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← Two avenging angels in Ireland

Two avenging angels in Ireland - Comments

Godfree Gordon's Avatar Comment 1 by Godfree Gordon

The way to finally rid the world of the major Christian religion is through compensation to its victims. Simple.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 12:46:00 UTC | #426603

Vaal's Avatar Comment 2 by Vaal

Ryan and Murphy have shown us beyond any shadow of doubt that it is time to kick religion off its pedestal - it never deserved to be up there anyway - and to start treating it exactly the same as every other human institution. If these two reports mean that we all, finally, come to realize that, then this will have been a very important news story indeed.

This final paragraph illustrates exactly why this is such an important story. I personally believe that this appalling tragedy will be something that the Catholic church in Ireland may never recover from. What concerned parent would trust their children to an organisation which puts its own reputation above its responsibility to the children in its care, and then have the bare-faced cheek and audacity to preach morality to the rest of us, when they have demonstrated the altruism of a fox (apologies to the fox).

A note should be made about the bravery and determination of junior members of the Garda to bring to light the iniquities and injustice of the church's cover-up, and of the complicity of their own superiors in this disgraceful episode.

One wonders how many priests would have resigned, had it not been for the Ryan/Murphy reports, and how many priests are still protected by this rotten institution? It stinks of the insincerity and shallowness of our own politicians when they were found with their fingers in the pie.

As you say Paula, the rank hypocrisy of crying out that they were the subject of victimisation, turning the perpetrator into the victim (based on the Islamic model) has backfired spectacularly, with no credit to the church. The back-peddling has been a marvel to behold.

The pillars of the church are crumbling, and with no help from anybody, but themselves. Keep up the good work Ratzinger, as your cult hurtles towards irrelevancy.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 13:30:00 UTC | #426613

Haymoon's Avatar Comment 3 by Haymoon

These two reports illustrate in a profound way (for Ireland at least) the utter corruption and self serving actions of the Roman Catholic church. I suspect the scene is similar in other countries. However, this organisation won't be going anywhere soon. It has been around for 2,000 years and has survived plague, reformation and wars. The only way forward for humanity is rational enlightenment based on respect for individual and communal rights and the totally fair and equal application of just law.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 13:35:00 UTC | #426615

Shane McKee's Avatar Comment 4 by Shane McKee

Paula, superb article - right on the button. There is some very real pain behind all this; these survivors of abuse have been treated appallingly. Yet the talk of the religous hierarchy (the facilitators/colluders) has all been of "how can the church survive this crisis", and generally only lip service being paid to the victims.

So long as people venerate their gods and their priests above other people, we will continue to have this warped morality. If this was a corporation, their assets would be frozen and liquidated into a compensation fund.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 13:38:00 UTC | #426617

squeegee's Avatar Comment 5 by squeegee

This is a good article and makes some good hard hitting ethical truths. It astonishes me how religion continues to get away with causing so many negative effects on society century after century without any real challenges. Any secular organisation that caused as much mayhem as the worlds religions have, would be closed down in disgrace shortly after their first homicidal faux pas had been committed.
It would be great if this piece could be plastered on the front page of the worlds newspapers to really get people talking about the affront to human dignity that religion is.
But it won't. Misguided political correctness will win the day [one mustn't criticise one's religion now must one]and instead [at least if you live in Adelaide] there will be nauseating mumblings about Australia's first saint or a the latest on a couple of visiting pandas.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 13:39:00 UTC | #426618

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 7 by SaganTheCat

The way to finally rid the world of the major Christian religion is through compensation to its victims. Simple.

I do hope so. as the son of a catholic who, like so many others are appalled at the bad publicity "a few rotten apples" have given the church I for one look forward to the day the congregation of the silent majority are passed the collection plate to help buy the vatican out of its crime.

Like anyone I'm repulsed by the actions of the individuals and the hierarchy who worked so hard to deny their guilt but while those responsible need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, those who have supported this regime should be paying in the full knowledge that it's not all about fixing the church roof or giving money to the poor.

if this were any other nation, the free world would be united in an attempt to bankrupt its dictatorship

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 13:42:00 UTC | #426621

bucklap's Avatar Comment 6 by bucklap

If the catholic church were just being started up today they would be dismissed as a cult, and government would intervene in removing them and their practises. Why is it that upon publication of this report that a full enquiry is not mounted by government to stop this endemic and systemic abuse? Surely it is time to stand up and ban this institution from being practised around the world?

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 13:42:00 UTC | #426620

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 8 by Roger Stanyard

Again, the whole business of what happened in ireland does not surprise me. When religion gets the upper hand in society, things turn very nasty, indeed.

Dairmaid MacCulloch pointed out in his recent TV series that Christianity was culpable in the holocaust. (That should put the willies uop self righteous fundies who think that Darwin was the cause of the holocaust.)

Every state has, at some time in its history, had to curb the power of organised religion.(Iran may be the next.)

My personal opinion, for what it is worth, is that the issues arise because, at heart, the Abrahamic religions are basically vile.

The Irish are finding out the hard way.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 13:53:00 UTC | #426623

Nairb's Avatar Comment 9 by Nairb

Great article Paula

Its nice to see people point out how this institution has behaved as the snake oil con artist it really is.

What is still shocking though is the relative calm and even respectful reaction of both the political parties and the general population.

And yet behaviour like this to children touches people very strongly. Where is the outrage?
No calls for confiscation of religous assets for compensation of victims, no restrictions on religous power or influence, no laws propossed to restrict religous education.
Discussion at a national level of seperation of church and state apparently is not even on the agenda.

Its a scary example of the power of Religous mind control in the 21st century.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 14:01:00 UTC | #426624

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 10 by Tyler Durden

Excellent article, Paula, nail on head!!

It's now up to the various congregations around this island to vote with their feet. Forget about the government or The Vatican taking action - the regular-workaday people need to show the Catholic Church this dispicible abuse and cover-up are the final straw.

As an aside - the latest news is that a nationwide investigation into all parishes around Ireland will take place in 2010, so expect more of the same.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 14:04:00 UTC | #426625

rokeisland's Avatar Comment 11 by rokeisland

The apologists are already commenting under her article in the Washington Post.

"but it happened 30 years ago! etc etc"

Does anyone really believe that such widespread abuse ever actually stopped£ It may have gone underground, but it is still there.

Paula is right. Religion is not and never should have been beyond criticism. No Religion. None.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 14:17:00 UTC | #426627

jel's Avatar Comment 12 by jel

this article really gets to me. the way that the church has covered this up over the years and now tries to move the story on, "it was only a relatively small number that were abused" is so disgusting that words fail me. one case of abuse is one too many and the cover up only makes it worse.

there is one person there that is trying to say that this is only an irish rcc problem! what total and utter bullshit. this has been happening for far too long all around the world.

i do not respect any religion and i do not respect religious views and it is matters like this that only confirm for me, that that is the correct and only attitude to take. religion must be subject to full scrutiny and must never be allowed to hide behind the security blanket of "respect".

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 14:45:00 UTC | #426630

LWS's Avatar Comment 13 by LWS

Paula - thanks for more great writing. You are an inspiration.

The people I meet with ties to Ireland and raise this story with have no stomach for riding themselves from the influence of the RC church. They are so emotionally bent towards submission that it is beyond their strength to speak up. Imagine being so spooked about the non existent after life that you will allow a cleric to manipulate hence they continue to send their children for indoctrination.

Say did you listen to the pretty good podcasts by William Crawley on this subject Beyond Belief, R4?

Best & happy new year, Linda

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 14:48:00 UTC | #426631

A's Avatar Comment 14 by A

I am just glad the Irish Blasphemy law was rolled into place before the rancid underbelly of the Catholic church's child rape community was peeled back.

Without this much needed law all sorts of people might be calling them the terrible cunts that they are.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 14:58:00 UTC | #426633

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 15 by Steve Zara

This is a shocking article, but in a good and important way.

I'm a bit uneasy about the connection made between members of the church living repressed lives and a lust for children. Sexual attraction to children is, I believe, a separate mental illness, and not something induced.

But that makes the situation even worse for the Catholic church: it did not screen out those with this pre-existing mental illness, and it covered up their condition when it was known, rather than passing on such people for treatment and (where necessary) prosecution if their desires were put into practice. They were effectively trying to be faith healers - handling serious mental disease through the confessional.

It is astonishing how shocking an article about this subject can be even when it just quotes the report!

This is a devastating example of how theism is dangerous. The belief that you have a connection with ultimate authority and truth can't help but justify ignoring the laws of the land and the ethics of others when you disagree with them. Theism is innately corrupting.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 15:20:00 UTC | #426635

ridelo's Avatar Comment 16 by ridelo

One of the saddest aspects of all this is that the victims most of the time feel guilty and therefore not willing to speak.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 15:56:00 UTC | #426642

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 17 by justinesaracen

Developing Steve's comments about mental disease and the clergy, I'd suggest that the clergy by virtue of its celibacy laws are already self-selecting for mental illness. Specifically, of all the possible sexual preferences, complete abstinence is the most unnatural. I am instantly suspect of an institution that attracts people who either are devoid of the desire for intimacy or who decide to repress it.
Yes, there ARE lots of would be gays in the clergy, but it is the fringe of fucked-up gays, mentally trying to choke off strong emotions with fervent prayer.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 16:04:00 UTC | #426646

JonathanWest's Avatar Comment 18 by JonathanWest

Alas, this sort of thing is by no means restricted to Ireland. I've been trying to put some pressure on the Abbot of Ealing Abbey, who is ex officio chairman of the Trust which runs St. Benedict's School in Ealing, which my son attended for a few years.

In October, Fr David Pearce, one of the monks and a former headteacher of the junior school, was jailed for 8 years for a indecent and sexual assaults against 5 boys. It is quite clear that his nature was fairly common knowledge among the boys of the school and could not have been unknown to the authorities in the Abbey. The offences stretched across a period of 36 years, and it is beyond any reasonable doubt that there are far more victims than the 5 for which he was convicted.

And yet he was protected by successive abbots, even after the school was successfully sued by a former pupil in 2006. Even today, the child protection procedures of the school (published on the school's website) appear to me to be grossly inadequate, complacent, and based on an assumption that the most likely source of abuse will be the home rather than the school.

The Trust has just been on the receiving end of a highly critical report from the Charity Commissioners, as reported yesterday in the Guardian

I've also been blogging on the subject. I met the Abbot in September, and he has refused to meet me again or to answer any emails concerning the "independent review" he has promised but about which nobody seems to have any knowledge.
My blog articles on the Abbey are here

This isn't a case of abuse of the lower classes who don't know better and won't answer back. St Benedict's school is a rich Catholic private school in a prosperous part of west London. And yet the same complacency and dedication to the church's reputation was found here, and also (until the successful civil suit) an unwillingness on the part of the police to act on complaints.

I suspect that this issue is global and I doubt that there is a Catholic parish on the planet which has not been affected by this to some extent in the last 100 years.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 16:57:00 UTC | #426651

black wolf's Avatar Comment 19 by black wolf

I hope that this is just the beginning of a landslide that will sweep all over the world, across all denominations. Already people in other European countries are becoming more willing to reveal the abuses forced upon them in their youth. I am certain that similar abuse is no less common on other continents, wherever the proponents of revealed Truth are in authority positions over children and dependant adults.

A day might come when it becomes too obvious to ignore, even by the currently complacent followers who think that a few resignations and singular convictions solve the problem. A day when the people not only let the roof stay unrepaired, but a day when they will pick up their shovels and picks and tear the foundations from the ground.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 17:51:00 UTC | #426653

FXR's Avatar Comment 20 by FXR

It should be remembered that the Murphy, Ferns and Ryan reports were cover ups in themselves. In Dublin over 135 priests were implicated but the Murphy report only concerned a sample of 47 priests.

Despite the decades of child rape and torture by the Christian brothers in 2008 they opened the Edmund Rice Heritage Centre. This building dedicated to their founder was officially opened by Bertie Ahern the former Prime Minister. He is the same man who oversaw the Indemnity Deal in 2002 which pre-empted the financial fallout and handed the bill for these crimes to the taxpayers.

He fancies being our next President.

The present incumbent, President Mary McAleese who has expressed her pious sympathy for the victims of the Catholic Church last week celebrated her daughters Vatican City.

Ireland is a country occupied by the Vatican.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 18:18:00 UTC | #426655

Daisy Skipper's Avatar Comment 21 by Daisy Skipper

Sadly, the majority of the religious will not change their behaviors after reading great articles like this. Most Christians, even Catholics, will feel that this isn't their 'brand' of Christianity.

Shane made a good observation in Comment #4 that "as long as people put their gods and priests above human life" abuse will continue. But this point, really the most important IMO, will be missed by nearly all the religious.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 18:20:00 UTC | #426656

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 22 by Paula Kirby

FXR: It should be remembered that the Murphy, Ferns and Ryan reports were cover ups in themselves. In Dublin over 135 priests were implicated but the Murphy report only concerned a sample of 47 priests.
I haven't read the Ferns report, but was extremely impressed with the thoroughness of both Ryan and Murphy, and they have both reported in such uncompromisingly critical terms that I don't think we can really accuse them of being cover-ups.

The way the 47 (later 46) priests were selected is explained in some detail in the opening section of part 2 of the report, which you can find here: 2.pdf/Files/Part 2.pdf

Remember that Murphy's remit was not to investigate whether there had been abuse, but to investigate a 'represenative sample' of accusations to see how they had been handled.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 18:40:00 UTC | #426658

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 23 by SaintStephen

Great work, Paula. Your venom in this case is completely justified.

If I were to copy your article and distribute it to every current adult member of the local Catholic church in which I formerly served as an altar boy, I'm quite certain the most common response, by a landslide no less, would be something along the lines of

"Well, we're nothing like those people here at St. Charles. What happened over there is tragic and abhorrent, but WE don't abuse children HERE."

(Unfortunately, I'm quite certain I hear my mother's own voice in this comment.) The filthy Catholic laundry that Ms. Kirby passionately hangs out to dry in this essay, would essentially be dismissed by the vast majority of the St. Charles congregation, many of them professionals with children of their own, with nothing more than a roll of their eyes and perhaps even a silent prayer to the same delusional God that sponsored this disgusting behaviour in the first place.

Now contrast this with a political scenario from the recent past, where virtually all of these same people were shocked and outraged, to the point of near-violence, in demanding (and getting) the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton, for his relatively trivial sexual indiscretions with a legal-age adult woman.

The scale of this hypocrisy simply astonishes, and clearly demonstrates just how successful organized religion has been in completely stripping otherwise thoughtful and well-meaning people of any semblance of rationality. The Catholic church has engineered a race of do-gooder zombies, who are quick to gnaw at the flesh of politicians and atheists at the drop of the proverbial hat, yet simply go brain-dead when it comes to matters involving faith and God.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 18:41:00 UTC | #426659

kev_s's Avatar Comment 24 by kev_s

I seem to remember a report which said that the money that the Irish government paid to these RCC institutions for the 'care' of the children was mostly sent on to the Vatican by the many zealous agents of that foreign state.
That was partly why the children lived in such bad conditions (in addition to being abused.)
Anyone heard any more about this aspect? Have any attempts been made to get that money back for Irish taxpayers?
I guess the mostly Catholic members of the government would not be interested. However, I'm thinking that other 'Mafiosi' style organisations have been brought down by 'following the money'. Could the EU pursue such a case if the Irish government was reluctant, I wonder? Ireland received EU grants for restructuring etc. and if the Irish government was being deceived into sinking its tax-payer's money into the Vatican I guess the EU might think its grants might not have been needed.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 19:23:00 UTC | #426666

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 25 by Stonyground

The odd thing about all this is that the Catholic Church is likely to take only a very minor hit from this exposure of the vile behaviour of its members due to the brainwashed subservience of the laity. I sense that this is a problem to commentors who would like to see the RCC implode because of all this.

Nevertheless Christianity and theism continue to lose ground every day as people everywhere become better informed and begin to realise that religion is tripe.

I think that this trend could be given a helping hand by publicising information about the actual size of the universe. Believe in a creator God if you must but how likely is it, now that you are aware of the full extent of his creation, that he has the slightest interest in your short, pointless little life.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 20:12:00 UTC | #426672

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 26 by Ignorant Amos

Brilliant article Paula.

Vaal, Tyler, I wish I had your optimism on the demise of the RCC however slowly and long it takes. Unfortunately St Stephen probably has it right....the NIMBY's are already bleating, just read that apologist bag Cunningham's comments after Paula's article. They just don't want to know how stinking and corrupt and vile the institution they've invest so much of their lives in, actually is, no matter how true. From what I could see, the crowds were there in their droves for mass at the local chapel as I strolled by on Newtons Birthday. They all seem to get better at that game of putting the fingers in the ears and giving it LA,LA,LA,LA,LA,LA, particularly when they think they are risk of it all going pear shaped.

Edit. That said, even though most of the criticism is coming from outside the RCC, the pressure should be maintained. Perhaps a few of the lesser brainwashed might be "saved".

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 20:59:00 UTC | #426674

FXR's Avatar Comment 27 by FXR

Paula Kirby: I haven't read the Ferns report, but was extremely impressed with the thoroughness of both Ryan and Murphy, and they have both reported in such uncompromisingly critical terms that I don't think we can really accuse them of being cover-ups.

I don't mean to detract from your article in any way which is very well written. But it should not be taken that these two reports represent an extensive investigation of the abuse by the Catholic Church or a blow that signals its imminent demise.

Both reports when placed in the overall scheme of things are cover ups both by being damage limitation exercises and by serving to assuage what ever public anger their might be (and there is not an awful lot of it). What is not in the reports is the ongoing and embedded Catholic network in Government that made this possible to go on for so long. This abuse went on for so long because the Church operates in Ireland as a State within the State. To understand Ryan (who was himself educated by the Christian brothers in one of their better schools) you have to go back to Justice Laffoy and her resignation. She was appointed on 23 May 2000. She resigned three years later in September 2003. That was a three year delay engineered while victims and perpetrators were aging along with the evidence.

They needed a replacement for Justice Laffoy. In December 2003 President Mary McAleese elevated Ryan to the Bench making him a High Court judge.

The Act setting up the commission to inquire into child abuse did not require this. His appointment to the High Court was outside the conditions set down in 1969 for judicial appointments. No other High Court Judge since 1969 has been appointed in this manner. (President Mary McAleese during the unfolding saga shared the same PR adviser as the Catholic Chruch.)

The problem was the conflict of interest in the way the commission was set up. The sponsoring department was the Department of Education. Laffoy resigned because the D of E had been blocking the commission by holding the purse strings. In 314 cases of abuse in Artane industrial school there are two respondents: the Christian Brothers and the Department of Education. The Department had made a deal for “mutual protection” with the religious orders which was kept secret. In effect one of the respondents was in charge of an investigation into itself. Mr. Ryan never mentioned this problem even though Mr. Ryan carried out, on behalf of the government, a review into the reasons Justice Mary Laffoy gave for her resignation.

The interviews carried out with victims under Ryan were horrific and constitute abuse in themselves. Victims were by law gagged by the Ryan commission. On the release date for the Ryan report the victims were not allowed into the room.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 21:11:00 UTC | #426676

Nairb's Avatar Comment 28 by Nairb


What you are saying is quite amazing. Have you some supporting evidence links to what you are claiming?

Some questions
What is the significance of Ryans promotion?
Is ryan a churchgoing catholic?
You put "mutual protection" in parenthesis - why?
Are their any political parties that are willing to expose the collusion or that have done so?

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 21:28:00 UTC | #426680

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 29 by Stafford Gordon

This is all too depressing; reason doesn't seem to be gaining any purchase on matters religious; the reason most likely being that reason is no part of matters religious.

Double bind? Buggered if I know!

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 21:56:00 UTC | #426683

FXR's Avatar Comment 30 by FXR

See The Irish Gulag by Bruce Arnold, and for Chruch influence over education see Why Was Ireland Poor for so Long by Prof Tom Garvin, For Church influence over politics see [Archbishop] John Charles McQuaid by John Cooney.

Eveything I said is in print. I've also talked to many victims who have describe the atmosphere inside the tribunal of inquiry.

Some months ago the Minsiter for Education referred to the women prisoners in the Magdelen laundries as "employees". In any other country he'd have had to resign. Mr O'Keefe also denied parents in an area of Dublin called Carpentertown an Educate Together school despite the fact they registered for one.

And in a show of what can only be described as monumental arrogance in 2008 the Christian Brothers opened the Edmund Rice Heritage Centre devoted to their founder. No leather straps are featured and there is no mention of child rape and torture. The ribbon was cut by Bertie Ahern under whose leadership the religious congregations were let off the hook financially in the Indemnity Deal.

Last week in Vatican City President Mary McAleese celebrated the wedding of her daughter. She uses the same PR company as the Catholic Religious orders.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 22:09:00 UTC | #426685