Friday, 29 May 2009

The Irish Catholic Abuse Scandal



Damian Thompson has written a good piece on the Irish-Catholic abuse scandal. I have thrown my two pennies worth in. He has concentrated on the question of whether it was Irish or Catholic abuse, almost as if cruelty and sexual immorality was hereditary within the Irish genetic make-up. I am being a bit spurious. I don't think that was what he was really saying. It is true that Ireland had experienced poverty and political strife and warfare that had a dehumanising effect but it is difficult to put it all down to that. Why Ireland? It is difficult to say.

Fr Ray Blake, at St Mary Magdalen's, posted a good piece on Irish Catholicism, also, which may give a hint of as to why. He also argued that in a sense the deep turmoil, civil, political and social of Ireland had almost desensitized men and women to human suffering and the abuse of the individual. Yet he went deeper. I remember reading Angela's Ashes and being struck by the very vivid and honest account of the writer's upbringing, Frank McCourt.

The Church described in McCourt's book is dark, damp, dank, unforgiving, inhuman terrain that speaks only of the fallen nature of mankind, of the harsh judgment upon sinners, which could, if unreflected in the light of the Church's understanding of God's paternal, tender, compassionate and merciful love be seen in the Crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It was almost as if the Irish Church were saying, "You killed Jesus and that's it! Game over!" The Church that we know however, holds aloft the Cross of Christ and says, 'Behold, the Saviour of the World!" The Lord indeed did die for our sins...Yet He rose again as He said He would!

How then, without a sense of the Resurrection, which comes from the joy of being forgiven, the joy of having been lost, but found again, time and time again, could anyone show to another the joy of God's redeeming love? This, I can only assume, is why the Church does not applaud flagellants, even in Holy Week, for God did not die upon the Cross for nothing. He died for us, to ransom us and to save us from the punishment that would rightfully have been ours. God doesn't need us to prove our sorrow to Him or our worth. Our Blessed Lord, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son describes the Heavenly Father as looking out for the son, and upon seeing him, literally running out to meet him so that He may caress him and embrace him as a Father!

God is generous, loving, tender, gentle, kind, compassionate and is Goodness itself! God is Love! Yet within the Irish Church, so many have recounted through their experience in their formative years, an impression of God which goes against all of His Heavenly attributes. The God of the Irish Church does not appear to be the God of the Italians, Spanish or even that notoriously stiff bunch, the English. And so, it is about the formation, generationally, of the image of God that we have. Is our God mean, cruel, sadistic, judgmental and angry? If He is that for us then it is highly likely that we will imitate that image. Whereas if God is, for us, what He truly is, Love, then it is likely we will imitate that love towards our neighbour, whatever age, gender they are.

Take it away, Morrissey...Go on, son, let it all out...



You see! There is more to that man than meets the eye, I can tell you. The point is, that our joy, Christian joy, is just in what the Gospel says it is. It is in the joy of being forgiven. That is why this blog is called what it is - That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill - The bones that are crushed by the weight of our sins, thrill and are revived, restored by God Himself, by His Love, by His Sacraments of Love! The same bones will thrill, I pray at the End of Time when He comes in Glory! If we do not have that joy, then how could we possibly forgive the injuries that we incur from our neighbour and show our neighbour the love of God? How could we love, if we were not shown what love is? That, or a lack of understanding of that, is at the heart of the Irish-Catholic abuse scandal.

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