The Irish people should help choose Catholic bishops
Church must be answerable to the faithful
Condoms make the AIDS crisis worse, says the present Pope and, to give but one example, the courageous Fr. Kevin Hegarty suffered at the hands of the Pope’s loyal Irish bishops for daring to say otherwise. Father Gerry McGinty was the Senior Dean at Maynooth when students came to him voicing their concerns about sexual abuse in the College. But he was speedily transferred to an obscure parish in Louth when he raised the issue with the Church authorities
The Church’s strange attitude towards sex came about for two reasons. One, a view that if married priests had sex it meant that they approached the altar with “soiled hands.” Secondly, but more importantly, to save money. Priests’ dependents could have a claim on church property.
In Ireland, clerical preoccupation with sex and contraception veered from the ludicrous to the horrible. On behalf of the hierarchy, Archbishop McQuaid once informed the government that tampons should be banned because they might stimulate young girls to sexual activity and thus lead to contraception.
Later, in collusion with the Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr. Alex Spain, McQuaid, to help combat contraception, oversaw the spread of the symphysiotomy operation to hospitals throughout the country.
This mutilating form of dark ages midwifery, which involved sawing through the pelvis so that it remained permanently open, left women in lifelong pain and remained in use until the 1970s.
Many of the Irish bishops now in the eye of the storm would have received their clerical formation at a time when the shadow of McQuaid and Spain still lay across medical ethics in Ireland. Meanwhile in Rome, in the same era, Vatican thinking was heavily influenced by a document produced by the powerful Cardinal Otaviani, which stated that to make public any reference to clerical sex abuse was a grave sin meriting expulsion from the church.
In the circumstances, now that worldwide public opinion has forced Rome to change its line, it is not surprising that some bishops are currently receiving a belt of the crozier, unfair though this may well be in some cases.
The truth is that the Church’s de facto policy on abuse has until recently been a combination of denial, obfuscation, delay and a grudging admission of as little liability as possible - vide the compensation deal which it first foisted on the Irish tax-payer through its negotiations with Dr. Michael Woods. That package included payments for specialist, church-provided counseling services for abuse victims. So having been responsible for buggering young people, the Church then proceeded to charge for rehabilitating them.