The enraged anti-Catholic mob

The angry mob that has sprung up in response to Church paedophila needs to calm down, according to Eamonn Hynes.

There’s nothing like a good paedophile story to drum up the outraged, liberal-media-reading masses; most of whom have never experienced the horrors of child abuse, nor are they charged with cleaning up the mess left behind by a bunch of sick perverts. Cribbing and moaning from the sidelines and making snipes at the Catholic Church are the tactics of a coward and symptoms of their ignorance. It is in an air of calm that I write this piece in support of the Irish Catholic Church and in support of the Irish clergy in their mission to cleanse the institution and continue on the path of repentance, healing and renewal.
First off, we should calm down. Is one really that interested in the kind of slippery implication that one reads about in the holier-than-thou Irish media who bandy about terms such as “misprision of felony” and the 1937 Offences Against the State Act like bullies in a school yard. The fact is that in order for a person to be guilty of a crime (such as this Section 17 of the Offences Against the State Act that we hear about so often), proof of fault, culpability or blameworthiness in both behaviour and mind is required. Some of the stuff I’ve read in recent weeks would lead you to believe that Pope Benedict is the anti-Christ and Cardinal Brady one of his evil minions. But getting back to the issue that caused shock-waves of outrage across the nation, I say this: The then-Fr. Sean Brady never at any stage consciously acted to further harm an abuse victim with an accompanying level of mens rea. Yes, Fr. Brady was a man in a position of responsibility, but I do not believe for one moment that he purposely acted to expose more children to the care of a sex pervert. Brendan Smyth went on to abuse children after Fr. Sean Brady interviewed him, wrote his report and sent it on to his Bishop, but to say that this is because of an act or an act of omission on the part of Cardinal Sean Brady 35 years later is a farce. We’d better start building prisons, because if we’re going to hold leaders of all institutions to those kinds of standards, we need to round ‘em all up, drag ‘em all before the judiciary (themselves of course squeaky clean in matters pertaining to child abuse and child pornography) and imprison them in a dungeon. There are plenty of company directors in the construction sector who have seen people killed under their watch: a tragedy that cannot be undone. Any right-minded Christian will acknowledge that the death or serious injury of a worker is a tragedy and that seeking vengeance against those higher up the hierarchy is futile and counter-productive in the process of grieving and recovering from life’s setbacks. There’s a big difference between the justice demanded by the angry mob and the type that civilised society dispenses. We must also remember that there are different standards of accountability in society, in that those who work 40 hours per week can engage in their little perversions outside office hours, unlike priests who are on duty 24 hours a day and cannot be “sacked” no matter how grave their crimes.
The Church is an earthly institution run by humans with human failings and human temptations. It has been this way since the time of the Apostles. There have been terrible Popes in its 2,000-year history, not to mention lots of scandal. But that is not the real story of the Church: the Church is the largest charitable organisation in the world, has been responsible for the conversion of hundreds of millions in Africa, is the bedrock of the great European cultures, motivates and inspires over a billion people all over the globe to follow in the footsteps of Christ, has played a central role in the peace process of Northern Ireland and provides a moral blueprint for life in the family and life in the community. Modern capitalism, the culture of consumerism and globalised business do not take human factors into account when deciding how to maximise their profit margins – a nation full of dumbed-down, individualistic, intoxicated consumer types who live on top of one another in apartment blocks and are continually in debt is their goal: not happiness, family life and divine sustenance. Bourgeois society with all its pretensions of decency and morality is hypocritical when it comes to the matter of child abuse. So what’s all this got to do with perverted priests? Well, be very careful what you wish for: if one wishes for the ruin of the Church, what will it be replaced with? The model for society that we currently have, complete with public drunkenness, violent crime, teenage pregnancies, widespread sexual perversion, abortion, drug-taking, murder, rape and the birth of a social underclass who will never work a day in their lives? What those who knock the Church know full well and artfully suppress, is that any system that operates on such a scale will occasionally make mistakes, even bad ones, since all human institutions are manned by people with human weakness. We must strive for perfection, minimise mistakes and when mistakes do occur, they must be rectified. The bien-pensant Church-bashers fear their censure and crave approbation: they are quick to point the finger and not in the habit of examining themselves. They don’t have the mechanisms of accountability that currently exist in the Church, having been instigated several years ago from the highest levels of the clergy. The fact is that young childing are safer in the hands of the Church than any other organisation in the country as no other organisation has such a rigorous vetting scheme and child protection procedures.
The Pope’s letter to the Catholic people in Ireland which was read out in every Church across the land last Sunday gives us much to think about and highlights the current challenges and future work that needs to be done. While some will never be happy no matter what the Pope writes (ultimately, even if they had his head on a plate, they would not be satisfied), the opus Dei must go on. It is not often that a Pontiff addresses the island of Ireland in such a direct manner. Having one of the world’s greatest intellectuals write over 4,000 of the most humble and apologetic of words on this particular issue demonstrates just how serious this matter is in the minds of the most senior clergy in Rome. I don’t expect this post-Celtic Tiger society of ours to embrace the words of the Pope quite just yet: there are still a lot of closed hearts to be healed, but I do expect that at some point in the future, we will look back and see the direct intervention and solemn apology from Pope Benedict as a major milestone in the purification of the Irish Church.
Cardinal Brady’s moving St. Patrick’s Day homily made several references to his own failings, the plight of abuse victims and the Church’s duty to them. He equated the challenges currently facing Irish Catholicism with those faced by St. Patrick when he managed to lead a nation of pagans to the way of Christ. Brady openly acknowledged that he is a sinner, just like St. Peter who, when asked by God to become a fisher of men, replied: “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man.” Cardinal Brady took office in 2007 and his primary duty since then has been in tackling the child abuse issue head-on in the spirit of Christ. This is no easy feat. The 71-year-old has taken on this task, probably the most challenging of his life, with a level of fortitude that most men half his age would balk at. He has managed to achieve all this in the most sensitive, soft-handed manner in which the recompense of abuse victims is central and the Gospel is his guiding light.
That said, his journey has not ended and there is much still to be done. This sinner wishes for Cardinal Brady to remain steadfast through these difficult times and expects that he will bring repentance and healing to the Catholic Church.