Response to clerical abuse report - a couple of letters in the Irish Times
From the Irish Times
Madam, – Niall O’Donohoe (December 7th) referred to Prof Neil O’Doherty’s lecture in 1980 concerning sexual abuse of children and the resulting severe criticism Prof O’Doherty received for even suggesting such things were happening in Ireland of that time.
Now I feel strongly that it is in the context of that time and later that this issue should be studied and not the partially media driven witch-hunt and scapegoating of auxiliary bishops of Dublin past and present. Truth and justice is not served in such scapegoating.
As was revealed, of course serious errors of judgment were made by the church authorities, but they were made in the context of the time. This is not by way of making excuses for the great damage that so many suffered by these crimes of depravity committed by men who totally betrayed the scared trust given to them at ordination.
Less than 20 years ago most educated people had never heard of the word paedophilia. As far as I am aware, professional and statutory bodies did not know how to deal with the problem when it arose. The judiciary would give out suspended sentences with a warning to offenders. The social services and Garda would often ignore information given to them of allegations in their area. They were extremely hesitant to intrude into the privacy of a family where such abuse might be happening.
The psychological/psychiatric professions sent offenders on treatment programmes and would often certify such people back to their location, or ministry in the case of priests, not realising that a very high percentage reoffended.
Finally. the Department of Education more often than not ignored very abusive teachers in primary and secondary schools throughout the country for decades and teachers’ unions likewise did very little to remove such teachers.
It was only about 15 years ago, when survivors of abuse felt free to tell their stories and be heard in the process, that it finally dawned on society – and not just the church – how appalling a crime sexual abuse is and the great damage it has caused.
Of course one can say the leaders in the Catholic Church should have known better, but in the context of the time they unfortunately did not. They failed – as other professions likewise failed. If bishops have to resign, then, in justice, leaders of other professions and statutory bodies who made serious errors of judgment in this matter should likewise resign. – Yours, etc,
DR GP LEWIS,
Milltown, Dublin 6.
I hope Cardinal Brady read Dr Lewis's letter because it's bang on the money. The temper of those times - the 60s and 70s from when a lot of the child abuse scandals date, is something to which this blog has drawn attention. Quite simply attitudes to sex-abuse then were very different to those which prevail today, though it suits the commentariat and career "sex abuse victim advocates" to ignore that fact. Brady shouldn't not allow himself to be forced out by a media-driven witchhunt, the expressed child-centred sentiments of which stink to high heaven of insincerity.
Next an unintentionally revealing epistle by a Rosemary O'Keefe, from County Donegal. O'Keefe intends her missive to be yet another shouty-bollox rant against the Church but she throws in a short sentence which changes the whole effect of her letter. Something makes me suspect she's a not-the-sharpest-knife-in-the-drawer type of person.
Madam, – My first job as a young teacher in 1975 was in the Girls’ National School in Cromcastle Green, Coolock, Dublin. I worked there for four years.
Noel Reynolds was the curate in the area and was often in the school. I didn’t pay much attention to him. He was said to be very “charismatic”. I thought he was quite an ugly-looking, boring man and had nothing much to say to him. Little did I know that he was a paedophile preying on young girls, possibly even some of the lovely little girls in my class. I doubt if I had even heard the word paedophile then.
It makes my blood boil to know that he had access to those children through the school and that he and others like him were being moved around to schools and hospitals prowling on children.
It’s time indeed to separate church and State. – Yours, etc,
Ramelton, Co Donegal.
Hat tip: Shane on Damian Thompson's comments box, where he also pointed out that "Der Spiegel (founded by a committed Nazi) has offered €1 million to the first person who accuses the Pope of sexual abuse." Tasteful or what? Shane's blog looks very well worth a read, by the way. Check it out, here.