23 May 2010

Grumble's Catholic friend

It's Sunday. Dr Grumble has a friend who is a Catholic. She is a nice and good person. Of that there is no doubt. Being a Catholic is clearly an important part of her. It is deeply ingrained into her being. Last Sunday she went to church and was asked to pray for the priests who had been abusing children. She looked dismayed. Understandably so. But what had really disturbed her was that the congregation was not asked to pray for the children. Not once. Her faith has been badly shaken.


Julie said...

I'm sorry to hear that. I know it's not going to be much comfort to your friend, but this guy is very much an exception; whenever prayers have been led at places I attend, it's always been for the victims and not the perpetrators. If I were her, I would change parish, or complain, or both. There's been enough denial as it is.

Old Codger said...

The children have not sinned, the priests have. It is therefore the priests who need the prayers in an effort to save them from eternal damnation.

Prayers for the children would be to ask for help for them to understand what has happened and why and to get on with their lives. Also to ask for help to forgive the priests their sins.

Dr Grumble said...

Thank you, Old Codger. That point had escaped Dr Grumble. I suppose with enough prayer and confession the slate can be swipe clean.

the a&e charge nurse said...

The slate can ALWAYS be wiped clean, Dr Grumble, no matter how appalling the 'sin'.

Many priests or indeed others in position of authority will have exploited that authority to get access to children - although on an individual basis I suspect many paedophiles will have suffered in one way or another when they themselves were vulnerable.

So perhaps prayer (if you believe in the sky fairies) is to be expected, and is no bad thing.

What has proved MOST damaging is the extent of institutional denial (by the catholic hierarchy) - a cover up which leads all the way to the Rat's door it seems?

Julie said...

The truth is more complicated than that, A&E nurse. Fr Murphy was first accused of child abuse in 1974 and he was reported to the police, but the charges against him were dropped. The allegations resurfaced twenty years later when some of the abuse survivors got together and campaigned for him to be brought to canonical trial. The case was sent to Rome and it agreed and proceedings were started in 1996 and continued until 1998, when Fr Murphy’s health worsened. He appealed for the trial to be halted on health grounds. Things get a bit fuzzy after this. Fr Brandage, who was the judicial vicar, and leading the trial, says that he was not instructed to halt the trial and that if he had, he would have appealed. (Two days after the trial was halted, Fr Murphy died of a stroke). He also says that during the whole media storm, he was not contacted once by any of the news outlets, despite the fact that he was leading the trial. Here’s his take on the issue;
It’s also worth pointing out that up until 2001, child abuse cases didn’t need to be referred to Rome for action. The local bishop could suspend one of his priests from ministry with immediate effect and refer them to the civil authorities without Rome’s involvement. The Vatican would only get involved if there was an application for laicisation of the priest, or if the case involved misuse of the confessional. Unfortunately for the victims in Milwaukee, the bishop in charge was one Archbishop Weakland who is a colourful character to say the least. He was forced to resign in 2002 when it was discovered that he had embezzled $450 000 of church funds to pay off a guy who accused him of ‘date rape’. He also shredded documents relating to abusing priests. I suspect this is why the victims applied to the Vatican, because they could not get Weakland to act at home. In 2001, things changed. All child abuse cases had to be referred to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (the church’s judiciary) and when they were, Benedict (Ratzinger as he was then) went through them like a dose of salts. Of the 3000 cases referred, 60% resulted in immediate dismissal of the priest and another 20% went for canonical trial. Reportage of abuse allegations to the civil authorities was made mandatory, the church’s statue of limitations was extended and when Benedict became Pope, he also ‘got’ Marcial Maciel and another guy called Burresi, around whom allegations had been circling for years but they were protected by senior figures in the Vatican. So Weakland has a beef with Benedict, because his insistence on stopping the cover up led to Weakland’s resignation. The Beeb has got it spectacularly wrong about Benedict and hopefully they will realise this at some point. Benedict has enough enemies within the church who wish that he was not so open about child abuse and at the moment the media is unconsciously siding with them.
Sorry for the long post Dr G, but I hope you find it worth it..

the a&e charge nurse said...

Thanks for that Julie - I do not dispute the labyrinthine nature of these claims and counter claims.

Nonetheless the reputation of the catholic church has been tarnished, perhaps irrevocably for some, because of the international dimensions to these allegations, and the almost universal instinct (by the hierarchy) to downplay the predatory nature of certain priests - for example, by moving serial offenders around without alerting the incoming parish.

By the way was Fr Murphy abused as a child?
As I say I think it MAY be right to forgive certain individuals, without necessarily condoning their damaging actions, but the catholic church, as a supposedly compassionate organisation, should really hang it's head in shame, given it's tendency to denial resulted in so much preventable suffering?

Julie said...

I can't disagree with you there A&E nurse; the stuff that has come out is absolutely appalling. I'm just concerned that the very guy who has been the enforcer in cleaning up the mess - that is- Benedict, is being portrayed as the villain of the piece and someone who is a villain like Weakland is being portrayed as a Daniel come to judgement. Benedict was a voice in the wilderness for many years, particularly in relation to Maciel and we need him in charge and with his attitude. Under him, people have been brought to account, compensation has been paid and abusers have been jailed. That's how it should be and I don't want a situation where Benedict is forced out because the media are too lazy to check the veracity of the accusations flying about. Benedict has a lot of enemies and all of them were in favour of covering stuff up. If he is forced out and one of his detractors appointed, we will return to that and it would be an absolute disaster.

Old Codger said...

Dr Grumble said: "I suppose with enough prayer and confession the slate can be swipe clean."

I believe that is the theory.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Grumble,
Sorry to leave a message here, but I couldn't find an email address to contact you.
We are about to publish a book called Sick Notes, by Pulse writer and GP Dr Tony Copperfield, which I thought you might be interested in reading.
I wondered if there was an address where I could send you a copy for possible review on your blog.
If you are interested then please contact me: samcollins@mondaybooks.com


Sam Collins

Dr Grumble said...

Sam,is this a hidden benefit of blogging or a clever way to find out Grumble's identity for the price of a book?

I will get Grumble to send you an email.

Dr Grumble said...

For anybody wondering, Sick Notes, by Pulse writer and GP Dr Tony Copperfield is winging its way to Dr Grumble. Grumble gets quite a few books for free. Two this week alone.