Piece by Sordid Piece

The Irish bishops conference has issued a ‘humble’ apology to all those their foot soldiers raped under the full protection of the bishops who attended the conference. Murray, the Limerick bishop has still not resigned. That resignation, if and when it does come, because of the delay in both making and announcing it, will be viewed as something dragged out of the charlatan; a move grudgingly made on the basis of an awareness that his fellow crozier cronies were unable to give him the same sort of cover it provided for the rapists. There is nothing humble about the bishops. Arrogant men, infuriated by being trapped in the spotlight aiding and abetting those caught with their trousers down.

Having a go at the hierarchy is not to be misconstrued as an attack on the body of the worshipping faithful. There are many lay people of integrity who believe in god and who make up the congregation that the rogue reverends preach to. As William Scholes argued in the Irish News, ‘it is important to draw a distinction between the Church as an institution and the Church as the faithful people of God…’ In terms of arguing for a ban it is only the former that should ever be outlawed. Religion, as an opinion, should have the same status as other opinions and must not be subject to persecution or censorship. True, the mass going congregation could do more to curb the malignant power of the Church as an institution but the efficacy of self-denial is not something to be dismissed lightly.

Unfortunately, as much as some of us might wish it to happen, the Catholic Church in Ireland is not about to be declared an unlawful body of men. Not the remotest chance of it. It is not because the Church serves a useful purpose. Clearly, as a rape institution, it does not. It will survive because it still retains a degree of social power and influence. Any other non-essential body that engaged in widespread child rape and systemic cover-up would be banned outright.

The Church may well be chronically incapable of reforming itself and nothing legislative will come into being that will force it to. That does not mean that it can have its way and evade all democratic and secular scrutiny. What will certainly curb its room for manoeuvre is its declining moral and social authority which unfortunately for it is ultimately conferred on it by civil society.

Yesterday, my four year old managed to get himself lost in town while out shopping with my wife. Unable to locate him quickly his mother approached two garda on patrol. They detected him within a matter of minutes. Had two priests been on the scene she might well have accused them of kidnapping him. The point is, if the Garda were to be disbanded, there would be widespread public panic. If the Church were to face a similar fate it would hardly register on the radar of public concern. The recent suggestion that the Garda might strike has sent alarm bells sounding. Were every bishop and priest to go on strike in the morning the public would most likely welcome the move. What would it be detrimental to?

While disbandment would certainly deprive the rape monster of its lair, the ever growing lack of public confidence in the Church considerably drains it of its power and strengthens the societal mechanisms that hold it to account.

There are other hopeful signs. The decline in the number of people applying to join the priesthood in Ireland is encouraging. The reason for that is hardly that there are fewer good people in the country but rather that the rape pool is shrinking because the bishops are no longer able to provide the necessary cover for marauding bands of priests that infest society.

Where it cannot be smashed the Church can be dismantled from without, piece by sordid piece.


  1. AM - perfectly articulated - it is such a shame that honest lay members of the church have been so betrayed by the ordained. Yes they should have done more to hold their clergy accountable but the church was never about empowering their flock and encouraging independent thought or action.

    I agree that this is an unreformable institution that needs to be disbanded.

  2. Anthony, the Church cannot sustain itself. Secularism and newer forms of spirituality erode it. Vocations plummet, alternatives beckon. Your piece ties in with some reflections concluding my admittedly too verbose "Maynooth & a black cat" from last month. P.S. Hope your son's none the worse for his scare, nor you or your wife!

  3. well a cara on a more optimistic note there were none of those bastards in startreck, thats a positive sign from the future,Marty F

  4. marty

    That is the best bit of news I have heard for weeks and it has passed me by for years, what an observant fellow I am ;). Never mind better late than never, I will never hear a bad word about treckies again.

    Fionnchu, It would be nice if the church was unable to sustain itself but I fear you are wrong, any organisation which is born of lies and gobbledygook and last for 2000 years understand human nature better than most.

    The same goes for all weirdo religions, we live in an age where politicians feel unable to offer people a better life, indeed most of late have been aping the church and promising a period in calvary for those who fail to applaud the cuts.

  5. My hope here is regarding taxation. I like you Anthony have enjoyed the personal security of knowing we have an approachable community police service in the Garda. Another observation here of mine is the attitude towards money. THEY ARE VERY PARTIAL TO IT in these parts. My hope is that some of the political parties may include in their manifesto's a 40% tax on Catholic church assets at the next election.
    That might be the way to fix two sorry messes with the one cure!