Saturday, 16 April 2011

On Anger, Reform and Diarmuid Martin in Ireland

Here's an article by John Allen, a reporter for the National Catholic Reporter, who met with Survivors outside the recent  Conference in Ireland, a the Jesuit Milltown Institute titled “Broken Faith: Revisioning the Church in Ireland. He listened attentively to what the survivors had to say, and was well informed, and cogniscant of much of the story. You can view that meeting here .

I read the article and the very first sentence drew the following response from me........

"Although the sexual abuse crisis has been devastating for the Catholic church everywhere it’s erupted, the meltdown in Ireland is fairly unique in scope and scale"

1. 'devastating for the church' : hmmmm compare that to the effects of the brutality and sexual abuse perpetrated upon those who Survived, and worse, on thos who did not Survive, whose pain was such that they committed suicide. And remember, that the Living Survivors are but the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many generations of dead who never spoke of their suffering, primarily because there was no one to hear it, no means to tell it such that it might have been understood or even believed.

2. 'erupted' : that's a violent word. It implies that the giving witness to what occurred was and is a violent act. That telling the truth is a violent act. What would Jesus say of this?

3. 'meltdown' again implies a catastrophe. How can the truth be considered a catastrophe, unless one wishes that the truth be suppressed?

4. "Ireland is fairly unique in scope and scale" : hmmm again, there are number of studies* of the world wide Residential Boarding School systems operated by the Church, set up by State Legislation, that show that the experience in Ireland is unique only in the most insignificant of ways. For example, there are or were no Aboriginal Residential Schools in Ireland. Just Industrial Schools for the poorest people.

It is also true that the sexual abuse of children occurred outside such Institutions, in Churches, Sacristies, Vicarages, Parish Halls, and even in the childrens own homes, and that this abuse was pretty widespread. In every country in the world where the Catholic (and other Religious denominations, to be fair) Church held some Power.

Thus even in the first sentence, the psychology of mitigation reveals itself.

Let me be clear here. This issue is a Societal issue. It is to do with the existence of Hierarchical Power, and the language and culture of violence that Hierarchical Power has always been associated with. While I will not mitigate in any way the responsibility of individuals or Institutions, I will not accept any analysis that stops short of the fullest acknowledgement of the truth of the matter.

The Dominant Cultures that comprise Industrial Civilisation are founded upon the Power to abuse and with that the ability and intent to mask that abuse, rationalise it or suppress awareness of it; be it by propaganda, indoctrination, by intimidation or by violence.

If Christianity - irrespective of what denomination, irrespective of it being evangelical, charismatic, ecclesiatic, had any moral or empathic compass,it would understand that Jesus was born into that same culture and spoke out, directly and with clarity, against that culture.

And the base of that culture's grip is this: the ability to abuse children, be it by gross and extreme acts which survivors are giving witness to or by the more subtle processes of indoctrination, propaganda and grooming which far too many people take as 'normal'.

The vast majority of pre-literate, 'uncivilised', aboriginal societies, which ranged in group size from small family groups to very large settlements, were and are empathic egalitarian societies, where the childs safety, well being and nurturance is paramount. They knew and know that the psychology of the future society is nurtured by how the society relates to and treats it's children, that empathy is the key to all healthy human relationships, and also key to a healthy relationship to the habitat, that empathy is key in an environment that has many variables, as do all natural environments, because empathy is responsive, rather than reactive.

The reactive nature of the Church Hierarchy speaks volumes. The fear that those who are of good heart who live within that Hierarchy must be very great indeed if thay feel they cannot speak out honestly and with passion against the crimes that have been committed within that Institution.

Diramuid Martin has a long, long way to go to meet the demands of empathic honesty. And the Institutions of the Christian Churches, and those of State Governance, even further.


*Here's a report prepared for the UN back in 1997 which is a brief comparative study of Indigenous Residential Schools operated by the Churches, legislated into being by State Governments, across the world.

Every continent apart from Antartica and the Artic has examples of this system, and in many places in Africa, South America and Asia, the systems and schools are still operating.

'Scope and scale indeed!

Kindest regards


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