Archive for the ‘Catholic Church & Child Abuse’ Category

I’ve been rattling on about the Church and Communications since I started this blog – I’ve just noticed the Communication tag has the highest number of posts attached.  My point has been that the Church owes it to her people – and in fact to everyone – to honestly and clearly present the truth.  It is obvious that this has been a huge weakness in the Irish Church over decades – and to be honest I don’t think it’s much better now.

Yes – step up to the plate about the disaster of the way clerical abuse was dealt with – no excuses or attempts to avoid the full responsiblity, no return to past practises of sweeping terrible crimes under the carpet for years.  But also, step up to the plate about what the Church DOES have to offer, what it IS doing now to rectify the past, what is central message still IS! What purpose does it serve to allow a wrong impression about how the Church is now dealing with child safeguarding to go unchallenged across the media? Is this truth or justice? What purpose does it serve for the Church to continue, but in a different way, to allow the truth to be hidden?

Andrew O'Connell makes A LOT of sense!

I won’t go on – because what I’ve been trying to say has been said most effectively by Andrew O’Connell in this weeks Irish Catholic.  And his outline of  a Church communications “rapid response unit” is exactly what is needed. Please do read his article – and then talk to other people about it – especially if you’re friendly with any bishops…

Church needs a rapid response unit – Andrew O’Connell


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I will be commenting in more detail on the quite long talk given by Archbishop Martin last night. He covered a lot of issues and made some really excellent points that are rarely made. I’m making this short post now to strongly urge you to read the full talk – there is a lot more to what he said than the short and dramatic sounding extracts we’ve been hearing today.

Here’s the link: THE FUTURE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN IRELAND- Speaking Notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, 10th May 2010

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Ok – I’ve finally finished putting the Pope’s letter into a mindmap format.  I’ve included it as an image below, or you can access it directly HERE in a much more flexible format – you can close down and open up visible levels by clicking the + or – symbol at the edge of a text box you can decide to just show chapter headings  or open more boxes to show key headings in each chapter etc. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.

Why did I bother? The letter has dropped off the media headlines at the moment. It could easily be pushed into a shelf and forgotten about. But this isn’t just a quickly scribbled letter from a German cleric.  This is a pastoral message to Catholics here in Ireland from the man who represents Christ for us.  We should study it very closely both individually and as a community and make real concrete steps to put it into practice, not because he is Joseph Ratzinger but because we believe that through his words, the Holy Spirit is really offering us an opportunity and a path to renewal.

That means each one of us reading it over and over and making personal resolutions about what we will do for example:  offer Friday penance for the Church,  get involved in Eucharistic Adoration,  decide to start getting to Confession more often.

It means meeting together  in parishes to tease out the issues and see what we can do together to act on it. That will means having committees or little groups who’ll take on the implementation of whatever initiatives are decided. Maybe group opportunities to do Friday Penances together? Perhaps more Penance Services and opportunities to avail of Confession including opportunities for school children?  Maybe organising Eucharistic Adoration at times that allow everyone a chance to take part?  Or whatever each Parish community decides.

This is a very serious issue.  It’s important that we continue work to ensure proper guidelines for Child Protection are in place in the Church in Ireland. And it’s equally important that we take seriously the spiritual pathway outlined for us here by the leader of our Church.

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A German criminologist speaks out – and puts the issue of child abuse and the Catholic Church into some context.  Not that it should matter who or what he is if what he says is true and reasonable – but he’s not Catholic.

In case you don’t get around to following the link, here are a few quotes:

the current risk of sexual abuse in institutions of the Catholic Church is even lower than I would have suspected…

…the bishops in the Vatican who deal with this matter have been the smartest and had the most awareness of any group that I have spoken to about sexual crimes…

…Incidentally, from a purely statistical point of view, you are more likely to get pregnant from kissing than become a paedophile because you are celibate…

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Rather than duplicate what Robert Fuller has already done, I recommend a look at his well researched post on the controversy, which gives a rather different insight into Pope Benedict’s involvement in the case of Fr Lawrence Murphy who had abused deaf children over many years. The only thing I’d like to add it that I hope in all the necessary focus on the bad handling of these cases that we make sure we never become immune to or skip over the evil done by the actual abusers.

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I’m doing a ‘mindmap’ type chart of the main points of the Pope’s Letter. It’s still a work in progress but I thought I’d put up what I’ve done so far.  When it’s finished, I’ll add a link to go the a more user-friendly way of looking at it. (28th Mar: Just updated it again – nearly there now! More soon…)

Click on the map to open it in its own window so you can read it, and click it again to zoom in or out.   Hope it’s useful:

♦ NOTE:  (The mindmap on this post is not complete – click here for the finished version  Completed Mindmap of Pope’s Letter )

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Nothing in the media coverage I heard and read today gave any real sense of the significance or even of the content of the Pope’s pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

Naturally, secular commentators were looking for the kind of things you’d expect of say, a large corporation, or a government: you know – reshuffles, sackings, audits from HQ. That’s why the proposed Apostolic Visit got a lot of mention, and the words of apology: they make sense from a purely human point of view. And that’s why people were looking for news on the resignations and said they couldn’t see much by way of a plan of action.

But this is not a letter from the CEO of a company. It is a pastoral letter from the leader of the Catholic people. Same difference? No – not same difference! HUGE difference!  There’s an infinite difference between someone who believes that God who created everything, entered history at a particular time and place, and lived here on earth, and that he did that because he wants us to share his life. That’s pretty amazing and pretty radical. And it gives you a completely different way of thinking about everything. There’s a big difference between someone who thinks like that – and someone who believes we live and die, and that’s it.

So the things that might strike a person of faith are things that, looked at without faith, make little sense or no sense at all: offering Friday penances (Friday what?) for one year for the renewal of the Church here; discovering again the sacrament of Reconciliation (isn’t Confession a thing of the past??) As for Eucharistic Adoration – what good is that going to do??

But though eyes that see the world differently, there are the seeds of a real renewal of the Church here, if we decide to take it.

(More to come on Pope’s Letter)

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