So the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has said "it is no longer tenable" for the Catholic Church to manage 92% of all primary schools. What a revelation! And it’s taken the Church until now to work that out?
Dr Martin, of course, is furiously back-peddling, squirming to try and salvage some form of "face" in the wake of the damning Ryan Report into what it described as "endemic" child abuse by clerical institutions in Ireland, and the public backlash that has ensued both here and abroad. But there’s no face to be saved… the Church’s reputation is in tatters. Any parent worth their salt will tell you that its involvement in even 1% of our primary schools should be more than "untenable"… it should be absolutely criminal!
Those are emotive words because, quite frankly, when it comes to the safety and security of my children I am emotional!
It fills me with palpable dread and seething anger that the church has any involvement in my daughters’ education. There’s no viable reason for it. It’s a throwback to a bygone era, a time when the Irish State, by all accounts, abdicated its responsibility to educate children, and the Church stepped into the breach to consolidate its power base and spread its cloying influence over Ireland’s youth.
But that time is long gone; it’s time for the Government to step in, stand up to the church and take it’s responsibility to protect and educate our children seriously.
The horrific levels of systemic abuse, neglect and persecution of children revealed by the Ryan Report are compounded by the weasel words of the Church hierarchy — senior clergy like the "Most Reverend" Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, who asks us to acknowledge the "courage" of clergymen being forced to revisit an unpalatable past, and his warnings that the revelations of the Ryan Report "overshadow" all the good they also did. Of course they do… and rightly so. Because no amount of good can possibly atone for the evil those people did — or for the systematic cover-up by the institution that chose to protect them… and protects them still!
A few weeks ago I went to vote at a nearby primary school for the local and European elections. It was a perfectly ordinary primary school, everything as you’d expect, until you realised that the neatly trimmed archway cut into the privet hedge at the end of the playground led directly to the parochial house next door. Direct access from priest to playground, playground to priest… it turned my stomach!
I’m not saying that anything untoward happened there… there’s no way for me to know… but you have to ask why. I’m also not suggesting that all priests should be tarred with the same brush… far from it… many priests do sterling work in local communities, and go out of their way to help disadvantaged people around the corner and around the globe. I applaud their efforts.
What I am saying, however, is that any organisation with a track record of harbouring paedophiles and shielding them from prosecution should be summarily disqualify from involvement in any form of childcare in perpetuity.
The Catholic Church should be forced to release it’s insidious, unhealthy grip on our nation’s children. I’m not talking about reducing it’s involvement from the current 92% of schools to Dr. Martin’s suggested level of 87% to reflect the Catholic proportion of the Irish population. I’m talking about completely divorcing the association between education and the Church… full stop!
Our children are the most innocent and vulnerable sector of our society; we have a duty of care to protect them from predatory monsters — whether those monsters wear robes or not.