According to The Guardian, the Church can do nothing right. Even when Her members humbly accept the reality of the abuse scandal of the Irish Church, denounce it publicly and insist that the perpetrators of the crimes face civil justice, the newspaper manages to create another scandal by reading in-between the lines, the words of the new Archbishop. This is the great difference between the World and the Church, you see. When the World sins, the Church calls for mercy, not revenge. When members of the Church sin, the World wants their heads on spikes. It is understandable.
People expect the Bride of Christ to be spotless and pure. People should expect that, perhaps. Yet, the reality of fallen human nature is not lost on priests and religious either. The damage done by those who abused their authority to the lives of those who now suffer as a result is devastating. To the Church, the wound is an open sore. To the World it is a scandal and rightly so. See below, however, at how the Archbishop's words have been taken totally out of context. The Guardian have done a hatchet job on his comments, which were praiseworthy, distorted them, and then misrepresented them, deliberately, because they would like his installation to be overshadowed. Now we know why Peter Jennings is telling members of the media they are 'little s**ts'...they are!
The Archbishop of Westminster last night sought to defuse a row over comments he made about child sex abuse in Ireland's Catholic institutions. Child safety campaigners were outraged when the Most Rev Vincent Nichols said it took "courage" for religious orders and clergy to "face the facts from their past". [That is not what he said! He intimated that it will take courage for religious orders to face the facts from their past, in order to rectify the present and the future! He was telling them to be courageous with regard to facing their mistakes, rather than running away from the issue!]
Nichols, who is installed today as the new archbishop of Westminster and replaces Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, made the remarks during an interview with ITV's News at Ten. He was responding to the release of a 2,600 word report from Ireland's commission to inquire into child abuse that revealed Catholic priests and nuns terrorised thousands of boys and girls in the Irish Republic, while government inspectors failed to stop the continuing beatings, rapes and humiliation.
Nichols said: "It's very distressing and very disturbing. And my heart goes out today, first of all to those people who will find that their stories are now told in public. "Second, I think of those in religious orders and some of the clergy in Dublin who have to face these facts [notice he did not say, 'did have to face these facts'. He is talking about the current situation...] from their past, which instinctively and quite naturally they'd rather not look at.
"That takes courage [be courageous and face up to the mistakes] And also we shouldn't forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did."
Last night his spokesman told the Guardian: "Archbishop Nichols has unequivocally condemned all abuse. [Yep!] "He said his heart went out to all those who had been abused, that the perpetrators of abuse should be held to account and, where the offences demand such action, the perpetrators should face legal and police processes." [Yep!]
Child protection groups had earlier condemned Nichols, who has been widely praised in the past for his communication skills and ease with the media.
Speaking before Nichols' spokesman clarified his comments [his comments have been clarified, but heck, let's release the secular hounds anyway], Michele Elliot, chief executive of the charity Kidscape, said that while she was glad Nichols acknowledged the scandal of paedophilia in the priesthood, she was unhappy that he had tempered the apology. "It is ludicrous. It should be a straightforward mea culpa. It is a moral stance, and he should say that it is all about the children and the rest of them be damned. There are no excuses for religious orders" [he did not excuse them].
The controversy threatens to overshadow today's installation [because the Guardian would wish it so], which will be attended by more than 2,200 guests including Lord Guthrie (representing Prince Charles), Paul Murphy (representing the prime minister), the Duke of Norfolk, the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and hundreds of clergy.
A spokesman for the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse organisation also attacked Nichols. Patrick Walsh, a former resident of one of the so-called industrial schools where children were cared for by religious organisations, said: "Rubbish is too kind a word for what the archbishop has said ... It is the verbiage of unreason, and it leaves me cold. What the archbishop really has to do is take a long hard look at the character and nature of the people he is talking about and ask himself if they are capable of being good." [I am sorry. This is going to sound horrible, but some of these organisations will not be happy until Archbishop Vincent Nichols is literally, personally begging on his knees for forgiveness. Even then, the organisations will not be happy.]
The row echoes one early in O'Connor's administration ['Let's taint and discredit the new Archbishop as soon as possible']. When a priest became known to him as a paedophile, instead of telling the police, he moved him to Gatwick airport chaplaincy, where he believed the priest would no longer be a danger, but he was convicted of attacks on children. At the time, O'Connor argued there was little understanding about paedophilia, and survived resignation calls. He was cleared by an inquiry and set up the Nolan commission, which established a more rigorous child protection system.