But please God it will hasten the death knell for this particular organisation, or at least its more revolting aspects. How charming too, that I have to post it under ‘religious matters’…
FromÂ The Times
May 29, 2009
But even if the will to make amends by seeking genuine forgiveness now exists â€” and that has yet to be proven â€” it may be too late. Another report, out next month, will reveal that the activities of hundreds of paedophile priests in the Dublin diocese were covered up. This may deliver the coup de grace.
The Catholic Church and its institutions in Ireland are now so badly damaged as to be devoid of moral authority. Its only possible salvation lies in prostrating itself before the courts of public opinion and natural justice.
A storm is blowing through Ireland, its moral outrage unprecedented in the stateâ€™s history. For the Roman Catholic Church and Irish society, its consequences will be profound.
The plain-speaking of one man merits lengthy quotation. Michael Oâ€™Brien articulated the rage of a nation this week when he appeared on the RTÃ‰ show Questions and Answers, the Republicâ€™s equivalent of the BBCâ€™s Question Time.
He listened patiently to the answers given by politicians to his question about whether the assets of religious orders found guilty by a commission report of systemic, endemic child abuse should be frozen. Then he let rip.
â€œI went to the commission and had seven barristers there questioning me, telling me that I was telling lies when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got a merciful beating after it and he then came along the following morning and put Holy Communion in my mouth.
â€œYou are talking to a Fianna FÃ¡il man, a former councillor and mayor that worked tooth and nail for the party. You got it wrong. Admit it and apologise, because you donâ€™t know the hurt I have.
â€œMy God, seven barristers throwing questions at us non-stop. I attempted to commit suicide. They brought a man over from Rome, 90-odd years of age, to tell me I was telling lies and that I wasnâ€™t beaten for an hour non-stop by two of them from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body.
â€œFor Godâ€™s sake, try to give us some peace and not continue hurting us . . . Donâ€™t say you canâ€™t change it. You are the Government, you run this state. So for Godâ€™s sake, stop mealy-mouthing because I am sick of it.â€
Thousands have queued this week to sign a book of solidarity for the victims of abuse at the hands of the religious orders, prompting comments including â€œAshamed to be Irishâ€ and â€œShame on the Church, shame on the Stateâ€.
Every day the letters pages of the leading newspapers burn with fury, calling for the expulsion of the Catholic Church from the education and health system, the dissolution of the Christian Brothers (the worst abuser) and the other orders, seizure of their assets and a boycott of the Churchâ€™s Masses, its collection plates and charity shops.
What has emerged in the nine days since Mr Justice Sean Ryan, the chairman of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, published his report â€” and what is fuelling the nationâ€™s shame and anger â€” is the scale of the scandalously rotten deal struck between the religious orders and the Fianna FÃ¡il Government in 2002.
On the eve of the calling of a general election it was agreed that, in return for a cash contribution of â‚¬28.5 million and a pledge to transfer property to the state that would bring the notional total to â‚¬128 million, the Government would indemnify the religious orders for all claims of compensation from abuse victims and all legal costs.
The final bill to the Irish taxpayer for the religious ordersâ€™ decades of terror (the commission considered evidence from 1914 to 2000) is now expected to settle at â‚¬1.3 billion. Some of the pledged properties, worth far less now, have not even been handed over.
Fianna FÃ¡ilâ€™s pleas that nobody knew at that time the extent of the abuse scandal have been demolished. Its capitulation to the orders is eerily reminiscent of the Commissionâ€™s observations about 20th-century State collusion in a system built on fear. Indeed, even though it was known that â€œviolence and beatings were endemicâ€, said the report, the Department of Education had shown â€œa very significant deference to the Congregationsâ€.
But the anger goes even deeper. It is as if a dam has finally burst, even though the first revelations about widespread clerical abuse began to appear some 15 years ago. The bitter truth is that everyone knew what was going on inside this young, poor but proud nation.
The judges before whom the children appeared, dragged before the courts and found guilty of â€œhaving a parent who does not exercise proper guardianshipâ€, knew that they were stripping them of their civil, legal and human rights as they sent them off to spend years in gulags.
The schools inspectors knew; the politicians knew; the locals who depended on the schools for their livelihoods knew; the citizens who sneered and jeered at the â€œraggy boysâ€ and the â€œcrocodile boysâ€ and the â€œorphansâ€ as they were marched through Dublin suburbs on Sunday afternoons knew. Even the media knew and kept its silence (with a few honourable exceptions).
Peter Tyrrell, the original whistleblower, was 8 when he was sent to Letterfrack in the 1920s. Haunted by the experience, his campaigning efforts â€” culminating in an autobiography in which he described his wartime confinement in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp as â€œa tea partyâ€ compared with what he endured in Ireland â€” ended when he took his own life, burning himself to death on Hampstead Heath in 1967.
Tyrrellâ€™s book was only published in 2006. A year earlier the Christian Brothers had admitted that Tyrrell had visited them in 1953 to raise his concerns and was sent away with the warning that he was â€œworking on the blackmail ticketâ€.
The commission has retrospectively vindicated not just Tyrellâ€™s experiences but those of thousands more. It identified some 800 abusers. To date fewer than ten have been convicted of their crimes.
â€œIt was a secret enclosed world, run on fear,â€ admitted one Christian Brother in his evidence to the commission. â€œIt was murder of the soul,â€ said the author and Letterfrack inmate Mannix Flynn, who rejects the term â€œabuseâ€ as inadequate.