I have just been reading about the report commissioned by the Irish Government into the scandal of the Roman Catholic Church in Dublin. The report blames four Archbishops and a host of lower clergy for covering up clerical abuse, both physical and sexual, of children over the years between 1975 and 2004.
Perhaps worst of all, it blames the Garda Siochana, the Irish police, for covering the crimes that were reported to them, and leaving the Church to deal with the offenders in their own way. Amazingly, the Church’s remedy was simply to move the offending priest elsewhere to start all over again. It seems that the Garda felt that priests were above the law because they were The Church, and so they carried on their evil protected by the law. Crimes reported to them by children and parents were simply referred to the Church authorities.... and from there ignored.
The report concluded that the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church and the preservation of its assets was more important than justice for its victims.
The Irish Justice Minister, Dermot Ahern, has promised that there will be no hiding place for the perpetrators of the crimes. Justice, he said, has been delayed, but will not be denied. Hopefully the Church will be giving every co-operation to trace the priests who were guilty and who are still alive. But I wait to see if this will actually happen. They had, it seems, tried to take out insurance against the claims which might arise from this abuse. It might have been better for them just to stop the abuse, rather than insure against its financial cost.
It seems to me that it unhealthy for the Church or its clergy in any country to be above the law, as it was, and they were, in Ireland. The untold damage that has been done to children may yet manifest itself in further disturbed behaviour.
When will the authorities at the very top of the Church, I mean the ones in the Vatican, act to stamp out this vile behaviour?