The publication of the 2,600 page report of the inquiry into Ireland’s church-run paedophile and child abuse ”reform schools” has done little to restore any confidence in the Catholic Church. The failure of the inquiry to name and shame the perpetrators of these abuses is a national disgrace. It also shows the extent of the Irish state’s culpability. Such was the internecine relationship between church and state in Ireland during the years when these institutions were run, naming and shaming may have resulted in the state itself coming under too much scrutiny.
However, the reaction from the Catholic Church itself is supine and insulting to our collective intelligence – and especially to the victims. This is an institution that repeatedly and systematically produces paedophiles. Indeed there appears to be a causal relationship between the very fibre of the institution of the Catholic Church in Ireland and its ability to produce child abusers and bullies. Therefore the response from Sean Brady, the Cardinal of Ireland, rings very hollow. He talked about restoring trust in the Church. But let’s look at the facts. This is an institution that cannot demand a restoration of trust – because when it had that trust it systematically abused it. Not just a little:
A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from. Commission Report.
The Catholic Church should not be asking for trust to be restored. Rather it should be conducting a root and branch review of what it stands for and the people it attracts into service. Its insistence on priesthood celibacy, its creation of sex-starved orders, and its insistence that it knows all the answers to moral questions runs counter to common sense and logic. Because it patently provides the wrong answers, the wrong people and the wrong structures to provide any degree of care or love to children. It is an institution that is so flawed it deserves no trust whatsoever.