Everyone is still reeling from the Ferns Report but the consensus is that the Bishops are the ones with the real case to answer for protecting the monsters (and there is no other word) who abused the children. There is more to come. Apparently Maynooth College would provide a report in itself. This has got to break the hierarchy. They deserve to be broken and I hope they have to fork out every last penny they have.
However, what I cannot get over and will never understand is how ordinary people turned a blind eye to what was going on. Parents who refused to believe their children – one boy could barely walk when we came home and had blood on his clothes and the parents did nothing. Teachers who let priests call kids out of class and didn’t notice anything odd when they came back – they’d been raped. Holy groups who burned copies of local newspapers if they reported on actual court cases involving priests. It’s just beyond belief that adults could think that children could make up this stuff and that they felt they couldn’t say or do anything to protect them. That’s the horror behind the horror. I am so glad I wrote that column a few weeks on the so-called bonds of our past.
However, for the whole weekend I was thinking about the two priests in our parish. One is an old man and I always liked him. He is a genuinely humble holy man. The other is a younger sociable type (who married us and christened our children). He’s not a creepy Fr. Trendy type, just an ordinary guy doing a job. I wanted to call into them or phone them or offer some kind of support and really wanted to get to mass this weekend to hear what they would say. Stupid domestic life and events kept me from attending and I’ve just heard from my mother what happened and I am raging I didn’t go.
At Saturday night mass there was a small crowd and the old priest gave the sermon. He was abjectly humble and sorry and apologised to everyone for the awful way that the church had let the people down. My dad went round to the vestry after mass and went to shake his hand. The poor man was standing there on his own and when Dad put out his hand he broke down and wept. I don’t how this affected my father as he is not the type to acknowledge emotion. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if he had trouble holding himself together. On Thursday evening he had been in my house and sat at the table, still trying to come to terms with the report and the scale of the abuse. He was shocked and appalled and just struggling to take the whole thing in. In most crises he will have some dark analytical comment to make, but this time, he couldn’t draw any conclusions, he was just trying to adjust.
Anyway, today (Sunday) my mother was at morning mass and there was an unusually large crowd. The same priest made the same sermon. At the end of mass, he got a standing ovation when he went to leave the altar. I was so glad. This poor old man is watching everything he ever believed in crumble. It so sad that we have these two nice men working away at a pastoral level, burying our dead, comforting the dying and walking the rest of us through the weddings and the baptisms. And above them, the sneaky evil bastard bishops are covering up the most appalling immorality. Hopefully, the bishops will get their comeuppance but not at the expense of our nice priests.