Even now after all the revelations, after all the promises, after all the pleas of best practice the church is proving to be a slippery customer if you expect cooperation on matters priestly and sexual. The hierarchy in the form of the majority of bishops do not agree with all the Murphy Report says and will not accept fully accountable child protection procedures in their dioceses. As I have said before 19 of the 26 dioceses have priests in charge of this very sensitive area of child protection and the Report says that this responsibility should be handed over to properly trained professionals who have been strictly vetted.
With the example yesterday of Patrick Hughes, a priest with a self confessed attraction to altar boys, admitting his three year abuse of one boy after he had originally fled the country and was in hiding with the Church’s protection. It wasl Archbishop Martin’s officewho handed him over to the Guardai, who said in court that they “hsd been given the runaround by the Church authorities”. The judge gave him a years imprisonment for the crime, the maximum being two years. Presumably because Hughes had told the judge that he had weaned himself off altar boys. On to what you might ask. Coming down the track is the case of Ronald Bennett, accused of buggering boys at Gormanston College. He has already served two and half years for previous offences in 2007. He was also involved with the Irish Swimming Association. He must have thought he was in heaven. So why faced with this almost avalanche of perverted sexuality does the majority of the hierarchy seem to think that the Murphy Report and Archbishop Martin are wrong.
It seems that at the conference in Maynooth last week, held to establish the programme for the bishops papal interview in two weeks time, did this majority hit back at Archbishop Martin over his acceptance of the Murphy Report and not accept the fully accountable child protection procedures put in place in Dublin, in their own dioceses. This split led by Drennan of Galway and O’Mahoney of Dublin seems to have a large majority of bishops on their side and they are moving to oust Archbishop Martin from his position after he wholeheartedly accepted the Report’s findings. Even some influential priests are against the Report and want more considered imput from the clergy. They consider Martin to be remote. What they are asking for is a synod of priests to discuss any problems.
Unfortunately it is too late for second opinions, the cancer is too deep seated, surgery is necessary immediately. What the clergy want could take years of anguished talk followed by the administration of lethargic treatment. No, immediate surgery to remove these time stalled bishops, followed by a period of considered opinion and regeneration by both the clergy and the laity when the patient is on the road to recovery.
If however these bishops who mixed this carciogenic stew are allowed to have their own way and remove Archbishop Martin, then the Church in Ireland is lost. The Pope has to be decisive and he has to act fast. Let him pretend that for once in his life he is leading a blitzkrieg.