Two notable articles in the news

Two recent news articles are worthy of note and comment.

The first appeared in ‘The Times’ and was sent to me by a friend.

It highlights again the universal guilt of the Roman Catholic Church with regards to the abuse of children. The headline itself is horrific!

A million children abused by Italian priests, and it barely makes the news

It surely must constitute to those here in Ulster, who have sallied forth to the defence of Popery whenever a documented statement criticising Rome for its crimes against children both here at home and in virtually every country in the world is set forth, a most telling rebuke for their sad folly!

Shame, I say, upon those victims of Rome’s perversions, who jump to her defence and demand apologies of society in general when the guilty party is that organisation to which they belong and which betrayed them.

What blindness is thus displayed by those whose lives have been ruined by Rome. In fact they become participants in the crimes that have been perpetrated against themselves in that they seem determined to divert guilt from the system that clearly and undeniably is the guilty party and, out of terrible misplaced loyalty, seek to covers its crimes!

The other article I would draw you attention to is in today’s ‘Belfast Newsletter’.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill attends launch of GAA-IRA memorial

The first line of the article reads: “A victims’ group has asked how Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill could play the role of first minister after taking part in the launch of a GAA memorial to three IRA men.”

I must say I find that statement bordering on the ridiculous! How long does it take folk to realise that MICHELLE O’NEILL SUPPORTS FULLY THE IRA AND ITS TERROR CAMPAIGN AND CONSIDERS ALL THOSE WHO TOOK PART IN MURDER AS HEROES AND HEROINES!!

She was placed in the position of ‘First Minister’ by those well aware of her commitment to the support of terrorists!

Rather than making such pathetic and futile comments they should be demanding action from our politicians that would end Sinn Fein/IRA’s role in Stormont!

Sadly, there is not the ‘stomach’ amongst the Unionist and Protestant people for such action. They have been persuaded by ‘greedy merchants’ and ‘ecumenical false prophets’ and ‘puny pulpiteers’ that they would lose too much by way of this world’s comforts were they to take such action!

Better it is, they say, to sit on the sidelines and twitter gibberish and mouth feeble words of dissatisfaction than to take any serious and effective steps to end this criminally offensive situation!

Below are the articles.

Sincerely in the cause of truth almost utterly abandoned in Ulster,

Ivan Foster.

A million children abused by Italian priests, and it barely makes the news

‘The Times’ – February 15 2022, 4.10pm.

The most dangerous moment in any scandal is when anger shades into indifference, when revelations that once had the power to shock become so normalised that they scarcely register. I wonder if we have reached such a tipping point in one of the most disturbing stories of our age: the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests.

This isn’t merely a betrayal of the victims of the past but of the children suffering at the hands of priests in the here and now. Worse, it is a betrayal of our own conscience and capacity for moral action. This is why now isn’t the time to close our eyes to this scandal, but to look deeper. For this isn’t merely a story of evil hidden in plain sight within a global institution, but a glimpse into the nature of theological criminality.

Perhaps, like me, you remember where you were when this story (of which there had been rumbles before) was exposed by The Boston Globe. Perhaps you remember how you felt on hearing that John Joseph Geoghan, a priest with a “cherubic face”, abused 130 boys in a 34-year reign of terror.

Perhaps you remember too how Bernard Francis Law, the Archbishop of Boston at the time, covered it up, rotating Geoghan and other child-molesting priests between parishes so they could escape allegations, and abuse more children.

This was a story not merely of individual evil but of institutional complicity: not only the cardinal but also hundreds of others who didn’t want the story to leak; legal departments that sought to block journalistic inquiry into rape allegations; legions of clergy who regarded the pristine reputation of the church as more important than the welfare of the innocents they were supposed to protect.

Soon after the Boston exposé, the story gained momentum. A commission in Ireland noted “endemic” abuse in Catholic institutions, saying that leaders failed to “stop beatings, rapes and humiliation”; a 2012 police report in Australia found that at least 40 suicides were directly related to Catholic clergy in the state of Victoria alone; a commission in France found that 216,000 children had been abused. Italy will perhaps prove to be the most disturbing tale of all — demonstrating, once again, that when we fail to confront abuse, it compounds.

Yet let us look not merely at what happened but, more importantly, why. We sometimes forget the surrealism of Catholic theology and how deep it reaches into the mental furniture of its adherents. We forget about how the ex cathedra infallibility of the Pope is taught to children as literal truth, about how cardinals are proclaimed to be conduits to the Almighty, about how priests have power to conduct the sacrament. Under the divine authority of these frocked men, bread and wine become the literal body and blood of Christ, a transubstantiation that must seem as miraculous as it is marvellous for children looking on.

And this is why I was not at all surprised to hear that priests cunningly used the confessional itself, the sacred chamber of their power of absolution, to rape and abuse children. I was even less surprised to hear that many more had attacked the young at the very moment they were hailing Mary or during solemn prayer. What better ruse to generate compliance than to insinuate that the evil taking place was in God’s divine plan, a terrible conflation that goes to the heart of the psychological trauma that is still unfolding around the world?

And doesn’t this show that this isn’t merely about the crimes of priests, or even the Catholic Church? It is, I would suggest, the inevitable consequence of placing divine authority in holy men and manuscripts. When the human mind has been groomed to accept the existence of a supernatural creator who is both benevolent and omnipotent, the moral capacity to gainsay evil from those who are held up to be His representatives is not merely reduced but, very often, liquidated.

Isn’t this how criminals masquerading as priests were able to compel silence at such astonishing scale? Isn’t it how fundamentalist imams are able to inspire youngsters to commit mass murder in suicide missions, assuring them that these acts are not evil but the highest form of virtue? Isn’t this — to widen the perspective — the way that religious institutions have perpetrated crimes throughout history, a story that must be understood not as an aberration but as an essential feature of any kind of fundamentalism?

It is not coincidental that sacred rituals were the vehicle by which Geoghan violated children, something that occurred with such frequency that it became common knowledge in the church. Frank Leary was 13 when he was invited to the rectory, walking past a nun and another priest on the way to Geoghan’s private room, where he was instructed to pray as he was molested.

“I couldn’t move. I was frozen,” Leary would later say. “I was trying to hold back the tears and keep saying my prayers and keep my eyes closed. He was saying prayers too.”

Joseph Ratzinger knew of all this too, although he shamefully denied it. A German inquiry found that the man who became Pope Benedict XVI failed to act in four child abuse cases when Archbishop of Munich, enabling the perpetrators to remain active in pastoral care — a sure indication of how high the criminality travelled. And how many dozens, perhaps hundreds, knew of the evils perpetrated at schools for deaf children in Verona and Mendoza, Argentina, children who often literally lacked the voice to cry for help? Could there be a more chilling metaphor for what happened, and still happens?

I should say, loud and clear, that the Catholic Church does many good things; there are many good priests and many upstanding members of the flock. It is also worth noting that the abuse is not limited to Catholic institutions. But perhaps I might also say, just as loudly, that this doesn’t excuse a single crime perpetrated under the auspices of the church; nor should it blind us to the breadth of culpability within its hierarchy.

Indeed, I would suggest that there is a deep symmetry between these two facets of the church, the good providing cover for the bad, the theology of beneficence offering the pretext for the perpetration of evil. This is the duality that always has been central to institutional religion, and will remain so. And this is why it is misguided to argue over whether the Catholic Church is a benign organisation or a criminal racket, for the truth has always been more subtle. It is both.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill attends launch of GAA-IRA memorial

A victims’ group has asked how Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill could play the role of first minister after taking part in the launch of a GAA memorial to three IRA men.

By Philip Bradfield “Belfast Newsletter” – Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 1:00 am

Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, was speaking after Ms O’Neill attended the unveiling of a monument to three IRA men who were members of Clonoe O’Rahilly’s GAA club, in Coalisland on Saturday.

East Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin tweeted several photos of the launch, one of which included party vice president Ms O’Neill, mooted by some polls as a likely first minister after May’s Assembly election.

The tweet said: “Today the Clonoe O’Rahilly’s erected a monument dedicated to their club members Óglach Peter Clancy, Óglach Hugh Gerard Coney and Óglach Brian Campbell who lost their lives while on active service in the struggle for freedom.”

Sinn Fein said that Clonoe O’Rahilly GAA Club in Coalisland has erected a monument to club members and IRA volunteers Peter Clancy, Hugh Gerard Coney and Brian Campbell, who all “lost their lives while on Active Service in the struggle for Freedom”. Photo: East Tyrone “gra Shinn Féin.

Sinn Fein said that Clonoe O’Rahilly GAA Club in Coalisland has erected a monument to club members and IRA volunteers Peter Clancy, Hugh Gerard Coney and Brian Campbell, who all “lost their lives while on Active Service in the struggle for Freedom”

Mr Donaldson said his organisation is trying to encourage Protestants and unionists to look at GAA “in its widest context” and see what it means for many people in terms of sport and identity.

“However, events like today don’t help in challenging perceptions,” he said.

“The presence of Michelle O’Neill at the unveiling of this memorial will also again raise the question for many; how could she ever perform the role of first minister – Northern Ireland’s symbolic head of state.

“Peter Clancy, Hugh Gerard Coney and Brian Campbell were not heroes, nor were they martyrs,” Mr Donaldson added. “They were part of an insurrectionist movement; the objective being the overthrow of the Northern Ireland state and which included the murder of neighbours.”

According to Troubles reference work ‘Lost Lives’, 19-year-old IRA man Brian Campbell was one of two members to approach an arms cache which was being staked out by the SAS at Clonoe Road in the town in 1983. After the two men pulled out an Armalite and a shotgun, it said, they were challenged to halt, but instead turned their weapons on the soldiers, who opened fire.

Peter Clancy, 19, was one of four IRA men killed in 1992 by the SAS. The IRA hijacked a lorry and mounted a heavy duty 12.7mm Russian-made Degtyarev machine gun on it, which they then used to attack Coalisland police station. When they reached the car park at St Patrick’s Church to meet their supposed getaway cars, the SAS were lying in wait and opened fire.

IRA man and internee Hugh Gerard Coney, 24, was shot by soldiers as he attempted to escape from Long Kesh prison in 1974. Soldiers told the inquest they had shouted up to eight warnings to stop.

Mr Donaldson added: “These men may have played Gaelic games but this is not the issue, they are being remembered by their Gaelic club – Clonoe O’Rahilly’s – for their identity as members of the Provisional IRA hence the language ‘Vol’ and ‘Fallen Gaels’.

“Once again sport and politics have become entangled, what message is being sent out to today’s generation? Do the GAA leadership condone wilful misuse of their games for this political purpose?”

The tweet prompted almost 80 comments, almost all of them critical.

One said: “Really reaching out to their unionist neighbours. Way to go Clonoe.” Another said: “Active service? They were sneaking around in bushes hoping to catch some defenceless person.”

A third, Sean Kennedy, added: “Remind me again how celebrating dead terrorists persuades unionists of the merits of a united Ireland?”

TUV West Tyrone candidate Trevor Clarke said Sinn Fein has run a series of events during the last month where representatives were prominent in commemorating terrorist attacks, including the event attended by Michelle O’Neill at Clonoe.

The News Letter invited Sinn Fein, the GAA club, GAA Ulster and the all-Ireland GAA organisation to respond. None of them offered any comment.