In times of uncertainty the Irish way is to hunker down and let the problem pass. And in a way it was a solution that seemed to work for everyone. Silent glances, rolling eyes, gossip and rumors were quietly monitored by the government and if it threatened the status quo a tribunal would be proposed to investigate. There it was prodded with a stick for years, slowly losing its taint of scandal, while making the lawyers immensely wealthy at the expense of the tax-payer. When all was said and done, an announcement of findings was made to a public who no longer cared. As I said an Irish solution.
Ireland is approaching a cultural crossroads where this solution will no longer work; a crossroads put in place by a vile series of crimes. A sword of Damocles hangs precariously over the nation illuminated in Hollywood spotlights for the world to see; a sword that cannot be hidden away.
The issue is the rape of generations of Irish children by hundreds of Catholic priests. The enormity of the crime is such that it is impossible to describe it; and in that kernel lies the danger that the reality so overwhelms the senses that the nation is in danger of becoming desensitized. With desensitization comes inaction.
A broad array of clerics who presented themselves as father-figures, leaders, teachers, confessors, have been shown as being amongst the ranks of the most demonic of criminals. Above them hover a group of bishops who, reports have amply evidenced, collaborated to suppress information about their molesting and raping of Irish children. They collaborated and deliberately avoided the application of criminal law to these predators in their midst. Instead they quietly unleashed them to prey on countless other innocents to protect themselves and the now wretched 'Mother Church.'
In the real world their behavior is referred to as obstructing justice. Their actions were as serious as their charges; more so when you consider that they are all well educated, most with degrees in law, versed in national and cannon law. They had a prime - sole - responsibility to protect children and they chose not to. It was a conscious choice bereft of empathy or sympathy for the innocents they were responsible for.
What does a nation of priests and politicians do in a case such as this? Despite the expenditure of over E100 million on one report alone, not one priest or bishop has been arrested. Not one. Not even a hint at one arrest.
What should have happened is that all of the Catholic hierarchy implicated in these excellently researched and presented reports should have been arrested and charged pending further investigation. They are criminals who should be charged with obstruction of justice of the most heinous crimes known to the Irish nation; the rape of our children.
A well respected person in Dublin's child protective circles told me recently that after all the years she has spent as a child advocate she believes that the concept that we Irish love our children is a myth; a lie. And I agree with her. Why? Because as a nation we are silent in the face of these terrible crimes. We have not stood and screamed our outrage at these monsters, who were the most trusted of people. And that is an inaction that hurts the abused deeply, to the core.
As anyone familiar with the trauma of child sexual abuse knows, the extent and quality of healing depends very much on the response of the parent when they are told of the abuse. Collectively, the abused in Irish society looked to their national government, some to their church, as a parental figure as they try to make sense of what has happened to them. The government has, to give them their due, spared no expense in delving into these crimes. What they have failed to do is act against the perpetrators. By not doing so they reinforce the feeling of helplessness, shame and self-blame that the abused collectively, and even greater individually, feel. The message they are sending is that the nation doesn't care.
Let me demonstrate what I mean.
Little Jimmy comes home and tells his parents that so-and-so's dad has touched his penis. If the parents ignore it, little Jimmy blames himself for what happened and in doing so is ripe to be molested again; there is a deep negative psychological impact to the indifference.
If however little Jimmy's dad investigates and after determining that Jimmy was indeed 'interfered with' (a great Irish way of referring to sexual abuse), grabs a golf club, marches over to the offenders house and beats the living sh*t out of him, little Jimmy has just learned that his dad will protect him. He realizes that what happened to him is not his fault but that of the battered and bleeding Mr. Perpetrator being carted off to intensive care in an ambulance.
You see what I'm getting at? Ireland has made the call, done the investigating and little Jimmy is waiting to see what will happen next. Will the government prosecute these criminals - priests and bishops - for their crimes and thus legitimize the anger the abused feel and let their collective healing begin, if that is possible?
Or will the Government hesitate, close their eyes and wish the problem away? A nation's future depends on the correct action.
Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation Report