Ireland - the abuse report
I've been trying to avoid writing (or even thinking much) about this topic in recent days, though I have been praying for the victims and, yes, the perpetrators. The events related are too close to home in terms of what members of my own family suffered.
But just as graces have been received by us through at last after many years sharing with each other the sufferings that each one bears, so too I believe that this report and the shocking revelations it carries within its pages had to be made public so that lessons could be learned and that the victims be offered at least a chance of some kind of closure.
However, it is such a shame (and indicative of anti-Catholic feeling in certain quarters of the press) that "reputable" newspapers like The Times had to then twist the words of our new Archbishop, who had in fact given - off the cuff - what I thought was one of the strongest, unequivocal calls for justice in favour of such victims as I have ever read from a member of the Church hierarchy. It all stemmed from his use of the word "courage". The press has implied that it was used to refer to the "courage" of abusers admitting their own guilt. It is not that at all. It's the courage that is needed by congregations in dealing with abusers within their own ranks, as says Damian Thompson.
Imagine a mother discovering that her son had raped a girl. Imagine the conflicting emotions she would go through: horror and intense anger at what your own flesh and blood had done to an innocent girl, guilt, compassion for the victim... and yet, he is still her son. Imagine then having to give evidence against your own son? I'm pushing the boat out, I know, but religious congregations and individual communities very often become close knit families. This is certainly my experience in England and France and when visiting brethren in communities elsewhere in Europe and Africa. I think this is the courage the Nichols refers to: having to hand over your brother or sister to the justice of the land. He says this in no way to belittle the suffering of the victims, but as a priest and bishop he obviously has a certain insight into the difficulties and pain that congregations and dioceses have to deal with when owning up to having an abuser in their midst.
More should indeed be done and said by members of the hierarchy and it is indeed scandalous that congregations seek injunctions to prevent names of abusers being released. This demonstrates a lack of the necessary courage that Nichols describes.
What was done in secret must come out into the light for true healing to be possible.