The following from the editorial in the southern African Roman Catholic weekly, The Southern Cross, for June 3 to 9, 2009, is worth quoting, as it was (for once) extremely honest about what had happened in Ireland: “After a series of abuse scandals and the rise of secularism in Ireland – which in part is a reaction to inordinate ecclesial power in secular affairs – the Irish Church is at a nadir. For all the good it has done among the bad, the Church in Ireland as we know it is broken. Where its vocations were once so rich that Ireland lavishly sent priests and religious to the missions, today few men and women enter the consecrated life. Where its priests once were honoured, they are often publicly disrespected, to the point that some don’t even wear their clerical garb in public so as to avoid being maligned. And where once trust in the Church was implicit, it is now lost.”
The numbers of men and women joining Roman Catholic religious orders in Ireland are in serious decline. Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper in Dublin, said: “Most of these orders will literally die out in Ireland within the next generation or so. Many of them are already in wind-up mode. They lack the confidence even to seek new vocations (recruits), due to the stigma associated with their members’ shocking, scandalous behaviour.”
Large numbers of Irish Roman Catholics were shocked, hurt, disillusioned, and very angry with their priests, and with their “Church” in general. One, writing from Dublin to The Southern Cross, said: “Archbishop Martin has not acknowledged in full the conspiracy of the hierarchy in covering up the abuses…. Until all victims are properly compensated and all the perpetrators are prosecuted, his fine words amount to very little. The Catholic hierarchy and orders have failed to show that they are really serious about this. It seems rather that they want to pay out as little compensation as possible, and to keep the abusers out of jail. It is insulting of the Catholic leadership to pretend that they never knew about the physical and sexual violence. When individuals complained, they were intimidated into silence, and seldom was any action taken…. What the Church doesn’t understand, it seems, is that people are not angry only with the abusers but also with the whole Catholic Church that tolerated and covered up the violence against children, and now refuses to pay proper compensation. In my opinion, the whole hierarchy of Ireland should resign in shame. That includes Archbishop Martin. What a statement of solidarity with the victims that would be!”
He went on: “You [the editor of the Romanist newspaper] say that the Catholic Church in Ireland must now rebuild itself. This ignores the anger among Ireland’s people. Most want nothing to do with the Catholic Church after years of collusion with the government and the abuse scandal…. Many Irish people, probably the majority, have had enough, and the Catholic Church will never recover from this. It has forfeited its moral authority…. Many Catholics in Ireland have lost their faith not in salvation, but in the Church which claims to represent our Saviour, but then allowed evil men and women to commit evil acts against defenceless children.”
An article in the Irish Post was entitled “Where to now for Catholicism in Ireland?” The author, Joe Horgan, voiced precisely the sentiments of so many shocked and disillusioned Irish Roman Catholics when he wrote: “It is hard to know what to do now with all of that residual Catholicism. What to do with that reflex that wants to make the sign of the cross on passing a grotto. What to do when a priest passes by in the street. Still catch the eye and say hello, Father? What to do when a nun passes by in the street. Still catch the eye and say hello, Sister? Still? Now? After the Ryan Report? After being given full knowledge of what the institutions of that Church did? What to do with it now?” We have seen what the Irish people have done with it.
He went on: “If you were writing a short history of the Catholic Church in Ireland now how would you assess it? Would you say it supported and helped the people through an often grim, difficult history? Or would you say it oppressed and manipulated the people?…. Or would you say that, on the shocking, overwhelming evidence of the Ryan Report that the Catholic Church has been a malign, divisive force in Irish life? Has been the one consistently proven force for evil?”
But perhaps the most damning indictment of all, at the time of the report, came from an Irish American Jesuit priest, known online simply as “Father Tim”. He saw the handwriting on the wall as far as the Roman Catholic institution in Ireland was concerned, and he saw no future for Rome in that once staunchly Papist country after the Ryan Report revelations. Astoundingly, this is what he wrote, entitled “Memo to: Catholic Church/ From: Irish people/Re: Your services are no longer needed”:
“For the Catholic Church in Ireland, the game is over.
“The Irish people, and I am convinced it is the majority, no longer wish to have the Catholic Church in their country, or in their lives, and possibly not in their faith.
“I cannot blame them. The Church is solely to blame for this, from front to back, start to finish. It is reaping what it sowed. Although running away from a fire rather than toward it is not the example many of us in the Church believe should be our service to God and His Children, it may be best for all that we settle up our debts, hand over our criminals, and catch the next plane out of Dublin. I am sure that, after a transition period, many of the services the Church provides in Ireland can be contracted to others, and I would hope whatever damage settlements we must and should pay will smooth that changeover.
“Ireland is strong, and it will live on, and heal. Yes, it can and will do this without us. And, assuming it has learned anything, the threads that were once the garment of the Irish Church will heal too, and not repeat the horrible mistakes and misdeeds that have doomed its work in ‘the land of scholars and saints.’ Perhaps, in some tomorrow, the Church and Ireland will again be together. That is a prayer worth saying and a dream worth having – but not a reality worth expecting, not now or anytime soon.
“There is simply no way that an institution so horribly tainted and so utterly mistrusted can or should speak in the name of Jesus Christ in Ireland, nor attempt to project spiritual and moral leadership. So many of my dear online friends have written me with the same question, which I cannot answer: ‘How can we ever trust the Church again?’ While the Church can and must surrender its criminals and the highly placed conspirators who made the crimes possible and policy, it will never be enough in Ireland. The rage is too strong, a dam has burst. No matter what it does or says, the Church cannot and will not be believed anymore. Without that, its ministry is finished, at least for now.”
As this was written by a Jesuit priest, one must always be very cautious and seek to discern any ulterior motive behind it, for the Jesuits are always wily, subtle, and seeking to promote Romanism in whatever way they can, by fair means or foul. But in this case, it is difficult to believe there was any ulterior motive behind this man’s article. It was a brutally frank acknowledgment of the Roman “Church’s” sins, and one would struggle to find any good coming to Rome through it. It would appear that this man was genuinely convinced that Roman Catholicism in Ireland was finished as a result of the priestly sex scandals. And as we consider the direction in which Ireland has moved, he may indeed be right. Perhaps he was simply (despite being a Jesuit) a decent man, committed to his “Church” but aware that the damage done in Ireland seemed to be irreparable, and was deeply sorrowful over it. There are a few such priests within the Roman religion. Not many, but a few. True Christians should pray much for such men, that they may have their eyes opened by the Lord to see the Papal system for the demonic institution it is, and “come out of her”, coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, repenting of their sins and believing on Him alone for everlasting salvation!