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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.

About the Author

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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Sounds like Vincent is recovering his youthful Vatican II style ardor. It is true that a shrinking church needs fewer bishops and that individual bishops, in the US. also hide behind the episcopal conference (as in the case of the contested missal translation). That such an intervention should be presented as of Ratzingerian inspiration sheds light on how Vincent sees his teacher -- as a misunderstood visionary bend on radically renewing the Church.There is a horrendous clericalist bureaucracy that is like a cobweb in which even well-meaning individual bishops become entangled, resulting in their moral paralysis. All are dispempowered. But the Vatican itself is part of this -- bishops dread it and call it the "bureaucracy of nothing". Let us not forget that the Vatican has taken the appointment of bishops into its own hands more thoroughly in recent years than ever in previous history, going quite against the policies now advocated by Vincent Twomey.

Useful suggestions but his focus is too narrow. He skips over the role of the Vatican both in the cover up and the choice of these very bishops.Would add other considerations that go well beyond Ireland:- this pope has been in power since 1982....he can say that he had no direct involvement in these scandals but that begs the question. His own decision in 2002 to order all personnel records and reporting directly to Rome created problems; this centralization led to what? No action; avoidance of the issue; delays while more victimization continued- he says nothing about the role or lack of response to the Murphy Report by the papal nuncio or Rome? - he skips over the fact that national conferences of bishops were empowered by Vatican II but under JPII and now B16 the movement towards collegiality, placing accountability and responsibility on conferences has moved in a totally different direction. One of the frequent complaints heard in the 1980's and early 1990's was that Rome would not act when bishops tried to address individual cases.....his call for even more radical renewal by a "misunderstood visionary"....please, the historical record on sexual abuse by this man sheds no evidence of vision or being misunderstood. He has taken little to no action beyond the obligatory few instances when he apologized- he needs to address conferences of bishops so that they have the power to play the role of conscience development, professional development, and weigh in on bishop choices that meet the needs of the local church- he needs to address the sexual and moral theology of the church that goes way beyond just Ireland (yes, Ireland has some unique circumstances in terms of schools with children assigned by the state, the link to the gardai and government) but the clericalism and sexual immaturity of clergy is an issue around the world- he needs to address the role of various dicasteries in supporting professional behavior and making bishops accountable - currently, there are little to no reprecussions if a bishop behaves unprofessionally, non-pastorally, or is personally guilty of mismanagement.Just decreasing the number of Irish dioceses; accepting resignations when they hit the age of 75, and putting out a letter signifies little action.

That Fr. Twomey did not say all that could or should be said doesn't mean that what he did say isn't worth reflection. I wonder if two of his suggestions aren't at cross-purposes. On the one hand, he proposes reducing the number of dioceses from 26 to 12, which would, of course, increase the responsibilities of each bishop, making it more difficult, I would think, for them to carry out their huge responsibility for the spiritual, emotional, social, and, to a certain degree, physical wellbeing of all the faithful, lay and clerical, practising or non-practising, not to mention their not-insignificant role in civil society. On these grounds one could argue that there ought to be more, not fewer, dioceses, if bishops are not to be consumed by their administrative duties, as is so often the case now. (Two Cardinals have told me that they dont have time to read any more, one of them saying that he feels fortunate if he can read book reviews, never mind the books themselves.) In addition, the larger the diocese the more remote the bishop will become to his laity and clergy, making more difficult what Fr. Twomey would like to see: some real participation by priests and laity of the newly constituted dioceses in the selection of bishops. This would, of course, be a return, long overdue, to the practice of the early centuries, when it was commonly regarded that the participation of clergy and laity in the choice of a bishop was of divine right. St. Cyprian gave the reason: because the people are fully conversant with the life of individuals and aware of how each has behaved himself. The larger the diocese, the less likely it is this expectation would be met.I would myself add another consideration, also attested in the early Church: that a bishop should normally be chosen from among the clergy of that diocese and not parachuted in from outside. There could be circumstances in which this would not be possible, but these, one would hope, would be rare. But now the common practice is to go outside the diocese.

There is a useful book recommending changes along the lines suggested by Fr. K. The author is Joseph F. O'Callaghan, Professor Emeritus of History at Fordham University and the title is Electing Our Bishops. As you might expect, the book is especially good on the history of the episcopacy and episcopal appointments. The legal claim of the Bishops of Rome to appoint all the other bishops does not go back beyond the revision of canon law in the time of Benedict XV. In antiquity bishops who moved from one diocese to another where thought to be guilty of spiritual adultery. How things have changed!

Bill:How right you are - how right you are!Truman had a sign on his desk reading the buck stops here. An inspired symbol of true leadership and responsibility if ever there was one. Completely absent from Rome. No personal responsibility or accountability.In our church, sadly, we have oodles of theologians creating more smokescreens and diversions to deflect responsibility from those who actually have it and have created the very ecclesial culture responsible for it.The more I read about how the Vatican operates the more utterly disillusioned I am. Clearly the cover-up or however you want to refer to it was systemic and involved the highest executives.

The lack of episcopal courage to confront scandal and wrongdoing is the main reason for all the Church's ills. The failure to see that the abusers were traitors in the ranks and would cause the failure of the Mission, is inexcusable. Imagine an effective military general officer that had traitors in the ranks and not taking action 'for fear of scandal and weakened morale'? An effective military general would take out the traitors in the ranks and publically punish them. [terminate?]. A general officer who failed in his mission because he 'covered-up. for traitors in his ranks would himself be publically punished [terminated?] I say this episcopal cowardice is the source of the Irish rage... cowardice in high places is like gas on the fires of popular opinion. [ Mr/Mrs everone says 'I may not be smart and a leader but I am not a coward in the face of danger to my family'] Fear of scandal is cowardice? say hello to Tiger Woods and Dick Nixon and .... ..............Legionaries!

I enjoyed a letter today in the Irish Times, responding to Twomey:Madam, Rev Vincent Twomey (Opinion, 9th December) calls out for some other way to be found for choosing suitable bishops. Perhaps the words of St Paul to Timothy about how to select a bishop are what is required: He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of Gods church? (1 Tim 3:4-5). Based on this, a whole new direction is needed and the faithful need to become faithful to what the Apostles taught. Yours, etc,SEAMUS OCALLAGHAN,Bullock Park, Carlow.

Twomey's article is a good one with the exceptions that Joe K makes. If the bishops could not supervise a smaller diocese, how are they going to handle a larger one. Dioceses have traditionally been too large. There is more pastoral care and personal touch possible with a smaller diocese. And bishops should always come from within the diocese. Not as the present practice where plum dioceses are given to the favored who are from outside its borders.Certainly the offending bishops should go. But they should be replaced with pastoral people and have the laity involved.One of the real lessons from the pedophilia scandal is that this is the first time in Church history, or at least since the fourth century, that forces outside the hierarchy effected change. The hierarchy rarely reformed it self. What is worse laity felt obliged to cover up the sins of the clergy since it was believed that this would do more harm to the church. We know now what a fallacy that is.

Paraphrasing the Rule of Benedict, let's have bishops who speak truth from the heart and do not practice deceit. And bishops from diocesan, not religious order priests, who have different characteristics, or it charisms?Maybe I can burden dotC readers with my unpublished letter to the Irish Times:"Is there some irony here, when it comes to bishops reactions to the Murphy Report? According to several Irish Times news articles, bishops meeting at Maynooth this week issued a statement saying they are shamed at the extent of cover-up; then indicate they have not discussed taking responsibility for a cover-up by anyone resigning; then individual bishops insist they did nothing wrong, which means they did not cover up; and so, we are left in a surreal landscape of bishop-speak.Rubbing salt in the wound, accountability is cynically dismissed by one bishop as being thrown in the river to satisfy the gods; that means you and me, the survivors, parents and parishioners who seek justice.After seven years of reading bishops conditional non-apology apologies in the United States, most often in the passive voice, and the bleached language of public relations, I feel I could write their press releases by heart, American or Irish. Its the same generalized message points of personal innocence, never intending harm, and following procedure. Its like a chorus of each one repeating not I, not I, Lord.But despite actions that directly contradicted episcopal intent, somehow countless children were abused in body and soul. It just happened, I guess. Perhaps it was the ethers. And so, who knew anything? In one recent interview, even Donal Murray (their Bernard Law) contends he acted appropriately.Thus, confession sounds more like Bless me Father for mistakes were made than Bless me Father for I used mental reservation to lie, obstructed justice by covering up, and criminally endangered children. Hierarchy is still endowed with its sense of exemption and privilege, while survivors listen to a stream of self-protective exoneration like that in your articles from Maynooth this week." and one in the London Times that I hope negated Timothy Radcliffe's assertion that there is some weakness in the English-speaking churches that leads to sexual abuse: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article6947750.ece

Carolyn,Fine letter. In corroboration of what you wrote I might note that the first two big cases of abuse (Frs. Gauthe and Cinel) emerged here in Louisiana whose basic laws derive from the Spanish and French laws but whose procedural law is derived from English commn law. I tried to post some background information about yesterday's meeting in Rome which the Pope called. It was to include the top Irish bishops and the papal nuncio, but the new dotC format wouldn't let me. Voice of the Faithful has been reporting on the current Irish situation and the meeting all week, but I've seen nothing in the US media about it. The one bit of good news was that the Pope is actually going to be presented with a letter from the Irish VOTF. That is the first time I've ever seen any direct communication to the Pope from a lay group. Let us pray it establishes a Let us pray it establishes a precedent.

If Cardinals don't have time to read, does it mean they don't have time to pray either? Is that why we failed to proved the faithful with a Prayer Book, and why the forthcoming new translations of the liturgy are bereft of the spirit of prayer?

Fr. K = "That Fr. Twomey did not say all that could or should be said doesnt mean that what he did say isnt worth reflection." As usual, your response is thoughtful and balanced.Agree with your points - believe they were articulated well by Archbishop Quinn in his book abour curial reform after his retirement. Interesting how most bishops only make recommendations after their retirements.Although your points are good, they focus almost entirely upon one area - changing the way bishops are nominated, appointed, and size of responsibility. Would suggest that this "issue" is about the Murphy Report whose purpose was to highlight episcopal cover-ups of sexual abuse, etc. Your response, like many clerical responses, makes no mention of abuse, victims, etc. That is the reason for the report; for the meeting in Rome, etc. To skip over that only heightens and reinforces exactly the type of clerical leadership response that has been a pattern since 1985 - the Gauthe case in Lafayette, LA.

The Irish Times also has an article on the cold reaction by victims to the pope's comments on the matter.http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1212/1224260595018.html

Mr de Haas: I should think that one of the things one might be interested in the wake of these horrible crimes would be how to prevent them from happening again, namely by the appointment of more responsible, more accountable, more Christian bishops. That's what my post was about, and I'm sorry that you read it as heightening and reinforcing precisely the type of clerical response you bemoan.

If I may offer a couple of admittedly tangential links.Today an Episcopal diocese elected a bishop: http://www.bishopsearch.edusc.org/I find the nuts and bolts of this process interesting, including the enormous amount of information that is offered by all the candidates.Last week a Catholic bishop was named for Brownsville, TX. Here is Rocco Palmo's account, http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2009/12/we-go-together-or-we-do-... here is a talk Bishop Flores gave, which is one of the finest talks I've ever heard--and it is on the pastorate (it's long, and the quality is iffy, but I found it riveting). http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1438404I have to wonder if Bishop Flores would have been elected by the people of Brownsville. Perhaps, as a Texan, he would have had a chance. But as a Thomist? Anyways, although I see an ecclesial point to having lay input in the appointment of bishops, I'm not at all sure that the quality of pastors would be improved in that way.

When the Pope met with the Irish Bishops he told them he "shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the Church. And he said the church would take measures to assure this sort of thing would not happen again. But if Carolyn's point that the reason the abuse scandals have broken in the English speaking world has to do with the legal possibilities for uncovering evidence available in an English common law tradition, it would seem that inquiries into the situation in non-English-speaking countries might be an urgent need. The Pope is planning a pastoral letter to the Irish church. But he might do more practical good at this point by requiring Bishops around the world to allow the sort of access to their files available in English speaking countries.

Sorry, that should read "If Carolyn's point is correct" in the second paragraph above.

Fr K and Bill deHaas,Your posts touch on the reaction of clergy to the abuse scandal, something that has bothered me from the beginning. Clergy responses I have experienced personally center around, "I'm sad, not angry," (former pastor and others), "there was no malice", "We were never told why anyone left", and so forth. There were statements of how horrible, etc. etc. but not once, other than my dear friends Tom Doyle, and Jim Scahill in MA, did I witness any outright anger, a slam your fist on the table disgust, that resonates like a biological father or mother.I find a sense of remove, almost an alternate universe, where bishops and priests just have this intellectualized, calibrated analysis devoid of urgency. Psychologist Mary Frawley O'Dea presented an outstanding review of clergy response in her book Perversion of Power. (They are the true victims, enduring the "passion" of the Church.)Now some may complain, perhaps rightly, of emotionalism on my part and that of parents and laity, but reading bishops' depositions (most recently the utterly incredible arrogance and legalism of Egan, or the casualness of McCormack or George, of Law, Goedert and Imesch, the cluelessness of Weakland) - all leave me to ask, what in the name of God beats in their breasts? Then Dolan defends Egan, after whining beforehand about anti-Catholicism!In the beginning, Tom was convinced priests and bishops would want to get on this right away, and act forcefully. When he learned how wrong that was, something died. Geoffrey Robinson of Australia is a notable exception among bishops.When I hear all this pious talk from clerics, I am just sickened. No matter how shamed, disgusted or whatever, it never translates into meaningful accountability. They indeed have become risk managers hiding the truth, instead of shepherds. Last week, Lori arbitrarily withheld 12% of documents the court ordered released, and continues the seven-year legal battle longer. Yet, I tell priests what is happening, and it's as though I commented on the weather. Impassive. Passive. Who gives a damn? Their silence is deafening, most likely rooted in their position of virtual servitude.Why aren't Tom Doyle and Jim Scahill the prototypical priests? VOTF gave Priest of Integrity Awards in Oct. to a priest in Louisville and the courageous Don Cozzens. So many honored over the years are treated as pariahs for advocating for survivors. They are an embarrassment to their bishops and fellow priests, who do all they can to avoid congratulations --- because it shows up their own failures. It's essentially a shunning from the so-called "brothers."Oh well, spontaneous ruminations on a frigid NH night...Ann, VOTF has been writing popes since our first conference in 2002. I even penned one myself for our affiliate; have the fax number in Rome. Offhand I can think of maybe four or five all together. It's part of the scene, circular file material, but silence is not an option if you want to be at least part of the conversation. VOTF Ireland has been doing a great job.

Susan,The need for effective legal redress in non English-speaking countries is acute. A US survivor attorney went with his Mexican client to Mexico and both barely escaped an attempted kidnapping at their hotel. Following international cases where the power of the Church and its political connections are secure is frustrating in the extreme. And we think our bishops are bad.Enter search terms for different countries at www.BishopAccountability.org to get the sense of the landscape. It's a nightmare in the third world. Victims in Haiti are threatened by locals angry that the financial support offered by an abuser's mission was cut off when the abuser was exposed.

Yet Leanza as the youngest and most recent member of the diplomatic corps in Ireland is its dean, honored as the most senior of all diplomats - an automatic honor for the Holy See.Such deference needs to end.In his press conference after meeting with the Irish foreign minister who complained about lack of Vatican cooperation in the production of documents, Leanza said IF there was any mistake from our side not that there actually was any mistake. So maybe the Holy see made a mistake in refusing to cooperate, maybe not. Leanza then reiterates the standard excuse, there was never any intention as though actions consistently contrary to intent do not negate it. The disconnect between action and intent is too sharp to be neutralized with his conditional drivel.

This is probably silly, but I continue to think that anyone who appreciates Mozart as much as the Pope does could not posdinly be indifferent to the suffering of the children, so I wonder if the Vatican bureaucracy kept him ignorant of the severity of the problem. The Mozart of the angelic music was also at least a junivile delinquent. I've even seen him described as a hoodlum. In other words, I have to wonder what sort of person Benedict really is.What did he know and when did he know it

Ann Olivier, It is impossible that anyone at the Vatican could have been more informed than the current pope.The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the main Roman Curia office that deals with abuse cases. Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed its prefect on 25 November 1981 and served in that capacity until his election to the papacy on 19 April 2005. I would argue that he has continued "de facto" as the CDF head even since becoming pope. Up to now Pope Benedict XVI has issued no public statement on Murphy Commission's report. The Vatican issued a carefully crafted statement on his meeting on Friday with Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin. It does not include a single direct quote from the Pope, but describes his reaction.Everyone is relieved (and I am not at all surprised) that the Pope shares outrage over the report. That should not be news. You'd have to be a monster not to. But look at this: the Vatican statement says he feels "profound regret" (this is not an apology) by "actions by some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust" etc... He appears most horrified that priests have fallen from their pedestals.Again, this is what a Vatican communique says and not the Pope.The language is careful so as not to implicate the Vatican or the Pope in any of this. They will not admit any responsibility whatsoever in how these cases were handled. "Ultimate responsibility" rests with "local Church leaders", this communique clearly says. The facts tell a different story, however. The Vatican was slow to grasp the seriousness of sexual abuse by priests, urged the bishops to keep it out of the press and the courts (for the good of the Church and the good of souls), stripped the episcopal conferences of earlier powers they had to make and enforce binding, national policies, and so forth. Nowhere does the Vatican communique indicate that the Holy See or the papal nuncio bore any responsibility.There is a time honored adage in the Vatican. "Be discreet, but if you get yourself in a mess, you -- and you alone -- have to get yourself out of it." There is a long history of sacrificing individuals for the good of institutions, including the good of the Church.

Robert, I thought the CDF was only in charge of abuse cases since about 2002. Remember how Ratzinger declared himself shocked at what he was reading, and said that the day in the week set aside for it was his day of penance? The papal strategy is to keep publicity surrounding the Dublin report localized, and thwart its becoming world news.

I would not advise defense attorneys to cite their client's adulation of Mozart. Cherubino is 13, Zerlina -- 16 at most? And both are the objects of attention from much older and more powerful people - a Countess and a Don -- to Mozart's delight!

As to what kind of person Ratzinger is, see this celebrated incident:http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/02/a-question-...

The allusion to appreciation of Mozart as indicating goodness brings to mind the proverbial Russian Countess who is weeping at the show inside while her chauffeur is freezing in the carriage. If cultivated indicates goodness the apostles would have flunked badly. But there you have it. The transition from the Spirit of the Lord to eliteness. ""THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED." Luke 4:18Such intense attention to cover up only emphasizes the concern for empire over discipleship.

Mr. Mickens - excellent description of the facts. Fr. O'Leary - in an earlier post you cited the 2002 mark for Ratzinger - it started in 1981 - he has known; he has suffered from mental reservations.Mr. Mickens - your description reminds me of Egan's court testimony in Bridgeport when he tried to explain how he was not accountable for his priests; that he was merely the administrator and the priests were like "contract workers."Thanks, Carolyn. I also am embarrassed by the reaction and comments of good priest friends who seem incapable of understanding the depth of this scandal, sin, and damage. I would agree - if you have not had children of your own, you live in a different world no matter how much you may emotionally and psychologically understand that. It is truly sad - I have to force myself not to lay into my friends; I just move on.In the earlier posts above - we can change the way we nominate and choose bishops but half of the problem is the passivity if not compliance of the priests and then the passivity of the laity. If we, the laity, had more choice in our bishop - would that change things? Don't know? If the bishop was local, know the territory, had his extended family in the diocese, would that change things? Don't know.Again, this is a complex issue - episcopal appointments; accountability, empowering conferences; decentralization; changing canon law (Fr. O'Leary - canon law was basically rewritten by Ratzinger and he completely changed the laws governing penalties, reporting, etc. for sexual abuse and not for the positive - think that took effect in 1983). The last part of this issue is the moral theology and practice - my disappointment with Twomey is that he if the foremost Irish moral theologian - and yet, his comments hav enothing to do with the morality of this situation?

Carolyn:Right.Reminds me of the quote of some Christians as those who "love Jesus but hate people".But they just do not get it and with very, very, very few exceptions there is not an attempt to enter into meaningful dialogue in an attempt to understand.

Somewhere back in this thread is the thought that the problem with the Church is the failure of the hierarchy in this matter.I wish that were true, bu tit's only part of the many divisions and lack of unitive force that undergird some of the issues here.I want to agree, in spades, with Carolyn that there is much intellectuializing by the clergy and clericalist suppoorters, in general, about abuse.It's a phenomenon in some profssional groups but especially here.I also agree that there are and will continue to be major efforts to insulate BXVI from criticism in this.Close to home in Commonweal land (NYC that is) is the Egan deposition, the NYT editorial thereon and the reaction of the current Abp.I continue to feel that there is a lack of insight into the issue due to a lack of appreciative knowledge of the impac tof what has transpired.If a major shakeup is made in Ireland (including removing Murray), I wonder how many here think that wil resolve the problem? And will any bishop(s) removal be seen by the clericalists as making them sacrifical lambs?

Reinforcing my letter about the role of English common law in exposing abuse, Walter Robinson, the lead investigative reporter at the Boston Globe, told a conference I attended that without documents, there would have been no scandal, period. The Globe spent close to $1 million on legal fees to unseal documents. The insight does not originate with me, and the Times edited out my attribution.Jason Berry, the premier journalist covering clergy abuse in the US and half a dozen other countries, wrote about this a few years ago as well. In addition, a post early this month on the Hufffington Post also cites document production. SeeLawsuits Once Again Help Expose Clergy Sexual Abuse by Timothy Lytton at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-lytton/lawsuits-once-again-help_b_... To begin with, plaintiffs' have lawyers compelled Church officials to produce secret files concerning abuse allegations and to provide sworn testimony about their own failures to adequately address the problem. Media reports about Cardinal Egan's failures in Bridgeport are based on more than 12,000 pages of memos, church records, and testimony from 23 lawsuits against the diocese. Indeed, most media coverage of the scandal--dating back to the early 1980s--has been based on these types of litigation documents.Lyttons book is, Holding Bishops Accountable: How Lawsuits Helped the Catholic Church Confront Clergy Sexual Abuse.The real reason SOL reform is so vehemently opposed by bishops is the documents unsealed by the lawsuits that follow. In fact, declaring bankruptcy is a proven strategy to forestall trials and prevent disclosures. Do whatever is necessary, pay whatever is necessary to keep bishops off the stand forced to testify under oath, with the documents as evidence.Interestingly, I find a majority of the judges who opened the lid are women, beginning with Constance Sweeney (Geoghan) and Leila Kern (Shanley) in MA; and Netti C. Vogel in RI.

Robert Mickens, thanks! It is heartening to see that some people at last realize that a papacy that vets candidates for the episcopacy and claims the sole right to choose among them cannot evade responsibility for the results of having chosen those it has chosen.

We have to understand that Rome is mostly concerned with its own authority and what caters to it. The scandal diminishes that authority and therefore whatever one can cover up is important to keep Rome's authority intact. Congar said it best when he wrote: "It is clear to me that Rome has never looked for and even now does not look for anything but the affirmation of its own authority. Everything else interests it only as matter for the exercise of this authority."Sadly, Rome acts more like empire than the force for unity which it should embody.

Why not have a separation of powers within each diocese? A bishop could be responsible for spiritual matters, and a group of lay people could be responsible for management and financial matters (which parishes get closed or opened, where priests are assigned, how money is spent). Let bishops do what they're good at (or should be good at), and since they are not experts in management, let others deal with that.

Two excerpts from Fr. Twomeys column:Priests have been found guilty of unspeakable damage done to innocent children and their families, crimes that cry to heaven for vengeance.The unprofessional, inadequate managerial structures of the Dublin archdiocese, it seems, were partly responsible for the cover-up and inaction plus the tendency to blame others higher up. But the real cause and it is frightening is the lack of expected emotional response to reports about the abuse of children. Nowhere, as far as I can see, was there any expression of horror or outrage by those who were told. Horror and outrage are the natural passions of the good person which God gave us to ensure that we get up and do something in the face of injustice done to others.

"Nowhere, as far as I can see, was there any expression of horror or outrage by those who were told. Horror and outrage are the natural passions of the good person which God gave us to ensure that we get up and do something in the face of injustice done to others." My point above was that Twomey summarizes this well - but, does he himself have a track record of statements of his own "emotional response" - he is/was considered the foremost moral theologian in Ireland? He makes a very good observation but it is as if he is removed from the scene - as if he is seeing this for the first time? Where are his expressions of horror and outrage? It is easy for anyone to express what he stated after the fact.

Mr. de Haas: I have no idea what the answer to your questions is, and since they are your questions, neither do you, I conclude.

Not the least part of this tragedy is that, when we are confronted with such huge moral challenges such as climate change and fair distribution of health care, the bishops have such little moral authority. Rightly or wrongly, they all too often appear to be concerned with shoring up the institutional Church structures rather than with providing guidance and support to their members who have to take stands and make decisions about such matters. We recall with trepidation Dostoyevski's portrayal of the Grand Inquisitor. What would a latter day Dostoyevski do with the clergy that have so badly behaved in the child abuse scandal?

Bill DeHaas, Ratzinger became prefect of the CDF in 1982 I think. But my 2002 date (which I have not checked) refers to the point at which clerical sex abuse became the responsibility of the CDF, previously not connected with this topic. I still note a tendency in the media to exaggerate. Libby Purves speaks of beatings and "full rape", suggesting that this was routine. In face only one priest was into beating kids and the number of priests who were involved in full sexual intercourse, or buggery, seems to be about 3. The majority of the serious offenders were gropers. Vincent Twomey would not be regarded as Ireland's leading moral theologian; his doctorate is on the papal primacy in Eusebius and Athanasius, and his way of talking about conscience (even in the article quoted) causes Ireland's moral theologians to writhe in agony.I have no memory of him making any statement on clerical sexual abuse of minors until his "dregs of society" comment on the Ryan Report last June.

To slightly belabor the point about language and emotion:Note Twomey's choice of words: "The unprofessional, inadequate managerial structures of the Dublin archdiocese"How antiseptic, impersonal, and opaque.Instead, what about the "willful blindness, conscious ignorance and flagrant indifference of bishops to the dangers priests posed to children"? (per NH's atty general, bless him)Twomey: "unspeakable damage". At least it is one step up from "boundary violation" but on a par with the favorite US bishops' description: "harm". I thought if I saw "harm" in one more bishop's statement, I would scream. How about sexual molestation, sexual abuse, sexual assault? It was sexual, yes?No more bleached language or verbal gymnastics, please. Robert Mickens' deconstruction of the Vatican's press statement about Ireland was masterful in exposing the distance and lack of ownership of responsibility by Benedict and the bishops. Donal Murray was busy doing the same in Italy, reminding all he was mentioned nine times in the Murphy Report, and criticized only three times. How wonderful!

"We recall with trepidation Dostoyevskis portrayal of the Grand Inquisitor. What would a latter day Dostoyevski do with the clergy that have so badly behaved in the child abuse scandal?"Dostoevski is a very tricky author where child abuse is concerned. What are we to make of the romantic relationship between the protagonist and the girl waif in The Insulted and Injured? At the least he is an ardent proponent of love between adults and minors (Alyosha and the children in Karamazov); while at the same time his most obsessive image of evil is the rape of a child (Stavrogin).

Question: What role does celibacy play, not in causing sexual dysfunction, but in imparting a sense of being taken up from the community, set apart as someone above, superior in subtle but meaningful ways, so that the ordinary rules in life do not apply? I'm an alter Christus, after all.As Rev. Paul Stanosz noted in C'weal 8-12-05: "Priestly training in the seminaries I studied tended to impart a clerical difference, a sense of specialness that led the seminarians to see themselves as not only separate but also superior to laypeople..... "I found that this sense of specialness was also heightened by a feeling that their services would be in great demand following ordination. The day would come when men and women, a generation or more their senior, would address them as Father and kneel before them for a blessing." http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1252/is_14_132/ai_n27859689/ Celibacy is a large part of that, I believe. The young JPII's I've met are so caught up in their elevated status, just like the pre-V II of my earlier life. And they are totally oblivious...More Stanosz 12-1-06: "Faculty members I interviewed noted that todays seminarians are frequently drawn to theologies that exalt the status and distinctiveness of the clerical role, and are more interested in consulting the Catechism of the Catholic Church for clear answers than in exploring the wide breadth of Catholicisms theological heritage. My sense from my research visits is that a significant number of seminarians are looking for a religiously saturated environment that will bestow a special sense of sacred identity. Their rooms often have the appearance of shrines..."All part of the restorationist approach, IMHO. Abusers were mostly trained pre-VII.

Carolyn Disco, I would fault Twomey for judging the bishops' consciences. The managerial debacle is the better point. Policing male sexuality in any circumstances is a very difficult job, and in the case of devious molestors of children it is particularly so. Recall that the police themselves are accused of the same negligence throughout the report.What is wrong with "harm"? "How about sexual molestation, sexual abuse, sexual assault? It was sexual, yes?" According to the crop of experts who sprung up overnight, pedophilia is not sexual but has to do with power!A lot of the horror and scandal associated with sexual molestation of minors has to to with a residue of our inherited attitudes to sexuality; other forms of abuse exercise us less. I think we would do better to treat molestors as just nuisances like drunks or violent people or thieves, and to give kids the same attitude to them. A footnote: I once asked a class of Japanese female students to recount the most frightening experience of their lives -- every one of them recounted an incident of being exposed to gropers or flashers as children.

Bernanos scoffed at priests who "sidle along the wall" instead of proudly displaying the accoutrements of their sacred status.Now "seminarians are frequently drawn to theologies that exalt the status and distinctiveness of the clerical role". The solution lies in the middle: a functional ministry-based definition of the presbyteral role.Everyone talks of "sexual maturity" as if the meaning of the term were evident. Perhaps the best assurance of such maturity is given by marriage. The celibate state, however lived, seems to be more exposed to sexual immaturity.

Ratzinger was appointed prefect of the CDF on Nov 25, 1981. He was given responsibility for abuse issues only in 2001:"As Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the sexual abuse of minors by priests was his responsibility to investigate from 2001, when that charge was given to the CDF by Pope John Paul II." (Wikipedia)

Colm O'Gorman quotes the phrase "continue to have exclusive competence" in a 2001 letter from Ratzinger. A Google search shows only the words "exclusive competence" in quote marks; the May 2001 letter cannot have referred to continuing competence since the CDF had just had this competence conferred on it.http://colmogorman.com/?tag=cardinal-sean-bradySee: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/apr/24/children.childprotection

Re: "Ratzinger was appointed prefect of the CDF on Nov 25, 1981. He was given responsibility for abuse issues only in 2001."I recall press notice of something at the time, but wonder how it was Ratzinger oversaw the Maciel canon law case, filed in 1998 at his CDF office. Ratzinger and his deputy Franciscan Gianfranco Girotti handled it throughout; in 1999 it was officially accepted by the CDF and recorded as a case in its tribunal. Documents were provided personally to Ratzinger, and some of the survivors even ended up genuflecting and kissing his ring when they ran into him on one of their Vatican visits with Girotti. Were the big ones reserved for Ratzinger?A Mexican cardinal pushing for action discussed the case in 1999 with Ratzinger, who found it a "delicate matter" and wondered if it were prudent to proceed. The Vatican later denied the Mexican cardinal heard what he heard from Ratzinger....and the sordid story goes on.So, Ratzinger was intimately involved at least three years before 2001, whatever the official divisions of labor. When formal transfer to the CDF was announced, no doubt more came his way in greater detail. Somehow though, I suspect there was not much of which he was unaware.

I agree with Carolyn. Anyone who thinks that information actually follows the lines outlined in bureaucratic communiques does not understand how bureaucracies work and function. There are things like plausible deniability such as occurred with Reagan's staff in Iran Contra.On an aside, look how quickly they spring into action when a priest attends (ack) a woman's ordination. As a woman I know tells her daughter. Believe nothing a man tells you and believe everything you see.Good advice.

So, then, we should not believe the story you just told about mother and daughter?

Istm that Fr. Twomey places a good deal of blame on the national conference. Perhaps abolishing the conference should be the first step in the housecleaning.

The beat goes on in Rome and Murray renmains there.The longer that process plays out, the more credibility is lost, because, as noted, many understand how beauracracies work to limit damage.Today's NYT has letters about Cardinal Egan=s deposition (including one from William Donohue.)The notion of how to limit damage in contrast to real human reaction are apparent there s well.It's not about abolishing the national conference, but a real systemic change in how the clergy understand their role and how accountable they are.Clearly for many Irish, words no matter from whom won't do it.And they see the problem as going all the way to the top, despite any apologetics put forward.

"Its not about abolishing the national conference, but a real systemic change in how the clergy understand their role and how accountable they are."But without a national conference bureaucracy, perhaps the buck really would stop with the bishops. Perhaps it would increase their accountability.

I have the same visceral rage for sexual predators that other folks on this thread have expressed. I also think I hate even more the Church leadership who sheltered them. But, I find myself feeling really sorry for all of the good priests out there who are the targets of people's anger for not being outraged enough. The priests I know are better Christians than I am, and I think they're put in a horrible position by this terrible scandal. I think some people also look at them with suspicion now, and I think maybe they deserve better than that for a life of service.

George D:James Joyce stated a belief many years ago that approximates what you mentioned above (12/13 @ 11:06 : Reminds me of the quote of some Christians as those who love Jesus but hate people.):There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being. Letter to Augusta Gregory (1902-11-22), from James Joyce by Richard Ellmann (1959) [Oxford University Press, 1983 edition, ISBN 0-195-03381-7] (p. 107)

Fr. O'Leary --Yes, there is such a thing as social conditioning. But don't you think it's odd that *all* of those Japanese girls all said the same thing? Please consider the possibility that it wasn't a matter of social conditioning. Even animals can be aware that they are the objects of preditors' inerest and be extremely frightened.

Fr. Joseph:Yes that is right. It is not necessary for you to believe that I am, as a result of these postings, any more righteous or upstanding than anyone else. You should not believe that simply because I speak this way that necessarily means that such sentiments turn to action. It does not mean that I would behave any differently faced with such circumstances (necessarily). The only thing I can be measured on is deeds. That's it. I am to be judged is a direct result of my deeds and I am not saying that I do not have my own accountability to face as a result of sins of omission. And I certainly believe that anyone speaking this way on threads like this has a responsibility in that regard.But if I were to here the Pope say that we made a lot of mistakes handling this issue. a lot of people were hurt because of how we chose to address it beginning with him, those words would in fact go a long way because they would be deeds. They would be words that reflect and acknowledgement of wrong doing.

After all to whom much has been given much is expected.

Mr. D.: I was referring, not to you or to your credibility, but to the advice the woman gave her daughter: "Believe nothing a man tells you," which I thought over the top and think is self-defeating for a man to approve. My quip had nothing to do with your righteousness, but with the advice I thought was silly.

I was not impugning the evidence of my class of Japanese girls. I think the demonization of Bishop Donal Murray is basically myopic and unjust. He was perhaps too timidly a man of institutional procedures, but I see no evidence that any other bishop did better (unless you count Abp Martin, safe in Rome during all those years, and who did not speak up any more than anyone else about things he was aware of and shocked by as a priest; and now flown in for masterly damage control). If Bp Murray is removed, who is supposed to replace him? This is not a rhetorical question. I have no doubt that many good Irish priests have refused bishoprics, for very obvious reasons.

Jimmy Mac. I thought Mozart and Dostoevsky were dubious sources, but James Joyce takes the biscuit. He was a great writer, but his sexual attitudes are rotten; the scene of Bloom's masturbation as he spies on a young girl on the beach is not one to uphold either as model or mature morality or even of sexual liberation.

"Visceral rage for sexual predators" is not taking us anywhere. Most of these gropers are suffering from a pathology.

What I take from the 'Japanese girls' is that they all reported it as being the most frightening experience of their life. Perhaps it is not as obvious to men as women - I don't know - but one is not to know that 'molesting' and 'groping' will stop at molesting and groping and not proceed to something worse. And that girls often blame themselves for this and indeed are blamed for it - "You must have led him on" etc, or given him some wrong signals. And any girl who has entered real biological puberty fears pregnancy. Molesters and gropers are causing great misery and fear, and if they do it to somebody already abused, already asking themselves if there is something about their body and behaviour that invites it, great damage is being done. Please do not underestimate it. May I explain who I am? I do not hold any of the positions most of you seem to hold. I am not a Catholic or a Christian. I found you - I cannot remember how - last May when I was frantic for some response to the Ryan Report that was not of the idiotic "What else would you expect from sky pixies?" brigade, nor the Catholic-or- religion haters. It seemed to me to raise such theological and - what through you I have come to call ecclesiology questions [apologies if I have got that word wrong in either meaning or spelling ]. I read "Virtue Theory and the Irish abuse cases" and all the correspondence that followed - it was like being at a 7-day seminar. It was so much more intelligent, vigorous and nuanced than anything I coudl find in Britain. My personal interest was driven by having been in Care myself as a child, but in totally secular local authority Care. I had also read Mary Raftery's book, and Frances Finnegan's book "Repent or Perish". I am not totally biblically illiterate nor , I think, totally theologically illiterate, so I hope you will not mind me looking in from time to time. I have felt quite desperate over the 'silence' - apart from you - over the Ryan report and I feel that the Murphy report will somehow continue that silence and not be connected with what I see as the greater questions that should be asked about the whole situation - the Magdalen Asylums, the children's institutions, and these priests. I bought myself some of the books that were mentioned in the '7-day seminar' and they were very helpful. Thank you everybody. Lorna Crossman

I was sexually assaulted as an adult while I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. It was definitely one of the worst things that had ever happened to me in my entire life. If it had this effect on me as an adult, I can't even begin to imagine what it would do to children, especially if they suffered from it repeatedly. I really appreciate Lorna's (as well as some earlier commenters) weighing in and urging us not to minimize the impact this sexual violence has on its victims. My burning question, though, is how do we protect people from these criminals? It doesn't much matter to me whether we call it "a pathology" or "evil"; how do we protect our children?I was on Grand Jury duty in the South Bronx not too long ago. We had a few child sex abuse cases. It was absolutely wrenching to hear the children testify (they have to use detailed and explicit language to make the charges hold up). In one case, while the 11 year old girl was not raped, pretty much everything else imaginable was done to her and done to her repeatedly. After we indicted her abuser, we learned that he had been convicted of a previous sex offense against a minor and was not supposed to be living in a home with children. When he was arrested he was living with a 3rd family, also with young girls. Several people on the panel were very critical of the girl's mother for not better protecting her daughter. The prosecutor said that type of feeling can be a real problem since sometimes the jury during trials are so mad at the parent they are reluctant to convict the abuser. When we asked the prosecutor why the legal system couldn't better protect the victim, especially since her abuser had a prior record, she got a bit defensive and said the legal system can only do so much.So, it seems like there's a lot of finger-pointing and blame to go around, but at the end of the day what do you do with a man like this? Short of putting him in jail and never letting him out, he is unstoppable.

Most everything that Vincent Twomey has said in his article can be said of situtation in the United States and in countries around the world, in short, it is the system that is corrupted. The actions of the bishops are indictative of that corruption. Changes need to be made from the top down. Church structures have been solidly centralized through the long pontificate of John Paul II but they have failed. The reports in Ireland and, around the world, have documented that for all to see. There can be no argument. It is now up to the People of God around the world to see that things are not allowed to return to the way they were. In the states there is a movement afoot supported by many, many groups. Visit it at -- www.americancatholiccouncil.orgI pray for all the peoples in Ireland. At least you have a decent man willing to stand up and speak the truth in Dublin's Archbishop Martin. We had no bishop of that caliber in the United States.Sister Maureen Paul TurlishVictims' AdvocateNew Castle, Delaware, USAmaureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com

Why resignations? Because they failed to uphold canon law:- first Code of Canon Law 1917, Canon 2354 - if a cleric is convicted of raping a youth of the opposite sex, they will be punished by an eccliastical tribunal according to the degree of the fault, with sinecure, privation of office & dignity, even deposition. Canon 2359 states that if a cleric engages with a minor in a number of sexual acts including sodomy, he will be suspended, declared infamous, and deprived of any office, dignity, or benefice. In these cases, the bishop was required to hold a formal penal trial if he wanted the cleric dismissed from the clerical state but he could remove the cleric from ministry using an administrative action. - very few dioceses throughout the world ever used or applied these canonseven though a bishop could act on his "informed conscience" dating back to the Council of Trent- futhermore, the canons specifically stated that if a bishop was required to take action because of the above and did not, then he was charged with an ecclesiastical crime e.g. example - if a bishop knew that one of his priests was guilty and did nothing, then he could be charged with cooperation in that crime;- in 1922 and again in 1962, secret Roman instructions were forwarded to all bishops clarifying the canons above - 1922 instruction elevated sexual abuse of a minor to a "worst crime" - minor here meant 12 for girls and 14 for boys.- altho the instruction outlines diocesan tribunals, none were set up until the 1940's.....also, laity could report a crime but once it reached the bishop, then these instructions required all catholics to maintain secrecy- both the 1922 & 1962 instructions were never mentioned until 2001 by a letter from Ratzinger/CDF in which he mentioned new norms for sexual abuse of minors which centralized all diocesan cases to Rome- meanwhile, the new revised Canon Law of 1983 was promulgated. Canon 1395 stated that a cleric who persists with sexual abuse of minor is to be punished by suspension and if he continues, that punishments be elevated upto dismissal from the priesthood. Canon 1336 outlined the prohibitions that a bishop could enforce on a cleric e.g. where to reside, etc.- Canon 1389 states that any ecclesiastical officer including a bishop who acts with cupable negligence and fails to perform their rightful eccliastical governance, can be penalized including removal from office.- but the 1983 canon law also increased limitations on action - statute of limitations was five years; no bishop could take "informed conscience" approach and act unilaterally; it added due process, etc. such that the accused cleric had increase rights e.g. privacy if an accusation is made until it comes out in a civil court but the canon law completely ignored the victim and their rights.- again, in the period of 1983 to 2001, there were almost no diocesan tribunals for the abuse of minors around the world- the Ratzinger 2001 directive, increased the age of minors to under 18; statutue of limitations would be ten years starting at the age of 18; ordered all cases to Rome - the local bishop can only hold an inquiry and then submit the case; - Canon 1722 does allow the bishop to use some disciplinary actions;- in 2002, CDF allowed a bishop to waive the ten year SOL and take action without a formal trial- given these centralized changes, the CDF has been overwhelmed with cases since 2002 impeding and delaying actionVarious conferences in the last 10 years have taken steps to develop their own protocols - e.g. US Charter. Interestingly, none of these conferences addressed the role of a bishop if complicit with abusers or bishops who ignored, avoided, or failed to apply canon laws and left accountability at the doorstep.Canon Law since 1917 has clearly laid out the obligations that a bishop has in dealing with clerics who abuse minors and it clearly lays out what "can" occur if a bishop is not accountable. The worldwide record is that canon law especially when it comes to bishops was and is never applied. So, why are we arguing about these Irish bishops being asked to resign?

Bill DeHaas, please point to a clear instance where Bishop Murray, for example, broke the Canon Laws you cite? Note that what you quote from the 1917 code refers to a cleric convicted of rape. How many priests in the Murphy report are even accused of rape? How many are convicted of rape? (1? 2?).

I am sorry the main take-away by JO'Leary from Bill deHaas' excellent review of canon law vis-a-vis sexual abuse cases appears to be that Murray did not commit rape. Such an approach seems to presume that Irish bishops who mishandled accusations should be exempt from canonical penalties like resignation or removal from office, given the Murphy Report.Not so, IMHO. Our canon law case filed in 2003 sought the resignations of Bishops John McCormack and Francis Christian, NH's auxiliary with a shameful record of 19 years, with comparable negligence.--- (perjury and false statements to a court, anyone? See http://votf.org/Survivor_Support/truth_list.html and Attorney Generals Overview of Investigation, 3-3-03, p. 98 hard copy. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/reports/Ne... p. 104 of 160)---Through some unusual connections, the canon case, the only one ever filed by laity that anyone knows of, was delivered to a member of the papal household who found it a professional document. Needless to say, we beamed at that one. I regret our canon case is no longer online, but we hope to remedy that before long at www.bishopaccountability.org. I shall not burden readers beyond this post and another. The correspondence back and forth with Rome was priceless for its bureaucratic round-about, as the case was bound never to be adjudicated. In anyones wildest imagination, Rome would never embarrass two bishops by ruling for resignations based on any case filing, much less from horrors the laity, no matter how well argued.

Still, the point is that many canons have validity for bishop resignations, and I believe they are applicable to the facts disclosed in the Murphy Report. We wrote, Of particular relevance to our understanding of the law in this case are the canons governing the resignation of ecclesiastical officials, the resignations of diocesan bishops in particular, the canons that instruct on the reasons a pastor may be removed from a parish (which we interpret to apply by analogy, and which we read in light of the canons defining the role and pastoral responsibility of diocesan bishops), and the canon that addresses punishment for one who abuses ecclesiastical power or an office.Then we provided abundant evidence for each of these canons, based on numerous public sources like attorney general investigations, depositions, etc: Canon 187: Anyone who is capable of personal responsibility can resign from an ecclesiastical office for a just reason.Canon 401, 2: A diocesan Bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation from office.Canon 1740: When the ministry of any parish priest has for some reason become harmful or at least ineffective, even though this occurs without any serious fault on his part, he can be removed from the parish by the diocesan bishop.Canon 1741: The reasons for which a parish priest can lawfully be removed from his parish are principally1. A manner of acting which causes grave harm or disturbance to ecclesiastical communion.2. Ineptitude or permanent illness of mind or body, which makes the parish priest unequal to the task of fulfilling his duties satisfactorily.3. The loss of the parish priests good name among upright and serious-minded parishioners, or aversion to him, when it can be foreseen that these factors will not quickly come to an end.4. Grave neglect or violation of parochial duties, which persist after warning.5. Bad administration of temporal goods with grave harm to the Church, when no other remedy can be found to eliminate this harm.Canon 1389, 1: A person who abuses ecclesiastical power or an office, is to be punished according to the gravity of the act or the omission, not excluding by deprivation of the office, unless a penalty for that abuse is already established by law or precept.Canon 1389, 2: A person who, through culpable negligence, unlawfully and with harm to another, performs or omits an act of ecclesiastical power or ministry or office, is to be punished with a just penalty.I submit there is similar compelling evidence for complicit Irish bishops. But it doesnt matter in the end, really. The power dynamics that best keep Rome divorced from the fray will prevail, as Robert Mickens analysis shows. The calculus is when the bishops in question become more of a liability than is worth enduring. Brutta figura, nein. Besides, cushy sinecures in Rome provide much consolation, especially in an environment where you can be seen as a poor victim yourself. Again, what does beat in their breasts?JOLeary and I shall probably never agree on this one, but the discussion certainly consumes a lot of ink. I am bowing out now in favor of family obligations for Christmas. And in the last analysis, in gratitude for the faith we all share. He comes!

"I am sorry the main take-away by JOLeary from Bill deHaas excellent review of canon law vis-a-vis sexual abuse cases appears to be that Murray did not commit rape."Carolyn Disco, I suggest that you are playing fast and loose with Bishop Murray's reputation. Your inaccurate and emotive reply to my very reasonable questions about the actual implicit accusation made by Bill DeHaas against Bp Murray only confirms my impression that Bp Murray has been made a target for lazy popular prejudice, and that most of those who vent their indignation against him have not even read carefully what the Murphy Report says about him. They are prepared to believe the worst, without any attempt at objective justice.

"Such an approach seems to presume that Irish bishops who mishandled accusations should be exempt from canonical penalties like resignation or removal from office, given the Murphy Report."Not at all. But citing long lists of laws is not a proof that any given individual has broken them."perjury" etc. may be relevant to the American bishops you mention, but no one has accused Irish bishops of this.Again, I would ask how anyone can be confident that they would have done a better job of policing sexual deviants than Bp Murray did. The glorification of Abp Martin also seems to me to be OTT -- the good Archbishop was in ROME all the time covered by the Murphy Report. He can claim the innocence of ignorance just as Ratzinger et al. Then he is sent back to Ireland to clean up the mess as a pair of clean hands. Is that not a tad convenient?

You don't know your own canon laws nor how they apply to bishops but then very few have ever really applied them. Your comment about implying rape to the bishop shows your own confusion and lack of knowledge.Would agree with your last paragraph - let's not overly praise Martin - he was in Rome; thus, able to avoid having to deal with the messiness. But, to date, he has done a better job than all the others put together dating back years. Sorry - his words and actions already surpass anything our pope has yet done.

Bill DeHaas, this is absurd. Can you read English? I never said that you accused the bishop of rape; in fact I said that Carolyn Disco was being emotive in suggesting I had been guilty of such nonsense. The implied accusation against the bishop is that he broke the canon laws you cite. But you did not formulate any clear accusation. Again this really undercuts your credibility. Tossing out accusations in this lazy and sloppy fashion is unconscionable.For precise accusations, see Vincent Browne in today's paper: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1216/1224260758613.html

Oh dear. As I read the posts here, no one accused Murray of rape, no one. Please put that to rest. I did not suggest, period, that JO'Leary was guilty of any such accusation.I just found it curious that of all the canons and instructions Bill quoted, the one that O'Leary focused on referred to rape (which certainly did not pertain to Murray), but as though the rest of the canons was basically immaterial. I see no "implicit accusation" against Murray by Bill of any rape charge. He was quoting what's out there in the code, not insisting that every complicit bishop broke every one of the cited canons.Perhaps "being emotive" goes both ways.I can fit Murray into many paragraphs in our canon case, but have not the time or space to quote beyond the outlines I gave. The case is many, many pages not available to link to, and the evidence section is too lengthy to handle. I just disagree that "inexcusable" conduct really is benign. And Lord help us if no one could have done any better job than Murray. That is more a comment on the "inexcusable" mindset of the entire hierarchy than anything.What really does beat in their breasts?Anyway, this is beyond the beyond, and I really do sign off now.

"Bill DeHaas, please point to a clear instance where Bishop Murray, for example, broke the Canon Laws you cite? Note that what you quote from the 1917 code refers to a cleric convicted of rape. How many priests in the Murphy report are even accused of rape? How many are convicted of rape? (1? 2?)."The point, to be clearer, is that Bp Murray is accused of being "complicit" in child abuse. I suggest that a more charitable interpretation is perfectly possible.The second point I make is only loosely related to that. I point out that rape is rarely mentioned in the Murphy Report. Scanning it I find the following:Accused of rape and/or buggery are: Frs Marius, Daryus, Cassius, Benito, Rufus, Ricardus, Klaudius.Convicted of rape: Fr Reynolds. Thus the 1917 law cited by Bill DeHaas would have applied only to one case.I have not found where the Report calls Dr Murray's behavior "inexcusable". This is all I found:"The reaction of Archbishop Ryan to the 1982 complaint was totally inadequate. The Archbishop had a comprehensive psychiatric report detailing Fr Moore's problems with alcohol and with his sexuality. Given that the Archbishop had already ignored the advice of the psychiatrist (in 1977) about not locating Fr Moore in a parish setting, the Archbishop's response to the 1982 complaint was inexcusable."Bp Murray was an auxiliary bishop to Archbishop Ryan in 1982.

Carolyn Disco: "I see no implicit accusation against Murray by Bill of any rape charge. He was quoting whats out there in the code, not insisting that every complicit bishop broke every one of the cited canons."Of course I never claimed that Bill had made any such accusation; why do you raise this red herring again immediately after saying you are putting it to rest? The implicit accusation in Bill's list is that the cited canons (some of them) were breached by Bp Murray to such a degree as to make his resignation imperative under church law. And of course I never suggested Bill was saying the bishop broke all the laws he quotes (though I did point out that the first law he quoted could apply only in the case of Fr Reynolds, since it deals with clerics convicted of rape).I think now that the Vatican should not accept Bp Murray's resignation unless a civil or canonical court has found him guilty, in a fair trial with due process, of having broken a law. Personally, I cannot imagine Donal Murray, a man of integrity and decency, as a law-breaker.

Again, Carolyn Disco, you claim that I regard "the rest of the canons as basically immaterial". You seem to specialize in groundless accusations. On the contrary, I regard all the canons cited as matters of extreme gravity, which it why I would like to defend Bp Murray against the implied accusation that he was in breach of them. I simply asked a very obvious question: which canon does Bill think he broke, that makes Bill so certain the Bishop should be subjected to punitive dismissal? Bill has not answered my question, but blustered instead; obviously, he does not know the answer -- he just has the impression that the Murphy report called the bishop's behavior inexcusable.I don't know the answer either, which is why I asked the question.

The one law cited that might be likely to be invoked against Bp Murray is Canon 1389, which states that any ecclesiastical officer including a bishop who acts with culpable negligence and fails to perform their rightful ecclesiastical governance, can be penalized including removal from office.Bp Murray denies that he is guilty of culpable negligence.

Note also that as quoted the law does not make penalization mandatory and furthermore that the penalization need not necessarily entail removal from office.

This is a very fascinating conversation! I am not competent or well enough informed of the facts to be able to add anything concerning Bishop Murray.However, I do know that Rome is very hesitant to impose canonical penalties on bishops -- when they are requested or insisted upon FROM BELOW, i.e. when their power or authority is contested by the non-ordained (the so-called laity).The reason for this is fairly obvious. Their is the fear that ousting a bishop because of popular demand could lead to precedent and encourage protests against other members of the hierarchy.The Vatican only allowed Cardinal Bernard Law to resign under canon 4012 (the catch-all canon) only because he was, literally, unable to walk out of us his own residence. He could no longer govern his diocese. Rome forced him to stay in Boston until it became physically impossible for him.(Here is the cardinal's statement upon resignation, for those who are interested: http://212.77.1.245/news_services/bulletin/news/12460.php?index=12460&po...)Will higher church authority (that favourite and nebulous word Rome loves to use) allow or demand Bishop Murray to stand down? Hard to tell.

I heard that the Vatican also did not want Bishop Eamonn Casey of Galway to step down; probably they prefer bishops to stand their ground and brave public anger and paparazzi if at all possible.But even in democratic countries like Ireland or Britain politicians are very loth to resign or have their colleagues resign in response to popular or media pressure. In some cases the person forced to resign is later much missed (the case of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern).

This thread really is interesting. I find it encouraging that, at least from what I'm reading here, the people of Ireland do have some options: through grassroots pressure like that Robert Mickens described in Boston, combined with creative tactics put forward by Carolyn Disco & Mr DeHaas using lawsuits based on canon law, Irish Catholics might be able to force change if that's what they want. I think Sister Maureen Paul Turlish is right that it is up to the people to fix the problem. It will be interesting to see where the Irish go with this.

Rev. O'Leary - "I simply asked a very obvious question: which canon does Bill think he broke, that makes Bill so certain the Bishop should be subjected to punitive dismissal? Bill has not answered my question, but blustered instead; obviously, he does not know the answer he just has the impression that the Murphy report called the bishops behavior inexcusable."Allow me to continue to "bluster" versus your solid, factual, and documented approach as in this comment - "I think now that the Vatican should not accept Bp Murrays resignation unless a civil or canonical court has found him guilty, in a fair trial with due process, of having broken a law. Personally, I cannot imagine Donal Murray, a man of integrity and decency, as a law-breaker".Thanks to Carolyn Disco for placing my canon law timeline in proper context unlike Fr. O'Leary who continues to react emotionally but provides few facts beyond statements of loyalty. Based on what? No, I provided relevant canon law statutues that all of these bishops have failed to implement. No, I did not detail or connect the dots to any specific bishop - it would not take an expert to do that. Yes, you are correct that canon law builds in steps that gradually move to removal from office.....and, yes, canon law basically leaves the interpretation and imposition of any penalties to a tribunal, Rome, or bishop. That, by the way, is part of the problem. History documents that there are very few, if any, cases where a bishop has been removed under various available canon law statutues.Here is a link to one of the cardinals involved (now retired): http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1216/1224260758613.html......."My point is that we all knew in 1995 that Desmond Connell had made funds available to compensate a victim of abuse by a priest in the diocese, that Desmond Connell had lied about it, that Desmond Connell had failed to tell garda about the crime of abuse, that he failed to move the priest in question away from where he would have contact with children, that he made no effort to inquire into whether the priest had abused others in the course of his ministry.And if we all knew about it, you can be assured the Vatican knew about it. And what did the Vatican do about it? Did they institute inquiries of their own into how the Payne case had been handled? Did they summon Desmond Connell to Rome to explain why he had told lies about the compensation? Did they demand to know why Desmond Connell had not removed the priest from ministry, immediately he knew of the crime?"Here is another link: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1216/1224260763817.html........"the report found some priests were aware that particular instances of abuse had occurred. A few were courageous and brought complaints to the attention of their superiors. The vast majority simply chose to turn a blind eye.It continued: the cases show that several instances of suspicion were never acted upon until inquiries were made.My bluster: from my earlier post - "the canons specifically stated that if a bishop was required to take action because of the above and did not, then he was charged with an ecclesiastical crime e.g. example if a bishop knew that one of his priests was guilty and did nothing, then he could be charged with cooperation in that crime"......you can parse this as much as you want; you can argue that Murray did want he needed or that he was well-intentioned or that he was not guilty but a jury in a court, presented with the evidence in the Murphy Report would probably find that he violated this canon law and could be charged by the church with an ecclesiastical crime. Interesting that you would rather see Murray face a civil court case to clear his name.....again, a consistent pattern in which the church is unable to deal with its own and must rely upon the laws and courts to find justice and the truth.

To address your comment about my bluster and what canon law - from the Murphy Report (have you read it?):Highlights from a civil court case today: "A priest named in a damning report on child abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese has been jailed for three years for sexually abusing an altar boy. Fr Thomas Naughton, 78, abused the boy between 1982 and 1984 in the parish of Valleymount in County Wicklow. The judge said the abuse was "shocking and horrific". He said Naughton abused his position of trust and said the abuse was "premeditated". The last 12 months of his sentence were suspended. Naughton's abuse featured heavily in last month's Murphy report which found there was a cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy in the Dublin Archdiocese between 1975 and 2004. Bishop of Limerick Dr Donal Murray has come under pressure to resign for his "inexcusable" failure to investigate an allegation of abuse against Naughton. The report found he did not deal properly with the suspicions and concerns that were expressed to him about Naughton while he was an auxiliary bishop of Dublin. When, a short time later, factual evidence of Naughton's abusing emerged in another parish, it found Bishop Murray's failure to reinvestigate the earlier suspicions was "inexcusable". In May 1998, Naughton admitted six counts of indecent assault on three boys. He was jailed for three years, reduced on appeal to two and a half years."

Bill DeHaas, I myself forwarded the link you give to Vincent Browne -- perhaps you didn't notice.You accuse Bp Murray of breaking Canon Law and ask me to supply facts establishing his innocence. That is rather unfair of you, since you did not even formulate a clear accusation.I mentioned the civil court only on the supposition that some may accuse him of having broken the civil law -- an unlikely scenario, I'd say. The point is you should not presume guilt when no legal process has established it. On Fr Naughton, I don't find that the Commission said Bp Murray's behavior was "inexcusable". Here is what they write:The Commissions assessment The Archdiocese 29.53 In the Commission's view, Bishop Murray must take some responsibility for the very poor handling of complaints against this priest. [THIS IS VERY FAR FROM A CRIMINAL CHARGE] The Commission believes it is to his credit that he recognised this when he issued his statement admitting his failure to follow up properly the complaints he had received from Valleymount. 29.54 It is unacceptable that, when the Donnycarney complaints were being discussed by the bishops, he, they and Archbishop McNamara did not return to the Co Wicklow parish and carry out further investigations. This was despite the fact that Bishop Murray told the Commission that he informed the meeting about the two men's complaints about Fr Naughton. 29.55 The archdiocesan authorities were wrong not to inform all priests in Ringsend that there had been a serious complaint about Fr Naughton while he worked in Donnycarney. 29.56 Overall, in their handling of the complaints against Fr Naughton, archdiocesan authorities, particularly Bishop Murray, the Valleymount parish priest and Archbishops Ryan and McNamara let down those families who, because they were good Catholics, trusted the Church to do something about this man. Archbishop McNamara was slow to respond to the complaint from the Rundles despite the priest admitting sexual abuse. As a result, Fr Naughton was allowed to continue his abusive behaviour for several years thereby severely damaging more victims. It was only when they went to the Garda that they finally received satisfaction. 29.57 The Archdiocese was, at best, evasive in its referrals of Fr Naughton for medical treatment in Ireland. Nowhere was there a full revelation of its concerns or its knowledge. In particular, following the first report from the first psychiatrist who saw him, which was clearly based on wrong information, the Archbishop's response was merely to write a note thanking the psychiatrist for his most helpful report. Fr Naughton was then going to be retained in his ministry. It was not until the next complaint surfaced, which in fact happened the following month, that he was sent to Stroud to which a full report was provided. 29.58 The Archdiocese did, however belatedly, act correctly in the view of the Commission, in arranging for Fr Naughton to live with his former Society when the Ringsend complaints were made. Dismissing him then would have led to a situation where he could have continued his activities unsupervised. Returning him to live with his former Society meant that his activities could be strictly monitored and controlled. Indeed, his former Society is to be commended for accepting him. 29.59 Fr Naughton's case is symptomatic of the Dublin Archdiocese's attitude to child sexual abuse in the 1980s. Until the problem became so great it could not be hidden, the archdiocesan procedure was to do all in its power to protect the wrongdoer, while almost completely ignoring the effect of this abuse on the victims. Monsignor Stenson states that the aim was to rehabilitate the wrongdoer rather than to protect him. Regardless of the aim in respect of the wrongdoer, the welfare of the children was not addressed. As a result Fr Naughton was allowed to continue his abuse for several years after legitimate concerns were first raised. This would not have happened if the Archdiocese had fulfilled its duty to the children in the first instance.

I have not downloaded the entire report, so the word "inexcusable" may be applied to this case elsewhere in the report. I have downloaded only the 46 individual cases discussed in the report. I would not believe a newspaper report rather than the text of the Murphy Report itself on this matter.

"Interesting that you would rather see Murray face a civil court case to clear his name..again, a consistent pattern in which the church is unable to deal with its own and must rely upon the laws and courts to find justice and the truth."This is an odd remark; I expressed no such preference. And you fail to note that the church officials in Ireland have taken many, many steps to deal with the problem of a small number of deviant priests -- steps including suspension, laicization, therapy, compensation of victims (causing the selling off of vast amounts of church property) and installation of vigilant procedures to ensure safety of children -- these steps have been taken for many years now -- sometimes priests have accused bishops of overdoing it.

"I provided relevant canon law statutes that all of these bishops have failed to implement."Did ALL bishops named in the Murphy Report fail to implement ALL statutes mentioned? (And were some of the statutes not referring rather to the Vatican's powers to dismiss bishops?) Qui nimis probat nihil probat. "No, I did not detail or connect the dots to any specific bishop it would not take an expert to do that. "Precisely, and when a bishop loudly denies that the dots connect to him, should you not give him a hearing?Again, you say that priests generally did not act on "suspicions" of child abuse. Do you say all priests or only some? Where are the dotted lines in this case? And why stop at priests -- if child abuse were so obvious and visible a phenomenon thousands of others, parents, teachers and police, must have been keeping their lips culpably sealed as well...There is a lot of witch-hunt suspicion-mongering and hysterical accusation going on here. I think we should confine our accusation to clearly noted failures. And we should note too that dealing with suspicions of child abuse is a very difficult matter for all organizations.As an illustration of what the witch-hunt mentality is creating, see http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/12/the-sex-cri... http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/12/sexual-predators-2009... kind of knee-jerk vigilante justice which seems so healing and purging is in reality a formula for new injustice.

Witch hunt - knee jerk vigilante justice - new injustice. What hyperbole.Here from the Murphy Report: "The Murphy report is very clear on where responsibility lies for much of this. It said of Bishop Murray: he did not deal properly with the suspicions and concerns that were expressed to him in relation to Fr Naughton (at Valleymount). When, a short time later, factual evidence of Fr Naughtons abusing emerged in another parish (Donnycarney) Bishop Murrays failure to reinvestigate the earlier suspicions (in Valleymount) was inexcusable.The report also found that this inaction by Bishop Murray and other authorities in the archdiocese meant Fr Naughton was allowed to continue his abusive behaviour for several years, thereby damaging more victims.Keep in mind - the Murphy Report is not exhaustive. The 46 cases are only a sample - so, none of us has complete documentation or cases that these bishops and their chancellors were involved in. Again, canon law suggests that ecclesiastical crime can be the failure of a bishop to act appropriately - it does not have to meet the legal or civil requirements that a crime has been committed. One of the victims of Naughton: "Such was the severity of the abuse in Mervyn Rundles case that he was awarded what is believed to be the largest ever settlement paid out by the Dublin archdiocese. It was significantly over 300,000, plus costs"Another of Naughton's victims: "Another man Dave (not his real name) also settled with the archdiocese. Mervyn Rundle knew Dave. He recalled that two days after Naughton pleaded guilty to abusing Dave in Donnycarney, Dave took his own life. He wasnt the only one. Mervyn recalled another man, also abused in the parish as a boy by Naughton, who took his own life before charges were brought in his case."Remarks after yesterday's trial: "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.Hopefully, this will happen and also involve complicit gardai and government officials.Let's see if the Vatican announces Murray's resignation in a few hours.

Heaven knows what the English language means anymore when communicating in the world of supposedly baseless accusations, lazy popular prejudice, nonsense, implicit accusations, being emotive about Murray, ad infinitum. I find myself left with a never-never-land quality in various exchanges, trying to discern the root cause of what is to me at least a marked disconnect. Lack of specificity of charges against Murray, where other charitable interpretations are possible, seems the core complaint. Though somehow I am left with the impression that there is no possible consensus, given different realities.I do ask, What is the cast of mind that turns away, removes itself, fails to investigate forcefully and promptly at the slightest chance of molestation? In rejecting Murrays culpability, it is possible to parse every word, strain the gnats of procedure, and jurisdiction, and technicality, and interpretation, and liability, --- all to the point of oblivion, BUT NOT INNOCENCE.Here are the applicable canons with evidence to follow from the Murphy Report, in sections: 1) CANON 1741: The reasons for which a parish priest can lawfully be removed from his parish are principally: (remember we interpreted that these apply by analogy to a bishop, in light of canons defining their role and pastoral responsibility)---A manner of acting which causes grave harm or disturbance to ecclesiastical communion.I believe there is ample evidence in the public record that Murray causes grave harm to ecclesiastical communion.---The loss of a priests good name among upright and serious-minded parishioners, or aversion to him, when it can be foreseen that these factors will not quickly come to an end. I hope I do not need to elaborate on Murrays loss of good name and the majority of peoples aversion to him.

More canons and evidence from the Murphy Report:2) CANON 1389, 1: A person who abuses ecclesiastical power or an office, is to be punished according to the gravity of the act or the OMISSION, not excluding by deprivation of the office3) CANON 1389, 2: A person who, through culpable negligence, unlawfully and with harm to another, performs or omits an act of ecclesiastical power or ministry or office, is to be punished with a just penalty. How is Murrays Murray failed by OMISSION to exercise his power to adequately protect Gods children. Taking time to stop and think, then acting accordingly and effectively --- thats where morality happens. Murray chose not to investigate forcefully or promptly despite inklings that something was wrong. Though he often cited a lack of detailed knowledge, he did not make the effort to fill in the blanks. Murrays negligence was culpable, causing grievous and, I would say, inexcusable harm to vulnerable innocents. Murray himself admitted his failure to follow up properly on some complaints. Other times, despite clearly deficient arrangements, Murrays answer simply was not my job. Nor apparently was it his job to help arrange effective procedures that others might implement. He looked the other way and that was it.Evidence McNamee caseP. 11-12 Bishop Murray called to see him shortly before Christmas 1994. He inquired with the superior as to Fr McNamees health and general well-being. He failed to mention to the superior the real purpose of his visit and the concerns which the Archdiocese had in regard to Fr McNamee and his behaviour with young people. 12.24 Bishop Murray then saw Fr McNamee and, in the course of a general conversation, asked whether he had any concerns about the recent scandals relating to child sexual abuse. Fr McNamee claimed that he was not personally affected. The bishop said that there had been some things suggested about him in this area in the past but Fr McNamee replied that this was: just talk, talk, talk. There is a kind of conspiracy going on: people seeing evil where there is none. A lot of what is been [sic] said is evil and mischievous. The people who make false allegations are themselves evil. 12.25 Bishop Murray accepted Fr McNamees denials that he had young people in the car. This was the extent of his inquiries. The bishop did think that there was some unresolved anger and some denial about the earlier situation, of which Bishop Murray said he had no detailed knowledge. P. 17 Bishop Murray and Archbishop Connell must accept responsibility for not communicating fully with the nuns in Co Wicklow. When complaints surfaced in the 1990s about Fr McNamee, Bishop Murray visited the convent but did not explain fully the circumstances surrounding Fr McNamees placement there. He claims he was not fully informed about the details. However it was clear from his memo of the meeting that he was aware that there was an allegation of child sexual abuse made against Fr McNamee in the late 1970s. In the Commissions view neither the bishop nor the Archbishop seemed to have given any consideration to the risk Fr McNamee might have posed to the altar boys attending the convent. Both were aware of his abusive past and that no monitoring system had been put in place in relation to him.

Evidence Naughton casep. 287 29.12 In a statement regarding the Valleymount situation, issued in 2002, Bishop Murray stated that he was very aware that if he had derived more information from the various interviews I conducted ,(HE CHOSE NOT TO INVESTIGATE THOROUGHLY, ACCEPTING DENIALS AT FACE VALUE) it might have been possible (IT WAS POSSIBLE, BUT HE CHOSE LAXITY OVER VIGILANCE) to prevent some of the dreadful suffering of child abuse. I very much wish that I had been able to do so.(HE WAS ABLE TO DO SO; THERE WAS NO INCAPACITY,) It is a matter of the greatest regret to me that I did not manage (at that time to get to the root of the problem. No attempt was made by Bishop Murray to revisit these concerns even after he became aware of Fr Naughtons abusive behavior in Donnycarney and Ringsend (see below). Bishop Murray told the Commission that, when the Donnycarney complaint was raised at an Auxiliary Bishops meeting with Archbishop McNamara in November 1985, he mentioned the concerns of the two men who had approached him in Valleymount. At this stage the concerns about Valleymount were known to two Archbishops and several auxiliary bishops and none of these men thought of revisiting the issue. P. 288 29.15 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. P. 297The Commissions assessment The Archdiocese 29.53 In the Commissions view, Bishop Murray must take some responsibility for the very poor handling of complaints against this priest. The Commission believes it is to his credit that he recognised this when he issued his statement admitting his failure to follow up properly the complaints he had received from Valleymount.

Evidence: Marius caseMonitoring system, 1997 34.20 In December 1997 Monsignor Stenson spoke to a local priest about the monitoring system that was supposed to be in place. The priest recalled a vague conversation with Bishop Murray but said that nothing was mentioned about a monitoring system. It would appear that the only system that was in place at that stage was one where Bishop Murray inquired from Fr Marius if he was behaving himself. P. 34234.33 There was a major problem about the monitoring of this priest. Despite the fact that he was the area bishop and was in touch with the priest on a regular basis between March 1993 and the time of his appointment as bishop of Limerick in February 1996, Bishop Murray failed to put a proper system in P. 343place. Bishop Murray has said that it was not his responsibilityThats enough to give the idea. In closing, I refuse to bear witness against myself by honoring bishops with dishonorable records; who want to own the solution, but not the crisis. They seek status, lengthen the tassels of their worldly influence, but tie up heavy burdens for those who suffered. Living in a world of abstraction and privilege has dulled their vision of reality, and anesthetized their responses.It is time bishops recognize their role in criminally endangering children, obstructing justice, and lying by mental reservation. It did not just happen all by itself, out of the ethers. They enabled abuse and must stop the denial and spin. Anything less than a fall-on-your-knees penitential stance is cheap grace.

Goodnight, Bill and JO'Leary. We MUST be the only ones tapping away on this thread. I know there is duplication, Bill, in our quotes from Murphy, but I discovered it too late.Gold stars for both of you reading this far. And poor Grant, or whoever on staff may be stuck with moderating.

"Witch hunt knee jerk vigilante justice new injustice. What hyperbole."No, if you read the links I attached, I think you would see that this names a serious problem.

Here from the Murphy Report: The Murphy report is very clear on where responsibility lies for much of this. It said of Bishop Murray: he did not deal properly with the suspicions and concerns that were expressed to him in relation to Fr Naughton (at Valleymount). When, a short time later, factual evidence of Fr Naughtons abusing emerged in another parish (Donnycarney) Bishop Murrays failure to reinvestigate the earlier suspicions (in Valleymount) was inexcusable.I googled the last words here and the only thing that came up was the Irish Times article you quote -- the Murphy Report did not come up...

"I do ask, What is the cast of mind that turns away, removes itself, fails to investigate forcefully and promptly at the slightest chance of molestation? In rejecting Murrays culpability, it is possible to parse every word, strain the gnats of procedure, and jurisdiction, and technicality, and interpretation, and liability, all to the point of oblivion, BUT NOT INNOCENCE."Bishop Murray has stated that he did indeed forcefully and promptly act on all allegations of child abuse that came to his notice. Note that he was only an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese. I don't think you have made any attempt to hear his side of the story, a basic requisite of judging fairly.

Of course, putting a monitoring system in place was not Bp Murray's responsibility. It was the responsibility of the Archbishop of Dublin, who did not delegate it to Bp Murray. Satirizing such a response, a mere statement of face, as evasive is unfair rhetoric.It is like if a surgeon allowed a patient to die through failing to check some machine, which it was his responsibility to check. Supposing a nurse were then blamed by the grieving family. She would be quite right to say "it was not my responsibility" and it would be quite unjust to treat her as callous for pointing out the fact.

correction: face SHD BE factSome of the concrete charges against Bp Murray, now at last raised explicitly, do give one pause.But arguments of guilt from omission should be treated with care. Anyone can be found guilty of anything by using such arguments. "Murray failed by OMISSION to exercise his power to adequately protect Gods children. Taking time to stop and think, then acting accordingly and effectively thats where morality happens. Murray chose not to investigate forcefully or promptly despite inklings that something was wrong. Though he often cited a lack of detailed knowledge, he did not make the effort to fill in the blanks."By this reasoning, any parent could be convicted of complicity in any bad thing their children do. Anyone could be convicted of complicity in anything their siblings or colleagues do. "His power to adequately protect" is probably over-estimated here; it is like telling a parent they had the power to stop their kids becoming murderers, molestors, etc.

"In closing, I refuse to bear witness against myself by honoring bishops with dishonorable records; who want to own the solution, but not the crisis. They seek status, lengthen the tassels of their worldly influence, but tie up heavy burdens for those who suffered. Living in a world of abstraction and privilege has dulled their vision of reality, and anesthetized their responses."It is a pity that your canonical case against the NH bishops did not go to court. You might discover that this kind of rhetoric would not stand up to much cross-questioning. Bishop Murray, for all you know, may have dwelt much more deeply on the problems of clerical abuse of minors than you have. It is interesting that the family of one victim who committed suicide speak of him in the tones of highest praise -- which in your view would have to mean that they are "bearing witness against themselves by honoring a bishop with a dishonorable record".

Googling again, I find that the Irish Time gives the alleged quote from the Murphy Report twice, in two different versions: "failure to investigate the earlier suspicions was inexcusable" and ""failure to reinvestigate the earlier suspicions was inexcusable". I still don't find this phrase in the Report itself.

"In the interview with the Limerick Leader, Bishop Murray again emphasised that he had no specific allegation to work with in the case involving Fr Naughton. He said his conscience was clear that he was not involved in a cover-up and his failings resulted from naivety and inexperience."In short, such failings as anyone could be guilty of.

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 inquiryhttp://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2009/1217/1224260839953.html 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: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1218/1224260899961.html 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misprision_of_felony

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:http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2009/11_12/2009_12_16_IrishTime... (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: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1219/1224260979991.html

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: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1219/1224260980057.html

Here is a tale of police negligence in following up a complaint of incestuous child abuse. The negligent policeman was fined 150 Euro. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1219/1224260977220.html

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: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1219/1224260977241.html

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:http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1219/1224260976309.html

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: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1221/1224261044249.html

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:http://www.sbpost.ie/commentandanalysis/vatican-guilty-of-unholy-compass... "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. http://jfs.e-contentmanagement.com/archives/vol/14/issue/2-3/article/240...

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. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1222/1224261109436.html

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.

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