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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Crisis In The Catholic Church, Ireland

I've been following this story for a while, although you can read a current article on it HERE.

The Catholic Church in Ireland is in crises because of Cardinal Sean Brady's involvement in a sexual abuse case. In short, 35 years ago the Church pressured two victims not to go to Irish authorities over allegations of sexual abuse. Rather than reporting the abuse, the two boys were instead made to sign vows of silence. The abusing cleric went on to rape other children. (Then Father) Brady was not involved in the actual abuse, but he did participate in the underlying investigation that resulted in the abuse not being reported.

Fast forward to today and people are questioning why (now) Cardinal Brady still serves as the leader of the Church in Ireland.

To put this in perspective, if someone where I worked were sexually abused...

...and I was involved in the ensuing investigation
...and the complaint was credible
...and one result of the investigation was that the victim was strongly encouraged NOT to report the abuse to authorities

...I would rightfully be fired by my employer and possibly prosecuted. What makes this situation worse than my example is that the allegations involve both children and trusted authority figures.

Now what would I expect to happen here? Simple: anyone who played a role in preventing the abuse from being reported should be removed from any position of authority within the Church, be they laity, Priests, Bishops or a Cardinal. It doesn't matter what was acceptable at the doesn't matter what good work these individuals have done doesn't matter if they tried, at the time, to shield the children from future abuse. Abusing children is a crime, and those that prevented it from being treated as such need to be held accountable for their actions.

Lastly, despite what you may read in the media, the sexual abuse of children isn't exclusively a problem in the Catholic...or any other...Church. I say that not just as an exercise in stating an obvious fact, but also from a personal experience perspective: I grew up in the Church, including serving on the Altar for ten years and attending four years Catholic high school. In all that time not once was I (or anyone I knew) abused or put in a compromising position. In fact, the Priests I have really known in my life have been remarkable individuals and I am certain that stories like this pain them even more than they pain any of us, with the definite exception given to the victims of abuse and their families.

Cardinal Brady should be removed from his position of authority if the Church in Ireland as a sign of both accountability and of healing for the victims and their families.

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