Ireland’s Reaction to the Cloyne Report

A week ago, in Ireland, the Cloyne report (PDF) was published. The report discussed how the Catholic Church responded to abuse allegations in recent years — recent! — and it turns out (surprise!) they haven’t changed one bit.

Among the findings:

[The church authorities] failed to:

  • Report cases of abuse to the civil authorities as required
  • Put a system of support for victims in place
  • Appoint an independent advisory panel
  • Properly record cases of sex abuse

Despicable.

And it gets worse. Check out the Vatican’s response:

The report also strongly condemned of the Vatican’s response to child abuse allegations in Cloyne, saying that it had been “entirely unhelpful”. The Vatican had actively supported those who flouted the guidelines by describing the child protection guidelines as a mere “study document”, it concluded.

One silver lining in all of this is that the Prime Minister of Ireland (“Taoiseach”), Enda Kenny, offered a forceful rebuke against the Catholic Church:

Cloyne’s revelations are heart-breaking. It describes how many victims continued to live in the small towns and parishes in which they were reared and in which they were abused… Their abuser often still in the area and still held in high regard by their families and the community. The abusers continued to officiate at family weddings and funerals… In one case, the abuser even officiated at the victim’s own wedding…

There is little I or anyone else in this House can say to comfort that victim or others, however much we want to. But we can and do recognise the bravery of all of the victims who told their stories to the Commission.

This is the ‘Republic’ of Ireland 2011.

A Republic of laws… of rights and responsibilities… of proper civic order… where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version… of a particular kind of ‘morality’… will no longer be tolerated or ignored.

As the Holy See prepares its considered response to the Cloyne Report, as Taoiseach, I am making it absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.

Not purely, or simply or otherwise.

CHILDREN…. FIRST.

Not bad for someone who is himself Catholic.

The question is how much will change as a result of this report and Kenny’s speech. Who’s going to jail as a result of this? What punishments does the Catholic Church face? When will the government start to take control of all the schools currently managed by the Catholic Church? If they’re serious about making a change, it begins with swift, forceful action.

(via Pharyngula — Thanks to Laura Jane for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Anonymous

    Ireland has come extremely far. They were pretty much a theocracy a couple of decades ago with the Catholic church having a tremendous power and almost absolute influence over everything at a local level.

    Now there is even some talk about rebuking or even expelling the Vatican’s Nuncio

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750428174 Paddy Reddin

    Ireland is one of those places where everyone is considered “catholic”.  I was once talking to a work colleague who insisted he was catholic.  He didn’t go to mass, nor did he believe in a virgin birth, trans-substantiation, adam and eve, but yet he insisted he was a catholic.  I know there are many atheists who consider themselves “Cultural Jews” so perhaps this is along the same lines.

    Considering though that Ireland only decriminalised Homosexuality in 1993, and you couldn’t get a condom without a prescription until 1985, we’ve come a long way in a short time, but the Catholic Church Inc still has a tight grip on the older generation.  Some may loose faith in the church, but many will hold onto their faith in, as they say, “Jaysus, Mary and holy Saint Joseph”.

    • sJames6621

      tieem will help that problem re the old folks who long ago let the church steal their soul

      here in America I know ex catholics who will cross the road to avoid walking by a catholic church

  • http://www.facebook.com/marky.o.reilly Marky O Reilly

    I’m Irish and this type of thing has caused a mass exodus away from the church within one generation. I know a girl who was abused and when it came out he was not arrested or charged with any offense. He was simply moved to another parish where he could continue to abuse children. Unforgivable. This type of cover up and eagerness to put the churches reputation before protecting children from sexual abuse seems endemic and goes right to the top of the catholic church.

    • Hermann o

      You write:”he was not arrested or charged with any offense”

      Seems to me that “arresting” – at least in modern 21st-century countries – is done by the police and “charging” by the state attorney?
      That said the behaviour of the irish catholic hierarcy as documented in this report is uttrly despicable!

      Shalom
      Hermann

  • Rina

    The Irish are even more fed up with the Catholic church than they were with the old Finna Fail government, if that’s possible. A little while back, a cleric responded on the radio to the discovery that a bishop had failed to report a known paedophile priest to the police with a statement to the effect that the bishop hadn’t violated Canon law. There was instant outcry and the cleric got a public slap on the wrists. Now it seems that this was the view of the church all along, from this:  “A confidential 1997 Vatican letter – originally published by The
    Associated Press in January – instructed Irish bishops to handle
    child-abuse cases strictly under terms of canon law. It warned bishops
    that their 1996 child-protection policy, particularly its emphasis on
    the need to start reporting all suspected crimes to police, violated
    canon law.” It’s slowly sinking in with the Irish prople that up to the present, the church has considered itself above the law.  According to Kenny,  Catholic canon law had “neither legitimacy nor (a) place
    in the affairs of this country.”

  • Jccarter25

    Well, when News of the World was found to be doing things illegally, seems the government us trying to go after the higher-ups if the organization. Sure would be nice if they’d do the same to the Catholic Church, the most disgusting and corrupt business on the planet.

  • Neil

    While browsing around one of the links I cam across a sickening article by a RCC priest defending the church. The article is not worth reading, but the comments are very enlightening. Most appear to be by Irish nationals, and they are mostly strongly negative. The article is http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/column-no-matter-what-we-still-need-the-church/

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    So, it’s business as usual for the Church, then?

  • Clarinet Box

    As a former altar-boy I feel I dodged a bullet.  I’m increasingly meeting a generation of Irish who are atheist like myself. Though their parents(and mine) still cling to the old network(if you don’t know what church is, it’s kinda like facebook for old people).  Perhaps out of tradition too, or seeing abuse as happening far away from their church they continue to attend.

    I think the term ‘Cultural Catholic’ kinder of applies to myself, in the sense that my Catholic upbringing still has an effect on me.  Though I’m not sure if this would pass onto any kids I have. Which may be the difference between Cultural Catholic and Cultural Jew.

  • Dan W

    Why can’t civil authorities start arresting these child molesting priests? Arrest the Pope too, he certainly isn’t doing anything to put a stop to this.

    • french engineer

      technically the Pope has an immunity as a foreign head of state everywhere but in the Vatican, he can’t be arrested.

      • Anonymous

        There is some doubt as to whether the Vatican is actually a state.  It was established unilaterally by Mussolini and has never been formally recognised as a state despite making every effort to join state signatories within the EU on a number of Acts and Treaties.

        The best way to test this would be to arrest the old bastard and put him on trial along with his cohorts who conspired to protect child molestors.

        • Sam Hill

          hoverFrog:  The Holy See not the Vatican has a de facto  status as a state in international law. The Vatican is the seat of the Holy See. The Holy See has diplomatic relations with most of the countries of the world including Ireland, the US, the UK, etc.  That is de facto recognition of statehood.  Being recognized as a state by the EU is not a requirement of statehood. The Holy See’s de facto status as a state precedes the creation of the EU and the Vatican State by a very long time. Therefore the Pope enjoys the sovereign immunity status of any head of state.  In truth, it is irregular as definitions of states go, but then, there is nothing really very regular about the Holy See at all. It is, and always has been the only elected absolute monarchy in the world. 

          • Anonymous

            The legality of this has never been confirmed, was never given legitimacy by common nation state assent and has never been tested.  I still say arrest the bastard and let the courts decide whether the Holy See has a right to flaunt laws.

            Also if you lose your passport in the Vatican you go to the Italian embassy to retrieve it, not the Vatican embassy next door.  You don’t even need your passport to enter the Vatican.  The Holy See therefore has no sovereign land and no permanent population.

      • Anonymous

        If any other country behaved the same way, we’d already have invaded it, arrested its leaders and charged them for crimes against humanity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/angus.bohanon Angus Bohanon

    I don’t imagine it’s coincidence that there is not one occurrence in the Bible charging its followers to be kind to children or to protect them—instead we get many death sentences for disobedience in the OT and “spare the rod, spoil the child” in the NT.  Clearly priorities were different then…

    • sJames6621

      BTW oen of my kids was forced to change from left handed to right handed in the second grade. His writing and even printing is attrocious

      Turns out that “left handedness s the mark of the devil” By the tme I realized that, it is way past the statue of limitaions re a lawsuit

      but since he went to local totally non religious schools, it shows the depths off ignorance and how the church sticks it big nose and other parts of its body into things where it has no business

  • Anonymous

    Maybe I was just lucky… I received an outstanding education in catholic schools while growing up in Ireland, and was never aware of any sexual abuse going on. Mind you, corporal punishment was legal back then and there were some guys, lay and religious, who seemed very fond of resorting to it. But the majority of my teachers were humane and dedicated. It sickens me to read about all the stuff coming out in recent years. On the other hand the former knee-jerk servility of Irish politicians towards the church, the trembling in fear of a “belt of the crozier”, looks like it’s becoming a thing of the past, which is good.

  • Kieran Mc Kevitt

    Just to be pedantic Enda Kenny is An Taoiseach, which translates to english as leader.  So when refering to him it would Taoiseach Enda Kenny ( prime minister) just to be correct the english term for the office is secondary to the Irish one.
    Ireland is still culturally catholic, being Irish is tied up with the church and will be for a while to come.

  • Kieran Mc Kevitt

    Just to be pedantic Enda Kenny is An Taoiseach, which translates to English as leader.  So when referring to him it would be, Taoiseach Enda Kenny (prime minister) just to be correct the English term for the office is secondary to the Irish one.
    Ireland is still culturally catholic; being Irish is tied up with the church and will be for a while to come.

  • Anonymous

    I always go back to the same thing. I’m fine with slamming the church for it’s despicable and criminal actions, but we need to get into the habit of including the civil governments in our outrage as well. They are utterly complicit and therefore culpable. Time and again there have been cases worldwide where the police was informed of the actions of priests and had good reason to suspect coverups by the church and chose to do nothing. If it came to light that police were tipped off that the local mosque was harboring Islamic extremists and chose to do nothing while the extremists set off bombs and were hidden by religious authorities, the religious authorities would go to prison for aiding terrorism and the police would be, at the bare minimum, fired. I don’t see why refusing to act on tips about child rape should be treated very differently.

    • Anonymous

      In the case of Ireland, the police was controlled by the Catholic Church as well. The priests had a tremendous influence on all levels. All the police officers were Catholics and didn’t dream against going up against their priests

  • David McNerney

    “The question is how much will change as a result of this report…”

    I would personally love to see the papal nuncio expelled – that would be a hoot.  And if the pope was told to feck off when he tried to come to Ireland next year… nice.

    But those are just fun things that appeal to my dislike of the Catholic church.

    However, there are things that are more serious that this will affect:

    1. There is a serious effort in Ireland to reform the patronage of our schools (the Catholic church “owns” 90% of the schools and dictates the ethos – even though their own studies suggest that support for a Catholic education is less than 50%).  The department of education is attempting to wrest control from the church – and the church is not happy.  The Cloyne Report seriously undermines the church’s position.

    2. This is the third in a series of reports uncovering abuses in the church.  The previous ones covered earlier periods before various “safeguards” were put in place and Cloyne was supposed to give the church a clean bill of health.  It didn’t.  And so this puts all the other dioceses under a spotlight that they don’t want to be under – this is just the beginning. 

  • gsw

    I find that statement: “In one case, the abuser even officiated at the victim’s own wedding” confusing.
    I assume that the victim is an adult? and that the abuser is being paid to officiate?
    So whatever happened to “I don’t employ rapists mate, so go to hell”? 

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Gonna guess that the victim was abused (by the priest) as a child, and years later the same priest officiated at the victim’s wedding.

      • sJames6621

        Something lke that happened in Africa. Priests were raping nnuns there, since they were afraid of AIDS via prostittutes

        A woman died of a botched abortion and the rapist performed her her funeral.

        A couplle years ago a lesbian was at her mother’s funeral at St. John Neuman church in Rockville, MD When the priest dscovered she had her partner there he refused communion, walked out and never even showed up at the cemetery.

        A wonderful example of the grand lie that the church says “everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.

  • dauntless

    So can they charge the prime minister for breaking the Ireland blasphemy laws?

    • sJames6621

      are you nuts = ever heard of free speech. Blasphemy laws were obviously put in place to protect the church of the endless hidden molestation by its so called not normal celibate priests. this problem has been going on since about 1000 AD when the church changed the rules so priests couldnt marry – they wanted to inherit the priests estate instead of his family inheriting it

      As usual money is the root of all evil. That includes the church which btw is the largest landholder in Italy and Ireland, All that land should be auctioned off and the money put in trust to help the victims with psychological services

  • lizzy

    Facebook for old people is about right – its about social networking – supporting other people.  I am still a practicing Catholic – I like the Mass – I like catching up with my friends I enjoyed being a Youth Leader and doing the Childrens Liturgy.  I have NEVER had any faith at all in the institution of the Church – but I do like a lot of the priests I work with.  I am horrified by the scandals in the church and the awful betrayal of trust.  I think the Church will shrink and then reform itself – I just hope that Facebook can fill the gap in the meatime.


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