Wednesday, 19 January 2011

RTE gets it wrong again

Here is the test.
N. 808/97
Dublin, 31 January 1997
Strictly Confidential
To: the Members of the Irish Episcopal conference
—their Dioceses

The Congregation for the Clergy has attentively studied the complex question of sexual abuse or minors by clerics and the document entitled “Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response”, published by the Irish Catholic Bishops Advisory Committee.

The congregation wishes to emphasize the need for this document to conform to the canonical norms presently in force.

The text, however, contains “procedures and dispositions which appear contrary to canonical discipline and which, if applied, could invalidate the actions of the same Bishops who are attempting to put a stop to these problems. If such procedures were to be followed by the Bishops and there were cases of eventual hierarchical recourse lodged at the Holy See, the results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same Diocesan authorities.

In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature”.

Since the policies on sexual abuse in the English speaking world exhibit many o[f] the same characteristics and procedures, the Congregation is involved in a global study of them. At the appropriate time, with the collaboration of the interested Episcopal Conferences and in dialogue with them, the Congregation will not be remiss in establishing some concrete directives with regard to these Policies.

For these reasons and because the above mentioned text is not an official document of the Episcopal Conference but merely a study document, I am directed to inform the individual Bishops of Ireland of the preoccupations of the Congregation in this regard, underlining that in the sad case of accusations of sexual abuse by clerics, the procedures established by the Code of Canon Law must be meticulously followed under pain of invalidity of the acts involved if the priest so punished were to make hierarchical recourse against his Bishop.
Asking you to kindly let me know of the safe receipt of this letter and with the assurance of my cordial regard, I am
Yours sincerely in Christ,
+Luciano Storero
Apostolic Nuncio

RTE seems to emphasise the quotation on mandatory reporting.
Who should do the reporting , surely the primary protectors of the child are the parents? Why in some cases did they not report this crime to the Gardaí? Why did some wait for a few years before they went to the Gardaí? Fear of the Church or authority, fear of what the neighbours will think, hoping that something will be done without causing scandal, protect the good name of the Church, these are the excuses used by clergy, it is not acceptable from them it is not acceptable from parents. What is sauce for the clerical goose is also sauce for the lay gander.  Crimes where committed and parents  failed to report a crime to the Gardaí. By failing to report a crime the parents allowed abusers to abuse other children.
Some people think that if someone does not report a crime that in itself is a crime and should be punished. However it  is not a crime in Ireland not to report a crime. If the media got its wish and it did become a crime, who would be arrested. Are Dioceses to hand over the names of parents who reported child abuse to the Diocesan Authorities but never reported it to the Gardaí ? Are these Parents now to be arrested for not reporting the crimes at the time or reporting them many years later? 
If you think a child has been or is being abused surely the correct procedure is to go straight to the Gardaí and then to the Health Services. I know if I was a parent that is what I would do.

The second problem with mandatory reporting is laid out in the document assessed by the Congregation of the Clergy.( You can read the whole document here)

2.2.3 The Advisory Committee recognises that this recommended
reporting policy may cause difficulty in that some people who
come to the Church with complaints of current or past child
sexual abuse by a priest or religious seek undertakings of
confidentiality. They are concerned to protect the privacy of
that abuse of which even their immediate family members
may not be aware. Their primary reason in coming forward
may be to warn Church authorities of a priest or religious who
is a risk to children.
2.2.4 The recommended reporting policy may deter such people from
coming forward
or may be perceived by those who do come
forward as an insensitive and heavy-handed response by Church
authorities. This is particularly so where the complaint relates to
incidents of abuse many years earlier.
2.2.5 Nonetheless, undertakings of absolute confidentiality should
not be given but rather the information should be expressly
received within the terms of this reporting policy and on the
basis that only those who need to know will be told.5
2.2.6 In making its recommendations in regard to reporting, the
Advisory Committee considers to be paramount the safety and
protection of children and the need to prevent, where possible,
further abuse.

Mandatory reporting could deter people from coming forward . This is acknowledge by the Framework document but not by RTE.
Why does RTE see something sinister in the Congregations letter when the framework documents itself shows moral reservations.Why did RTE not report that the document acknowledges these reservations?'
I do not know what the practice is in other countries when it comes to counselling minors. In this country a counsellor is suppose to warn a minor that if they talk about any illegal activity the counsellor must report it. As one school girl told me ,what is the point in going to a counsellor when they will report what you say , what about confidentiality? She was in need of counselling but never went after the first session with it's initial warning.
We often hear the media and victims' groups complain that Canon Law does not require mandatory reporting. They cannot seem to comprehend that this would be an impossible canon. A minor under canon law is someone under 18. Any sexual act against a minor in canon law is a criminal offence. Not all sexual acts against a minor  are a criminal offence in state law.  The age of consent in the European Union ranges from 13 in Spain to 18 in Malta. What would be the point of the Archbishop of Madrid reporting to the police that one of his priest or seminarians had sex with a 15 year old. What would Peter Tatchel say if the Archbishop of  Teheran reported to the police that a seminarian of 18 had sex with a 17 year old boy . More than likely the accused and his victim  would be hanged. Or what would happen if the underground Bishop of Beijing reported to the Chinese Police that  a priest had sex with a17 year old  The Bishop would be arrested for being a member of an illegal sect, the child and its parents arrested . All sent to a re- education camp. More than likely the family's friends and relative would come under suspicion and for the safety of the state sent to the camps as well.
Here is a question for parents: If you discover that your 18 year old son or daughter is having sex with a 16 year old, will you go straight to the Gardaí and report a crime? ( the age of consent is 17) Not to  to do so would be to cover up a crime, it would be aiding and abetting a crime. In the words of the media you would be harbouring a paedophile under your roof, you would be allowing the continuation of child abuse.

Again RTE like other media and victim groups think defrocking a priest is the be all and end all. But is it?A few months ago I was watching BBC Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman was having a go at the Archbishop of Dublin because a Dublin priest who had been laicised was now living in the Canarys. He wanted to know had the Diocese informed the police on the islands. First the Archbishop had only become aware of the man living there and only did so because the media had tracked him down Secondly Jeremy Paxman could not seem to understand that the AB did not know where the man had been for the last few years as he was no longer a priest and therefore free to do what he wanted.

If a priest has no criminal record  and he is laicised, nobody can keep tally on him. It would be an infringement of his constitutional rights.There is absolutely nothing to prevent him from moving in next door to his victim. Is that what the media and the victims' groups want?

RTE are very selective about the abuse they broadcast
How many people have heard of institutional abuse outside of the Catholic Church? For instance how many people have heard of the case of the Bethany homes. It gets zero coverage in the Irish media yet they have a  case pending in the European Court of Human Rights. They were "clients" of the Protestant equivalent of our Magdalenes. One of the Bethany Homes was in Rathgar, it once had the title of "The Bethany Home for fallen Protestant girls".
Another case of institutional abuse
How quickly the media dropped the story of the 200 children that died in state care over the last 10 years.Yes folks you have read correctly 200 children in 10 years and that is not an absolute figure. The HSE thinks it is only 200, believe it or not they don't know how many children are in their care. 200 children in 10 years is almost 1 child a month. These children were in the care of the State.  Where were the street demonstrations? Did anybody put up  little shoes on the railing of the Dep. of Health or the HSE, Why not? Are the lives of these children worth less than those in Catholic Institutions?
No minister resigned, no HSE official resigned. It hit the headlines and then nada. Where were all the investigative journalists? Where was the constant hounding of the government and HSE officials? Where was the use of the Freedom of Information act to get letters or documents from the Dept. of Children, Dept. of Health and the HSE? Where was the calling for a state investigation? It seems everybody wants to talk about the past and who did or did not do this or that. Nobody wants to face the problems we have today.
If I live long enough I will be reading a report in about 30 or 40 years time on the dreadful conditions endured by children in state care at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century. There will probably be an enquiry and the state will have to pay billions out in compensation. If RTE are still around, they will be running programmes on who did what, when, where and why, all the time neglecting to look at themselves and their conspiracy of silence.


  1. I wish I'd found this blog earlier. Almost word for word, what some of us have been saying for a long time now. Where are the parents in all of this? And has nobody noticed that priests are (shockingly) 1.7.% of the abuse total while Protestant ministers are 2-3% according to the study carried out by US Jewish businessman Sam Miller. "Paedophile Priests" make good headlines while "Paedophile Parents" and "Paedophile Protestants" don't cut it wiht the anti-Catholic media.

    I'm delighted with your article, but disconcerted to see a link on your site with the name of the notorious Joe O'Leary whom I've come across on the equally notorious ACP blog. Not had time to check it out, however, so benefit of the doubt and all that.

    In any event, a very good article indeed. I hope to link to it later today on the Catholic Truth website.

  2. Dear Editor,
    Thanks for your comments. the link you mention is to "the notorious Joe O Leary". The blogs listed are blogs that I try to read often it does not mean I agree with them.

  3. Dear Father,

    Thank you for thanking me!

    I have now linked to this blog and posted a fresh voting poll, so I hope some, at least, of our Irish readers will see the article and respond to it. We have readers from all over Ireland, including Cork.

    And who know, maybe you'll make it to the Conference in Cork advertised on our website (click the shamrock!)

    Surely, somebody's Guardian Angel led me to this January blog for some good reason and what better reason than to see to it that Father Gabriel Burke receives a personal invitation to a conference devoted to answering the question: "What is happening to the Catholic Church in Ireland"

    See you there!

  4. i've just received the following link - the opening words are an extract from the article - in which the ACP are showing their schismatic mentality again. They're so open about wanting their own Church separate from Rome, that it's unbelievable.

    "The government has not revealed who wrote Kenny’s speech, but it is known that one of his top advisors is Frank Flannery whose brother is Fr. Tony Flannery, founder of the Association of Catholic Priests. This group, widely quoted in the press in recent weeks, has called for the establishment of a nationalistic Church, separated from Rome,that would be run along democratic lines. It was formed last year and began by demanding that the Church “re-evaluate” Catholic sexual teaching."

    I think that Cork Conference is not coming a moment too soon.

  5. Father,

    At least two visitors to our site - one from Scotland, the other from England - emailed me to say they had submitted posts on this blog but are puzzled that they have not been published.

    I don't usually bother with moderated blogs because more often than not they are really "censored" blogs - censoring what has, sadly, come to be considered the "traditional view" (when at one time ALL Catholics were "traditional). I made an exception in this case, linking to it on our website, because I guessed that you were merely checking that there was no obvious nastiness or bad language.

    I've assured the emailers that I was confident their posts would be published, since you were perhaps busy or away, so I hope you will prove me right (again!!!)

    Only one of these visitors to our site copied his actual post to me and in it he compared the de facto schism of the members of the ACP with the treatment meted out to the SSPX. I know that this person does not attend SSPX Masses (not that it matters - the Vatican have said the faithful may attend SSPX Masses)but he immediately saw the discrepancy between the actions taken against the SSPX and the tolerance of the 300 strong membership of the ACP who openly advocate a separate national Church - with we must presume, Enda Kenny as Pope! No thanks.

    I do hope that posts are not being withheld because they are deemed too "traditional" - I would be disappointed beyond words: gas, head and oven spring to mind...

  6. Sorry I thought they had put the comments in the wrong post. I had thought they were commenting on the ACP. I made a mess of trying to transfer their comments to the ACP post and in the process lost the originals. Please send the comments again and I will publish them on this post.
    There is no problem with tradition on this site.

  7. Thanks, Father. I will email the two readers concerned.

    An Irish reader has also emailed me just now and sent me a copy of his excellent post, which I'm sure you will like.

    Your final sentence fills the heart with joy!

  8. Please use instead of first letter
    Dia dhuit Father.
    Your article is such a breath of fresh air, the kind of fresh air the Catholic Church in Ireland needs. Unfortunately for some time now there is feeling and attitude in Ireland by Catholics that I can only describe as an air of separateness from the One Holy Apostolic and Universal Church. The number of prayer groups/houses, meditation groups that have sprung up all over Ireland is truly mind-boggling.
    And each of these groups aspiring to a different Creed.
    At the same time It strikes me as being of a “Diabolical Disorientation” to coin a phrase often used by sister Lucia of Fatima because Our Churches are being used for concerts and meetings of a Blasphemous nature, not even in halls attached but in the main Body of our churches’ .
    The Church modernists through changes in the Liturgy, ignoring Catholic Dogma and dare I say it the teachings of Jesus Christ Himself have bewildered and scattered the flock and condemned them to the attack of ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing. All this has created the liberal mind of the modern Catholic. This mindset allows the modern Catholic to treat God and the Catholic faith like an á la carte menu. The fact is these bishops, priests, religious and laity are labouring under the lie that they remain Catholic. The sad thing is; if you lose your Faith you do not know you have lost it, otherwise you would fight to get it back!
    The present crisis has confounded the faith to such a point that the Catholic Church apparently can no longer make any significant impact on the modern world. The absence of evangelization and the missionary spirit in the modern Church points to a faith weakened, not strengthened, by the changes in the Church.
    I believe not only is Ireland ripe for schism but like the rest of the world we are rushing headlong into the Great Apostasy that has been forewarned and prophesized.
    Now more than ever the flock needs the guidance of Shepherds that hold through to the Faith that was handed down by Jesus Christ Himself. And this has to be rooted in the Supreme Law of the Church the Glory of God through the Salvation of Souls.

    The laity that have held on to those truths that were handed down certainly now need every religious that is of sound doctrine to rally and defend the “Faith of Our Fathers” which I believe will be sung at Bantry on the 24th of September in defiance to those that would try destroy the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    God Bless.
    Joe O’Connell.
    The Fatima Centre (Ireland)
    Pray the Rosary!

  9. Reading about the ACP I would say that they are in de facto schism, which really needs to be made formal and promulgated, in order to protect the faithful. Very sad. But then in England we have priests who openly dissent from Catholic teaching - like a certain one who has been openly stating in the national press since 1997 that he is a practising homosexual, and yet no-one has seemingly made a move to laicise him, or even make an official statement about his clerical status. He still declares that he is an RC priest and even wears his clerical garb on 'gay pride' marches etc. It's the inaction over these scandals that causes confusion among the faithful.

  10. The statements coming from the ACP are openly schismatic, yet we hear no condemnation coming from the hierarchy. Contrast this with the treatment dished out to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was "excommunicated" with lightning speed for doing nothing more than preserving the Catholic faith handed down from the apostles. The double standards are astounding.

    Shame on the priests involved with the ACP for their openly schismatic attitude and shame on their superiors for turning a blind eye.

  11. I've sent a very cheeky email to the Irish Prime Minister today when I stumbled across his government email address, so I publish it here for your interest. Please take my final sentence in the humorous spirit in which it is intended. I LOVE Ireland and the Irish!


    As a Catholic with an Irish mother and lots of relatives and friends in Ireland, including some very sound priests, I am outraged by the sheer nerve of Enda Kenny in his comments about the Church, and his utterly outrageous proposal that priests should be forced to break the seal of confession. How DARE he? As I’ve said on a number of blogs, if the day ever dawns when there is a Nobel Pride Prize on offer, he’ll be a front-runner to receive it. I note, too, that the daft Association of (alleged) Catholic Priests want their own national Church, presumably with Enda Kenny as pope.

    And to think I’ve rebuked people for making jokes about the Irish. END.

    In case anyone else wants to send an email to counter the alleged hundreds Kenny says he's received from priests all over Ireland, the email address is ''

  12. I am very impressed with this blog. I have posted a link to it on a Catholic Herald (UK) blog about the Church in Ireland. My username there is Shamrock.

    I agree with Kevin that the ACP are actually in schism. The bishops need to make a formal announcement to show that this is the case, otherwise they are guilty of leading people astray. Given their poor record on the child abuse scandals, they ought to be doing all in their power not to make things worse. Priests who want to change Catholic teaching on sexual matters at the height of terrible sexual scandals, is not a good sign.

    Anyway, great blog!