Monday, July 25, 2011

Tom Doyle on Enda Kenny's Speech to Irish Parliament: An Historic Bombshell

Dominican priest Fr. Thomas Doyle on why the speech about the Cloyne report that Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave last week to the Irish parliament is "an historic bombshell": 

These were not the words of just any head of government. These words began an incredibly direct, realistic and challenging address by the head of the government of Ireland, long considered to be the most Catholic country on the planet. They are the words of a man who has risen far above politics and above the mute deference to the hierarchy of the Catholic church to speak for the victims of sexual abuse by clergy, for their mothers and fathers and for the countless others who have been betrayed by the church to which they have given unconditional trust and obedience. 

This speech is historic for many reasons one of which is the fact that a senior political figure, a government leader, has taken the risk of speaking directly and bluntly about a critical problem that plagues many other countries. In no other country has an elected or appointed leader by-passed the often-hypocritical subtleties of political discourse to stand tall in support of not just any class of vulnerable, abused and the rejected persons, but the victims of the Roman Catholic church, which in Ireland is without question the largest, most powerful and most deeply entrenched pillar of society. 

As Fr. Doyle notes, the Vatican and some members of the hierarchy have "flooded the Catholic world with countless words, all very carefully nuanced and wordsmithed."   But that flood of words has proven to be sound and fury, signifying nothing, since the words that flood out of the hierarchical mouths are not matched by actions to stop the abuse.  In fact, the words are all too often accompanied by attempts (and the Cloyne report shows us how recent these attempts are) to engage in continuing cover-ups of the abuse.  Fr. Doyle sees Kenny's speech as "the voice of a long awaited and sorely needed liberation from the chains of a clericalist control that sacrificed the very ones Jesus spoke out so passionately in defense of."

He hopes that this liberation will spread to other places in which children have been violated by Catholic clergy or religious.  And I share that hope.

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