On Thanksgiving evening, full of turkey and stuffing, I sat down at my computer and found an email from a producer of a news show on NewsTalk-Ireland’s National Independent Talk Broadcaster. They wanted to talk to me! I found the invitation intriguing for a number of reasons. First I am just a survivor blogging on the ongoing idiocy from the Catholic Hierarchy in dealing with the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the church. Secondly, I have never been a talking head, so this invitation was somewhat unexpected and a little intimidating. Finally, the vast majority of Americans trace their roots from other continents. I am of Irish decent. Don’t let my surname fool you, I come from a line of Kelly’s and O’Connell’s. It was pretty amazing to get emails and phone calls from Ireland that culminated in an appearance on the radio waves in Dublin.
Earlier in the week the “Murphy Report” had been released and the media in Ireland, as well as internationally, was buzzing about information contained in the report. The report focuses on the priests who abused children, the bishops that protected them and the failure of civil authorities to investigate and prosecute pedophiles. The Gardai (the Irish National Police) take a beating in the report because, over and over again, they deferred to the church to deal with the problem of priests who committed these crimes. The report is horrific, but not all that surprising. After reading the document I am convinced that you could take the City of Dublin out of the document and insert the name of any diocese and have the finding still ring true.
The name of the radio show that offered the invitation is “The Wide Angle” hosted by Karen Coleman. It goes on the air in Dublin at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. The broadcast runs for three hours. Ireland is 5 hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States. The producer told me to expect a call early Sunday morning, the segment that I was going to be a part of was the second hour of the broadcast. The other guests on the program were Marie Collins, a survivor of abuse as a child and Father Tom Doyle.
So how did I end up on the guest list? As far as I can tell, the answer is Google. I saw a lot of search engine hits on my blog related to Father Doyle and the reports in Ireland. I am assuming the producers stumbled on me while researching the topic for the show. I have never been interviewed on the radio on this topic and I was a little apprehensive. I had started reading the Murphy report but lets face it, it was Thanksgiving weekend, I knew I was not going to get through the 700+ pages in a couple of days. I was a little nervous about what I was going to say and hoping I would not sound like an idiot.
The reality of my appearance on The Wide Angle was much different from what I had prepared for. Despite powering through Section I of the Murphy Report (about 170 pages), preparing talking points and discussing strategy with my wife while running errands I was unprepared for my moment, when it came.
The host, Karen Coleman, started the 11 o’clock hour (Dublin time) by giving an overview of the Murphy Report and interviewing Marie Collins. Ms. Collins was molested by a priest while in a hospital as a child in the ’60’s. I listened intently as she discussed the report with the host and related her own heartbreaking experience as a child. Next up was Father Thomas Doyle. Father Doyle is completely woven into the fabric of the survivors’ movement and has paid a personal price for his efforts on behalf of victims of abuse at the hands of clergy. Listening to him discussing the report and answering questions from an American perspective was like hearing the reassuring voice of reason. The clock was running during the conversation. I was so wrapped up in the broadcast that I almost forgot I was on hold, listening to all of this on my phone as the first light of day was coming over southern Virginia.
There were less 10 minutes left in the broadcast when the phone clicked and Karen came to ask me a question. I was almost startled to become part of the conversation to which I had been so intently listening. I had all my talking points and my blog open on my laptop. I wanted to say something that was not a reiteration of the other guests’ comments. I think I wanted to emphasize that the sexual abuse of children is not a thing of the past, that there are still children and vulnerable adults out there who were in danger. There are still predators out there that posed a real threat and there were bishops enabling these monsters by protecting them in order to avoid scandal. The news blogs are refreshed, on a daily basis, with stories of priests who are being arrested or investigated. I also pointed out that there have been cases in the U.S. of police and members of the judiciary that have deferred to the church to handle sexual abuse cases that should have been adjudicated in the courts. These people failed victims as badly as the church had done.
I think my elapsed time on the broadcast was about a minute!
And then it was over. Karen told me that someone would get back to me and bring me on a later show. I really don’t expect that to happen, although they were kind to offer. It was worth it to be on the line to listen to the conversation moving forward.
I want to thank Shona Murray, Eoghan McLaughlin, and Karen Coleman from “The Wide Angle” for including me in the conversation. I really did enjoy the experience. The show’s website has links to podcasts of previous broadcasts available. I am not sure when the podcast for the 29 November 2009 broadcast will be available to download. I plan on monitoring the website so I will let you know when it is available. I will also get my talking points cleaned up and post them with a link to the Murphy Report.