Friday, May 22, 2009

The sins of our fathers

This is St Joseph's Industrial School in Glin, where hundreds of boys were beaten and raped by Christian Brothers between 1928 and 1966.

The heartbreaking details of Ryan Commission report, the exposure of the paltry settlement that Bertie Ahern and Michael Woods made with the religious orders in 2002, and the Government's almost apathetic stance on its possible renegotiation have left us all beyond words.

They do not see it, and neither does the Church. The Government and the religious orders will offer platitudes of sympathy and shame, all the while protecting the identity of the men and women who did this in the name of God.

Beatings, abuse, molestation. Over and over and over, until they had finally stolen the innocence of a generation.

They will consider it just another crisis to be overcome; another dent that will unsettle but not fundamentally disturb their shared, anointed sense of self.

But they still do not see it for what it is - the moment when the old identity of the Irish nation breaks forever. This report has shattered the last, quiet bonds of responsibility and affection that we owed to the Catholic Church.

They will never be repaired.

Eamonn deValera welded together who we are and what we believe when he wrote the constitution in 1937. Much like in post-Soviet Poland, the soft power of the Catholic Church was used as the invisible hand that held together a confused and uncertain young nation.

They ran our hospitals. They set up our school system. They were given moral and political authority over every community. They instilled the conservative, empathetic values that still exist in us today.

But that is all in danger of being lost.

My generation, with their college educations and left-of-centre thoughts, had been drifting from the Church for some time. All that stood in the way of a clean break was that national sense of duty; a belief that the appearance of faith had to be maintained. After all, what could we be without it?

How can anyone hold on to that now, now that we've read about how children were forced to lick faeces off of priest's shoes?

How can we be asked to believe in or trust any of these people ever again?

The answer is clear.

We won't.

1 comment:

victoriag said...

I hate to say it, but as shocked and horrified as people are right now about the sexual butchery and physical abuse suffered by children at the hands of Roman Catholic Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Nuns and (even) some Bishops, after a while, people will forget; and then will go about their lives as usual. And that is exactly what the Leaders of the Catholic Church are counting on; that apathy of the Catholic Laity that makes them tend to forget quickly, especially when it's something they don't want to hear. This is why the Victims/Survivors take to the streets everday, somwhere on GOD's Green Earth, in order to remind you that WE Lost Children of the Roman Catholic Church Were Sexually, Physically and Spiritually destroyed by evil of the most monstrous kind; Evil Disguised AS Religion. So, the next time you see Clergy Abuse Survivors outside your church, THANK THEM, For Their Courange and For Their Strength. Because of them, Your Children and Grandchildren Are Just A Little Bit Safer.