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The world was shocked when a victim of torture started blinking morse. The story of a US aviator captured in Vietnam.
The Inquisition is taking a break from normal service to discuss sexual crime in Ireland.
The Murphy report, which is the latest of many similar reports, was released recently. This report detailed the Catholic Church’s disgraceful collusion, denial of and collective ambivalence towards child sexual abuse by its members. Operating as a single body, it hid the abuse, shielded the perpetrators and even sought alliance with the police.
Bishops and archbishops moved priests, who went on to re-offend, while they themselves did not report the matters to the police. In one shocking example, a boy, Mervyn Rundle, who went to the archbishop’s palace to make an official complaint was made to sit still in a chair while he was verbally berated by a monsignor, who alleged the boy was lying. Consequently it has emerged that this priest was a known serial paedophile who, it would appear, abused wherever he was sent.
This just shows the levels of complacency that exist within the church, but it is by no means the most horrific case in the report. And make no mistake about it, this complacency does still exist – only one bishop who was ancillary to the events in the report has since resigned. One of the priests moved by this bishop abused a boy after being moved following child abuse allegations. As an adult, this boy had him tried, but unable to live with himself, he took his own life after the priest was convicted.
But the question remains why it is so easy to sweep sexual crime under the carpet. It is too simplistic to point out that its just not the kind of thing you might talk about everyday. A victim should only need to talk about it once.
It took ten years for the County Louth teacher Michael Anthony Walsh to be tried and convicted. His victim was then shocked to find that this convicted sex-offender’s colleagues, who remain in charge of children at the same school, gave references of his good character at the sentencing!
Equally trite is the excuse that this obsequiousness toward sexual crime is a historical legacy, which we are now bringing to a close. On the 16th December 2009, 50 people filed past the victim of a brutal sexual assault to shake hands with her convicted attacker. This was after her own townspeople had variously turned their backs on her throughout the ordeal. The parish priest even attempted to give a glowing character reference.
This wouldn’t be the first time a priest was so stupid as to meddle in criminal affairs of a sexual nature at the defence of an attacker.
Richard Finn spent hours raping a Polish woman in the grounds of a church in Clondalkin. He documented it with the camera on his mobile phone. The local priest sent a letter to the court explaining he was a great young fellow.
Its not really surprising these attitudes prevail in Ireland when, in the words of the victims’ charity One in Four “25% people believe women who have been raped are partly to blame for the crime because of how they dressed, their sexual history or how much they had to drink.” Not only that; “38% believe a woman must share some of the blame if she walks through a deserted area.” Which is to say almost 40% of people think a woman is fair game to a man who has been hiding in an alleyway waiting for someone to pass by.
To give this some further historical context we can look first at pre-christian Brehon Law. This was an enlightened society which, more or less, had equal sexual rights. For example; women could ask for a divorce and then live singly, which was unthinkable after Christianity arrived until about 10 years ago. The problem with christianity’s arrival is that Irish Catholicism placed much emphasis on the writings of Saint Augustin who felt that all sexual acts, whatever their provenance, were sinful. As we were all products of these acts, we were all sinful to begin with. In this context where is the defining line between abuse and a loving relationship? They are both sending you to Hell so what does it matter? After centuries of having this drivel endlessly proscribed to us, things didn’t improve. It could even be argued that with our collective loss of faith they have gotten worse.
This is a ridiculous country; it is only by stepping up and saying something, however we can, that we can hope to change the status quo.
The Church would have us believe that this is just a few bad apples in Ireland. Of course its not – have you seen your home recently Benedict?
In more depth:
Judge rejects local piece reference on behalf of sexual predator Danny Foley
Michael Anthony Walsh
The Richard Finn story as it broke
Richard Finn controversy
Fr Pat Bradley, of the Sacred Heart Church in Clondalkin in Dublin speaks on behalf of a rapist
Excrement sent to the rural Garda who made an allegation of abuse against the local prest
A timeline by the Irish Times of the catholic child abuse scandal in Ireland
The Irish Examiner on why sexual crimes go unreported
The church didn’t know that raping children was criminal
This article was posted by Ronan McDonnell on
Friday, December 18th, 2009 at
It is archived in Ireland, Irish Women and tagged assault, catholic church, criminality, legal system, rape, sex crime, sexual abuse, sexuality, shame, victim.
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