I’m not a Sinead O’Connor fan, but the Irish singer–notorious for tearing up a picture of Pope John Paul on “Saturday Night Live” some years ago–has written a scathing op-ed piece on the priest child-molestation scandal coming out in Ireland. She herself says that she was misused in her childhood in a Catholic reform schools, though apparently not sexually. She does not accept the current pope’s apology:
Benedict’s apology gives the impression that he heard about abuse only recently, and it presents him as a fellow victim: “I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.” But Benedict’s infamous 2001 letter to bishops around the world ordered them to keep sexual abuse allegations secret under threat of excommunication — updating a noxious church policy, expressed in a 1962 document, that both priests accused of sex crimes and their victims “observe the strictest secret” and be “restrained by a perpetual silence.”
I remember coming across a quotation from a bishop who said that we just didn’t realize back then how traumatic this kind of sexual contact from a priest would be for children! Critics are pointing out that the church authorities treated a priest molesting children as a moral matter, rather than as a criminal matter. They should have called the police. Instead, they imposed silence.
Is there any way to mitigate these charges?