As I mentioned in my last post, I was invited to participate in a discussion on the Report by Commission of Investigation into Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, also known as the “Murphy Report” for a radio talk show on NewsTalk in Ireland. I was thrilled to be asked to be on and very happy to listen to a great discussion moderated by the host of The Wide Angle, Karen Coleman. The focus of most of the conversation was on the other two guest during the hour-long segment. Marie Collins and Father Thomas Doyle dominated the conversation, and rightly so. Marie Collins is a clear voice of the survivors’ movement in Ireland and her story is compelling and heartbreaking. Father Doyle has paid a significant price for his steadfast support for survivors and campaign to bring the church around to correct the problem. Believe me, I was pretty nervous in the company of these two powerhouses, fearing that I would sound like the “American Idiot” on the radio waves of my family’s ancestral home. Of course, even at my most incoherent I think I would be more convincing than the bishops who claim ignorance of the law and actions of their subordinates.
I did prepare for the show by reading Section I of the Murphy Report and skimming through Section II. (Cut me a little slack, the report is over 800 pages long.) I reread a summary of the Ryan Report from last summer and I listened to a few podcasts of the show. Ms. Coleman, the presenter, is no slouch! She is a formidable interviewer who does not sound like she would tolerate a guest who was not prepared for the topic at hand. After discussing the report and my nerves in advance of the show with my wife, she suggested I prepare some talking points and try to relax.
As I said in my last post, I think I was on air for about a minute, maybe less. For the record I am not complaining about my short contribution, I actually thought it was pretty amusing. Ms. Collins and Father Doyle were articulate and effective spokespersons for those of us who seek the truth and a real change in the church. I was happy to listen to both of them. When the Podcast of that broadcast becomes available you will understand just how well they spoke on behalf of survivors. The people I spoke with at “The Wide Angle” treated me very well and were very professional. They did a great job producing a show on a very volatile subject.
I decided to put my talking points into a post, no sense in wasting them! So here they are:
- My heart breaks thinking about all the thousands of victims of sexual crimes committed by the clergy. While the numbers are horrific, they are, unfortunately not a surprise. I am still amazed that Catholics are surprised by findings in reports that reaffirm over and over that the church has done little to protect children. What reports like this bring into sharp relief is that there is a failure by people who could have chosen to do the right thing and chose, instead, to do nothing.
- I understand the physical, emotional and spiritual damage done by pedophile priests and compounded by a church hierarchy that empowered these predators through a culture of secrecy and deceit. I grow more weary of listening to bishops lament about how shocked and saddened they are. I am not buying it. They knew, they have known all along. For these men to claim ignorance of the acts of their subordinates or to claim that they did not know that sexual abuse/attacks/rape of children was a crime is insulting. These men are as responsible as the predator for every child molested after the first “credible” report has been received and no action was taken.
- It is still happening, we should not be talking about this problem in a historical context. Not only are people coming forward to report abuse that occurred years ago, there are still children who are being put at risk or are actually suffering abuse by clergy. While the church would love to declare an end to the scandal and try to put it behind them, they are still enabling predators to operate within their ranks because they still cling to an atmosphere of secrecy. Abuse thrives in a culture of secrecy.
- Sexual predators need to be identified and held accountable for their actions. They should not live in relative comfort, being supported by funds donated by parishioners while the church takes no action to hold them accountable for their heinous actions. The church needs to turn them over to the authorities.
- Bishops and other church officials who have been actively involved in protecting and supporting these monsters need to be immediately removed from their positions. Where it is appropriate and feasible, they should be prosecuted for obstructing justice and aiding and abetting the abuse of children and vulnerable adults.
- The church is simply using a risk management strategy that has been proven to be a failure. That strategy is based on secrecy, bullying victims and attacking anyone who challenges their authority. As long as they are in a position of supporting lies and deception they are putting children and vulnerable adults at risk.
- The hierarchy of the church will not change until they are forced to pay a price so dear that they will have to stop the current practice of blaming victims and protecting predators.
- Things will not change as long as parishioners continue to financially support the people who allowed this cancer to fester.
- Civil authorities cannot abdicate their authority to protect children and vulnerable adults. Police and the judiciary must conduct investigations into allegations of abuse. You would not allow organized crime to investigate itself. Why give the church a pass?
I have some thoughts on the damage this causes to generations of the victims’ families, but that will be pretty personal and lengthy. I will develop that as a separate post.
During the discussion of the Murphy Report, the silence from the Vatican has been deafening. Where is the Pope? Where are the priests who are willing to stand up for their flocks? Where are the parishioners? When is it all going to end?