The Irish people should help choose Catholic bishops
Church must be answerable to the faithful
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.
And so, as it became patently obvious that this policy was becoming counter-productive, McQuaid and Otaviani were said goodbye to. New guide lines were drawn up. Diarmuid Martin was ordered to Dublin whether he liked it or not. In many ways his arrival reminded me of that of Paul Cullen in the mid 19th Century. Cullen’s mission was to assert Rome’s hardline view on the Irish church. He was an extraordinarily able, ruthless man, an architect of papal infallibility who might well have become Pope himself had he not been sent to Ireland.
He succeed brilliantly, getting control of the Irish educational system and establishing a devout, mindless type of Catholic obedience which provided an endless supply of nuns and priests and only began to be seriously challenged with the coming of free secondary education and of television.
Martin is, a skilled Vatican diplomat, just as intelligent, just as determined in doing Rome’s bidding, and, as a number of his rather bruised Episcopal colleagues will tell you, just as ruthless as Cullen.