These have been dark days for the church universal, and I feel very discouraged about the news in Ireland and Germany, which seems a repeat of Boston in 2002. That is why these words from Kieran Conry, the bishop of Arundel and Brighton in the U.K., were so bracing. Hearing a bishop speak plainly is one thing that the church needs, among many other things, to continue to combat the scourge of sexual abuse. Words like his are not sufficient, but they are necessary. This is from the Times Online. (H/T to Robert Mickens at the Tablet.)
The Roman Catholic Church is “holed beneath the waterline” and may take generations to recover from the sex abuse scandals, according to the first English bishop speak out on the crisis. The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, the Right Rev Kieran Conry, rejected accusations of media bias against the Catholic Church and said the problems of paedophile priests dominating headlines in the UK and across Europe were problems of the Church’s own making. “The Roman Catholic Church sets itself up to be the great moral authority. When it does fail its own rigid standards, it deserves to be attacked and criticised,” he said.
Bishop Conry denied that there was a link between celibacy and child abuse but admitted that priests were suffering because of loneliness. “Very often clergy sublimate that into alcohol and other dependencies,” he said. However, he said that he would never call or campaign for an end to priestly celibacy and he did not believe that ending it would ease the shortage of priests.
He said the problems could not be covered up. “It is real, it is reality, you can’t deny it and it’s going to damage the relationship between many individuals and their church in the way it has damaged the individuals who are the victims of the abuse,” he told The Times. He believed the problems had not been exaggerated. “I think what we will find is the number of cases will grow. We can’t pretend it is something we can ignore or dismiss. The Church is one of the great moral champions in terms of its own rigid moral codes. When it fails it deserves to get hit.” --Times Online
James Martin, SJ