If you’ve been following the news from Ireland you will be aware that the 26 counties are throwing off Rome rule and becoming a republic, a proper modern capitalist secular republic.
The latest investigation into child abuse in the Cloyne Diocese has revealed that the Vatican has been advising the Vicar General of the diocese that the joint State-Church guidelines on reporting sexual abuse are optional.
This is the third diocese to be exposed for systemic abuse.
The UN initiated an investigation into the “Magdelene Laundries” concentration camps for girls and young women who had babies out of wedlock, runaway domestic servants and young girls beyond parental control. Notoriously children and young women in all these categories in Ireland were quite often victims of rape by those in authority over them. These were institutions totally under the control of religious orders which inmates voluntarily entered for their protection. But if they left, the police arrested and returned them to the “homes”.
All this is the routine drip of revelations that have been coming out since the “Celtic Tiger” boom took off.
The big change is that the state has gone on the offensive against the Church.
Fine Gael Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that that Vatican’s behaviour was disgraceful and that “The law of the Land should not be stopped by a crozier or a collar.” Socialist Party TDs and the chairman of Fine Gael, Charlie Flanagan called for the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio and Kenny has not ruled out closing the Irish Embassy to the Holy See.
Labour Party leader and Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore told the Papal Nuncio that he wants the Vatican to explain its behaviour, he described the Vatican’s interference in Irish affairs as “absolutely unacceptable” and “inappropriate”.
He said “ I want to know why this state, with which we have diplomatic relations,issued a communication,the effect of which ,was that very serious matters of the abuse of children in this country was not reported to the authorities.”
Both governing parties are hinting fairly broadly that the new dispensation will mark the end of “ The seal of the confession”, that priests will not be excused from reporting confessed crimes to the Garda.
Eamon O Cuiv (Fianna Fáil) said that the feeling of anger and disgust was shared by everybody and that Fianna Fáil would support any initiative to ensure it never happened again.
Mary Lou MacDonald of Sinn Fein shared the general repulsion but emphasised the failure of the state not the church.
There is nothing surprising in the revelations, the sexual abuse was never really hidden and the beatings and psychological torture were completely open and were the declared policies of the institutions concerned. Many religious orders eg Christian Brothers have already withdrawn from their old roles following other scandals but this could mark the end of the policy of subcontracting educational, care and medical institutions to the church, which has existed since the founding of the Free State.
The immediate task for not only socialists but all decent people is to make sure there is not a retreat when the pressure dies down. Fine Gael and Labour may be happy to push the secular agenda, although that is far from guaranteed by their history, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin will struggle to legislate to make the Church as an institution subservient to the state without destroying their electoral bases.
The Irish Labour movement and the Irish people as a whole have come a long way since the 1948 inter-party government grovelled at the feet of John Charles McQuaid and betrayed Noel Browne and the women and children of Ireland.