TO err is human, to forgive … depends on how big the error was. In Cardinal Seán Brady’s case, the error was pretty much unforgivable.
Yet despite the near-universal attacks on the Roman Catholic Primate of All Ireland after this week’s latest appalling revelations about child abuse, Cardinal Brady remains today in an extraordinary position of power — as head of a Church which is the patron of 92% of the country’s 3,200 primary schools.
It is inexplicable that he continues to hold such a figurehead role.
We are well used to the scandals that have dogged the Catholic Church in recent years. What distinguishes this latest one is the seniority of the person involved — and the fact he is steadfastly refusing to stand down.
We learned this week that while he was a priest in 1975, the then Fr Brady was warned by a 14-year- old victim of Fr Brendan Smyth that the paedophile priest was likely abusing five more named children. Inexplicably, scandalously — for anyone, never mind a man of the cloth — he failed to take action. The criticism that rained down on him when this emerged was unprecedented.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said the Catholic Church should consider the appropriateness of having at its head some- one who had “failed spectacularly to protect children”.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told the Dáil that anybody who did not deal with knowledge of child abuse should not hold a position of authority, describing the latest revelations as “another horrific episode of failure by senior
members of the Catholic Church to protect children”.
Those attacks were just the tip of the iceberg. But Cardinal Brady insisted he would not resign, claiming the BBC programme behind the revelations misrepresented his role, describing him as an investigator rather than a note-taker. As defences go, it was as thin as a Communion wafer.
Cardinal Brady’s position is surely untenable and his refusal to act swiftly and decisively has cast a new shadow over the beleaguered Church he leads.
The row also once again forced to the foreground the issue of whether any church should have a role in running our schools.
After all, taxpayers — of all faiths and none — pay for our education system, yet we now have a situation where the patron of 92% of our primary schools is irrevocably tarnished — and the State can do nothing about it.
Ireland’s changing attitude to matters religious was underlined in a very different way this week, when, bizarrely, a TD asked if Jedi could be an official religion.
The query by Fine Gael’s Eoghan Murphy followed recent Census campaigns by fans of the Star Wars movies, which feature the Jedi knights.
Central Statistics Office chief Gerry O’Hanlon told the TD that his officials would accept Jedi as a religious denomination if someone wrote it in the “other religion” section of the census.
Spiritual sceptics might welcome such a move, insisting it is only as mythical as all religions, but I don’t subscribe to that view. I believe faith can and does have a hugely positive impact on society.
However, when you have the head of the largest Church in the State with his credibility on a par with a Jedi knight, you know there is something rotten at the heart of our religious life.
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NEXT Saturday marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edward Lear, author of The Book Of Nonsense.
Although he was born in London, Lear’s rhymes became known as limericks — for reasons which are not entirely clear, but obviously pertain to the Irish city.
Limericks are daft five-line poems and easy to write — even I can come up with one! So, with apologies to Lear…
There was a fiscal treaty from Brussels
Whose text had everyone puzzled
The entire Irish electorate
Couldn’t make head nor tail of it
While the rest of the continent was muzzled.
I’M going to be a daddy again!
At the risk of coming over all Derek Mooney on you, I’m delighted to announce that a pair of blue tits are nesting in the box up a tree in our garden, which is hooked up to our TV.
We thought the birds had missed their window. A male blue tit kept bringing twigs to the bird-house but his mate was unimpressed and kept throwing them out of it. Never contradict a woman when she is ‘nesting’!
Then, a few days ago, the pair of them frenziedly began nest-building. Was their first choice home washed away by the rains, or invaded by a cat? Who can say?
So, we are eagerly looking forward to a brood of anything from five to 16 eggs. The female lays one a day, then starts the incubation when she is cleaned out, so to speak.
It’s very exciting, watching nature in your garden unfold live on TV.
And before you ask… no, I didn’t see the conception. That channel is encrypted and I’ve forgotten the password.