Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Story about Irish Catholic Church and Vatican Breaks: Irish Bishops' Hands Tied by Vatican in Abuse Cases

If this story breaking in Ireland the past weekend is true--and I have every reason to think it is--then how does Pope Benedict expect to be believed, when he seeks to depict the abuse situation in Ireland as a case apart, one due to the unique malfeasance of the Irish bishops and the secularization of Ireland?  (Addendum, later in the day: for the New York Times report on this story, which has a copy of the Vatican letter, see my next posting on this topic in the same day).

What is now being reported is that the hands of the Irish bishops were tied when they sought to deal with priests abusing minors within their church.  Tied by the Vatican itself.

The same Vatican that, in the person of the pope, wrote a damning letter last March to the Irish bishops blaming them, in a unique and exclusive way, for the failure of the Catholic pastoral leaders of Ireland to deal adequately with the abuse situation in the Irish church.

In light of what we learned in December through the wikileaks--namely, that Vatican officials were furious when the Irish government called on the Vatican to assist the government in its probe of Irish church leaders' mishandling of abuse cases--one has to wonder now if Benedict's finger-pointing letter that took the bishops of Ireland strongly to task was a slap on the hands for the cheekiness of the Irish church and government in expecting the Vatican to own some responsibility for the abuse crisis.

The documentary produced by RTÉ One* discussing this recent story out of Ireland about a 1997 Vatican letter instructing the Irish bishops not to report pedophile priests to the the police is outstanding.  As therapist Marie Keenan, who teaches at University College in Dublin, notes, it's astonishing to find now--after Benedict so strongly slapped the hands of the Irish bishops last year--that it was the Vatican itself that was tying those same hands, when the bishops sought to report serial abusers like Fr. Tony Walsh to the police.

*This link points to a webpage that has a number of RTÉ "Would You Believe" videos on the page.  The current (January 17) video is the one dealing with the story of the Vatican letter.  If readers link to the page after the week of January 17, you'll need to  look for the January 17, 2011 video in the archives at the bottom of the page. 

The graphic is from the 2002 news video in which then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, slapped the hand of ABC reporter Brian Ross when Ross persisted in asking Ratzinger questions about the Vatican cover-up of the Marcial Maciel case.

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