Paddy Banville on Morning Ireland
Fr. Paddy Banville of Ferns was interviewed on Morning Ireland this (Monday) morning in relation to his article in the Irish Catholic about child abuse in the home. Since we are all aware that it is in the home that most abuse of children happens, he was attempting to raise an important issue about the difficulty of dealing with this form of abuse. Maybe he could have expressed himself better, but any fair-minded reader could recognise the importance of what he was saying. Cathal MacCoille on Morning Ireland was clearly not interested in hearing what Paddy had to say. Instead he harassed and bullied him, and used the occasion to have a further go at the Catholic bishops. Tone of voice tells us alot about people’s real attitudes.
Traditionally in Ireland many Catholic bishops were domineering and intolerant, and we all see the damage that has done. Unfortunately now we have replaced them with a further domineering clique, by which I mean sections of our media. Deep seated prejudice masquerading itself as tolerance.
MAYBE he could have expressed himself better??? Are you serious? The man’s a disgrace. He has single-handedly sabotaged any possibility of having an informed, reasonable discussion about this issue. And for what? Does he think that a letter to the Irish Times and an article in the Irish Catholic puts him in the running for the Pulitzer Prize? I write as someone who was a victim of(non-clerical)childhood sexual abuse and who has long-since despaired of having the issues around it ever addressed. The very institution that should have been there to do so, the Church, is utterly discredited, unable to deal with its own abusive clergy. The only time people like me merit a mention from the Church is when we’re being used by one of its apologists engaging in a spot of knee-jerk whataboutery to deflect attention from clerical abuse. Other than that, we’re invisible as suffering human beings, mere statistics, reduced to a percentage. And then, to add insult to injury, we get Paddy Banville. Are we supposed to see him as some kind of saviour, come to champion our cause? Give me a break. What rock was he hiding under during the clerical abuse crisis? I don’t recall seeing any letters from him in the Irish Times during that time championing justice for the Church’s victims. Nor do I recall any articles of his in the Irish Catholic to that effect. And you expect us all now to bow down in admiration at his deep-seated ignorance and prejudice masquerading as informed comment? When are you clerics ever going to learn? You have long ago lost the credibility to comment on child sexual abuse in this country. This isn’t about you or about your utterly ill-judged and ignorant views. Your disgraced Church was the chief creator and controller of the Irish society in which abuse, clerical or otherwise, happened. It presided over a society dominated by men, in which women were treated as second-class human beings, and children even lower than that. Dysfunctional, disconnected, elitist, narcissistic – sound familiar? Add misogynistic to that list and you have a complete description of the Irish Church since the foundation of the State, and long before. To my eternal shame I have hung on in this Church, convinced that it would come to its senses and begin to emulate its Founder. But no more. Paddy Banville is the last straw.
Well said, Celestine!
“You’re a moral relativist.” That’s the charge consistently leveled at me when I suggest that reform of Church structure would diminish the problem of clerical sexual abuse of children. I can now thank Fr. Banville for giving us a paradigm example of the thinking of a true moral relativist. I did not see the broadcast but read his comments afterward in the press, and I agree with Celestine Rafferty. Not only was I appalled by Fr. Banville’s illogical quoted remarks— as though faulting wives and mothers for not coming forward with public accusations could in any way diminish the immorality of the bishops’ own cover-ups— but equally important, I was struck by the hypocrisy of his comparisons with “Irish society”: “We don’t know it yet, or perhaps we don’t want to know it, but in terms of child abuse the Catholic Church is holding up a mirror to Irish society.” Fr. Banville suggests that cover-ups of sexual abuse within the Church has been part and parcel of Irish ways of dealing with such crimes. It’s as though we should not expect churchmen to resist an immoral but universal practice. No doubt the Church is not the only locus of abuse and cover-up. But to insist that we view abuse by clergy as part of a broad social problem, rather than as an immoral subculture enabled and protected by bishops, is to argue that this immorality is relative to immorality in Irish society as a whole. If the Church has been just ‘going along with the crowd,’ then clearly it has abandoned objective moral principles.
When someone advocates reform measures in the Church, the habitual response from the orthodox is that Christ did not take a “straw poll” before he set up a hierarchy with St. Peter at its head and that if the Church were merely to reflect the structure of democratic societies in which it exists, it would embrace moral relativism, a wrong-headed, secular approach to ethics. (This last point is a misrepresentation; nonetheless, it is a common retort of the orthodox against reformers.) Moral relativists like Fr. Banville are in a poor position to chastise those who argue for reform in the interest of making sexual abuse by clergy less likely to continue.
Let’s at least have an end to baseless charges of “relativism” against the reformers who press for transparent, democratic decision-making and accountability. The moral relativists among us are not the reform advocates but the defenders of ecclesiastical secrecy and resistance to civil justice as, in Fr. Banville’s words, “a typical response to child abuse.” Can there be much doubt after Fr. Banville’s interview that a democratic governance structure is more conducive to justice and morality than a culture of secrecy and mutual protection in obedience to hierarchical authority?
Fr. Banville had a point to make but the usual cacophony of politically correct voices drown him out. Prophets are never recognised in their own country. Celestine’s comment is far more likely to stauch a debate than Fr. Banville’s. Fr. McCafferty’s comment is in line with all his previous pronouncements which always take the side of those attacking the Church, no matter where the truth may lie. How sad the focus of all Fr. Banville’s critics is not child abuse, but solely child abuse by clergy. Read the SAVI report. Then comment.