This week the Equality Tribunal, gave judgement against a Tralee primary school.
Damages were awarded against the school because the Head invited the police into a meeting with the child and his mother. It was meant to be a meeting to discuss the child’s educational needs, but the Head involved the police without the mother’s agreement.
I found that behaviour by the Head shocking.
Additional damages were awarded because the parish priest denied the child “Confirmation”. The mother had taken an action against the school because she felt her child was being unfairly treated. The parish priest was on the school management committee and he decided not to put the boy forward for “Confirmation”.
I found this decision by the Equality Authority shocking, and welcome. [€4,000 in all was awarded.]
I thought the “Confirmation” matter would be treated as if it was an internal affair of the Roman Catholic authorities - even though “Confirmation” is a societal rite of passage.
I reconsidered my views on the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.
I think I’ve gone through about 10 different points of view on this in my life:
(1) I was a devote practising Roman Catholic religious person, who questioned none of what the Church decreed or did.
(2) I figured out intellectually that I couldn’t actually commit a mortal sin and consequently couldn’t go to hell. This led me to stop going to Confession and to Mass.
(3) I became attracted to dialectical materialism and increasingly persuaded that all religions were distractions from the struggle to make society a better place for the living.
(4) I became completely opposed to the social power of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and did my best to undermine it in every conversation.
(5) I left Ireland and continued to oppose the social power of the Irish Church, but gradually lost my fervour.
(6) I mellowed, lost interest in opposing the Church, and developed a love of Taoist thinking, playing with it.
(7) I was taken aback at the steam of revelations about child abuse by clerics in Ireland. I don’t think I ever suspected so many children had be so abused by Irish clergy. But I wasn’t surprised to hear that bishops had done their best to cover it all up. Above all I was glad the aura of sanctity had been destroyed.
(8) Around that time, I persuaded myself that churches were really good places for burial grounds. I decided I’d like to be buried in a country churchyard, so that I could have plenty of good company and fresh air.
(9) I began to see the point of having a Catholic Church, and other Churches, so that we could have proper rituals and ceremonies to mark important stages in life. I moved back to Ireland.
(10) Now I’m beginning to think that we should fund the Churches, both privately and publicly, to do the job of facilitating the celebration of life and death.
The priest abused his position of power:
So I feel very critical of any priest, or bishop, or nun (or other religious cleric) who denies or restricts Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, Wedding, Extreme Unction, or any other religious ceremony that has an important social function - no matter the religion. [I think anyone who wants to be married in a Synagogue should be able to do it.]
Such ceremonies should be a constitutional right. And Churches should be obliged to carry them out, well.