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The quantity & quality of bishops in Ireland

Fr. Vincent Twomey, a former professor of moral theology at St. Patricks College, Maynooth, Ireland, did his doctoral dissertation under the guidance of the present Pope. He is one of the former students who gather with their former professor once a year for theological conversation. Perhaps this gives greater weight to the column he wrote for the Irish Times on the scandal now shaking the Church in Ireland.


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Googling "failure to reinvestigate" without the Valleymount parenthesis brings up some 60 hits. Maybe I'll find the passage in the Murphy Report among them.

Apologies for the wild goose chase, everybody. I have now located the "inexcusable" phrase in the Report -- it is in a short paragraph on Bishop Murray, 1.53. Immediately after the sentence the Report goes on to say that Bp Murray recognized in 2002 that he had not handled the Naughton situation well. The paragraph is hardly the blistering condemnation of Murray that Bill and Carolyn imaging. "He handled a number of complaints and suspicions badly. For example, he did not deal properly with the suspicions and concerns that were expressed to him in relation toFr Naughton. When, a short time later, factual evidence of Fr N's abusing emerged in another parish Bishop Murray's failure to reinvestigate the earlier suspicions was inexcusable. Bp M did, however, accept in 2002 that he had not dealt well with the situation."

correction "imaging" shd be "imagine

I think we have sufficiently tried the case of Bishop Murray. Let's consider it closed.

And Irene Baldwin now alerts me to the reports that Bishop Murray has resigned and the Vatican has accepted his resignation.

Just adding not only has Bishop Murray resigned, but news reports indicate four other bishops as well will be gone "in the coming weeks."In the meantime, Rome and the nuncio look pretty well insulated.

This will only have an impact if the Irish government actually goes the distance and presses criminal or, at least, civil charges against these bishops. Sad to say, I really do not see any other way to handle this given the church resistance.

If victims want to bring civil actions against bishops for negligence, they may do so. That is certainly better than a media lynching.And of course the same civil action could be brought against many of the police who were guilty of the same negligence.I don't see what criminal action the Director of Public Prosecutions can bring.

As Abp Martin says (Irish Times today) a radical overhaul of church management is called for. But can any bishop begin to sound the dysfunctionality of the clericalist culture? One of the requisites for being a bishop is that one is an institutional man, a good citizen of the clerical world, that is, one already entangled in the false consciousness that goes with this.As one whose highest ecclesiastical posts were assistant curate and assistant chaplain I am happy never to have been bothered by the nightmares that dogged my contemporaries who became bishops' secretaries. parish priests, bishops, headmasters etc. But I am also slow to judge their slip-ups. because they at least had the courage to assume difficult responsibilities.

Call for Limerick bishop to face criminal inquiry Retired Garda sergeant John Brennan, who sought to have Naughton removed from Valleymount in 1984 following complaints by parents, said as justice was done today, I think that it should now be taken a step further. Fr Naughton, Ive always maintained, is a human being with a problem.He continued: It was his superiors who, aware of this weakness, sent him around to other places, and I think they shouldnt be allowed at this stage to resign or retire. They should be the subject of a criminal investigation. If there is neglect and evidence of a cover-up, it shouldnt be a question of somebody resigning. They should be the subject of a criminal charge.Does Ireland have child-endangerment, mandatory reporting (doubt it), obstruction of justice, or conspiracy statutes?Spot-on:Bishop Murray Takes One For The Team"Bishop Dnal Murray resigned this morning without accepting any responsibility for the wrongdoings exposed by the Murphy report. In line with a carefully-thought-out tactic, Murrays speech concentrated on the victims of clerical sexual abuse... I believe that my presence will create difficulties for some of the survivors who must have first place in our thoughts and prayers.Very good, you might be thinking. At last hes facing up to reality.Im afraid not.The Murphy report is not about clerical sexual abuse. Its about the way the bishops handled complaints of these crimes. Its about the fact that they ignored and dismissed victims. Its about putting protection of the church ahead of the victims welfare. Its about concealing crimes. Its about a cover-up.Theres one major element missing from Donal Murrays statement: any acknowledgement that he personally bears responsibility for anything at all.This is the statement of a man who simply doesnt get it. He genuinely cannot see that the public pressure is on him because of his inexcusable failures.Its for these failures and this lack of moral compass that Murray has been vilified, and in his statement, we can see a clear strategy, as devised and imposed by the Vaticans man, Diarmuid Martin. Keep the spotlight on the victims. Keep apologising for the abuse. Keep attention away from the findings of a cover-up in the Murphy report...Diarmuid Martin was placed in his current position because Rome knew there was a public-relations disaster in the making and Martin was the right man to limit the damage...Hes there to ensure that the Catholic church in Ireland retains as much of its secular power as possible, and if that means straight talking and kicking a few made men out of a speeding car well and good. What has to be done will be done to protect the Family.This is why Murray made his begrudging, self-pitying speech of resignation through gritted teeth. Martin was standing behind him with a knife at his ribs, and you can expect another few goons (unacceptable word choice) to quit over coming days.It isnt about the victims. Its about holding on to power."

Irish Times editorial: Excellent!It would almost be comforting if Donal Murrays tragedy were that of an evil man. It is actually much more profound than that. It is the tragedy of a decent man who was drawn into collusion with evil and who, even in his resignation statement showed no sign of understanding or accepting the consequences of his failures.Although he continued yesterday to try to excuse the inexcusable, there is no evidence that he set out to be cynical or cruel or that he was, in the ordinary course of events, indifferent to the sufferings of vulnerable children. Were he any of those things, the church could regard him as an aberrant and anomalous figure, a malignity in an otherwise healthy body. To realise that, on the contrary, he most probably believed himself to be acting properly and morally is to confront the unavoidable reality of a power structure that distorts the most basic impulses of human decency."Repeat:"he most probably believed himself to be acting properly and morally" - that is a tragedy of profound proportion. Not to be AWAKE to the twisting of "the most basic impulses of human decency" wrought by episcopal culture.

An Irish law on reckless endangerment of children has been in force only since August 2006. There is as yet no law on mandatory reporting.

29.52 of Murphy Report: "Following the Prime Time programme Cardinal Secrets in 2002, the Garda conducted an inquiry as to whether there was sufficient evidence to mount a case of misprision of felony against any Church official. They concluded there was not: with the exception of this apathetic attitude in relation to this [the Mervyn Rundle] incident there does not appear to be any other evidence of knowledge by the Church as to Tom Naughton's catalogue of abuse."

Misprision of felony means something like a cover up:

Fr. O'learyYou rightly say that justice requires that we listen fairly to Bp. Murray's side of the Naughton story.Does not justice also require that he should have listened to the chdren's side of the story? At least the second child? You say the charges were not specific. Wasn't that all the more reason to ask the children about what Naughton had done to them?

I don't defend Bp Murray's negligence and mistakes in this case since he does not defend them himself. But I think phrases like "collusion with evil" and "excusing the inexcusable" are rather unfair, especially since they could be read to imply a conscious collusion or an attempt to say nothing evil happened.I tend to agree though, in the words of a priest friend, that "it's a rotten system and it's dying on its feet" -- though I have rather little experience of the system from within. The psychoportrait sketched by the editor of the Japan Times certainly rings bells. Had we followed through on Vatican II we would have been spared these agonies.

Correction: Japan Times SHD BE Irish Times

Ann,OLeary refers to Murrays negligence and mistakes that Murray admitted. I see a contradiction then in Murrays claim that he always investigated thoroughly, which OLeary quoted back to me. 12/17 2AM OLeary also quotes Murray saying he had no specific allegation to work with in the case involving Fr Naughton. He said his conscience was clear12/17 2:43AM Yet the Murphy Report says at the time Murray told the bishops commission about two non-specific complaints against McNaughton, The bishop told the Commission that he was uneasy and was afraid that it could involve inappropriate or even abusive activity with children. Despite that unease and fear, he did not follow up. The pastors investigation was totally inadequate, even by the standards of the time, per Murphy Report, and Murray failed to probe, just taking it at face value. No due diligence. He was superior to the pastor, with full ability to review and demand competence. Thats the omission, the inexcusable part, the negligence.

Here is what a subsequent victim experienced in reporting abuse, and none of this interaction is in Murphy: (Father, son and a friend) went to see Mgr Alex Stenson, then chancellor of the archdiocese. Mgr Stenson asked to speak to Mervyn jnr alone. "He told me I was lying and said I better tell the truth very quickly," Mervyn jnr recalled. He remembered the monsignor said: " 'Stop your lies, stop telling your lies' . . . It was really fierce, really savage. I was terrified. But I said, 'I'm not telling lies'. And I wasn't."Murphy Report P. 28829.15 He (Naughton) did, however, tell Monsignor Stenson about the fact that he had been confronted by Bishop Murray in relation to an allegation. He said that the bishop had told him that it was nothing to worry about and that cranks often make allegations. How much confidence should one invest in Murrays claim of full investigation of allegations, given his stated disposition to regard victims as cranks? Mervyn Rundle, the day a settlement was finalized, said, That's what today means. It means that, finally, they have to admit that I was never telling lies, that all I ever told was the truth, just me, a 10-year-old child against all those big priests. Indeed. Meanwhile, two Naughton victims had committed suicide. Yes, I hope civil charges are pursued.

It really is instructive as well as frustrating to see the clerical mindset at work here. The policies, procedures, reorganizations, structures that were so deficient did not come from the wind and the stars. Institutions are comprised of people, who make choices, and it is people who set and administered the policies. All the structural reforms in the world will mean little if the people in charge have the same basic mindset. The spirit in which things are done is the bottom line, even though it can seem the most impractical, time-wasting question at board meetings with action items on the agenda. I do not trust the people in charge. Look what was necessary to get to today, with fierce opposition against survivors seeking the truth. And still the bishops proclaim, "Not I, Lord." It's all about structures in their minds, not them.

an we believe Naughton's account of Bp Murray's alleged "cranks" remark? A deceptive pedophile, he could easily have made up the remark.Alternatively, he could be quoting out of context; for instance if the Bishops had said, "While it is true that allegations are often made by cranks, I think this particular allegation is a weighty one" or something like that.If I understand Carolyn Disco's point, the pastor's report on Naughton was inadequate but Bp Murray allowed it to dispel his original unease caused by the non-specific complaint. I am sure this is the kind of mistake anyone could make. I think the Murphy Report did not identify this as "inexcusable" but rather the failure to reinvestigate this matter when a later allegation surfaced. As to the alleged contradictions in Bp Murray's self-defense: Bp Murray says he always took action, but he admits that the action was sometimes inadequate, viewed in retrospect. When he says his conscience is clear, he does not mean that he could not have done better.On structures and subjective attitudes, I think the Irish Times editor had it right; she points out, what most people feel, that Dr Murray is a decent man, but was put in a compromised position by the confusing managerial structures of the archdiocese. You may say he should have been less of an institutional man, more of a prophet who would cut through the institutional confusion and get to the heart of the matter every time; but such people never get into positions of responsibility in our current church institutional web at all.

correction: "Bishops had said" shd be "bishop had said".

If sex abuse is so rife in the world of the clergy, think how much worst it must be in a terrorist enclave that considers itself above the law. The following is perhaps the first public sign of what I once heard -- that child abuse was rife in that circle:

I suspect that the Kerry folk who are so much in sympathy with the convicted sex offender are the same who would shake hands with IRA terrorists:

Here is a tale of police negligence in following up a complaint of incestuous child abuse. The negligent policeman was fined 150 Euro.

Now I would like to defend Bishop Martin Drennan, whom I knew well as a student, and remember as exceptionally upright. The Murphy Report does not criticize him at all, yet people are baying for his blood:

The account of a senior churchman browbeating an abused 10 yo boy in 1985 is indeed harrowing. Again, though, we should check the incident from the other side.

Irish Times reports that Fr Twomey's views are likely to be influential in Rome, which may draft a radical overhaul of Irish church structures. Meanwhile former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald writes on the same topic:

And ne'er the twain shall meet. Mercifully, the end, on my end.

A point to be noted is that auxiliary bishops had very little power or authority in the Dublin archdiocese; they were little more than celebrants of Confirmation; now they are being scapegoated.

Here is someone else who sees the scapegoating pattern:

If guilt by association is the new justice, should not all bishops and priests resign? And does it not justify the corner boys who point at anyone wearing a clerical collar and cry, "pedophile!"?

You continue to miss the point. You miss the fact that any bishop does not just follow orders; they have been called to teach and witness the gospel - no excuses.As above with Murray, you have only news reports or second hand experience (some years old). The Murphy report is only case samples - none of us knows the extent of damage, cover up, or omission. Yes, bishops fail in their calling by both commission (agreed - we may not have documented proof of this in the cases of these bishops; no one is saying they committed a crime) and omission - they all failed by omission. (the excuses have grown old and tired - that is all we knew back in 1980's; we had no real power; it was Rome's fault, etc.) Error has no rights!Here is an excellent example of the "catch 22" that bishops faced: "John Dolan, the chancellor of the diocese and a monsignor, whose job is to ensure that the administrative records of the diocese are kept safe, said he didnt know that lurking in the very end, at the very back [of the decree crimen solicitationis], was a little paragraph on the worst crime.He was unaware of the 1962 document until an Australian bishop discovered towards the end of the 1990s that it was still valid. Until then, he did not know of any guidelines by the Vatican on the issue of clerical child sexual abuse."The Murphy Commission commented on how unusual it was, whereby a document setting out the procedure for dealing with clerical child sexual abuse was in existence but virtually no one knew about it or used it."The Murphy Commission notes: This canon was interpreted to mean that bishops are required to attempt to reform the abusers in the first place." In Dublin, efforts were made to reform abusing priests by sending them to therapeutic centres. But, according to the commission, the archdiocese seems to have been reluctant to go beyond the reform process, even when it was abundantly clear that the reform process had failed.A couple of points: by then, the US dioceses had been presented with the report by Doyle et alii stemming from the 1985 Gauthe case. In the US, some religious communities realized that they had to isolate these men and keep them under supervision. Sadly, almost no dioceses understood this or wanted to reach this step and some religious communities e.g. Salesians still resist this step.From the link: "But, more tellingly, the commission stated they could find very little evidence, particularly in the early decades of the commissions remit, of any attempt by church authorities to restore justice to the victims.Those who have studied this matter in detail have concluded that proven paedophiles are often subjected to urges and impulses which are in effect beyond their control .. .because of the influence of paedophilia (the abuser) may not be liable, by reason of at least diminished immutability (guilt) to any canonical penalty or perhaps to only a mild penalty, to a formal warning or reproof or to a penal remedy."The commission says it finds it a matter of grave concern that, under canon law, a serial child abuser might receive more favourable treatment from the archdiocese or from Rome, by reason of the fact that he was diagnosed as a paedophile.This may get to your post above: "What all this says is that the issue is not just a matter of negligence or complicity in clerical child sexual abuse on the part of individual bishops - it is the culture of the Catholic Church, a culture shaped by the church authorities in Rome and transmitted and refined in dioceses." That is the catch 22. But also realize that 50% of more of the abuse was not by pedophiles as defined psychiatrically. These bishops still impacted the culture of the church - they had decisions - they could have spoken up - they could have handled things differently. They chose not to and now fall back on the "old, I followed orders!"In the US, there is a pending court case out of Oregon that the US appeals courts have allowed to move forward. It is an attempt to hold the state of the Vatican responsible for a case of sexual abuse - transfer of a known pedophile priest from Ireland to the US and three different dioceses in which he abused children. The Vatican is fighting this in two ways - saying that it has immunity as a foreign state and, you will love this, saying that bishops and dioceses are not directly under their supervision nor or they directly accountable to Rome (Egan's argument in Bridgeport that his priests were like contract workers and he was merely the administrator). Eventually, if the culture of the church is to change, the Vatican has to be forced to be accountable since it appears that it wants it both ways; prime example, Rome via Brady and Murphy will reorganize Ireland and Rome will put out a carefully worded pastoral letter that will walk the narrow line between administration and accountability.There is more than enough documentation to show that Rome has failed by both commission and omission; you can say that the current pope only knew about this in 2001 but, in reality, this link exposes some of the truth and Ratzinger knew about these documents and procedures from day one.

"omission they all failed by omission"Including then Archbishop Martin, who was our man in Rome all that time? Or Cardinal Brady (also in Rome then)? Again, qui nimis probat nihil probat.

I agree that too much trust was placed in the idea of therapy. But would it have been better just to defrock all these priests and be rid of the problem quite simply. Surely it would have been better for the church. But of course it would have left the men free to pursue their career of deviancy unchecked. I feel that neither the therapy nor the policing of sexual deviants is a bishop's job, and that they made a mess of the job is unsurprising. The deliberate recycling of known deviants who posed a real threat to young people, not to mention the deep scandal they could have been foreseen to create, is the one aspect of the bishops' behavior that shocks me. I would say any bishop found guilty of this must resign.Remember that the clerical culture of the Irish Church was and perhaps still is one in which people felt muzzled; self-censorship was de rigueur; "whatever you say, say nothing" could be a clerical watchword. I remember a bishop telling me that he would like to say something on behalf of gays, but "it's a taboo subject, and if we speak out about that the people will think the church has gone crazy." In fact, though there must be thousands of bishops who disagree with official teaching on women priests, celibacy and contraception, all of them are forbidden to utter such dissident thoughts, under pain of suspension. This is only the tip of an iceberg of silence.In such a climate, I can well imagine that rumors of clerical abuse would be handled with the "utmost discretion", with deleterious effects.Meanwhile Gerry Adams is telling the whole world that his father and his brother are incestuous abusers -- something he knew a long, long time ago. Should he be arrested for not telling the police? If the UK has a law on mandatory reporting he would be.

Gerry Adams is not a Roman Catholic bishop with responsibility for the care of the people of God. And in the law (at least of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) family members are not mandated reporters probably since they too are being shaped by the violence and are often too close to recognize what they are looking at. As a person who did report abuse to one of my nephews, I can tell you that the cost of doing so was very high in my family, where I immediately became the bad person. But I persisted because I knew that this kid needed an advocate and his parents needed a lot of help. Didn't all turn out great but he's an apprentice chef now with a life. I have no patience at all with bishops who are unwilling to be living witnesses of the love and compassion of God. They are not priests if they live within such restricted boundaries---they are parasites living off the church and giving nothing, nothing! Bishops owe the Church---Gerry Adams family troubles are the kind of troubles that the local church ought to be able to recognize and assist a family with instead of 20 years after the fact, snidely infer that Gerry might be liable to arrest due to not reporting it. The Church exists for the purpose of helping people with their demons, not to accuse them of having such demons. And priests overpowered by demons ought not be let loose on children---and bishops have responsibility in this matter. And they have failed and the cost of that failure has been bitter in the lives of those harmed. The bishops should resign!

"As a person who did report abuse to one of my nephews, I can tell you that the cost of doing so was very high in my family, where I immediately became the bad person."My bishop also "immediately became the bad person" in one such situation. The cost of courageous action can indeed be very high."Gerry Adams family troubles are the kind of troubles that the local church ought to be able to recognize and assist a family with instead of 20 years after the fact, snidely infer that Gerry might be liable to arrest due to not reporting it."I'm sure the local church won't take my attitude; in this case I write as an Irish citizen. If Osama Bin Laden told this story I'm sure American citizens would go do town on it.In any case, I suspect it may only be the beginning of a cascade of lurid revelations. I did hear a long time ago that child abuse was rife in Republican circles. After all they explicitly considered themselves above the law. I believe Gerry is the chief victim of his father's abuse -- in his case it did not take the form of sexual molestation or physical cruelty but the form of brainwashing -- you can still see the gleam of fanaticism in his eye. It would be interesting to reread his saccharine autobiography, lapped up by gullible IRA supporters, in light of these new revelations.He says the tricolor -- the national flag of my country -- was besmirched by his father's sexual abuse. I would say it was much more besmirched by the campaign of murder that Adams presided over. Indeed it was besmirched when it was taken as the flag of an illegal terrorist organization -- as if the US Flag were taken up by some band of unabombers or other domestic terrorists.A greater scandal than episcopal cowardice about child abuse is the far greater cowardice the bishops showed in playing footsie with terrorists. No one knows the amount of priests who colluded in terrorist activities in Northern Ireland." The Church exists for the purpose of helping people with their demons, not to accuse them of having such demons."I agree; but that is a reasoning that led many bishops to say "I would not be helping Fr X if I turned him over to the police".

Actually, my chief target in the "mandatory reporting" remark was not the obnoxious Mr Adams but the rash enthusiasm for mandatory reporting; I find that some experts agree with me that it could be a very destructive response to the problem of child abuse.

One bishop who showed courage in speaking out against the men of violence was Cardinal Cathal Daly -- and yes, it made him "the bad person" in the eyes of many (Sinn Fein propaganda helping). He certainly was never thanked.

Surprised to read this in a letter from Fr Sean McDonagh in today's Irish Times: "The solicitor Pearse Mehigan also argued convincingly in your paper (December 7th Jail is penalty for concealing child sex abuse) that failure to report to the police is a crime under the Criminal Law Act 1997. The penalty is up to 10 years in jail."

And yes, now people are remembering that Gerry Adams systematically told his followers not to report child abuse to the cops.

And as merrily as any bishops, Gerry Adams allowed his brother to work with children, knowing that he was an abuser of his own children...

It's our old friend "misprision of felony" again.

There is now a very seasoned piece by Fr Padraig McCarthy, "The Murphy Report: A Personal Assessment", The Furrow, Feb. 2010, vol. 61.2, pp. 71-81. It corresponds to the plea I make above for reason, proportion, and perspective.