Abandoned to shame and heartbreak
For 24 years, I wrote about sex abuse in the Catholic Church for the Herald and its sister paper the Independent. They fought hard to bring clerics to account and obtain justice for their victims. At a time when the hierarchy considered itself the real Government and politicians grovelled before the Pope and bishops, no word of mine, however harsh, was censored.
Here are a few excerpts from the scores of articles I wrote on this tragic topic.
In March 2002, Michael Woods boasted he'd got religious to pay €127m to compensate victims of State institutions.
"Extremely generous," said Bishop Walsh, chairman of the Bishops' Child Protection Committee.
I wrote: "Victim numbers may far exceed what Woods expects. The taxpayer could be left footing a huge bill for the unspeakable crimes against children that religious bodies have perpetrated over decades."
John Paul didn't get off lightly. A little girl from Mayo said of the 81-year-old Pope, "He looks old like my granny. She's a great Catholic, too, but I wouldn't want her in charge of the Church."
For 20 years, I wrote, he has presided over the Church's greatest tragedy without mentioning it. Worse than the Silence of the Lambs was the Silence of the Shepherd.
His 200 volumes of addresses contain thousands of references to contraception, not one to "priest paedophiles". He couldn't bring himself to link the two words. We will suffer for generations for that failure of his.
If Fr Fortune & Co had handed out condoms, these bishops would have fired them at once. But all they did was rape little boys.
Betraying Christ in his little ones, these bishops were successors to the apostle Judas. Some kept in the ministry for years priests whom they should have reported instantly to the police. They enabled criminals in clerical collars to rape more children. As a Barnado's ad reminds us, childhood lasts a lifetime.
A woman wrote: "If parents knew something like this and did nothing they'd have been arrested." Was there ever such a moral failure? They threw out the baby and kept the bathwater.
The campaign against bishops goes on because none of them has been brought to book by Church or State. So many criminals, no convictions.
Your Holiness, Your Eminences, Your Graces, My Lords, I knew all this. Didn't you? Decades passed and no encyclical, no pastoral. Your appalling silence seemed to say, children outside the womb do not have any rights. When the greatest crisis in Church history erupted around you, it was business as usual. Catholics are left heartbroken and ashamed. A Church, like a nation, is judged by how it cherishes its young. The vilest Protestant lie never came near this terrible Catholic truth.