These poetic words fall from the pen of WB Yeats in; ‘To a child dancing in the wind’. It’s an idyllic view of childhood. The truth is that one billion (one in two) of the world’s children still live in poverty; 15 million children are orphaned due to AIDS and HIV; in 1913 the disparity between rich/poor was 11-1 but by 1998 in our so called Global conscious world that disparity had risen to 72-1. A comparison of our priorities is well evidenced by our spending patterns; as in 1998 we in the Western World spent $17 billion on pet foods but a mere $6 billion on education.
The point being is that while the world changes it’s not necessarily for the better.
Our indignation at injustice varies when it suits. This week was traumatic for the Catholic Church in Ireland. Until the outbreak of the revelations about child abuse in the German Church there were those in the Vatican and the Anglo-Irish media (blissfully ignoring the US and Australian experiences) who were conveniently happy to portray this virus as being Irish. The Irish media appear to revel in any sort of crisis whether it is economy in crisis; government in crisis; NAMA in crisis or Irish soccer in crisis.
Obviously after nearly eighty years its hard to blame the Brits for the crises.
Blood sports being banned in the UK; bishop baiting is regarded as fair sport in Northern Ireland. Nonetheless the Bishops must carry the blame, not only their role in cover-up but also for the car-crash communications employed to explain their actions.
The revelations surrounding Cardinal Sean Brady’s involvement as a ‘notary’ or if you are to believe the Irish Times vulgar translation ‘an interrogator’ in a child abuse investigation some thirty five years ago only highlights a myopic and jaundiced view by some media commentators who believe their journalistic independence only can be validated by a repudiation of their own background. Faith without forgiveness is not possible. We all are ‘wounded’ sinners and our purpose is to make amends sincerely and with humility.
Child abuse is criminal. Cover- up is criminal. Bishops, priests and lay people all know this; and if they don’t they should recall St Martin De Porres words to a superior; ’Forgive me, my error, please instruct me, for I did not know that precept of obedience took precedence over charity’.
Those who know Sean Brady know that he is a sincere and genuine man. His failings have been laid bare but is he not entitled to a second chance as much as anyone who professes to be Christian? The world was a very different place thirty five years ago. It was not a better place. The sanctimonious but not unexpected interventions by revisionist, bandwagon jumping political representatives is stomach turning -especially given the historical activities the Official and Provisional IRA movements in 1975. With the notable exception of SDLP’s Mark Durkan and his antecedent, Ivan Cooper- the hypocrisy of some in Irish Labour and Sinn Fein was mind-blowing.
If any two parties can track just how much the world has changed between 1975 and 2010 it should be Sinn Fein and the present Irish Labour Party many of whom were once Sinn Fein – The Workers Party. They conveniently afforded themselves rehabilitation but withhold that right from others.
In 1975 republican militants both Official and Provisional IRA killed nearly two hundred people- not to mention their acts of criminality.
Their campaigns against loyalists and the British; not to mention their intra-communal feuds; led to unnecessary deaths but also to an old comrade’s code of omerta that protects perpetrators to this day.
Of those innocents killed was a seven year old boy walking home; another was a seventeen girl old caught up in a pub bombing; another child was only six and the youngest victim was just three. Yes the world was very different in 1975
The Catholic Church is damaged and has damaged but on the road to rehabilitation it should look to Lisieux, Lima and Assisi for inspiration; not Rome. Maybe even Padua- as St Anthony has a reputation for finding lost things and the Church has certainly lost it’s ‘mojo’.. Yet as a Saint once said; ‘the lessons of faith are best learned during trials of faith’. Faith is certainly being tried now.