Friday, July 15, 2011
Will it possible to be Irish and a Catholic?
The problem is of course that only the truly repentant are likely to confess directly to such a sin, the unrepentant stay away from the confessional, the partially repentant use that rather ubiquitous Irish coverall for sexual misconduct, "I have been indecent on several occasions". All the new law will do is stop the paedophile/paederast consider going to confession, maybe deluding him/herself that he is saving the priest from a prison sentence.
It seems too that perhaps the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children are unfamiliar with confessional practice, which is an indication of the state of religious knowledge amongst Irish intelligentsia. Do they really expect the priest sitting in a dark Dublin confessional listening to an anonymous voice who hears such a confession to run round to the penitents side of the confessional and photograph the anonymous penitent on their 'iphone and text the photograph to the authorities or perhaps a missioning priest at the end of a week of confessions to drop into the local Garda station and say "I have heard three definite anonymous confessions to paedophile/paederast confessions and one hundred and fifty three possible ones".
It is significant that such a proposal has never been voiced regarding kidnappers, murderers, bombers or terrorists, such is the state of the revulsion of modern Ireland with Catholicism today.
Gone, will be the possibility of any priest demanding a firm purpose of amendment from a penitent and demanding he or she seeks help, or identifying themselves to the authorities before receiving absolution.
Now we can look forward to priest martyrs to the confessional.
How far is a priest supposed to enquire int people's sexual proclivities, will the State take control and issue guidelines?
St John of Nepomuk pray for them.
As a non-Irishman it strikes me that it was the Irish state which left the Church, underfunded and unsupervised, to deal with those who anywhere else in the world would have been cared for by the state, has, itself, now turned on its former partner in crime. The other factor which is perhaps important is that elsewhere statistics seem to indicate child abuse is no higher within the Church than elsewhere in a given society, I just wonder if this is case in which one should look at those who attack the Church and the degree of child abuse generally in Irish society. It is true that the problem in Ireland is not just with abuse but with "cover-up" but again, the Irish state has at every turn has been complicit in the cover-up at every turn.
This could be seen as just another turn in the the rather sordid relationship between the Irish Church and the State. Whether it the British or Irish State the Irish Church has always been subservient, a marriage of unequal partners.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake