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Sunday 17 December 2017

Sinead Ryan: Bishop has driven us all to boycott the collection plate

Bishop has driven us all to boycott the collection plateIt's actually hard to know where to start when it comes to expressing the horror and outrage at the decision by Bishop Brennan of Ferns to ask parishioners to foot the bill for child sexual abuse in his diocese.

The timing couldn't be more off, coming as it does when the country is still reeling from the Murphy and Ryan Reports. The bishop appears immune.

Never mind the timing -- let's talk about the insensitivity.

Akin to asking the victim of a stabbing to pay for a nice set of steak knives for the perpetrator, to ask the 100,000 locals who had no hand, act or part in the appalling litany of child abuse that priests of the Ferns diocese excelled at for so many years, to be asked to pay for the sins of the Fathers is nothing short of repulsive.

That has gone over the bishop's head, too, it would seem.

Then there's the basic injustice. While the bish continues to live in a palatial dwelling -- they all do -- he was able to secure a mortgage in this day and age for €1.2m.

Over the next 20 years the parish can only afford half the bill, leaving a €60,000-a-year shortfall. Aside from the wonderment at which bank exactly approved this marvellous arrangement, was it because the bishop told them, "Ah, sure it'll be alright, the parishioners will pick up the balance".

Well, here's a solution: sell the house. No mortgage, no problem. Surely the bank didn't give one of those pesky 100pc mortgages because it was someone special of the cloth, now, did it? Would the parishioners think any less of their spiritual leader because he lives in a three-bed semi? It's hard to see how.

The icing on the cake was the courageous and brave decision by the bishop and his priests to wheel out their hapless committee member, who does the books voluntarily for the parish, to the wolves of national media.

Well done, Bishop Brennan -- what a fearless and heroic leader you are. Where were you all day yesterday when radio stations were clamouring for comment? Not you or one of your highly paid spin doctors in sight -- instead, a part-time voluntary accountant gets the full drubbing on your behalf. How laudable.

One view which kept reasserting itself was that the Vatican should be tapped first and foremost for whatever bills the diocese owes. When the bishops visited Pope Benedict recently we were astounded by the wealth on display in the massive gilded rooms. Anybody who has been there can attest to the extent of the richest little nation on earth: Jesus has indeed come a long way.

But this wasn't deemed appropriate, by all accounts.

Here's something else inappropriate: why has not one single bishop been jailed for his crime? Covering up a crime is a crime. Bland statements and pulpit atonements go only so far -- and that's not far at all.

There is clearly only one action now possible. The brave and kind parishioners should refuse to give a red cent -- not only to the extra collection for his priests' crimes, but to the general collection too.

Amid all the interviews with those that dare to show their face, there is only one question which was asked before and needs to be asked again and again of these Princes of the church, because it is the only one that matters: what would the Jesus you profess to believe in so fervently, do next?

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