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Last week, in an impassioned speech delivered from the floor of the Irish parliament, Prime Minister Enda Kenny offeredsome hard sayings about the Vatican's handling of clergy sexual abuse in Ireland. Kenny said that therecent report on the scandal in Cloyne "excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day." So much for Joyce's "Ireland my first and only love / Where Christ and Caesar are hand and glove!"The Cloyne report examines the diocese's handling of abuse allegations between January 1, 1996, the year Irish bishops established procedures for dealing with abuse claims, and February 1, 2009 -- well after the institutional church came to realize the gravity of such crimes. According to the report, two-thirds of allegations during that period were not forwarded to the police, as required by the Irish bishops' own '96 guidelines.

On Monday, the Vatican recalled its apostolic nuncio to Ireland. Fr. Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, explained that Rome wanted to consult with the nuncio about its response to Cloyne. But there was another reason. As Benedettini elaborated, the decision was not unrelated to "some degree of surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions. By Friday, it was reported that the Vatican would replace the nuncio.

Benedettini wasn't the only one shocked and dismayed by Kenny's speech. Last Sunday, a priest in County Louth gave the following headline to his column in the parish bulletin: "Heil Herr Kenny!" The priest wrote: "No Pope here.' Is this the way forward for a new and better Ireland?"

Catholic journalists soon started asking similar questions. In his column "Erin Go Bonkers" (get it?), George Weigel declares Ireland "the most stridently anti-Catholic country in the Western world." But it's Kenny's "rant" that was "hysterical" and "rabid," on Weigel's telling. He suggests replacing all of Ireland's bishops -- with men from other countries, if necessary, men "who know how to fight the soft totalitarianism of European secularists." Clearly the Irish church's most immediate threat.

In a post titled "The Anticlerical Hysteria Sweeping Ireland," at America's In All Things blog, Austen Ivereigh calls Kenny's speech "bizarre" and "rambling." Ivereigh points out that the Cloyne Report criticizes the Vatican for a 1997 letter from the apostolic nuncio [.pdf] "in which he questioned whether the 1996 guidelines drawn up by the Irish bishops were compatible with canon law, notably the idea that church officials should be obliged to pass on all and any allegations to the civil authorities." Of course, as Ivereigh emphasizes, that is no longer the thinking in the Vatican. He continues: "Nothing justifies" Kenny's "broadside, which conveniently glosses over the state's failures over abuse -- also highlighted in the [Cloyne] Report -- or the Commission's findings that the state's guidelines on abuse are more opaque and difficult to understand than the church's." Yet, according to Ivereigh, this dark cloud has a silver lining:

The good news about Cloyne -- a small rural diocese in Co. Cork -- is that its failures were first spotted by the Church's own safeguarding watchdog, which brought them to light in December 2008. Judge Murphy, then investigating Dublin, decided to extend her probe to Cloyne. Bishop Magee was stood down, and the Church -- as the Cloyne Report clearly acknowledges -- cooperated fully with the investigation.

Leaving aside Ivereigh's own bizarre remark about the size and location of Cloyne -- presumably he didn't intend it to comfort those who were scandalized by the report's findings -- it certainly would be disappointing for the prime minister of Ireland to criticize the institutional church for its failures in addressing clergy sexual abuse while glossing over his own government's mistakes. Just as it would be foolish of him to name the hierarchy's shortcomings without acknowledging its successes. It's a good thing, then, that he didn't. Kenny:

I must note the Commission is very positive about the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, established by the Church to oversee the operation by Dioceses and religious orders. The Commission notes that all Church authorities were required to sign a contract with the National Board agreeing to implement the relevant standards and that those refusing to sign would be named in the Board's Annual Report....

There is some small comfort to be drawn by the people of Cloyne from the fact that the Commission is complimentary of the efforts made by the Diocese since 2008, in training, in vetting personnel and in the risk management of Priests against whom allegations have been made.


But if the Vatican needs to get its house in order, so does this State.The Report of the Commission is rightly critical of the entirely unsatisfactory position which the last Government allowed to persist over many years.The unseemly bickering between the Minister for Children and the HSE over the statutory powers to deal with extra-familial abuse, the failure to produce legislation to enable the exchange of soft information as promised after the Ferns Enquiry, and the long period of confusion and disjointed responsibility for child protection within the HSE, as reported by the Commission, are simply not acceptable in a society which values children and their safety.

For too long Ireland has neglected its children.

Does that sound hysterical to you? More or less hysterical than declaiming Ireland as the most anti-Catholic country in the Western world? What about this:

The rape and torture of children were downplayed or "managed" to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and "reputation."Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St. Benedict's "ear of the heart," the Vatican's reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.

No doubt, many church critics have exaggerated the import of that 1997 letter. But when at least one Irish bishop tells the press that he interpreted it as an instruction not to inform civil authorities about allegations against priests, can you blame them? What about when one considers the fact that the letter communicated the concerns of the Congregation for Clergy, then headed by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who in 2001 praised a French bishop for covering up for a priest he knew had abused several boys? Or when the '97 letter is read in light of a 1984 letter from the Congregation for Clergy (then run by Cardinal Silvio Oddi) to the bishop of Tucson ordering him notto release the personnel files of priests accused of misconduct (not necessarily sexual abuse) to civil lawyers?

Of course, Kenny's critics are right to say that proposals requiring priests to report abuse disclosed during confession must be rejected by Irish lawmakers -- as a violation of religious freedom and of common sense. But no one ought to be surprised that a Catholic country so convulsed by clergy abuse for so long would, after another in a string of damning reports on the scandal, find itself seeking desperate measures.There was also a hint of desperation in David Quinn's response to Kenny's comments. Writing in the Independent, Quinn also called Kenny's address hysterical. "In the sort of language normally associated with a Richard Dawkins or Ian Paisley, he accused the Vatican of 'dysfunction, disconnection, elitism...narcissism' and effectively of not caring about the 'rape and torture of children.'" Hasn't it already been established that dysfunction, disconnection, and clericalism (usually characterized by elitism and narcissism) significantly contributed to the Catholic Church's sexual-abuse crisis? Is there a better word than narcissistic for Cardinal Sodano's Easter 2010 performance? What do you call the game of canonical hot potato that was played between Rome and local bishops over how to handle accused priests, if not dysfunctional? Were some Vatican officials something other than disconnected when, throughout the 1990s and even as the 2002 wave of U.S. scandals broke, they dismissed the abuse crisis as an American phenomenon?

Yes, Kenny claimed that even today's Vatican is "dominated" by a culture that enables abuse. That's probably going too far. But by how much? The Irish people have seen four state inquiries into clergy abuse, which have cost them 134 million. It's not as though compiling those reports has been a cake walk. As Patsy McGarry points out, "None of this would have been necessary had the Catholic Church here [in Ireland] and in Rome co-operated fully in establishing the truth."When it came to the investigation of the Diocese of Ferns, for example, "abuse files on five further priests which should have been presented to the inquiry remained unavailable until an accidental discovery in the summer of 2005 when the Ferns draft report was already completed," McGarry writes. And in May 2009, the Ryan report concluded that a climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys [by the Christian Brothers]. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from. Just five days before that report was published,the Christian Brothers sent a letter to the redress board denying abuse allegations. The next month the Christian Brothers released a statement expressing their regret for sending such a letter. And in January 2008 the retired archbishop of Dublin sued the current archbishop to prevent him from turning over documents to state investigators. Amazingly, in 2006 the Vatican could not manage toacknowledge correspondence from the Murphy commission. "Instead," McGarry writes, "it complained the commission did not use proper channels." So the next year the commission followed proper procedure, asking the nuncio to forward correspondence to Rome. Silence. Again in 2009,the commission contacted the next nuncio, including a copy of the draft report. No reply.Kenny's critics have complained that he unfairly blamed Rome for the faults of the local church. Apparently they either don't grasp that apostolic nuncios are officials of the Vatican appointed by the pope or they don't know how uncooperative some have been.

Is it any wonder, then, that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin recently admitted that after reading the Cloyne report the first emotion that came to him was anger?

Some years ago I was criticized in some Church circles for speaking of strong forces still present in the Church which would prefer that the truth did not emerge. There are signs, I said, of subconscious denial on the part of many about the extent of the abuse which occurred within the Church of Jesus Christ in Ireland and how it was covered up. There are other signs of rejection of a sense of responsibility for what had happened. There are worrying signs that despite solid regulations and norms these are not being followed with the rigour required.

Much has, thank God, been undertaken within the Catholic Church to address the facts of the past and to improve safeguarding procedures. Much has, thank God, been undertaken within the Catholic Church to address the facts of the past and to improve safeguarding procedures. The Catholic Church in Ireland is a much safer place today than it was even in the recent past.Much is being said, on the other hand, that despite words the Church has not learned the lessons. Both statements are true.

Last week, in a televised interview, Martin said, "Those who felt they were able to play tricks with norms, they have betrayed...good men and so many others in the church who are working today, I am angry, ashamed and appalled by that.Visibly shaken, Martin confessed, "I find myself asking today, can I be proud of the church that I'm a leader of? His admission won the ire of Phil Lawler, director of Catholic Culture, who called it "hardly a statement calculated to boost Catholic morale." Is that what Irish Catholics need right now? An episcopal pep talk? Surely, Lawler, a Boston native -- a fact he mentions often, so you know he really gets the sexual-abuse crisis -- remembers how well that strategy served bishops in the past, not to mention the faithful. Or at least what's left of them.And that's the point, isn't it? Archbishop Martin is presiding over the most dramatic period of attrition the Irish church has ever seen. Perhaps it's more convenient or comforting to focus on Kenny's overreaching claims. It's important to correct them, and more important to make sure priests are not compelled to break the seal of confession.

But Kenny is giving voice to the greater pastoral and ecclesiological crisis that his archbishop -- in his refusal to strike a defensive pose -- is trying to address. Kenny's anger isn't about a single incident, a single letter, a single report. It's about a long history of abuse that was enabled locally and internationally by a church -- comprising clergy and laity alike -- that for too long looked the other way.The failure of some Catholic journalists to recall that larger context, to the point of misrepresenting important parts of Kennys speech, eerily echoes the institutional defensiveness that landed the church in this mess to begin with. That view of history should not be repeated -- or abetted.


Commenting Guidelines

One of the striking things about Kenny's speech was that it was not impassioned, not in manner any way. It was delivered in a voice that expressed a cold fury, all the more powerful for that.

My thought exactly, Joe. That's why I embedded video of the speech.

I think there more to Weigel's column than reflected in your remarks, Grant, especially these two paragraphs, which I think are quite useful. (I wonder if he is responsible for the headlinie.)'Perhaps some comparative history and sociology suggest an answer. In each of these cases, the state, through the agency of an authoritarian government, deliberately delayed the nations confrontation with modernity. In each of these cases, the Catholic Church was closely allied to state power (or, in the case of Quebec, to the power of the dominant Liberal party). In each of these cases, Catholic intellectual life withered, largely untouched by the mid-20th-century Catholic renaissance in biblical, historical, philosophical, and theological studies that paved the way toward the Second Vatican Council. And in each of these cases, the local Catholicism was highly clerical, with ordination to the priesthood and the episcopate being understood by everyone, clergy and laity alike, as conferring membership in a higher caste.'Then came le dluge: the deluge of Vatican II, the deluge that Europeans refer to as 1968, and the deluge of the Quiet Revolution in la Belle Province. Once breached, the fortifications of Counter-Reformation Catholicism in Spain, Portugal, Quebec, and Ireland quickly crumbled. And absent the intellectual resources to resist the flood-tides of secularism, these four once-hyper-Catholic nations flipped, undergoing an accelerated course of radical secularization that has now, in each case, given birth to a serious problem of Christophobia: not mere indifference to the Church, but active hostility to it, not infrequently manifested through coercive state power.'

Yes, well, there's more to everything I've commented on in this post (despite its length!). That's why I linked to the column. My point wasn't that every word in that column was mistaken, but that making sweeping claims about Ireland's supposed anti-Catholicism (worst in the West!) doesn't really get us anywhere.

"Christophobia"? I rather think "Vaticanophobia". But if Weigel is suggesting that clericalism tends to beget laicism, in some form or other, for once I think I might agree with him.

It's true that the fortress mentality of the counter reformation crumbled and continues to despite the understanding of Mr. Weigel and others who see the "cointinuity " of VII in present policies.It's also true that very Catholic states may have even angier reactions to what they see as failures that deeply hurt members of the perceived fortress."Chrisrtophobia" and "radical secularization" are semantics for the apologetic of not facing up to deeper problems.(I note John A. over at NCR is complaining of the German/Austrian sensibility to "rebel" as part of the kickback toward Rome there.)The Goodstein piece last week on somepsuhbacks in the Church was correct in citing Ruff -nothing will change immediately for commitment to the continuity of VII, loved by Weigel, will continue in the fortress approach from Rome. With more crumbling??

A contrarian view from columnist Kevin Myers, by no means a naive friend of the Irish Catholic Church: Theres never been a safer time or place for children than modern Ireland. would only add that the times are also not so terrible in the U.S. At the Catholic grammar school in my parish there were 53 graduates in May. The number going on to Catholic high schools is 51. And this in an area where theres an abundance of fine public and private high schools. Anecdotal evidence like this doesnt prove anything but Im strongly inclined to defer to the judgment of families about how the welfare of their children is respected in the Catholic Church. Actual choices of parents, revealed preferences as the economists phrase it, trump opinion polls, pundits and political grandstanding. In both countries we will end up with bureaucracies, crazy forms to fill out, and many ill-thought out initiatives that no one can show are more effective than the parental involvement that is already clearly in evidence.

Thanks, Grant, for providing the video of the Taoiseach's sad comments.The attacks on him from those who defend the rapists and torturers and their enablers are sickening.

I think it's interesting that anxious critics would focus so intently on one aspect of Kenny's remarks, and one bad bill on confession, and use that to make wildly exaggerated claims about "soft totalitarianism" and the "hysterical" speech by the PM while ignoring the broader context and legitimate grievances that Kenny points to -- as does Diarmuid Martin. Kenny and most Catholics, I think it's fair to say, are furious and frustrated at a defensive and authoritarian institution that abused their children and their good faith for so many years. The Irish hierarchy and the Vatican have still not come to terms with that, or sought to amend their ways. Kenny does look at his own government's record in a way that the Vatican has not. Perhaps he and other Irish Catholics understand confession better than their critics do. As Joe Gannon says, I think conflating Christ with the Vatican and church authoritarianism is wrongheaded. Maybe these "radical secularists" simply want a more Christian culture. So again, why the hyper-defensiveness by Kenny's critics?

It's the fortress (read the traditional Roamanita governance) approach - a kickback from VII- that matters.I see that in Philly (very Catholic Philly) the Lynn et al cases wil go to trial. Anecdotal comments on the inquirer site and the Inquirer reporting point to an anger there - it strikes me that very Catholic Boston is still in tension with the smooth over Cardinal O"Malley .I think David is right: strong catholics are looking for a better Church than the m.o. Church we've got.

Grant:A minor correction to your insightful blog post on the current distressing situation in Ireland: The quote is O Ireland my first and only love Where Christ and Caesar are hand and glove!It is from Joyces satirical poem (Gas from a Burner - 1912) directed against the publisher, who had promised to publish The Dubliners but reneged, and the printer, who destroyed the sheets. (Fortunately, Joyce had a complete copy of the sheets.)The above quote is preceded by these even more sarcastic lines: Tis Irish brains that save from doom The leaky barge of the Bishop of Rome For everyone knows the Pope can't belch Without the consent of Billy Walsh.(William Walsh, who, by the way, was an advocate of Home Rule, was the Archbishop of Dublin in Joyces time.) The poem is a protest against censorship in the words of the publisher defending his actions against Joyces work. But I owe a duty to Ireland: I held her honour in my hand,I think the poem could just as easily be read as a protest against church officials who would protect the church from scandal by hiding the truth about sexual abuse in Ireland.

The problem with the fortress mentality is its utter inflexibility. There is no dialogue, no possibility of surprises. Everything is settled ahead of time, once and for all, even if behind the walls, the proverbial deck chairs are being rearranged artfully. Enda Kenny spoke truth to power last week and the inflexible are running scared.

Thanks, Helen. I'll make the correction.

I had a high school prof who remarked that when you hear anti-clericalism being criticized, you can be pretty sure there's a lot of clericalism around.Gerolyn writes: "The attacks on him from those who defend the rapists and torturers and their enablers are sickening." Certainly defending rapists and torturers is sickening, but I hadn't noticed anyone of those the people cited in or contributing to this thread doing that. Weigel, for one, echoed the Irish theologian in desiring that the whole batch of Irish bishops be replaced.

"The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and 'reputation'. Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict's 'ear of the heart'......the Vatican's reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer. This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded."Mr. Kenny got it so perfectly right. No hysteria, just devastating, stern precision. I only hope his message translates well at the Vatican. Their first, informal comment was not promising.

Thanks for this post, and all the links.It brings to mind for me arriving many years ago for a retreat held at the (massive, imposing, gorgeous) seminary campus built during the Great Depression by the Brooklyn diocese (I believe). The priest leading the retreat commented, "I never know whether to be more appalled at the arrogance of the hierarchy or inspired by the generosity of the faithful".I try always to keep in mind my gratitude for the courage and the faithfulness of the laity who have played, and continue to play, active roles in bringing justice in the midst of this scandal.

Weigel's 'Then came le dluge: the deluge of Vatican II,'... Who wants to read further when such bias starts his ideas. One would think only an anti-catholic or SSPX would say 'le deluge of Vatican II'.. I await Weigel's take on the Philly trials Bob Nunez posted on. If Weigel wants to see 'le deluge' get him a train ticket to Philly. The scramble of the defendants to 'make-a-deal' and inform on higher ups, will give Weigel a whole new meaning to hysteria. We pray for Not-Cardinal A/B Martin of Dublin at every meal.

God bless Diarmud Martin.

If you had read further, you would have seen that Weigel mentions three deluges. Yves Congar used the image to indicate how much of Tridentine Catholicism was swept away in the wake of Vatican II. Certainly the Council contributed to that tsunami in Quebec, Spain, and Ireland.

Excellent, Grant. Well written with good analysis and highlights. Appreciate your skill. If I may add to you and Fr. K - it is reported that Enda Kenny also made this speech with no prior announcement; on an ordinary meeting day; with no effort to stoke or get attendance, press, etc. excited about this. There were no prior press releases, etc.My guess is - this was an extremely difficult speech for him to give personally; one that he considered and wrestled with over days.

It seems to me that when considering the fury of the Irish we need to bear Irish history in mind. For 500 years or so the Irish clergy sided with the Irish people against the English who wanted to conquor them. It is no small wonder, then, that the Irish held their clergy in particular esteem. Human nature being what it is,it is no small wonder that the Irish clergy became corrupt at least to some degree. Now that even the hierarchy has been shown to have terribly betrayed the trust of the people, the fury of the Irish is quite understandable, and, I think, quite justified. Nothing hurts so much as betrayal by someone one has respected. I can only admire Enda Kenny for his control of his justified fury. I've read that he is still a practicing Catholic, God bless him. He is doing the Church at large a great, great service. Now if only Benedict can finally get the full force of that message through his stubborn head. (When even George Weigel has come to realize that it is necessary to criticize some bishops severely, there is some hope. Perhaps he himself is like the Irish -- he trusted the clerics too much and is now starting to become radicalized.)

Such destruction will continue unabated until the Church stops trying to run itself as a seventeenth century monarchy with its kingly pope and princeling bishops autonomous and autocratic, not transparent and not accountable to the faithful they're supposed to serve.Even the deluge Fr. Joe mentions - "Yves Congar used the image to indicate how much of Tridentine Catholicism was swept away in the wake of Vatican II" - how much is attributable to Vatican II itself, how much to the *autocratic* papal commission charged with implementing the reform, and how much to the justifiable anger on the part of the clergy against the preceding decades of autocratic anti-modernist lunacy? It's interesting to remember that no lay people (and no women) were involved in any of these goings on.

Gerolyn writes: The attacks on him from those who defend the rapists and torturers and their enablers are sickening. Certainly defending rapists and torturers is sickening, but I hadnt noticed anyone of those the people cited in or contributing to this thread doing that. Weigel, for one, echoed the Irish theologian in desiring that the whole batch of Irish bishops be replaced.---- Who is helped by pretending that Enda Kenny delivered a "hysterical rant" to the Dil to "deliberately foment anti-Catholic hysteria"?Why would anyone defend the priest who compared Enda Kenny to Hitler?Who would be helped by sending foreign bishops to Ireland? Is anyone clueless enough to imagine the Irish people can be forced back to the place they occupied when a parish priest could remove a girl from her family and incarcerate her in a laundry because she was "fast"?A shame the Irish church and the Irish government didn't listen to Fr. Flanagan's warning 65 years ago.

Thanks, Grant, for some much-needed perspective on all this. I suspect Mr Kenny's remarks and their delivery cut very deeply in some quarters. Good. It show's there's a shadow of conscience in some Catholic apologists."Theres never been a safer time or place for children than modern Ireland."Possibly true, but not the point. Thanks to considerable advocacy, and no thanks to nearly every bishop, this is true.The point is that too many of these bishops are atrociously bad priests and shepherds. Some of those inhabit Roman offices. And o amount of crying "Wolf!" from their allies will change that. Millstone, meet deep-sea diving.

I never thought I would link to "Gawker" but here's a piece written by a gay man about improprieties in the Archdiocese of Miami. You use to see this stuff in the New Oxford Review or the Wanderer and attribute part of it to conservative crankiness.

Gerelyn, thanks for the link to article about Pastor Flanagan. Reminds me of Luke 4:24 - No prophet is welcome in his own country.In meantime, life at the Vatican continues as lackeys put fortress stones into place, put on their cappa magnas, speak for God (lololo), ad nauseum. All the while relying on YOUR money to support their modus operandi.At risk of repeating myself, I think we need to turn the place upside down and shake the hell out of it!!!And Jesus continues to weep.

YOUR = collective giving from the laity

So, then, no one defending "rapists and torturers and their enablers."Ann: George Weigel has been very critical of bishops like Cardinal Law all along. It's not a new position for him in this whole horrendous scandal.

Re the welcome thought to "turn the place upside down and shake the hell out of it!!!" what is the moral obligation of the faithful?

Jeanne Follman, it depends on whom one asks.I saw a heartbreaking post the other day at NCROnline from someone who essentially asked, What do I do now in light of all the stuff that's been coming out of Rome for awhile.I told her I wasn't qualified to tell people to stay in, or leave, the Church of Rome. I did leave 4-1/2 years ago and consider myself, for now, as Catholic in faith, no longer Roman Catholic by affiliation.On the other hand, I suggested this blogger consider diverting her parish contributions to worthy causes, Catholic and/or otherwise, that help folks in need. (I'm reminded here of Jesus' teaching that when religious observance conflicts with human need, the latter must take priority.) I reminded my fellow blogger that a parish must turn over a portion of receipts to the local bishop who will, in turn, send money to the Vatican, which will then use said funds to continue its assault on Vatican II.Money talks (folks in Rome know this truth all too well).Catholics must make its absence talk louder.

I think that George Weigels suggestion, however hypothetical, that a way to deal with the sex abuse crisis in Ireland is to replace, if necessary, the bishops in Ireland with men from other countries, is a both dismissive of and disrespectful to the Catholic Church in Ireland and its long history of fidelity to the Catholic Faith.Grant: In response to your rhetorical (?) question: Is there a better word besides narcissistic for Cardinal Sodanos Easter 2010?I would say a more accurate word is "unctuous."

Kenny is now the most popular politician in Ireland, despite the financial crisis.As Lisa McInerney says "You can choose to remain part of a criminal organisation or you can choose not to." An Irish lass no less

One link that might have been nice to complete this thorough post would have been Pope Benedict's 2010 letter to the Irish. I wonder if there is a parallel between Kenny's speech and that letter? Kenny: through our legislation, through our Government's action to put Children First., those who have been abused can take some small comfort in knowing that they belong to a nation, to a democracy where humanity, power, rights, responsibility are enshrined and enacted, always....always.... for their good.Pope Benedict: The lay faithful, too, should be encouraged to play their proper part in the life of the Church. See that they are formed in such a way that they can offer an articulate and convincing account of the Gospel in the midst of modern society (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) and cooperate more fully in the Churchs life and mission.- Kenny:There is little I or anyone else in this House can say to comfort that victim or others, however much we want to. But we can and do recognise the bravery of all of the victims who told their stories to the Commission.- Pope Benedict: I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. - Kenny: I agree with Archbishop Martin that the Church needs to publish any other and all other reports like this as soon as possible.- Pope Benedict (to bishops): Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church ... - Kenny: Today, that Church needs to be a penitent Church. A church, truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied.- Pope Benedict: a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity ... It is my prayer that, assisted by the intercession of her many saints and purified through penance, the Church in Ireland will overcome the present crisis- Kenny: The Tnaiste left the Archbishop clear on (...) Ireland's complete rejection and abhorrence of (the gravity of the actions and attitude of the Holy See).- Pope Benedict: In the name of the Church, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel.- Kenny: This Roman Clericalism must be devastating for good priests.... some of them old... others struggling to keep their humanity....even their they work so be the keepers of the Church's light and goodness within their parishes...... communities... the human heart. - Pope Benedict (to priests): All of us are suffering as a result of the sins of our confreres who betrayed a sacred trust or failed to deal justly and responsibly with allegations of abuse. In view of the outrage and indignation which this has provoked, not only among the lay faithful but among yourselves and your religious communities, many of you feel personally discouraged, even abandoned. - Kenny:>i>I believe that the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who - like me - have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required, - Pope Benedict: It cannot be denied that some of you (bishops) and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations. I recognize how difficult it was (...). Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred.

There are indeed many similarities. Here are more: Kenny has the power to do implement authentic change in his government, insuring its transparency and accountability, so such things do not happen again. Benedict has the power to implement authentic change in the Church, insuring its transparency and accountability, so such things do not happen again.I'm guessing there's one big difference: Kenny will, Benedict won't.

The fortress mentality of Rome?Ein feste Burg ist unser VatikanEin gute Wehr und Waffen . . . . .but for how long, I wonder?

My hopes for action had rested on Pope Benedict's letter, but what I had taken as a first step from him outlining a plan of action seems to have been a last step, and he has sunk into passivity since then on the sexual abuse front. His silence hqs been discouraging.But now, lay people (along with Archbishop Martin, God bless him) are rising to take leadership, and I am heartened by Kenny's thunderous speech. If you will forgive me, I am reminded of those prophetic lines:"Arise, you prisoners of starvation!Arise, you wretched of the earth!For justice thunders condemnation:A better world's in birth!No more tradition's chains shall bind us,Arise you slaves, no more in thrall!The earth shall rise on new foundations"Would that people's rejection of child abuse purified the church!

Excellent overview, Grant, acute and timely. (#1 of a weekly series?) Countless times, one hears "they just don't get it" or equivalent Always, the implication is that the bishops and cardinals would "get it" if only some breakthrough or insight were to happen. Obviously to most, they should adjust. The weight of continuing, overwhelming evidence shows that, except for a handful of noteworthy men, the individuals of the hierarchy constitutionally, essentially, fundamentally _cannot_ "get it", no matter what. It's not that they will not but that they can not. Much motivation has been available. Many causes of the phenomenon could be considered - genes, vocation selection processes, education and mis-education, formation, experience, tradition, solemn oaths, esprit de corps, deep fear of authority, or some combination. A contributing factor is that the episcopal ensemble is created in its own image, self-reproducing via nuncios, Congregation for Bishops, and Pope. (Americans on the Congregation are Law, Rigali, Burke, Levada, and Stafford.) Whatever the causal explanation, the externally observable effects seem clear. To the extent that this notion of immutability applies, most of the ongoing multinational turmoil is readily understandable but pointless. The only difference to be expected in 5 years is the level of exhaustion. For working purposes, assume nothing changes for the next 5 years in attitude, approach, and responsiveness of Pope, cardinals, and bishops. Save this thread - it will be re-usable. Otherwise, the question today is how to convert JJ's metaphor (7/30 2:12PM) "we need to turn the place upside down and shake the hell out of it!!" into reality. Ireland is the focus of the moment. It diverts attention from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile . Philadelphia . etc. Who will be the speaker to follow Kenny?

Its worth noting that the Heil Herr Kenny priest, mentioned in the post above, apologized (July 28) for his remarks:Cleric says he regrets leaflet berating Enda Kenny over accusation that the Holy See downplayed child sex abuse scandals

I was going to note that he'd apologized, but then I read that after expressing regret, the priest said, "I am not comparing Enda Kenny to Hitler." Which doesn't wash.

I thought Kenny's speech was good. Some background can be found in this story at the Guardian - Irish political classes lose their fear of the Catholic church. Austen Ivereigh isn't what I'd call objective, working for Catholic Voices ( as he does.

"I thought Kenny's speech was good."I did, too. Kenny was simply expressing the trust in the Holy See that he doesn't feel anymore (but wishes to feel). He was also suggesting that the most important element of repentance is little hesitation to report crimes to the police. He delivered this "speech" as a practicing Catholic, who believes the Holy See (the Curia?) does not seem to know when it may be too late to respond intelligently (and canonically) to the scandal. Makes sense for now. Somewhere St. Augustine says, "Before God can deliver us we must undeceive ourselves." Possibly Enda Kenny was also trying to say that.

Joe K,Shall I say I am miffed, intrigued or astounded at your steadfast defense of Weigel? Weigel, like many, will put in other things in his essay in an attempt to persuade that he is fair. Secondly, your assertion that he criticized Law is ever so weak. how about Maciel? can I say, Joe. Does Weigel want the fantastic American bishops to take care over Ireland?O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason. Bear with me; My heart is in the speech there with Kenny, And I must pause till it come back to me.

JAK --It's one thing for Weigel to criticize Law et al, and another to call for removing the entire Irish hierarchy. Even SNAP hasn't called for anything so radical. I think it would be very cynical to think that Weigel just wants American prelates to be moved there. But, who knows.Jeanne --I agree that Rome gives every indication of being hopeless at this point. Yes, the Pope is sorry the children were hurt, but he doesn't know how to change the hierarchy or doesn't have the strength. What finally made me give upon him was his appointment of Bishop Vasa of Baker, Oregon to be bishop of a much larlger diocese, Santa Rosa, CA. Vasa is one of only two bishops who refuses to have audits of his compliance with the Dallas agreement. See bishopsaccountability, which has a lot negative stuff on him, e.g.,

Lots of anger here. One would think the Vatican is corrupt to the core and that the hierarchy and much of the clergy and religious are evil. Sounds almost hysterical. Is this going anywhere - open letter to the New York Times, protest conferences, formal schism - or is it just letting off steam? Letting off steam can be therapeutic, but only if it leads to constructive engagement. Unremitting rage only confirms in separation and arrogance.

David S. --You still don't get it. You just don't or can't or won't understand why ordinary people become furious when children are mistreated criminally and then ignored by the very churchmen who are supposed to preach justice and charity yet do not defend those children from sick and/or wicked priests. There is such a thing as righteous anger. When one sees suffering children being ignored == or worse - - by their "shepherds" the anger at the shepherds is a righteous one. Don't fool yourself. Churchmen are capable of evil.

David S. -Examine the results from the Ferns Report (2005), Ryan Report (2009), Murphy Report (2009), Cloyne Report (2010), and Justice for Magdalenes Submission to the UN Committee Against Torture (2011), and you can make your own judgment rather than depending on other peoples'. After you have done so, the calm restraint shown by Taoiseach Enda Kenny may be rather surprising, considering what he had to draw on when aiming a speech at, among others, the Pope.

Outstanding, Grant. I am very grateful for your incisive response. It reminds me of your excellent thread on the Kiesle case a few years ago. The same skill and research are evident.By sharp contrast, the disgraceful effort at is most disappointing, to say the least: Vatican critics smelling sharks in the water, with Kenny playing politics at the Vatican's expense.

I get very angry when people condemn the critics of the abuse scandal as being too extreme, anti-Catholic, whatever. It is completely disingenuous to make the Vatican in any way the victim in all of this. I don't think it is even possible to be excessively critical; no language is too strong in condemning our Church leaders' actions/inactions around child abuse.

'And absent the intellectual resources to resist the flood-tides of secularism, these four once-hyper-Catholic nations flipped, undergoing an accelerated course of radical secularization that has now, in each case, given birth to a serious problem of Christophobia: not mere indifference to the Church, but active hostility to it, not infrequently manifested through coercive state power.This argument by Weigel is elitist as it is absurd. As if intellectual are the heart of the church. Building empire and narcissism yes. But not building the church. The people who have not written anything as Jesus did not, are responsibility. There is where the Holy Spirit works not in an elitist Rome, Weigel et alii."At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight."

Weigel - like some of you, confused by the apparent defense of Weigel. Here is his latest effort in Philly: effort is embarrassing in its ideology, mis-statements if not inaccuracies e.g. as if quoting from Opus Dei's CNA is a version of "Fact Checking". Some points that are almost ridiculous:"All of this is tiresome, if wholly predictable; both its tediousness and its predictability help explain why it's the rare discerning reader who turns to the mainstream media for serious reportage about and analysis of the Catholic Church. In this case, however, the same-old-same-old also obscured what is truly important about the Chaput appointment - which is not the archbishop's Potawatomi ancestry (interesting as that is), but his place as one of the most vigorous exponents of what might be called Evangelical Catholicism."Please, what is tiresome if not predictable is Weigel. Another: "With the appointment of Charles J. Chaput as archbishop of Philadelphia, the deep reform of the Catholic Church in the United States - the reform that is giving birth to Evangelical Catholicism even as it leaves the old postVatican II arguments fading into the rearview mirror - has been accelerated."Give me a break - this is even worse than his diatribe on Kenny.Another: "