By EUGENE PHELAN of the Limerick Leader
A LIMERICK priest was applauded by his congregation when he strongly criticised Church leaders for their "implicit arrogance" during a sermon at the weekend in which he talked about clerical paedophilia.
"I find it a scandal and a deep embarrassment that throughout all the discussion last week no senior leader of our Church was available for official comment or discussion, apart from Bishop Willie Walsh's interview and Bishop Colm O'Reilly's appearance on Primetime," said Fr Robert McNamara, CSsR, during a sermon in the Redemptorist Church on Sunday.
He described the "head in the sand" attitude as "implicit arrogance"-"a sense of being a bit above it all, a notion that the plain people of Ireland are in some way intellectually inferior."
Fr McNamara said that it was not the 1950s anymore and the plain people of Ireland were highly educated, articulate and, most sadly ironic of all, deeply loving of their Church.
"They just want to see it practice what it preaches," he stressed.
"It is a cop-out to describe the events of last week as yet another media attempt to discredit the Church. While sometimes the media do go overboard, and some within it undoubtedly have their own axe to grind, in this case, the media have done us a service.
"They have brought to light evil which was deliberately concealed by our Church and should have been brought to light years ago," he said.
He said that it was outrageous to blame victims such as Colm O'Gorman and his brave and dignified companions. They were not enemies of the Church, intent on bringing it down, but people who were betrayed and alienated by their Church. All they wanted was justice and a fair hearing.
"Ironically, their conduct in the face of this crisis seems far more Christian than that of some of the official representatives of Christianity.
"When Pat Jackman heard that Bishop Comisky had resigned, he cried, and said he felt sorry for the bishop, while Marie Collins said that on the Late Late Show that she felt saddened by Fr Brian Darcy's obvious distress," he said
Fr McNamara said that it was his prayer that all the victims of clerical paedophilia will hear those words of Jesus-"peace be with you"-deep in their being, and that it will be a real peace, a true healing peace, a peace based not on platitudes and handwringing, but on justice.
Bishop's plea to abuse victims
THE Bishop of Limerick, Dr Donal Murray, is anxious to hear from anyone with complaints regarding clerical paedophilia, writes Eugene Phelan.
Fr Gerard Garrett, who is Bishop Murray's spokesman while Fr Tony Mullins is on holiday, said that Bishop Murray was taking a very close interest in all allegations and was genuinely concerned to be of assistance to anyone who wanted to contact him.
It has also been confirmed that Gardaí are investigating allegations of child sex abuse against former priests in the Limerick diocese.
Fr Garrett would not disclose the number of priests concerned or details of the allegations. He did stress, however, that those under investigation were not in ministry at present.
"What few priests that are under investigation in Limerick are not in ministry now," he stressed.
Dr Murray welcomed the independent audit to be undertaken by the Church to try and help establish the truth regarding complaints in relation to child sex abuse.
"I was unable to be present at the meeting of the bishops in Maynooth yesterday. I want to say that I fully support the decision to set up an independent audit in order to establish the full truth about how complaints in relation to child sexual abuse have been dealt with in the dioceses of Ireland," he told the Limerick Leader.
"I understand that it is intended that the composition and the terms of reference of the audit committee will be finalised within weeks and that is hoped that its report will be made within month, "he said.
He said that in the the Diocese of Limerick, all files relating to these matters will be made available to the audit committee.
"The evil of child sexual abuse has caused unimaginable pain and distress to victims. I am confident that the audit committee will both help us to discover the truth and to ensure that our response in the future is the best possible one.
"I am conscious that many priests, many members of the Church, and, indeed, everybody in the country, have found these last weeks painful and deeply distressing. I hope that the audit committee's work will make an important contribution to the work of healing for victims and to the best possible protection for children both of which will require the efforts and the prayers of all of us," he said.Posted by paul at April 13, 2002 09:37 PM