herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Sinead Ryan: This gibberish spouted by our clergy is gobsmacking

The clergy seems determined that we focus on the fact that paedophilia is not entirely a priestly activity. So let's indulge them.

And anyone whose gob isn't well and truly smacked after hearing what Monsignor Maurice Dooley had to say in a radio interview might also be able to accede to his outrageous theory that Church law supersedes civil law. Well, give him that too, just for a minute, if you can.

But then consider the words of Samantha, a victim of Fr Brendan Smyth who was raped for four years after his crimes were disclosed to Cardinal Brady.

Forget Canon law and forget civil law, she said on Liveline.

Fr Brady (as he then was), was an adult male who said he believed the children had been abused by Smyth.

His choice, and the word is used with the utmost care, was first and foremost, to protect his Church rather than the children.

But let's take the priests out of the loop. Say your neighbour's child tells you, a trusted adult, that he's being abused by another adult whom he names. What is your immediate, primal instinct?

You don't even have to be a parent to answer this one. Every fibre of your being knows that you have to report it.

To not do so would be immoral and place the child in immediate danger.

It is not up to you to confirm the allegation, confront the individual or demand that the child not tell anyone.

You may open yourself to ridicule, ostracism or even danger, but the fact remains that 99pc of us would do the right thing, and quickly, without feeling the need to first check article 3.1, subsection C, clause 2 of a book that may be able to get you out of it.

Is there a genome missing in the DNA of some bishops that makes their logic operate differently from normal people?

The evidence from those children, collected by Fr Brady, was not passed to gardai, as a normal adult of any creed would have done, but was kept secret, and forcibly so, by the act of getting the abused children to sign off the covert crime.

Hiding under a cover of what may be a 'legal' requirement or otherwise screams, once again, of the clergy simply and mind-bogglingly not getting it.

In the 15 minutes or so he was on air, Mgr Dooley managed to blame, in this order: the media (naturally) for misunderstanding canon law; the gardai, for not 'catching' Fr Smyth, even though Church authorities were doing their utmost to hide him from capture, and finally, and most outrageously, the parents of abused children for not going to the police themselves rather than leaving a poor, trod-upon priest with the dilemma.

You can close your mouth now.

Moral

"Priests," opined the Monsignor, "are exempt from a legal or moral obligation to report crimes to the police". He said it twice. Here's a better one: "Where the laws of the State are opposed to the law of God we obviously have no obligation to pay any heed to them at all." Note the present tense.

Dooley seemed anxious to regale us with canon law, in which he is an expert. None of the rest of us is, so let's stick with a more basic form: the Law of Right and Wrong.

At the risk of sounding as dogmatic as Mgr Dooley, let's try this, seemingly obvious, 'law' on for size: Any adult raping any child is wrong. An adult knowingly keeping this information hidden is also wrong.

His other argument, that things were different back then only invites the riposte: when was paedophilia not a crime, monsignor?

This nonsense has to stop now. Brady and Dooley are no longer an embarrassment to their Church: they are a danger.

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