Friday, February 19, 2010


I wish to express my huge disappointment at the meeting that took place today between Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and some survivors of child sexual abuse by priests in Dublin. Diarmuid Martin certainly came across as a very different man to the man I met last Saturday in advance of his trip to Rome. I put it to him that he appeared to have had his wings clipped in Rome and that this might go some way to explaining why his fellow Bishops seemed so happy on their return to Ireland; Diarmuid Martin preferred the view that it was more likely because they were delighted to have met Pope Benedict as most of them had never met him before.

Despite no reference in the Vatican Statement of 16th February 2010 to any of the points we submitted in advance of the Rome meeting, or indeed to some of those submitted by other survivors, Diarmuid Martin was not of the view that our views had been ignored but could provide no evidence to the contrary.

Diarmuid Martin accepted the Vatican Statement that all Bishops come back from Rome ‘to speak with one voice’ despite saying last Saturday that the only thing worse than disunity amongst the Bishops was unity amongst the Bishops, as they would unite around the lowest common denominator.

Diarmuid Martin saw no difficulty with the Vatican Statement saying Bishops should ‘identify concrete steps aimed at bringing healing to those who had been abused’. We had identified our requirements in advance of the Rome meeting, had conveyed them to Pope Benedict and to Diarmuid Martin and they had been ignored. Is Martin Drennan a man fit to identify steps that would bring healing to victims?

Diarmuid Martin could not explain why he thought it was appropriate for Bishop Drennan to remain in office, though he did agree with the Murphy Report that just because the Catholic Church produced guidelines in 1996, that did not mean that all cases were dealt with properly after that time.

END - 19/02/2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


In response to many media inquires this morning with regard to Bishop Martin Drennan’s insistence on not standing aside because there is nothing in the Murphy Report to cause him to, I can only reiterate that the Archdiocese of Dublin continued to mishandle cases of child sexual abuse against priests long after Bishop Drennan became an auxiliary Bishop in 1997. The extent to which Bishop Drennan is mentioned in the Report or not is irrelevant, like Bishop Moriarty he was part of the governance of the Archdiocese and therefore should have challenged the culture that existed there. Below I have detailed some of the behaviour revealed in the Murphy Report published almost 3 months ago. It should also be remembered that resignations are not just about ‘healing’, they are also about taking responsibility for what one has done, or failed to do, in a way requested by those you have offended against, not on one’s own terms.

END - 16/02/2010


Two days of talks between 24 Irish Catholic Bishops and Pope Benedict and his senior officials have ended. It would appear that submissions made by some survivors of sexual abuse by priests have been completely ignored, specifically:

Pope Benedict has not articulated full acceptance of the findings of the Murphy Report, as we asked him to do, in order to quell the rise in revisionism and the surge in denial from some quarters within the Catholic Church in relation to its findings.
Bishops Moriarty, Walshe, and Field have not yet had their resignations accepted.
Bishop Martin Drennan has not been removed from office despite doing nothing to challenge the culture of cover up that existed in the Archdiocese of Dublin when he became a Bishop there in 1997.

Bishops, who stated in December 2009 that the culture of cover up as revealed in the Murphy Report about the Archdiocese of Dublin indicated a culture that was widespread throughout the Catholic Church in Ireland, have not offered to resign out of respect for the experiences of children who suffered as a result of that very culture.
And Bishops returning to Ireland do not appear to have come back from Rome with an expressed instruction from Pope Benedict to follow all Sate guidelines and protocols as they exist, and as they are further developed, in relation to the safety, welfare and protection of children.

It would appear that self preservation and damage limitation for the Catholic Church is still a higher priority for Pope Benedict and the Bishops than the concerns and wishes of people who had been sexually abused as children by priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin over many decades, and that hardly represents change. I can only conclude that the Catholic Church remains a disgraced, discredited organisation that seems to be entirely incapable of responding in any intelligent, meaningful way to the findings of the Ferns, Ryan and Murphy Reports.

END - 16/02/2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


In her column in this newspaper last Saturday Mary Kenny chose to make reference to my spiritual life. She pitied me for having no spiritual element in my life, assuming it consisted only of the material and was therefore bland and unimaginative.

Mary Kenny has of course never met me, never phoned me, never asked for a meeting or an interview over coffee, never tried to contact me in any way to ask me about anything. Until now I have made little or no reference in public to what spiritual life I do have, so she had absolutely no information on which to base her opinion. What she did have was the most contemptible arrogance to assume to know enough to write about it anyway. A more ignorant, condescending pouring out of sanctimonious drivel I have not read in a long time.

All Kenny knew was that I had completed the formal process of defecting from the Catholic Church and from that one single fact she assumed to know everything else, next week she’ll probably preach to us all she knows about humility. Thousands of others have chosen to leave the Catholic Church too but, unlike Kenny, I don’t assume to know all of their reasons.

I have been a Catholic in name only for many years but after all I have seen of the Church in recent times I decided I did not want that organisation in my life anymore, not even in name only. To assume, as Kenny does, that I therefore have no spirituality in my life is truly reprehensible.

I am crossing a line here I haven’t crossed before but Kenny’s vitriolic nonsense last Saturday cannot go unchecked. Almost 13 years ago I tried to stop drinking, having tried twice before and failed. I had been an active alcoholic for 14 years by then and was quite a mess at the end of it all. Anything I did, in all those years I was drinking, was done with a drink in my hand. I lived at about 10% of what I was capable of and I struggled to do even that. When I stopped drinking I had to learn how to live without it. I had to learn how to be. How to get through a whole day without getting drunk. How to pass an evening. How to enjoy music. How to conduct friendships properly. How to relax at the end of a day’s work. How to socialise and meet people sober. How to watch tv or read a book.

I also learned that I could not do all of this by myself. I had friends who themselves had crossed the bridge from addiction to normal living, but more was needed. Over time as I slowly became a happy confident able man I accepted that I was receiving more help than that of friends. I came to believe in a power greater than myself and came to believe that that power was helping me to stay sober and helping me learn to live happily, because I had never been able to do that on my own unaided will. I chose to call that power the Spirit of Recovery, that which keeps me sober.

It didn’t come easy or natural for me to start believing in any such power but as time in recovery passed my belief in a power greater than myself grew and deepened. Instead of believing that a higher power was just helping me stay sober I believed that it was helping me in all areas of my life. As a friend of mine says ‘he’s looking after all of it, or none of it.’ I see my higher power as a loving caring essence in my life that wants me to be well, happy and living a good life.

Today I try to hand my will and my life over to the care of that higher power every morning before I leave the house in order that my actions and thoughts might be guided by my higher power’s will for me. At night I review my day and thank my higher power for everything including the fact that I didn’t drink. I ask my higher power to look after other people too, just like I used to ask God to do when I was a little boy lying in bed thinking I would one day be a priest.

But of course I don’t need to be a priest to believe in a power greater than myself, spirituality is not the preserve of practising Catholics and having a sense of oneself that extends beyond the physical and the material is not an understanding exclusive to the obnoxious Mary Kenny. And the next time she chooses to write about other people she should afford them the courtesy of getting her facts right first, and keep her patronising pity to herself.





Pope Benedict XVI

February 2010

Dear Pope Benedict,

As the Irish bishops gather in Rome for their meeting with you, we are writing to ensure that the voices of the survivors of abuse by Catholic priests have a place in your deliberations.

The distress, anger and frustration experienced by survivors since the publication of the Report of the Commission of Investigation into Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin (the Murphy Report) is enormous. Many who have suffered throughout their lives from the impact of sexual abuse by priests in childhood now realise, having read the Report, that their pain and suffering could have been avoided if senior churchmen and the civil authorities had acted properly in response to complaints received from earlier victims.

Survivors find in incomprehensible that the Vatican and your representative in Ireland, the Papal Nuncio, saw fit to hide behind diplomatic protocols to avoid co-operating with the Murphy Commission.

Bishops Donal Murray, James Moriarty, Eamon Walsh, Raymond Field and Martin Drennan were all bishops in the Archdiocese of Dublin during some of the period investigated by the Commission. When the Report was published each of these Bishops attempted to remain in office by insisting that the findings of the Report did not warrant their resignations. They initially took no responsibility for either their actions or their failure to challenge a culture of cover up which they instead became a part of. Since then Bishop Murray has resigned and his resignation has been accepted by you. We understand that Bishops James Moriarty, Eamon Walsh and Raymond Field have offered their resignations too, which we urge you to accept without any further delay. We would also urge you to remove Bishop Martin Drennan who still refuses to accept any responsibility for his part in supporting a culture of cover up during his time in Dublin.

The core finding of the Murphy Report was that the sexual abuse of children by priests was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities over much of the period 1975 – 2004. Furthermore it found that the Dublin Archdiocese’s pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the perseveration of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities.

This finding was rightly accepted by the Irish Catholic Bishops in their December 2009 statement where they said that they were shamed by the extent to which child sexual abuse was covered up in the Archdiocese of Dublin. They also said that they recognised that this indicated a culture that was widespread in the Church. We also now request that other bishops throughout Ireland who engaged in this culture of cover up in their own dioceses should resign from their positions instead of waiting to see the extent to which they are criticised in any future Reports should the Commission of investigation be expanded to include their dioceses.

The lives of thousands of Irish people have been devastated by sexual abuse by priests. We ask you to write, not only to Irish Catholics, but to all people of Ireland, accepting fully the harm that has been caused by the acts of omission and commission of the Catholic Church and its priests and bishops in Ireland.

Yours sincerely,

Marie Collins Maeve Lewis Andrew Madden
Survivor of Clerical Abuse One In Four Survivor of Clerical Abuse