Stolen Children of Ireland, A Moral Reckoning
The Irish Catholic Church should be on trial for many crimes, including child abduction.The practice of child stealing began in the late 1930s under the fascist regime of The Irish Catholic Church whose aim was at the time to remove babies from their families, who the Irish Catholic Church deemed “undesirable” By the 1950s it is thought organised criminal gangs had become involved with the Irish Catholic Church in selling infants for adoption to make vast profits for the Irish Catholic Church, Irish Nuns, Priests, Nurses and Doctors have been implicated in this mass theft and this illegal trafficking of babies. It is estimated that as many as 70,000 babies and children could have been taken.
So the Irish Catholic Church faces a Moral Crisis, do we urgently need a national conversation on our collapsing morality and how to fix it ? So I say, the best way to damage The Irish Catholic Church may not be politically, but morally, attacking The Irish Catholic Church where it is most vulnerable: its lack of values. The Irish Catholic Church, which has set our moral compass spinning, demands moral debate as a context for the Irish Catholic Church and its allies.Tolerance and the diffusion of power allegedly erode the Christian moral foundation of our country of Ireland. Morality has been hijacked by right-wing immoralists of the Irish Catholic Church and was used to justify intolerance and support for the extreme end of the Irish Catholic Church. The mainstream media had always forsworn making any kind of moral judgments about politicians or policies. They prided themselves on being evenhanded, even when the evenhandedness was like The Irish Catholic Church’s after the Ryan Report. But something happened, The Irish Catholic Church was so far off the grid, so clearly amoral, that the mainstream media couldn’t help but make moral judgments. Even if the contention is accepted that the Irish Catholic Church as an institution had already forfeited most of its moral authority long before its standing was depressed even further by the scandals of the 1990s, no honest account of the contemporary church could pass over these scandals in silence.
In reality the Irish Catholic Church is a danger to Irish people not because it is ignorant and incompetent or because it has no regard for constitutional rights. The Irish Catholic Church is a danger because it is amoral and has no regard for basic human values, and because The Irish Catholic Church legitimises amorality. Fight The Irish Catholic Church on political grounds, where power is the only thing that matters to them, and you are likely to lose. Fight them on moral grounds and you cannot lose, because the Irish Catholic Church has no moral armour with which to defend itself. The last few years has exposed the Irish Catholic Church and its religious personnel to an avalanche of scandals, and though it many defenders of the Church are certainly correct in pointing out that only a small fraction of Irish Priests, Brothers and Nuns have been guilty of crimes or serious misconduct, the significance and impact of the scandals cannot be gauged by numbers alone. According to the Roman Catholic Church, Morality is a call to recognise our dignity as men and women who have received a free gift of new life in Christ. The Catholic Catechism starts;- We must live accordingly. “Christian, recognise your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God”. Beautiful words, but never carried out in practice, These are other basic concepts in Catholic moral theology:
• Natural law
• God creates us in the state of freedom. We are at liberty to choose, based on reason and will, whether to act or not in a specific situation. We are responsible for our choices. With these choices, we choose our own ultimate destiny: that of eternal life with God, or that of death.
• We believe that moral truth is objective, and not relative to the subjective whims of culture or taste. It is valid at all times & everywhere. God is the ultimate source of all moral truth.
• People have an innate sense of basic moral truth. Using human reason, we can deduce the principles of this natural law. But because sin clouds our vision of the truth, God has chosen to directly reveal the law to us.
• We use our natural facility called Conscience to apply the general principles of the law to specific situations, judging specific actions to be right or wrong in accordance with objective law and Conscience is not the source of those moral principles.
Bigger issues, especially betrayal of trust, absence of accountability, and the exercise of deception in various forms, have come to dominate the way in which the media have presented these scandals and ordinary Irish people have understood them. Though the scandals have been of different kinds, sex has been the common thread running through virtually all of them.
Hypocrisy, a deadly cardinal sin in the court of public opinion, was a relatively minor note in the Bishop Eamonn Casey affair, but it was the dominant feature of the scandal of 1994-5 surrounding the name of Fr Michael Cleary. About a year after his death in December 1993, it was revealed that Cleary had long had a common-law wife, his ‘housekeeper’, Phyllis Hamilton, and that with her he had fathered two children. What gave this sordid revelation its potency and capacity for much wider damage was Fr Cleary’s status as ‘Ireland’s most famous Catholic priest’—a media personality and a notorious defender of Catholic traditional values, especially in the sexual realm. Long in the public eye, he had held a string of media positions, writing a regular column in the Sunday Independent for five years, followed by another column in the Star, and as presenter of a phone-in radio show on 98FM that ran for an hour five nights a week over a period of four years. Though Cleary delighted traditionalists with his vehement advocacy of ‘the official line on contraception and on Catholic church teaching on sexuality generally’, he infuriated ‘liberals’ and non-believers as much by his tone and style as by his message. Among Cleary’s traditionalist utterances was this declaration: ‘The church can alter certain regulations and laws that it makes itself, but it can’t change the laws of God. We give the maker’s instructions and we can’t bend them—they’re not ours to bend.’ But bending the rules was the very essence of Cleary’s secret life, as virtually every Irish adult and adolescent learned some six months after his death.
In between the Casey and Cleary scandals the case of Fr Brendan Smyth, a Norbertine priest, broke into the headlines in the autumn of 1994 after he was convicted in a Belfast court of sexually abusing children. A television documentary, ‘Suffer Little Children’ (broadcast in October 1994), disclosed that Fr Smyth had an appalling record of paedophilia in the United States, Britain, and Ireland stretching back to the 1950s. His grievous misconduct was known to his order and to diocesan authorities. As the distinguished journalist Fintan O’Toole has observed, ‘Each time he was sent to a parish, whispers of scandal would begin to emerge. Each time he would be sent back to Ireland and then posted off to another parish.’ In this case, and in the many other cases of clerical paedophilia which sprang into the harsh light of day earlier and later, critics declared that the church authorities had habitually shielded the perpetrators or covered up their heinous misdeeds.
Fr. Michael Cleary-his secret family life was at variance with his very public defence of traditional Catholic values. (Irish Times)
Such charges were only partly true, for bishops and religious superiors often administered warnings to proven or suspected offenders or required them to undergo medical treatment. But all too frequently, what the church authorities did not do was to take steps to ensure that paedophile priests and brothers were restrained from resuming contact with children. As scores of victims of sexual abuse, often years after the events, came forward to press charges, the Irish hierarchy, in consultation with priests and professional psychiatrists and psychologists, belatedly (in 1995) developed a series of pastoral guidelines to ensure that suspected criminal activity is reported to the police for investigation, and that church officials are accountable in the way that the public has come to expect. But because the bishops were slow to take decisive action, the church has paid a heavy price for its dilatory response.