February 28, 2006

A Society That Failed To Protect Its Children

The Blanket

Anthony McIntyre Fourthwrite

A global phenomenon, they are read about everyday and everywhere. Like the fictional world from the Charlton Heston movie, Omega Man, our planet seems to be in the grip of a human pestilence; on this occasion far removed from the comfort of the cinema, by a plague of priests chanting 'boys, boys.' The prevalence of clerical abuse is such that it is tempting to visualise a plethora of paedophile orchards where priests are hanging from every tree - not by the neck, regrettably. ...

People who subscribe to various forms of this bunkum have nevertheless benefited from it to the point that they have for long being easily able to pass themselves off as leading moral guardians in supposedly secular societies, where the executive, legislature and judiciary behaved like the three wise monkeys, neither seeing, hearing nor speaking of the enormous phallic moral guardian that stalked our children. The priest class with its knowledge of Latin, must have thought it had hit the jackpot and won a boys bonanza, when few stopped to ask the all important question 'quis custodiet custodies?' Like the frightened worshippers of some Aztec God, Ireland licentiously offered its children to the most lecherous of men. Can the country really claim to need the Ferns Report to serve as a wake up call? For long, many of its citizens seemed prepared to die peacefully in bed rather than get up and confront what was going on their midst.

For all its undoubted ability to magnetise the media, Judge Frank Murphy's 271-page report is hardly any more shocking than what has passed before. Learning that priests are abusing children is as commonplace as being told there is a violent conflict in the Middle East. It has figured in our daily reading activity for so long, it is now hard to recall a time when newspapers did not feature stories about priests abusing children. If an Irish Times headline that 'More details emerge of sexual abuse cases involving priests' is supposed to shock us, the paper's management may hope shock stories and sales are not correlated. Irish society and its children will be fortunate if the Ferns Report does not become the gatherer of the dust it helped raise, once matters settle down. Time alone will tell if the point has been reached for what one columnist described as 'a landmark in the history of the Catholic Church in Ireland.'

Posted by kshaw at February 28, 2006 07:46 AM