I have been out of the country the last few weeks, in italy, so have only been really following the situation from afar on the appalling responses to the Cloyne revelations. However, the speech by Enda Kenny to the Dail (Irish Parliament) is one that I wholeheartedly welcome. However, its clear to my non legal mind that there has been a concerted and longrunning perversion at the heart of much of Irish catholic clerical and religious interaction with children, and to their institutional response to the state as it tried, haltingly and late in the day though it might have been, to investigate and deal with same.
There have been calls for the government to ‘get tough’ with the church. How would this work in practice? Can I suggest a few things that would be (in my view) appropriate and proportionate in making it clear that the church should, as someone said ‘render unto caesar (or enda) that which is caesar’s’…’
- First, its astonishing that while teachers need to be vetted for working with children non teaching religious , such as the parish priest who is usually the chairman of the school board or the bishop who is usually the patron of the school are not. Lets start there and require that…it would be interesting to see the extent of non certification. Lets have all priests and all religious, whose works of necessity takes them into regular and close contact with children, be vetted. Its heartening that the present Bishop in charge of cloyne diocese has started this process for all priests.
- Second, lets grasp the bull by the horns and take control of the schools from religious. All of them. Of all religions. If people want their children to have religious instruction thats great, but lets consider if that should be part of the STATE system or better done by the religious themselves. The state pays for the system, so let it call the tune now. The many religious that wish to deploy their talents and skills in teaching can do so on the same basis and on the same conditions as lay teachers, and the state take over the land and buildings of all the schools. If the church wishes to run the schools, let them find the money..
- Third, I am not a lawyer…but, its interesting that recently a man was jailed for six months for impeding a police investigation into a case of manslaughter. There seems to me to be compelling circumstantial evidence that the irish and vatican hierarchy were actively impeding the state investigations, and were described as at best ‘unsupportive‘ in the words of the investigating judge. Might a garda investigation into this not be warranted, or even perhaps an investigation to ascertain if there was conspiracy to pervert the course of justice?
- Fourth, do we really need an ambassador to both Italy and the Vatican? Can one not do both? After all, were broke…
- Fifth, the catholic church is great at keeping records. Lets send in the Gardai to all bishops palaces and record repositories, seize all documents, pc’s etc and launch a forensic investigation of who knew what when where. And while we are at it we might want the Garda Ombudsman Commission to launch an investigation into the way that the Gardai handled or not complaints over the years…