This week the Irish Catholic Church published its policy on child protection…
Brian Lenihan, Minister for Children, and the Irish Society for the Protection of Children (ISPCC) welcomed the alledgedly “new” policy. I suspect they’d seen the policy in advance and were primed to respond positively.
Maureen Lynott, who chaired a working group which attempted unsuccessfully to advise the church in 2004, also gave the “new” policy her support.
But, there have been critics:
Colm O’Gorman from One in Four, a charity for people who have been sexually abused,
Marie Collins, a member of the unsuccessful working group
Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos in Ireland
Margaret Kennedy, Minister & Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivor (UK)
Mary Raftery, Irish Times columnist
These have criticised the policy on the grounds that it does not compel church authorities to report every allegation of sexual abuse to the garda.
In today’s Irish Times, Bishop Colm O’Reilly, who chairs the Catholic Church’s steering group on child protection, writes a defence of the “new” policy.
At least there is a debate going on…
Two things strike me:
(1) No editorial in the Irish Times so far
I expected an editorial on such an important issue.
(2) No politician seems to have commented (except for the Minister)
I suppose there are no votes on taking a stance on this.
It would not be fair for me to say much because I’m not up to speed on the extent of clerical sexual abuse.
But the Ferns Report shocked me. So many children raped by priests and brothers. So many members of the Irish Catholic Hierarachy complicit, facilitating the abuse by moving their staff around.
But the full extent of the sexual abuse is not yet out in the open. Will we ever know how many clergy raped children?
The Irish Catholic Church is impressive…
in so many ways. It provided so many social institutions and services. It educated so many people. It held so much formal and informal power. It led Irish Catholics so comprehensively that so many feared to speak any criticism or alternative views. You have to admire such success and admit that its recent fall from power has opened up a sort of vacuum. Secular power is a messy affair in comparison with clerical power.
I trust the Catholic Church to do one thing well: look after its own interest. I trust the church to strive to protect its reputation and influence. Everything I hear a bishop say I trust to be an attempt to save the church from more disgrace.
I have not read the “new” policy. I trust it to be designed to protect the image and influence of the church.
Bishop Colm is a propagandist, every bit as much as the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Sean Brady, was at the launch of the “new” guidelines.
We all have an interest in this debate. Those who are not clergy would do well to look out for their own interest. The Irish Catholic Church will look after its own employees.