On Tuesday last, March 2, Irish Bishop Denis Brennan of the parish of Ferns asked his parishioners for cash to pay some bills.
Not just any bills. These were the expenses involved in dealing with the law suits of children abused in his parish, by priests formerly in the parish's employ. His request for funds was met with stunned silence.
Child AbuseWatch founder Evin Daly sums the reaction up in a letter he wrote to Bishop Brennan Tuesday voicing his concerns. Daly's letter follows.
March 3, 2010
To: Bishop Denis Brennan, Diocese of Ferns, Bishop's House, PO Box 40, Summerhill,Wexford , Ireland
Re: Catholic diocese seeks cash to pay Irish victims - article in Boston Globe, March 2, 2010 (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,587784,00.html)
Dear Bishop Brennan,
I read in the article mentioned above that you have asked your parishioners to pitch in to pay for the bills arising from the sexual abuse of children in your parish.
Frankly I am aghast that you would even consider such an appeal considering it was the clergy in your employ who perpetrated the abuse. The cover-ups, rape, sexual molestation lie firmly in your court as do the costs. You have no business asking anyone to pay other than the church.
In asking for funding from your parishioners you are asking the abused to pay for the costs associated with their own abuse. How absurd. It reinforces the perception of contempt that you (the church) have toward these victims.
In another way you are making it appear as if the abused themselves are at fault here by putting you in a position to request such a seemingly humiliating bail-out. Who do you think your parishioners are going to be upset with when they dig into their pockets - assuming they do? You must be aware that the resentment will eventually lie at the feet of the victims.
If you are short of cash, as your Financial Officer Eugene Doyle suggests, there are other sources within the church. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin may be in a position to help or, failing that, the resources of the Vatican should be tapped.
There is more to this debt to victims than just financial. There is a moral and ethical obligation to provide recompense from within the halls of the church proper for the incomprehensible crimes committed against the innocents. There can be no other way.
Child AbuseWatch is operated by the non-profit One Child International Inc in Florida. The Child AbuseWatch online network provides child abuse prevention and crisis information to the public and professionals who deal with children around the world with sites in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, UK, Europe, South Africa. Australia and New Zealand. They are vocal child advocates particularly in issues such as this. www.abusewatch.net
Leah Tobin is a writer and editor for the ButlerReport.com.