Two interesting articles in yesterday’s Irish Times deal with the recent visit of the Irish Bishops to Rome.
Paddy Agnew, (Rome correspondent) writes that in the wake of the visit “a little explanation might have gone a long way to averting some of the widespread negative Irish reaction to the Rome meeting” http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/0220/1224264879783.html He goes on to give step by step what the Vatican might have done to convey the message much more effectively:
“explain beforehand that meetings between the pope and abuse survivors (which have a precedent) are never pre-announced, to avoid them becoming a media scrimmage-cum-photo-op.”
“clarify in advance that the meeting would not be discussing the question of episcopal resignations, something for which the Catholic Church has its own tried and true procedures, involving the Congregation of Bishops.”
“point out that many ambassadors, including those from countries such as the USA and the UK, refuse to appear before foreign affairs committees, or the equivalent thereof.”
“The church failed children, especially up until the 1990s, and is now failing to communicate credibly that it has changed.” http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/0220/1224264879612.html
After the publication of the Murphy Report, it was important that the Dublin Diocese made it clear that it had fully faced up to what went so wrong in the past – and this it did reasonably well.
But it also needed to make the full picture clear about the present state of play: that major changes have already taken place: some of these changes are mentioned in the Report and the Diocese could have given more detail on this.
It needed to respond when some commentators exaggerated, misquoted or took mistaken interpretations from the Report – for example, the widespread use of “mentioned in the Report” as being synonymous with “criticised in the Report”.
It needed to clarify and explain the 1962 Vatican document on the crime of using Confession as a means of solicitation: this was widely mis-reported as a Vatican order not to report child abuse to civil authorities.
It needed to get these messages out over and over again – both the genuine sorrow for the past and the positive changes: our Church leaders owe it to the victims, to ordinary Catholics, to the public.
The Church here hasn’t done this – but it really really needs to start doing it now. Maybe the seperate statements issued yesterday by Dr Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns and Dr Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Conor are hopeful signs of a change? http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0220/abuse.html