It's almost hard to recall now the once seamless web of church and state in Ireland. Now, the Vatican is lucky to be maintaining diplomatic relations with Dublin. A report into the handling of sexual abuse cases in the diocese of Cloyne has just been published and its findings are, in the words of one Irish minister, "difficult to read … and avoid despair." Even after allegedly tougher Vatican guidelines issued in 1996 requiring referrals to police of all child abuse allegations, two-thirds of such cases were kept from the police by the archdiocese, from 1996 – 2007. A secret Vatican letter urged treating the 1996 guidelines as non-binding. Yesterday these astonishing words came from the mouth of the Taoiseach Enda Kenny:
"The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’. Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart” . . . the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer. . . . This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded …
The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture. It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children. But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order. Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic . . . as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism . . . the narcissism . . . that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day."
The church in Ireland is now dying, thanks to the wickedness and corruption that endures in Benedict's authoritarian church. It deserves to die as an institution, because it has betrayed, indeed attacked, the very Gospels it is supposed to uphold.