Tuesday, June 09, 2009

"The Very Opposite... of the Love of God"

With the abuse of thousands of children over decades in Ireland's church-run residential schools being termed the country's "Holocaust" after the release of last month's Ryan Report, the Isle's top two prelates held a press conference yesterday to report on their meeting last week with Pope Benedict:

Commenting yesterday on the meetings in Rome last week involving him, the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady, seven cardinal-prefects of the Roman Curia and Pope Benedict, [Dublin] Archbishop [Diarmuid] Martin said the pope was “very visibly upset” to hear of some of the things in the Ryan report – “how the children had suffered from the very opposite of an expression of the love of God”.

Speaking in Maynooth yesterday, as the Irish Episcopal Conference began its three-day summer meeting, Archbishop Martin added: “I think the dialogue we have established will continue and something will come of that. When exactly I don’t know.’’...

Speaking yesterday of their 45- minute meeting with the pope last Friday, Cardinal Brady said he [the pope] ‘‘listened very carefully, very attentively, very sympatheticly, to what we had to say and he said, in reply, that this was a time for deep examination of life here in Ireland, of the church.’’

Pope Benedict had also repeated to them the four points he had made to the Irish bishops during their ad limina visit to the Vatican in October 2006, the cardinal said.

Then the pope urged them “to establish the truth of what has happened; ensure that justice is done for all; put in place the measures that will prevent these abuses happening again, with a view to healing the hurt suffered by survivors.’’

Archbishop Martin added: Let’s listen and learn . . . and do a little bit of soul searching about what way the church in Ireland will look in years to come.”

Asked earlier yesterday about the morality of a letter sent by the Christian Brothers, five days before publication of the Ryan report, in which they denied all claims of abuse in their institutions, Archbishop Martin responded “there has been huge denial about abuse.’’

While the religious orders whose conduct was detailed in the report have taken the brunt of public fury on its release, reaction has honed in just as angrily on the 2002 deal struck between the communities and the government that, in exchange for future immunity from claims, capped the orders' payout at €128 million ($179 million) -- a fraction of the estimated €1 billion ($1.4 billion)-plus in expected reparations.

After initially refusing to revisit the prior settlement (its remainder funded by the state), the 18 orders U-turned last week, agreeing to up their share of the victims' fund following a meeting with Prime Minister Brian Cowen.

On Thursday, the Irish Parliament will begin a two-day debate on the decade-long state inquiry and its findings. And already foreseen as "shocking" in its own right, another inquest -- this time detailing the history of abuse in the Dublin archdiocese -- is slated for release later this summer.