I would like to take the opportunity to respond briefly to the Findings of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland.
The reasons given by the Vatican for this Visitation were:
• To offer assistance to the Bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors.
• To contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the Church in Ireland.
• To explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims.
• To monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse.
I did not participate in this exercise because I did not believe it would serve any credible purpose. I was of the view that instead it would be used by the Vatican to maintain the pretence that the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and the subsequent cover up of that abuse by Catholic Bishops was an Irish problem which it knew nothing about, and this is simply not true. Catholic Bishops & Cardinals have been concealing the sexual abuse of children for decades from one side of the world to the other and it is not believable that this was not known in the Vatican.
With this Summary Report the Vatican has failed yet again to acknowledge and take responsibility for its role in facilitating a culture of cover up which has caused the sexual abuse of so many children. Continued calls for ‘forgiveness’ are meaningless in this context.
The Summary Report also urges Irish Catholic Bishops to spend more time listening to victims. Members of the Catholic Hierarchy in Ireland and in the Vatican have repeatedly disrespected and ignored the voices and views of those who have been abused and I have no reason to believe that has, or will, change.
I said in October 2010 that the Apostolic Visitation is nothing more than self-serving window-dressing nonsense, and nothing I’ve read today has changed my mind.