Cost of Infallibility

Irish Independent
February 9, 2012

Those Fine Gael TDs who have been loud in their protestations on the decision last year to close the Irish embassy in the Vatican need to get some backbone.

They are worried that they may lose their seats in the next General Election, with traditional Catholic votes in rural Ireland going elsewhere. They have not that many options of political parties to move to.

There are Irish Catholics who were not happy with the closure, but I don't think it is permanent. It may be re-opened in the next few years, after some rapprochement between the country and the Vatican -- and it is the Vatican, not the Government, that has the making-up to do.

Enda Kenny gave a universally praised Dail speech last June in response to yet another grim report, this time on the diocese of Cloyne.

It wasn't good news, showing more lapses in judgments, in sometimes offering too much help to some priests accused of alleged paedophile behaviour, and not enough to the children or families involved.

It is traditional Christian thinking -- forgiving the sinner, but not the sin. But so much damage had been done already to so many children and to the reputation of the Catholic Church in Ireland that finally the Taoiseach gave a no-holds-barred speech on this.

He said all the things that most thoughtful Irish Catholics needed to hear and it was said in the Dail as strongly as possible.

The closure of the Irish embassy in the Vatican was, in many ways, a follow-on from that, and it surprised no one. It was, I think, the ultimate gesture of rebuke in the world of diplomacy. And it may need to be said again here, that the church and Vatican in the past were not at all shy in intimidating parents and families of children abused by priests. The church and Vatican also intimidated priests who wanted to expose the wrong-doing.

There are many more serious issues for these TDs to speak of in the Dail: our banks still not really lending, mortgage relief for those in serious trouble, a national suicide rate that, it is feared, could rise to 900 this year; people with families emigrating at great cost to work elsewhere.

Then there is the upward-only rent review for retailers that wasn't changed to one that goes down as well as up, as promised by FG.

And there is the scandalous cost of private health insurance in our country.

Are these not the bread and butter issues that worry people in those TDs' constituencies? Speak about that, and loudly, any chance that you get in the Dail.

I also can't help but wonder, would Catholics who protest over the closure of the embassy protest just as much for all those children, now adults, who survived abuse of the most atrocious kind at the hands of a sizeable minority of priests? There are many good priests too, like those in Cloyne, who spoke last year at feeling let down by the church.

The closure of the embassy, was the kind of strong gesture that was needed. It does not mean the closure is permanent. It reflects how the Vatican has a lot of making amends to do. As Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said recently, the church still has a way to go in that process.








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.