Today marks the eighth anniversary of the launching of this blog. With the recent controversy over the hushing-up of paedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland (see also developments in Northern Ireland), I thought I would mark this anniversary by reproducing below an article I published in the 'Comment' area of my personal website just a couple of weeks prior to the launch of this blog, followed by a link to a follow-up article there published just two days prior to the launch of this blog. The first article was published on 20th March 2002 and the original article entitled "The Sickness at the Heart of the Catholic Church" may be found here:
The Sickness at the Heart of the Catholic Church
(20 March 2002)
Over the past year or two there have been regular revelations in the media about misconduct by Roman Catholic personnel, amongst whom priests, bishops and archbishops, involving their sexual misconduct and amounting, in many cases, to straight criminal offences, coupled with administrative neglect on the part of the more senior personnel.
Recently, for example, there has been a furore in Boston concerning a Bishop who failed to act when he became aware of paedophile behaviour amongst his priests.
In the UK, too, at the time of the recent ordination of the current Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, it was revealed that he had on a number of occasions, whilst a Bishop, moved priests around within his diocese who had committed paedophile offences and that they had subsequently committed further similar offences. I recall listening to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor trying to explain why he had done what he had - this very intelligent gentleman was obviously extremely embarrassed at the revelations and could only give what sounded like a rather weak apology. It makes me very sad when I recall what a good man was his predecessor, Cardinal Archbishop George Basil Hume OSB. Also in the UK, there were persistent stories (difficult for the Church to rebut because there existed too much supporting evidence) relating to the late Cardinal Archbishop of Glasgow, Cardinal Thomas Joseph Winning, who had on a number of occasions moved priests to different parishes in the wake of paedophile offences which they had committed, and allowed them to continue with their ministry.
And now, in a television documentary about the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, it is revealed that over a period of almost TWENTY YEARS a priest by the name of Fr Sean Fortune committed serial paedophile offences against youths and young men, if the 66 indictments against him prior to his death by suicide recently are any guide. Furthermore, and perhaps even more shocking, it is revealed that the Bishop of Ferns, Brendan Comiskey, took no action for six years (until he was forced to do so by persistent complaints from victims and their parents) against Fr Fortune. It appears that Fr Fortune exploited the respect normally granted to priests in Ireland to bully and intimidate many of his victims into silence, and even where this was not effective the Church authorities, in the person of Bishop Comiskey, declined to give any [apparent] credence to what he had been told by some of these victims and their parents; when action was eventually taken, Fr Fortune fled (taking a substantial amount of Church funds with him) to Belgium and when extradited back to Ireland, succeeded in committing suicide while released on bail. [One could not make this up - truth is sometimes even more bizarre than fiction).
One of the victims, now a man in his twenties (I think), explained very cogently what had happened to him and the effect of the assaults he suffered at the hands of Fr Fortune - he also related how he had been threatened by the 'good' Father that he would pay for it if he ever spoke about it; when he assured Fr Fortune that we would remain silent, provided the Father assured HIM that he would not commit similar acts against other people, the father indicated he had no real intention of stopping. So the young man decided to act and the Police were informed. This young man and a number of others are now suing Bishop Comiskey, the Catholic Church in the form of the Papal Nuncio (Ambassador) in Ireland and His Holiness the Pope - and the response of the Vatican is - what do you think? Well, the Catholic Church is claiming 'diplomatic immunity'.
As the young interviewee said, 'it is simply not good enough' and he repeated this phrase three times in a mixture of anger and anguish about the hurt he had been caused.
It appears from these cases, and many more I have heard about over the years, that there exists a sickness at the heart of the Catholic Church, and that this sickness is longstanding and spread through the Church in many countries - and the Church tries to claim 'diplomatic immunity'. It disgusts me. (Click here to read about later developments.)
The 'later developments' referred to immediately above related to an article published in the 'Comment' area of my personal website on 1st April 2002, two days before this blog was launched, under the title Brendan Comiskey, Roman Catholic Bishop of Ferns (Ireland), resigns at last.
Some of the earliest articles in this blog itself continued, as an unfortunate necessity and indeed as one of the topics which spurred me into creating this blog, to document the flagrant abuse of civil authority practised by the Roman Catholic Church in other locations such as the US, although I am aware of cases in the UK and Australia, too:
- THE VATICAN RESPONSE TO PRIESTLY PAEDOPHILIA (29 April 2002)
- Catholic church in US pulls out of agreement on compensation of paedophilia victims (4 May 2002).
Now we have an ill-judged Easter 'fight-back' from a senior Vatican priest comparing worldwide outrage at priestly abuse of children as akin to the persecution of the Jews. The amazement and disgust of the world at this continuing failure to 'own' the crimes committed by Church personnel caused the Vatican to distance itself from the remarks. Nothing must be taken on trust with these people - history shows this, unfortunately. It is clear that whilst the Roman Catholic Church may have gone some way to 'cleaning up its act', it has nonetheless prevaricated in the most disgusting manner and acted only when forced to do so.
Now onto less-contentious matters. Over recent months I have been blogging somewaht less frequently than previously, mainly because I have other areas of interest; it is also true, too, that since I created my Twitter account a while back (one or two years, I think), I tend to content myself often with the brief comments which that medium permits instead of going to the bother of writing a full blog article. I still feel strongly about certain issues, but there are many, many more bloggers around now than there were eight years ago and to some extent my interests have moved on. Nevertheless I plan to continue this blog for a while yet.
Thanks for reading my blog over the years, if you have - it is greatly appreciated. Roll on the next eight years!
PS/ Naturally Andrew Sullivan has a post up about priestly abuse in the Catholic Church, and it's a good one too; in it he provides information directly implicating Pope Benedict (as Cardinal Ratzinger) in the cover-ups.
This comment was posted by a reular commenter earlier today, but I suspect he added it to the wrong article - which you can see here. I repost it below for clarity:
Congratulations, Bill and may there be many more years.
The Church. For decades now, the Church has been infiltrated for, in terms of their own mindset, there is an opposite and not quite equal force attempting to bring it down.
One of these dualists gets in and because of the hierarchical nature of a religion which should have no hierarchy beyond a pastor, these people get into positions of power - that characterizes them.
They then control the selection process and completely unrealistic scenarios are forced on priests, e.g. celibacy. The aim of the enemies of the religion are to tar by misrepresentation so that people will turn away.
The efficacy of the central message is lost in the politicizing of certain aspects. For example, JC hardly mentioned homosexuality but Paul did, in a big way.
These priests and the American "Christian" Right have done enormous damage.