Bishop Ahern of Drumcondra
Since we're pretty stuck for material today, it's best just to briefly link to a couple of interesting posts by Warblogger Andrew Sullivan, usefully diverted from some very weird justifications for the Iraq war by the renewed focus on the dark side of the extensive quasi-state role of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Sullivan links to a review of, and discusses the disturbing tale recounted in, the movie The Magdalene Sisters. The movie deals with a Dickensian form of purdah inflicted on "wayward" Irish women. In a follow-up post, Sullivan approvingly quotes a letter to the Irish Times (proving once again the wide influence of that fine letters page) which points out the commercial gain to the Church from its workhouses, and then he adds:
Perhaps some of it [the profit] will now be used to compensate the hundreds and thousands of children abused and destroyed by the church hierarchy for so long.
A fair and reasonable sentiment, but with the current Irish government, not very likely. For reasons difficult to fathom, the government has put more effort to protecting the Church from liability than providing any kind of redress for the victims -- and given the wide role of the Church in schools, orphanages, group homes, and social activities, we could be talking about a wide range of abusive behavior against many different people.
The latest installment, which is close to precipitating a full-blown political crisis in the Republic, is the apparent collapse of an investigative commission looking into child abuse cases in church-run institutions. Here is the still-active website of the possibly defunct commission, which makes for pretty pathetic reading -- notice how its terms of references were expanded to include vaccine trials on residents of group homes.
As we speculated yesterday, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern might well be looking for a lordship from Her Majesty if she visits next year. But with his brilliant defensive display on behalf of the Catholic Church, could he looking for a bishop position as well?