I’ve caught a few reports from the “outside” as the Irish Bishops’ meeting concluded yesterday. I was surprised that the official reports from Rome seemed to miss the mark on culpability and why the laity are so upset. With charity, I suppose I can attribute it to Rome’s skittishness about criticizing bishops directly.
Zenit focused its feature story on Pope Benedict’s travels and statements. Playing to the home crowd, I would guess, and not to the angry mob at the cathedral door.
The CNS report includes some statements from Irish bishops that show a bit more insight as to the gravity of their situation:
(Cardinal Sean Brady) said that there had been “a failure of leadership” on the part of the Irish hierarchy …
Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher said that until now the Irish church had been marked by “a culture of secrecy and confidentiality” that the bishops would now work to overcome.
Bishop Colm O’Reilly of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, in a recent homily:
It is a time for undoing, insofar as this is possible, the damage our sins have done, for what is done and what we have failed to do. It is a time for a new beginning.
It is deeply insulting to survivors to suggest that they were abused due to failures of faith, rather than because sex-offending priests were moved from parish to parish, and those in authority looked away while further children were sexually abused.
And Andrew Madden, the first Irish victim to go public:
It would appear that self preservation and damage limitation for the Catholic Church is still a higher priority for Pope Benedict and the Bishops than the concerns and wishes of people who had been sexually abused as children by priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin over many decades, and that hardly represents change.
I can only conclude that the Catholic Church remains a disgraced, discredited organisation that seems to be entirely incapable of responding in any intelligent, meaningful way to the findings of the Ferns, Ryan and Murphy Reports.
I think it would be beyond reasonable expectations that anything substantive was going to come out of this meeting. The fact that people are angry about it shows there’s still a pulse left in the relationship between Catholics and their bishops. The bishops need to worry when anything they say and do produces yawns.