Church And State
As the conservative Catholic bishops in America begin to lobby strongly on social policy and assert their authority over politicians I can't help but wonder if maybe they should keep a slightly lower profile right now considering this:
The Roman Catholic Church and the police in Ireland systematically colluded in covering up decades of child sex abuse by priests in Dublin, according to a scathing report released Thursday.
The cover-ups spanned the tenures of four Dublin archbishops and continued through to the mid-1990s and beyond, even after the church was beginning to admit to its failings and had professed that it was confronting abuse by its priests.
But rather than helping the victims, the church was concerned only with “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets,” said the 700-page report, prepared by a group appointed by the Irish government and called the Commission of Investigation Into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.
In a statement, the current archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, acknowledged the “revolting story” of abuses that the report detailed, saying, “No words of apology will ever be sufficient.” He added, “The report highlights devastating failings of the past.”
The report is the latest in a series of damning revelations about the church. In May, a report chronicled the sexual, emotional and physical abuse of orphans and foster children over 60 years in a network of church-run residential schools meant to care for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.
Although that report portrayed a church that seemed institutionally broken, with guilt spread among many, the new one attaches particular blame to those at the top.
Obviously those like Bishop Tobin (the one who is denying Representative Patrick Kennedy communion) and those whose staff lobbied the House on the health care reform bill were not among those who participated in such vile acts. But as upper echelon clergy they should perhaps be a little bit more humble right now. In light of these revelations the Church simply doesn't have the moral authority to intervene in the secular life of the whole country.
Perhaps the Church should just concentrate on doing good works for a while and not concern itself with others' moral failings until it gets itself institutionally straight.