Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mary Raftery on Tony Walsh Case in Ireland: Scale of Cover-Up Astonishing

As Mary Raftery notes in the Irish Times yesterday, what's especially noteworthy--and exceptionally troubling--about the case of Fr. Tony Walsh in Ireland, who sexually abused more than 100 children, is how many clerics knew about what Walsh was doing, and colluded to cover it up.

I think it was no accident that Dutch Cardinal Adrianus Simonis told his fellow citizens earlier this year that, as one complaint after another about sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy in Holland emerged, his attitude and that of his fellow pastoral leaders was, "Wir haben es nicht gewusst."  We knew nothing.  Precisely what all those who colluded with the Nazis in their mass murder of millions of innocent citizens said, when asked how it was possible that they could go along with the Nazi regime.

I think Cardinal Simonis used the German phrase with deliberation, as a damning indictment of an attitude that is clearly pervasive among the clerical elite of the Catholic church at this point in history, and which precisely mirrors what happened in Nazi Germany.  We went along.  We did nothing.  We kept our mouths shut.  An order is an order.  It wasn't my place to disobey or rock the boat.  I had no power, after all.

Meanwhile, one priest could go one and on abusing one child after another, while those who knew what was happening and had the ability to stop it continued, day after day, standing at the altar and saying, "Let us pray."  And meanwhile, reports from Germany are showing thousands of German Catholics leaving the church in the wake of the abuse revelations there in the past year.

The graphic is a detail from artist Bob Trotman's sculpture "Cover Up: Business as Usual."

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