What Homer Simpson can teach the Catholic Church in Ireland about truth
Father Brian D’Arcy said he found the horrific details of abuse in the Dublin report “absolutely sickening." He also said: “This is not just in the Diocese, this goes right to the top in Rome.” Like many ordinary Religious, he has been devastated by the scandal. Many are now afraid to wear their clerical collars in public. Many ordinary Catholics find themselves losing faith in the Church. But the primary concern must always remain those who suffered at the hands of abusers.
The Catholic Church in Ireland has at last confessed. Now it has years of contrition ahead of it. It must try to earn the forgiveness of the victims, if it ever can. The child abuse scandal has broken in the United States, Australia and Ireland, but we are just at the crest of a global wave: Now it is the turn of Germany and other countries to face up to this disturbing worldwide phenomenon.
The duty of the Catholic laity is never again to cough, and look the other way. We must look cold and hard at what happened, and do what we can to help the victims. For if there is one maxim to follow to help bring about healing and renewal it is this: the victims’ interests are paramount. Many Irish victims’ groups were bitterly disappointed with the outcome of the Papal summit. Bishop Kirby responded to these concerns saying that he "was saddened that the survivors were disappointed with the outcome of the meeting. Perhaps their expectations were too high.”
Andrew Madden, an abuse victim, replied: "It's not our expectations that are high, it's our standards. Asking that the Pope fully accept the findings of the [Dublin] report is not a high expectation. Asking for an apology on behalf of the cover-up is not a high expectation. Asking for the Pope to accept without further delay the resignation of the three bishops is not a high expectation."
Further controversy has arisen since the Papal summit: Some bishops have asked ordinary laity to pay the compensation bills for victims. Bishop Denis Brennan has asked his flock to contribute €60,000 ($82,000 a year between them every year until 2030, in order to pay a €1.2 ($1.63) million compensation bill.
Many ordinary parishioners are outraged at such requests, as are victims’ groups.
"I would encourage [the Church] to look to its own assets and wealth," said the founder of the One in Four victims' support group. Elsewhere in Ireland, the Church has raised compensation funds through the sale of land and other assets.
Pope Benedict XVI has called the Irish abuse a “heinous crime.” Sadly, the victims were not represented at last month’s Vatican talks. Now at home, the bishops must serve the victims above all else:
They must wash their very feet.
Originally published Tuesday, March 9, 2010
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