Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bishop of Limerick resigns

Bishop Donal Murray has resigned from the See of Limerick, there are cries for more resignations.

Just one question that has been troubling me: what were the parents of the abused children doing, were they advocates for their children or where they complicit in the cover up?


Dilly said...

"Parents who complained to Bishop Murray about the priest when he was an auxiliary bishop in Dublin in 1983 said they were dismissed by him." was mentioned in the article to which you linked. So parents complained - and were fobbed off. The priest would be moved to somewhere he was unknown and it all begins again. Meanwhile people voted with their feet, and left the Church. That's something we should have less of now the internet is around - but imagine the logistics of trying to discuss this with other affected people you hardly knew before it was available.

unknown said...

Fr Ray, I would ask the same question ... yes certainly the abusing priest committed the crime, but parents aren't stupid are they? Or are they?! That's my point.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I too read the article.

The Church, the State, the Police, presumably the Press, the Media were all complicit.
How deep down did it go? Was there a taboo that involved the parents too?
Is this why Ireland seems to want Bishop's on tumbrels?

gemoftheocean said...

I guess it depends. Don't forget often times children would hide something like that fearing that somehow THEY were the ones who caused themselves to be abused, or they may have felt that if they made an accusation, they wouldn't be believed.

"Why X would NEVEr do something like that, you must be lying" or like if you got in trouble at school for something you might NEVER say so at home for fear of being punished at home again.

I can easily see how a manipulator could have children under his or her thumb.

George said...

Just goes to prove that the world desperately needs PRAYER.

Prayer is our only weapon against the devil, who never sleeps, but prowls the world seeking the ruin of souls - and let's face it Catholic Priests and Bishops must face a diabolical onslaught on a daily basis far greater than we can scarce or even dare imagine.

Also without taking away a single grain of the gravity of such matters it is not an issue that is exclusive to Catholic Clergy.

The recent case of child carer Vanessa George is but one example - see here

Pray for our Priests and our Bishops that Mary our Holy Mother takes them under her protection and keeps them safe from the wiles of satan whose head she crushes under her feet!

gemoftheocean said...

Perhaps a national tendency not to wash one's linen in public? Is there something in the Irish psyche moreso than most others. Many societies do this to one extent or another, but does it come down to Ireland, in particular, in part because of fear of being made mock of by the British, reluctant to discuss any wrong doing?

JUST ASKING. Especially as the Catholic Church was the one institution of which they were most proud?

Greg Collins said...

Let's not, please, lay too much responsibility at the doors of the parents. I think it is difficult for us, as Roman Catholics in England, to perhaps quite fully understand the attitude of lay Catholics to their clergy in Ireland during the second half of the 20th century. The reasons for not speaking out would have been manifold and varied. We can probably readily understand the stigma that was likely to be attached to the victims and their families. Is it not likely that many victims' families would have simply been too ashamed of association with sexual sin to speak out?

The hierarchy clearly knew they had a problem with the criminal actions of a small minority of their priests but they preferred to deal with it in their own way out of fear of the consequences of addressing it publically. A short term solution, perhaps motivated by noble hopes of repentance and reform on the part of the perpetrators themselves, but one which was utterly flawed, completely muddle-headed, and just plain wrong in every sense of that word. In any case it could never have been sustainable in the light of the social changes taking place in Ireland at the time which saw pews empty and the Church lose much of her former prestige and authority.

A better question might be to ask why the hierarchy did so little. What were they thinking I wonder? Much the same, I'd suggest, as those Bishops in England & Wales who faced the same issue and dealt with it in much the same way, as I know myself.

A grievious sin was committed against many young and vulnerable people and I'd suggest we would profit more by praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all affected by the abuse, perpetrator priest, presiding Bishop, parent, victim and community than by speculating over a perceived lack of action on the part of victim's parents.

As always a fascinating blog; please keep the uplifting work up.

St Malachy said...

Fr Blake, you have have the nail on the head. The entire community was complicit.

I remember reading the report and seeing a line along the lines of "Everybody knew there was something strange about him (the priest)".

I had this debate with a very good Irish friend a day or two after the report was produced. He referred to his parents in law as "scum". His wife suffered (comparatively) minor abuse and the parents in law did nothing other than prevent further contact. I don't think that type of reaction was unusual.

shane said...

There was, and probably still is, a hesitancy in applying the more 'penal' aspects of canon law among the Irish Church Establishment. The Dublin report notes that despite canon law requiring priests found having engaged in paedophilia, Monsignor Sheehy, the archdiocesan “expert” in canon law and ultra-liberal, “considered that the penal aspects of that law should rarely be invoked”.

Veteran commentator/journalist/economist Joe Foyle made an interesting observation on the Studies blog about Diarmuid Martin’s remarks on RTE's Prime Time about the collapse of diocesan severity in the 1960s:

"It seems that around the 1960s a major policy change emerged. In line with the secular anti-punishment mood of the times, it was decided that the defrocking sanction was inhumane and that, instead, rehabilitation should be attempted to enable offenders to continue to work as priests. The policy change backfired when offenders re-offended. That hurt children and blighted lives gravely, cost Dioceses and Congregations hundreds of millions, evoked ‘cover-up’ allegations that undermined Bishops and the priesthood in general, and ushered in our current era of Catholic laity who are effectively priestless."

shane said...

Bishop Jim Moriarty of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin has just issued a statement saying he will not resign.

I am absolutely certain that the Pope will now force him to resign. Four other bishops are also going to be made resign. The Vatican is furious about the damange being inflicted on the reputation of the Irish Church, and if these prelates don't resign for their negligence, the next Irish government will not allow the bishops to contniue being patrons of the national schools.

Three Irish bishops are up for resignation next year with a few more following the year after, so I hope Pope Benedict will use the opportunity to clean house.

Patricius said...

I think the question is a fair one. I recall a BBc documentary dealing with clerical abuse in England- several years ago now. It featured a priest of the Birmingham diocese. He was Irish and his victims appeared also to come from Irish families. Parents of victims spoke and the accounts were harrowing, however- and this question has puzzled me since- it was clear that the boys frequently stayed overnight at the presbytery. I could not understand, even leaving aside any suspicion of impropriety, why the parents considered this normal or desirable. As a parent when confronted by children's requests to go on "sleepovers" with their friends I have always asked the question "Why?"

shane said...

Update on the Moriarty situation:

He has obviously received a phone call from Rome.

The Pope is currently writing a pastoral letter to the Irish Church, which is going to include major restructing.

Bryan said...


Yes I wondered as well why boys were staying overnight in Priests' Houses.

I recall the Murphy Report saying that it was common for a boy who was to serve an early morning Mass to stay in the Priests' House the night before.

Bryan said...

The "Studies" blog that Shane refers to is the blog of the Irish Jesuit journal called "Studies", edited by RP Fergus O'Donoghue SI.

Anyone interested in an Irish perspective might find the comments there of interest.

Shane says:

"The Vatican is furious about the damange being inflicted on the reputation of the Irish Church..."

I wonder how the forced resignation of one Bishop helps restore the reputation of the Church in Ireland.

shane said...

Bryan, it won't and I didn't say it would. But according to Andrea Torneilli as many as 10 bishops could go. Of course the bishops should resign on their own volition, but the episcocrats of Ireland are so self-focused that it will take tough knecked Vatican intervention to make them see sense.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I've just browsed the "studies" blog run by the Irish Jesuits. It's complete crap. Part of the problem and not the solution. They are the order that precipitated the collapse of the Church in the 1960's.

Bryan said...


I would like to hear what acts of reparation the Irish Bishops, the priests and people will undertake to implore God's forgiveness for the sins of these pervert priests.

If a sin is primarily an offence against God, how offensive can abuse by a priest on a child be to our Creator?

Let me suggest some ways: entry into a penitential life in a Trappist monastery (see Thomas Merton for examples); public recitation by clergy and religious communities of the seven Penitential Psalms etc etc...

Will this improve the reputation of the Irish Church? Probably not but who's thinking of reputation when so many acts of reparation to the Sacred heart are required?

Fr Ray Blake said...

....and the innocent, Brian? Or must all be condemned to a life of penance?

Crux Fidelis said...

Abusers often threaten children that they will kill them, their siblings or their parents. Having already been subjected to dreadful abuse they take these threats seriously.

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