The Cloyne Report is rightly critical of the then Bishop of Cloyne and the Vicar General, who both took a “pastoral” approach to the problem of sexual abuse, an approach that simply does not work.
The Report is also critical of a 1997 Vatican letter. I discuss the letter in my CTS booklet The Catholic Church & the Sex Abuse Crisis and I try to show that the letter was an advisory statement cautioning the Irish bishops to follow canon law in order to ensure that a guilty priest is brought to justice by means of due process. In 1997, there was an admitted bias in favour of the rights of accused priests, a bias that does not reflect the views of the Vatican today. There was also then a degree of reservation regarding mandatory reporting, a reservation not limited to the Church as not even the Irish legislators were able to agree on mandatory reporting.
It must also be noted that nowhere in the letter is there any suggestion that bishops should protect predator priests. Nowhere in the letter was there a statement that victims should be discouraged from going to the civil authorities.
I have read works on the sex abuse crisis, both by Catholics and by those who are frankly hostile to the Church. The crisis can be summed up in one word: worldliness, an unholy contempt for the values of the Gospel. It is vitally important for those in authority to teach with renewed fervour on matters of faith and morals.
There have been some surprising developments in the light of the crisis. Some have argued that the new liturgical translations should be abandoned. Others have called for women to be ordained to the priesthood. There is in some circles a concerted campaign to rid the Church of Her teaching authority.
Most recently, came the call by some for the seal of confession to be violated but it is ridiculous and will not happen. It would also be of little benefit to victims of abuse who typically report their traumatic experiences outside of the confessional. Prime Minister of Ireland Enda Kenny has said that the inability of the Church to respond to the crisis shows a culture of dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism at the Vatican. Kenny fails to distinguish between the Vatican of 1997 and the Vatican of today. It also needs to be noted that Church policy on sexual abuse was stricter than that of the Irish government and that the Vatican took action to investigate abuses in Cloyne before the government. In my booklet, I have cited statistics showing high rates of non-clerical sexual abuse in Post-Christian Ireland. What is Kenny going to do about the dysfunction and narcissism in Ireland today?
So what is the way out of the crisis? Certainly safeguarding procedures need to be evaluated. But the real remedy is Eucharistic Reparation. The crisis is a spiritual one and a spiritual remedy is needed.
The Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis is available from the CTS priced £2.50
Of related interest:
|Norms Concerning the Most Serious Crimes – The Norms of Canon Law dealing with crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy have been published here in a comprehensive and updated form, in a document.|
|Safeguarding with Confidence – The Cumberlege Commission believes that much progress has been made since Lord Nolan reported, and that the Church is now a safer place; however, it states that there remains room for improvement, and this report makes a number of recommendations|
|Priesthood Today – Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue takes the opportunity of this ‘Year for Priests’ to re-examine the role of the priesthood today.|