: Does this development represent a new departure in the Dublin archdiocese’s approach to showing love?
Yes, is the answer.
And about time too.