The Shame of Ireland

The Shame of Ireland

Bear in mind this was written in 2005 - before the publication of the Ryan Report.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Kicking the church more fun than facing real problems

Rite and Reason:
Is it not strange that we are devoting so much energy to inquiring into the abuse of children half a century ago when there is so much that is unsavoury in the lives of children today, asks Fr Tony Flannery.

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse looked a serious and formidable gathering in the brief shot on RTÉ's Nine O'clock News a few months back, as they inquired into treatment of children at a Newtownforbes
orphanage in the 1940s. Apparently the children were poorly fed and subject to physical abuse in those years. The Sisters of Mercy, who ran the orphanage, apologised yet again for their failures of the past. If we had enough inquiries we would discover that there was a lot of hunger and physical abuse, suffered by the children of Ireland in those far distant war years.

The stories from the orphanages could be replicated in many homes and schools of the time. A great deal of
apologising would need to be done. Two disturbing reports in relation to current abuse of children were made public recently. We had the Prime Time investigation of the sex trade in Ireland. It would appear to be thriving in most of our cities, and many of those exploited are adolescent girls and boys from eastern Europe. It made for unpleasant viewing, and I was surprised at the relatively limited reaction to it in the following days. The second report was into personnel from various NGO and UN agencies working in Liberia and other African countries.

Apparently some of them are exploiting the local children for sex. The report did not point at Irish people, but since we are noted for the numbers of NGOs and UN people we send to Africa, I was surprised that it did not get more notice and response here. After all we have been through in recent years we should be sufficiently realistic to suspect that if this abuse is going on, Irish people are as likely to be involved as anyone else.

There are other ways in which children are neglected in modern Ireland. The lifestyle forced on many young
parents makes it almost impossible for them to give sufficient time and attention to the rearing of their children. Because of the enormous price they have to pay for their house, they are burdened by a mortgage
that makes it essential that both parents continue to work outside the home, and the child is very often left in a crèche from early morning till late evening, five days a week. What the long-term effect of this on our children will be can only be guessed at. The debate on that continues. Our modern lifestyle is also putting great stress on marriage. More and more marriages are splitting up, and new relationships being formed.

As a consequence some children have to deal with a number of different adults acting in the role of parent
during their upbringing. This must be very confusing, and again its long-term effects will only become apparent later. Another difficulty with children nowadays is that they are sexualised at a young age. It
is not uncommon to have children's discos at First Communion time. Little girls who receive this sacrament are becoming like mini brides, with the hair-dos, the manicures and the fake tans. Apart from the materialism that is directly contrary to the meaning of Eucharist, these girls are being given a message that how we look defines who we are, and we wonder why teenage girls sometimes become anorexic. Today's
parents are the first generation in this country who, in many instances, can give their children whatever they ask for in material goods. If they feel guilty for not spending enough time with them, there is a great temptation to shower them with possessions instead.

Grandparents can be also to blame here. Indulging their grandchildren is easy and tempting for them, too. As a consequence children are growing up without ever coming to know how to wait for anything. In this they
are failing to learn what is possibly the most important lesson for life - the ability to say "no" to ourselves.

How will they manage when life, as it does, presents them with situations in which they cannot have everything they want? The high suicide rates and the prevalence of binge drinking are indications that all is not well with our young people. The common assumption today is that the experience of sexual abuse does almost irreparable damage to a child, which will impact on their whole life. It would appear to be classified as the worst form of abuse. But can we be sure of that? How does one measure the damage done to a child by one form of neglect or abuse more than another?

Does it strike anybody that it is a bit strange that we are devoting so much time, money and energy to inquiring into the abuse of children half a century ago when there is so much that is unsavoury in the lives of children today?

The other obvious anomaly, beginning to be highlighted by some commentators, is that all the inquiries are into the behaviour of Catholic Church institutions and people, even though their abuse, dreadful as it was, is only a tiny fraction of all the abuse of children that happened in the past.

From where I stand it seems that we are taking the easy way out on two counts. It is much simpler to delve into the failures of the past than the present. As a society we still have an adolescent obsession with the Catholic Church, even though its traditional power has long since been eroded. It is much more fun to keeping kicking the church than to face the real problems of today.

Fr Tony Flannery is a Redemptorist priest and columnist with Reality. His book Keeping the Faith was published last year

The Irish Times

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My Response

Kicking the church more fun than facing real problems
quote: Rite and Reason: Is it not strange that we are devoting so much energy to inquiring into the abuse of children half a century ago when there is so much that is unsavoury in the lives of children today, asks Fr Tony Flannery

No it is not strange to devote so much energy into the shattering of innocence, even if it happened half a century ago. It is certainly less strange than devoting energy to an incident that happened 2000 years ago
on Golgotha. That incident concerned the death of a man who declared: Mark 10:14 Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. But whoso shall offend one of these
little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

quote: If we had enough inquiries we would discover that there was a lot of hunger and physical abuse, suffered by the children of Ireland in those far distant war years. The stories from the orphanages could be replicated in many homes and schools of the time. A great deal of apologising would need to be done.

So you are stating, as a priest, that there was widespread child malnutrition, child starvation, child exploitation, and child slavery in the Ireland of 50 years ago. How is it then that only a select few were
singled out, taken from their kith and kin, for more of the same only this time from members of the religious orders?
quote: What the long-term effect of this [physical/sexual abuse] on our children will be can only be guessed at.

There is no need for guessing as to the effects of this - that's why we have inquiries, maybe a trip to the Curragh Prison where there are many clergy sojourning for their crimes against children is in order. I believe cardinal dessie is a regular "visitor" - doing some "p a s t o r a l" work no doubt !!
quote: More and more marriages are splitting up, and new relationships being formed. As a consequence some children have to deal with a number of different adults acting in the role of parent during their upbringing. This must be very confusing, and again its long-term effects will only become apparent later.

Marriage breakup is not a new phenomenon. Believe it or not it happened 50 years ago - only in those years the children were then criminalised and carted off to Child Detention centres like Artane, Newtownforbes, Upton, Letterfrack, Ferryhouse, etcetera etcetera where they were abused physically, sexually and emotionally.
quote: Another difficulty with children nowadays is that they are sexualised at a young age.

Believe it or not children were sexualised 50 years ago .... by clergy abusers in the Institutions. Where these abusers raped and sodomised children with very little hindrance from their clergy Superiors.
quote:The common assumption today is that the experience of sexual abuse does almost irreparable damage to a child, which will impact on their whole life. It would appear to be classified as the worst form of abuse. But can we be sure of that? How does one measure the damage done to a child by one form of neglect or abuse more than another?

By "common assumption" I presume you mean amongst the people you congregate with (if you'll pardon the pun), which I expect are fellow clergy - celibate and without any responsibilities towards the raising of children. You really shouldn't make generalisations about something of which YOU have no experience - either as an abuser or as a survivor of abuse.
quote: Does it strike anybody that it is a bit strange that we are devoting so much time, money and energy to inquiring into the abuse of children half a century ago when there is so much that is unsavoury in the lives of children today?

No it is not strange - and why say "we" .... the catholic church is devoting very little energy, very little time and very little money into these inquiries - and the same church has already devoted most of the 20th. century to covering up the abuse of children in Institutions and parishes, indeed the church devoted much of that time moving abusing clergy from parish to parish and from Institution to Institution. In many instances clergy abuse victims were further abused and attempts were made to "disappear" these children into the Child Detention system which was managed solely by the religious orders.
quote: The other obvious anomaly, beginning to be highlighted by some commentators, is that all the inquiries are into the behaviour of Catholic Church institutions and people, even though their abuse, dreadful as it was, is only a tiny fraction of all the abuse of children that happened in the past. From where I stand it seems that we are taking the easy way out on two counts. It is much simpler to delve into the failures of the past than the present.

Should we forget the abuses then ?


Needless to say the priest never responded.

Views: 76

Comment by Andrew Brennan on December 4, 2010 at 10:48
The priest who wrote the piece in the Irish Tiimes Rite & Reason section is tipped for a hierarchical position in Ireland. It beggars belief, on one level at least, that this organisation, after being found to be criminally complicit in the abuse of children and the cover-up of those abuses, can even consider promoting somebody with a mindset like this priest - on another level it's much a case of Same Old Same Old. There's a bishop who actually was looking for praise for the Church because of the fact that abuse victims are now speaking of the abuses that happened to them .... by the Church! This bishop said to Vincent Browne THIS year, in Maynooth no less, that the Church gave these victims a voice!!!
Comment by jack colleton on August 15, 2011 at 16:30

 

Fr Tony Flannery is being very defensive. yesterday created today and today will create tommorrow. child abuse has been going on for a very long time indeed and that past is here today with the full on effects in evidence.

 

 

http://lxoa.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/fr-tony-flannery-on-the-cloyne...

 

 

 

 

Comment by jack colleton on August 15, 2011 at 16:34
Comment by pauline jackson on August 28, 2011 at 22:52
But rome has made very little effort to change the catholic church in ireland. cutting down on costs by grouping parishes is not a different attitude.

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of The Shame of Ireland to add comments!

Join The Shame of Ireland

About

Rob Northall created this Ning Network.

Birthdays

CLICK TO FOLLOW SHAME OF IRELAND ON TWITTER

This is a Private Site

Membership is drawn from Survivors of the Irish Industrial School System their Family and Friends. Survivors of the Magdalene Laundries their Families and Friends are welcome too!

Others can follow on Twitter by Clicking the Button Bellow

Follow ShameOfIreland on Twitter

 Follow on FACE BOOK by Clicking <HERE>

Please Like this FACE BOOK Page?

Photos

  • Add Photos
  • View All

Badge

Loading…

© 2019   Created by Rob Northall.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service