Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"A Culture Prevalent For Far Too Long"

As a march by some 5,000 survivors of Ireland's church-run residential schools and their supporters "silenced" the heart of Dublin earlier today, the "extraordinary, raw demonstration of suffering, anger and grief" in the wake of last month's Ryan Report was met with a significant apology from the nation's bishops for "a culture that was prevalent in the Catholic Church in Ireland for far too long":
In a joint statement the bishops said: “...Heinous crimes were perpetrated against the most innocent and vulnerable, and vile acts with life-lasting effects were carried out under the guise of the mission of Jesus Christ. This abuse represents a serious betrayal of the trust which was placed in the Church.”

They spoke of their “heavy sadness” at the suffering of so many for so long and invited survivors to engage with them “to see how we can assist those who have been abused”. They also wished “to respond as pastors despite the inadequacies at times of our previous pastoral responses”.

Cardinal [Sean] Brady [of Armagh; the conference president] said the bishops did not want to presume what would be said when they meet victims’ groups, until they had met and listened to them. “We want to chart a way forward,” he said....

As regards the future of the relevant congregations [Dublin] Archbishop Dermot Martin said “they belong within the church”.

What they now needed, he said was “a process of discernment, repentance, conversion and renewal, and why they drifted away from their charism”.

There was also a need “to look at what Irish society was like then . . . how is it that we treated huge numbers of children who had no other fault than perhaps being born out of wedlock? How did we do that and where were the investigative journalists of day”?...

The bishops also discussed the role of Catholic schools in society in the wake of the publication of the report, noting that “there have been calls from politicians and in the media for the Catholic Church to be removed from the provision of primary education."
Once upon a time, the Irish model of church so eagerly and often replicated on these shores was widely admired for its unparalleled discipline, keen organizational abilities, and -- more than just where necessary -- an ability to show pride and force in stunning numbers.

In recent years, however, both in their homeland and here, it's become beyond clear that these attributes came at a staggering, irreparable cost.

As Jesus asks in the Gospels, "For what shall it profit a man to gain the world...?"

Suffice it to say, complete the sentence.