In October 2005, a report sponsored by the Irish government identified more than 100 allegations of sexual abuse by priests in Ferns, a small town 70 miles south of Dublin, between 1962 and 2002. Accused priests weren't investigated by police; they were deemed to be suffering a "moral" problem. In 2009, a similar report implicated Dublin archbishops in hiding sexual abuse scandals between 1975 and 2004.
Why was such criminal behavior tolerated? The "very prominent role which the Church has played in Irish life is the very reason why abuses by a minority of its members were allowed to go unchecked," the 2009 report said.
Despite the church's long entanglement with the Irish government, Pope Benedict's so-called apology takes no responsibility for the transgressions of Irish priests. His letter states that "the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children." What about the Vatican's complicity in those sins?
Benedict's apology gives the impression that he heard about abuse only recently, and it presents him as a fellow victim: "I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them." But Benedict's infamous 2001 letter to bishops around the world ordered them to keep sexual abuse allegations secret under threat of excommunication -- updating a noxious church policy, expressed in a 1962 document, that both priests accused of sex crimes and their victims "observe the strictest secret" and be "restrained by a perpetual silence....read on
Please reads the full op-ed. It's quite powerful. I remember when she tore up the Pope's picture on SNL (Youtube news report embedded here) and the visceral reaction she received over it. It was as if she committed a form of sexual abuse on the church and the Pope. Artists that take a stand like she did risk their entire careers to shed light on injustices. Anyway, she's my hero.
These scandals have really hurt me deeply even though I no longer adhere to all the teachings or rituals of the Catholic Church as I once did. Italians, just like the Irish revered the Catholic church and I grew up as a child and young adult in that world. What she did in 1992 was courageous and necessary, but to see the reality play out now in real time is so disturbing. And I'm positive we'll see a lot more.