The Guardians veteran political commentator Michael White takes world weariness to new heights by predicting that the Catholic Church has the stamina to sit out the media firestorm. These things blow themselves out in time, as all Westminster watchers know. In Britain perhaps, where the abuse crisis hasnt reached the same level but theres no sign of a firebreak in Ireland and indeed worldwide, where the storm is gaining second wind and is now engulfing the Vatican. But balance and fairness are essential and never more so than when the cause is just. I see that the Churchs sclerotic spokemen have taken care to spell out that the latest cases under the microscope were reported to the police. This applies to the Bishop Hegarty case . Not for thre first time, the issue here implicates the State which has to answer why a private civil settlement was deemed appropriate for a rape case. Responsibility seems clearer in a 2001 rape case in Cardinal Bradys Armagh archdiocese reported by UTV tonight. This came to trial, resulting in acquittal but also a follow up compensation settlement. According to a lengthy statement issued hastily to the Irish Times, the cardinal was not bound by the confidentiality agreement of the civil action and suspended the priest, named only as “Father X”. His identity was at first withheld to protect the victim. Then late tonight the suspended priest was named as Father Joseph Quinn. While the priest seems to have been named under pressure, making his life difficult beyond the immediate circle of those in the know, the cardinals position appears not to have worsened. But the case again puts him under the closest scrutiny. What other cases will come out in the Irish wash? Interestingly the Economist declares that removing the Irish primate, who has said he will only go if the pope requests it, could signal that the era of cover-ups is finally over a view which I believe fails to rise to the level of events.Back to Mike White, who links to an interesting court ruling reported in the Daily Mail, market leader in turned-on crossness, which upholds the right of conscience of Catholic adoption agencies not to permit adoptions by gays. I must admit Ive some sympathy with this view although I wouldnt have any, if gays didnt have recourse to other agencies.
Mr Justice Briggs said because an exemption in the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations allowed gay charities to restrict their help to homosexuals, it was right that Catholic Care should also be allowed to discriminate. The judge added that the good work carried out by the charity outweighed the importance of European anti-discrimination legislation However, he sent the case back to the Charity Commission to reconsider in light of his ruling, which means it could yet find reasons to force the adoption agency to close.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London