Rite and Reason, 16 June 2009
Some student who lives in Paris in an all-catholic hall of residence (anyone smell the signature aroma of the followers of Escrivá?) confidently tells us that Ireland and not the Catholic Church is responsible for the litany of abuse described in the Ryan Report . His basis for this view is that his breakfast companion at said hall of residence told him that 'I heard about Ireland on the news' referring to the publication of the report (presumably as opposed to 'I heard about the Catholic Church on the news").
This we are apparently to regard as proof that the French see the whole foul business as a peculiarly Irish rather than a Catholic problem.
Such incisive analysis is immediately succeeded by the sort of self-pitying craw thumping we have become used to from conservative catholic circles, which in turn is followed with a short recruitment advertisement for the priesthood ("In this climate, one wonders could God be calling some out there to serve in an experience of the church that has utterly failed to live the Gospel? Yes, God is calling and now more than ever we need young men to say 'Yes'" etc. etc.). I wonder if the repeated "Yes" is a reference to Bloomsday, the day on which day this excuse for a newspaper article was published. If so, then there we have the piece's only merit.
Eventually the writer reaches a conclusion. His formula for a better catholic church in the light of Ryan:
A simple return to HolinessAnd his fervent hope:
we will have the courage to changeAre we to imagine that this the best that the collected imaginations of conservative Irish catholicism can come up with to respond to the report (I'm intentionally avoiding adjectives like "shocking" and nouns like "enormity" in relation to said report)? There is not a word about how a simple return to holiness is going to be of help to victims of abuse. Nor is there anything on what "we" need to have the courage to change into.
How in the name of all that's rational, reasonable, responsible and compassionate was this pap accepted for publication in the pages of the Irish national paper of record? It would (or, at least, should) have difficulty being printed in the Irish Catholic. After all, it's in the same category of unimaginative flailing about as the Mass Father Ted and his pals said when Dougal was trapped on a milkfloat with a bomb under it.
Patsy is a man who has done been good to me in his time and, more importantly, is an honourable and responsible journalist who has done more than most to help the victims of the abuse that Ryan reports on. But there's a series of related questions I'd like to ask him (apart from "What the hell were your thinking?"):
Would it be right for columns like Rite and Reason to retain their current format, style and content unaltered in the aftermath of Ryan? Was the publication of this article good for the column in the light of its revelations? Was it good for the Irish Times? Was it good for healthy, open discussion of religious matters in Ireland?
Lastly, was it good for the victims and for the healing of wounds among the innocent?