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For a Lady Pope

Paedophilia. The Irish drama

What happened in Ireland deserves to be discussed in a separate article, considering the incredibly high number of victims and the extent to which it undermined the Catholic Church.

Ireland has a population of around 4.4 million, the majority of whom are Catholic. The subject of paedophilia came to the fore at the start of 2000. During the years that followed, the Catholic Church was rapidly forced to admit to the numerous cases of sexual abuse committed by Irish priests on a large number of children.

An enquiry into the affair in 2006, requested by the Bishop of Dublin, showed just how serious the problem was.

At the same time, a commission called “The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse”, took more than ten years to come up with its findings. It is known more simply as “Ryan’s report”, named after the commission’s President, Sean Ryan. This report, published in May 2009, was catastrophic for the Catholic Church. It blew the whistle on the abuse suffered by a vast number of children in various catholic institutions. It spoke of hundreds of victims, who suffered from various forms of abuse: sexual, physical and psychological. The bishops apologised.

A second report, the “Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin”, dubbed ‘Murphy’s report’ after its female president, Judge Yvonne Murphy, was proved to be even more embarrassing for the ecclesial hierarchy of the Archdiocese of Dublin. In November 2009, it reported that around ten bishops had covered up acts of abuse perpetrated by clerics. In the months that followed, three bishops resigned their posts.

The cost of the compensation that would need to be paid out to the victims was estimated to be at around 128 million Euros. However the final cost of the compensation given out to 12,500 of the 14,500 victims (including those who suffered from psychological abuse) has amounted to 1.2 billion Euros, funded principally by the Irish state. The Catholic Church has been asked to contribute to half the costs.

An example of the deliberate efforts of the upper hierarchy of the Church to hush things up is clearly shown in the attitude and behaviour of Bishop John Magee. He was private secretary to Paul VI, Jean Paul I, and Jean Paul II and, as such, knew all about the instructions given out by the Vatican for the Church to remain silent on the issue of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests. He was appointed Bishop of Cloyne in 1987. An enquiry led by the Church into his behaviour, proved that his approach had been lax to say the least – he had refused to answer any accusations made against Irish clerics. In March 2010, at the age of 73, his resignation was accepted by the Pope.

Pope Benedicte XVI, faced with all these accusations against the Church on the subject of sexual abuse, has finally admitted the Church’s responsibility.

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