Monday, March 22, 2010

Child abuse: Portrait of a clergyman

Irish Times

Since Brendan Smyth’s death 13 years ago, the spectre of the relentless child abuser has haunted both his victims and those in the Catholic Church who failed to halt his crimes. With Smyth at the centre of a new controversy involving Cardinal Seán Brady, Gerry Moriarty , Northern Editor, outlines the late priest’s grim history

HERE’S AN image. It’s still dark, pre-dawn, in late August 1997. A graveside in the Co Cavan countryside at 4.15am, seven silhouetted Norbertine priests and a few locals gathered around, four gardaí standing in the background, the lights from a hearse illuminating the scene as the coffin of Fr Brendan Smyth is lowered into the ground.

It’s like a picture conjured by a modern-day Bram Stoker, only worse because you know it’s real. They buried Smyth for sure, but his pernicious legacy lives on. He destroyed lives, toppled a government, and – with the other paedophile priests allied to the church’s own criminal mismanagement – brought Irish Catholicism to its knees. Now Cardinal Seán Brady prays, reflects and wrestles with his conscience over whether he should step down as primate of Ireland because of Smyth. [...]

1 comment :

  1. The issue isn't about molestation.

    Child abuse is a problem found in every culture. There is no religion or society that is immune to every kind of dysfunctional human behavior.

    The issue is in how we as a community and society deal with dysfunction.

    The Catholic Church is no worse than other groups that have historically turned a blind eye to abusers. In some cases abusers were moved around and in other cases abuse was denied by the institutions where the abuse occurred even when authority figures knew better.

    Victims and there parents were often told not to come forward or they would be shunned or humiliated or simply not believed. Sometimes they were told the abuser was remorseful or had never done anything like that before.

    Uncomfortable? Good.

    Abuse is tragedy that occurs in every culture and society. It is in how we deal with with it that indicates how seriously a culture or society values it's children or women.

    The Catholic Church and others have a long way to go to rectify the situation.


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