Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Archbishop is not pleased!

To be told, "John Charles [Archbishop McQuaid] is not pleased!" was enough to quell not only the clergy of his own diocese of Dublin but the rest of clergy Ireland. Archbishop McQuaid was the worst kind of ecclesiastical bully and did much to reduce the clergy of Ireland to quivering 'yes men'. I am sure one of the reasons behind the Holy Father's call for parrhesia, is the realisation that without open and fearless speech on the part of the clergy, a culture of cover-up and bullying results, in which clergy are simply afraid to speak out, to ask questions and above all to demand answers and clarification. As members of the Presbyterate this is a key priestly function.

This is precisely what did not happen in the Irish child abuse scandal and in the even greater scandal, the episcopal cover-up that followed it, Except possibly in the most deformed form of Ultramontanism bishops, even the Bishop of Rome, are not above question or ever admonishment, No bishop is called to act alone but always with his 'co-workers' his priests. The great beauty of the Catholic Church is that between priest and bishop, despite the titles we might invent and the various bodies we put in place, there is actually no intermediary, the same with bishops and the Pope. 

McQuaid was not alone but some fifty years after his death. it is easy to make him emblematic of a style of episcopacy that today should be regarded as deeply sinister, that replaced the father-son relationship of bishop and priest based on a communion of charity with fear and intimidation, making the bishop more like a mafia boss than a humble disciple of Christ, and making priests into cowed and silent prisoners than disciples. In this country, we actually used to speak of the 'Irish Mafia', which was often a very real power of intimidation within dioceses, it often took the Dublin model of episcopal authority. I remember a young priest being told by episcopal favourite, a leading member of our Mafia, 'I can tell you I have the bishop's ear in this matter'. The young priest replied, 'Really? Then give it back to him Monsignor before he notices'. It was a throw away remark which quickly went round the diocese, and rather quickly led to this particular Monsignor's fall from credibility and power.
For years there have been questions about the theological and consequently moral formation of students for the priesthood at Maynooth, Various bodies have been set up to answer, or as is the way of the Church, not answer questions. There is an interesting article here which shows the rather interesting structures that are set in place to assess student's complaints, which seem more about deflecting and delaying them and ensuring the President is distanced from those who complain, rather than answering them.

The rather ridiculous press statement from Fr Hoban's Association of Catholic Priests reflects that frightening concern of priests of a certain vintage for the institution, rather than a concern for victims of abuse, or a desire for truth. It begins with, "The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) regrets that the seminary at Maynooth College has become a focus of unfair and unwarranted attention," The jury, from what has come to public attention, isd still out on whether the atention is either 'unfair' or 'unwarranted'. It ends with words so reminiscent of the bishops and others over child abuse scandals, "The damage this controversy will do to Maynooth is not in the best interest of the Irish Church."

I don't know if there is a gay culture at Maynooth others can comment on that, what I am concerned about is the abusive culture which seeks to silence questioning and close down debate and place certain people in the Church above intelligent and charitable questioning. This is real sickness within the Church, as far as Maynooth is concerned from the very beginning of a seminarians life there seems to be an attempt to enculturate them into something even more unpleasant and dehumanising than 'gay culture', a culture where obedience to an institution is supposed to take the place of honesty and truth. It is this terrible obedience that opens the door to every kind evil.


sacerdos said...

Recall the criticism John Cooney was subjected to, when he published his biography of McQuaid.But time revealed thatt he was correct concerning the archbishops sexual preferences.

Éamonn said...

There are many Catholics here in Ireland who have "a plague on both your houses" attitude. The ACP is no friend to those who want to be faithful Catholics but then Patsy McGarry/The Irish Times certainly aren't either; much of the crazier stuff is being peddled by self styled "Bishop" Pat Buckley. I will be sad to see Maynooth go, as it surely will, sooner or later since it has done much good. But you're right about the culture there - it's a bit like Bertram's Hotel in Agatha Christie's eponymous novel.

GOR said...

Father, your view of John Charles McQuaid is not shared by the thousands of poor people assisted by his social outreach in Ireland and England, nor by those who received an education due to his efforts.

The unsupported allegations of Mr. Cooney were scurrilous and have been debunked by historians and those who were closest to the Archbishop. They are indicative of the venom of the pusillanimous towards the dead and defenseless. It has become commonplace to trash the reputations of others through false accusations of child abuse.

That John Charles was rigid and authoritarian is not in dispute. No one claims he was a saint. Like all of us he had his faults and failings. But I, for one, would be happy if I could claim a fraction of the good that he did.

Ignatius O'Donovan said...

Sacerdos. I am no spear bearer for the bishops. Not a shred of evidence has to my knowledge been produced about J C McQuaid and his sexual preferences. I know he was a narrow autocratic bully . However John Cooney while making many allegations has never produced credible evidence regarding McQuaids sex life.

Fr Iggy O Donovan

Jacobi said...

Parrhesia is long overdue but may I suggest the Holy Father's remark might also apply to informed concerned laity?
New young clergy are OK. A dig at our priest' s boss on Sunday will get back and earn a chuckle, no more. Trouble is, there are not many of their ilk!

The Church continues to decline. All of us, must step back, and discuss. But counter-forces are at work. I hear that the CH has formally withdrawn comment. Some six examples of this now I can think of.

This puts strain on those of you prepared to continue, so take it easy! Without the like of you we laity will be back in the sixties, naive, trusting and completely misled by heterodox elements waiting to seize their chance.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I seem to recall it was ultra liberal canon lawyer Monsignor Sheehy who came in for most criticism by the Murphy report. One of the sneakiest achievements of the liberal mafia running many dioceses around the World was to use conservatives as the fall guys for the sex abuse scandals.

geneticallycatholic said...

@Jacobi, what does CH stand for?

Maria Anna said...

"Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses." Timothy 5:19

Jacobi said...

@ g c

Catholic Herald. A UK based Catholic magazine.

Carol said...

Dear Fr Blake,
I fear that you have grossly maligned the memory of Archbishop McQuaid whose Episcopal motto Testimonium Perhibere Veritati (“to bear witness to the truth”) encapsulates the integrity of his life’s work in the Church. As a native of Dublin who grew up under the reign of Archbishop McQuaid in the 1940s and 50s, I can testify to his qualities of leadership which contributed to making Ireland the Catholic country it was before Vatican II. It was through his personal intervention and vigilance that the Faith was taught at Maynooth and in all educational establishments for young people and children, convents were full and the large majority of the population attended Sunday Mass.

Your depiction of him as a control freak or bogeyman of the Irish Church has all the ingredients of a soap opera. It is a caricature invented by the liberals who rejected the Church’s moral teachings: they never forgave him for his heroic support of Humane Vitae in 1968, and for his public condemnation of contraception. And they continue to slander his name to this day.

In ruling his flock and exerting discipline among his clergy, Archbishop McQuaid was simply doing what every good Bishop should do, and as a result there was no clergy abuse crisis or gay culture at Maynooth under his watch. But he paid the price of persecution by those who resented his moral stance. I would say he exercised his office to the point of heroic sanctity.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I find your comment highly disturbing, 'one cannot do (lasting) good through evil means', bullying, threats, political factionalism are not a good basis for building a (lasting) Christian community, they are the ways of the world not of the Lord.

You seem to see Catholicism in terms of cultural structures rather than in terms of fidelity to the Gospel. Therein is the 'feet of clay' of Irish Catholicism, which has led to the present evils of today.

GOR said...

Father, as I have said in the past I hold you in high regard as a priest and PP. However, you appear to have a blind spot when it comes to Irish clergy and ‘Irish Catholicism’ in general. As with many others, I suspect it may come from media exposure rather than personal experience.

That the Irish hierarchy failed badly in the abuse crisis is true – but they were hardly alone as we have found out about other countries, Britain included. That Irish Catholicism was ‘rigid’ (I think you would say Jansenist, right?) might have something to do with our history, don’t you think? Perhaps a little ‘Victorian’ even?

You should not tar a whole people with the same brush. There are good, bad and a lot of in between everywhere. I’d take a John Charles over some other Irish and British hierarchs - past and present - any day!

John Fisher said...

The Irish College in Rome is no different from Maynooth. I had good friend there in the 1980's who suffered greatly. Seminarians paired off and have you seen the shaker meeting room they call a chapel? The banal college clergy just lingered and ignored the obvious. it is true obedience and following orders was the norm and when in more recent times in reaction those issuing the orders were Modernists the methods remained but the core was rotten. Injustices were supposed to be offered up along will the misery and duplicity good and bad seminarians had to develop to cope. The feet were in the mud and even the body and rather like Manicheans it didn't matter if their was "faith". Allen Hall, seminaries in Australia, the USA seminarians were sexually active but hid it long after ordination leaving before or after.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Obviously you could be right. however the Irish Church's fall is reasonably well documented, both by the secular media but also the Church itself, as well as judicial reports and court proceedings. It is also the only national Church that a recent Pope has ordered a 'Visitation', and suggested a schema for healing. In that it is an exception, as it is in its influence in English speaking world for both good and ill, in that sense we have all experienced it.

Again. I find it worrying that criticism of it immediately raises, a circling of the wagons to defend it, at least in certain circles.

geneticallycatholic said...

@ Jacobi: thank you.

@ Sadie Vacantist, you posted: "One of the sneakiest achievements of the liberal mafia running many dioceses around the World was to use conservatives as the fall guys for the sex abuse scandal. "

Yes, in America, the bishops first let homosexual priests into the priesthood, then, as elsewhere, covered up, and then finally when the lawsuits started coming, [with some people accusing priests just to get 'the easy money'], these bishops covered their hinnies, with the Dallas Charter. Accused priests are now rarely allowed due process as per canon law in the USA.

Below is an excerpt from today's post by a wrongfully imprisoned priest, Fr. Gordon MacRae. [He has been in prison in the USA for the last 23 years. He has no access to a computer, but sends his posts via snail mail to friends, who email it to his a friend and editor in Australia. A post is published every Wednesday].

"I wrote last week of the crushing injustice of false witness, of the greed enabled by the now broken trust between priests and their bishops, and of the sense of utter hopelessness found in the prospect of unjust imprisonment. The events I described in “How Father Benedict Groeschel Entered My Darkest Night” took place a year before my trial. During that year came the multiple attempts to entice me into lenient “plea deals” – first offers to serve one-to-three years, and then one-to-two.

My refusal of these deals was met not just with condemnation from the State, but from the Church, or at least from those charged with the administration of my diocese. After I refused these convenient deals, my bishop and diocese released unbidden a statement to the news media pronouncing me guilty before jury selection in my trial."

You can read the rest here:


MartinT said...

I have followed this post and comments with interest. It is easy to blame the past for living by its own standards, but I can see how the pre-Conciliar Church brought about its own self-immolation. McQuaid's Church was superficially very successful - disciplined, ordered and prosperous. As in England, it was on the surface a golden age of packed churches and seminaries. But it was all on surface - a house built on sand which crumbled as soon as it was challenged by the progressive tide of the 60s. We are all living with the consequences.

GOR said...

Father, when it comes to Maynooth I do not defend it or the Trustees who have allowed the current rottenness. I can’t speak from experience, as I never studied there. But I well recall the criticisms of Monsignor Patrick Cremin, Professor of Moral Theology and Canon Law there – and a Peritus at Vatican II – and that was in 1978!

Then the treatment of Fr. McGinnity - likewise a Maynooth professor – who sought to redress the immorality there but was ousted, while one of the culprits, Monsignor Ledwith, was promoted to President.

As Carol noted, this would not have been tolerated under John Charles’ watch. That the majority of the current bench of Irish bishops still refuse to admit that a problem exists, speaks volumes. But, that said, the Catholic Church in Ireland is more than the episcopacy or the Maynooth faculty.

And that is the main point of my criticism.

Matthew Roth said...

But would not the abusive clergy have largely come from Maynooth?

whiteowl whiteowl said...

Well said. The house was already crumbling. Well before vat 2. If the church was solid vat 2 wouldn't have happened. All the talk if a golden age is indeed quaffle.

Ma Tucker said...

A person can fall from grace in a single moment. There is no gradualism in the turn from God. There is of course accelerating descent into the pit.

Pope Benedict was fully versed with regard to the Irish situation. AB McQuaid was the last to protect the flock using canon law. After his passing Pope Benedict pointed out that there was a new breed of thought regarding sin and an ignoring of canon law. Effectively the rats ran riot. This was not only restricted to Ireland. It was endemic throughout Europe and America.

Certainly the respect, honour and obedience with which the clergy were held delayed timely reaction when the rats started to feed. However the reason why the Catholics were slow to believe the rats were feeding was because up until then the clergy were respectable, honourable and worthy of obedience. It was simply unbelievable.

AB McQuaid built a staggering number of schools and churches thanks to the great honour respect and love in which he was held. Sure the media were terrified of him. Sure the disgusting little rats who wanted to feed off the flock trembled in their dirty little boots when they came under his censure. The fact of the matter is no good men feared him and the poor loved his solicitude. Obedience to the good is a joy to a good man and a millstone to the evil. May the great man rest in piece.

Snakes are always in want of a crushing heel. Koochy Koo does not work with them.

Physiocrat said...

There could be no better place for the devil to do his business than in a seminary for priests.

John Fisher said...

In my own country it was the silly Irish robot like obedience that was hi jacked and used to impose all the rubbish we have had for the last 60 years. The notion of obedience was used to destroy the Church. It was a type of ritual suicide, or Nuremburg defence in which we have all been told to follow orders... Many have just given up. I am sick of it all. We are told to accept Francis though a little cabal of men like Daneels plotted the election. Orders don't get followed and certainly the loss of continuity has weakened the Church. It was internal and it was infernal. Only an appeal to the authentic to coninuity will save us.

Carol said...

Archbishop McQuaid deserves the respect due to a priest who has spent an arduous life devoted to the care of souls. One should be slow to read evil motives into his actions – bullying, threats, political factionalism, as Fr Blake has implied. He used Canon Law for no other purpose than to fulfill the Gospel mandate of Our Lord to feed His sheep and rule the flock entrusted to him. He held canonical trials for priests accused of sexual abuse of minors and applied the defrocking sanction against anyone found objectively guilty of what Canon Law termed the "worst crime" – no second chance given. Some called him “inhumane”.
When he dismissed from teaching positions anyone spreading heretical ideas at secondary school or university level, they called him “oppressive and fanatical”. Significantly, in 1971 the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops chose as his successor Dermot Ryan whom he had once fired for teaching Liberation Theology at the Holy Cross seminary in Dublin. Ryan was the arch-progressive who undid all of McQuaid’s policies with immediate effect, destroyed high altars, introduced people-centred liturgies and neo-modernist catechesis and allowed the clergy abuse scandal to accelerate.
When he refused to allow family planning clinics, the feminists called him a male chauvinist bullying women into a life of misery. His efforts to suppress ecumenical get-togethers earned for him the unjust tile of “bigot”.
In the political field, he was no Ayatollah Khomeini who only had to snap his fingers and have his ministers come running to his beck and call. He was in fact out-manoeuvred several times by the “slippery” De Valera. His only aim was the spiritual health of the nation and that no government policies should contravene the Divine Law.
There is one point that no one has mentioned so far – the rise of the National Bishops’ Conferences in the 1960s which effectively stifled the responsibility of individual Bishops to rule their dioceses. McQuaid was frustrated in all his efforts to use Canon Law by the “collective” decision of the Irish Bishops who enforced a more “pastoral” approach to clergy misdemeanours and Church governance. He no longer had the co-operation of his Chancery office or even of the Roman dicasteries who were all influenced by the Vatican II brand of liberalism. Surely this should be taken into account as a major factor in the collapse of Irish Catholicism.

momangelica said...

Fr. Rey. Just before all this came out in the papers I spend a day travelling with a young man who is studying for the priesthood, he told me of his time spend in Mayooth and how he had to leave. It is all as they say. It was a very sad conversation, he is somewhere else now. I pray all the time for our seminarians.

Carol said...

Momangelica, I may be able to throw some light on the young man’s experience at Maynooth which might explain how things went from bad to worse there from the time of Vatican II to the present. Mgr Patrick Cremin, Professor of Moral Theology and Canon Law at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, gave a series of interviews to the Irish Independent in November 1978, denouncing the pastoral negligence of the National Conference of Bishops and the consequent decline in doctrinal and moral standards in that institution.
The main points he made were:
Firstly, the body of Bishops acting collegially “have not taken the necessary steps to protect our Catholic Faith and Teaching, by ensuring that, in Ireland, professional theologians and pseudo-theologians (and priests influenced by them) were not permitted to propagate with impunity doctrinal and moral teaching that was misleading or unsound.”
Secondly, the systematic programme of catechetical instruction traditionally given to seminarians has been abandoned, leaving priestly formation deficient, with the result that “our people receive little solid instruction and rarely hear of the commandments of God, or of sin and repentance, or purgatory and hell, or of some of the great Christian truths and devotional practices, such as the sacrifice of the Mass or the value of devotion to Our Lady, especially in the Rosary.”
Thirdly, there was much evidence of disorder, and of lack of due respect for the standards of community living. The old discipline was replaced by a deliberate “policy of drift and of anarchy or absence of rule.” With reference to Maynooth, he said that “things were just allowed to happen and happen, to the detriment of the seminary itself and therefore of the Irish Church, of which this national seminary had been the nerve-centre for more than a century and a half.”
It is noteworthy that Archbishop McQuaid was personally opposed to these liberal policies, but his efforts to maintain standards were overruled by the body of Bishops to which Mgr Cremin referred.

Surely that speaks volumes for the disintegration of the Catholic priesthood in Ireland and the consequent loss of faith among the flock. I would add that had the Archbishop been supported by his fellow Bishops in his policy of applying the “old discipline”, the situation at Maynooth would have been saved and Ireland would have still been a Catholic country.