Child abuse is about closed circles of power, not religion…

Fintan O’Toole puts his finger on the problem underlying the sex abuse cases that have been so spectacularly mishandled by the Catholic Church… It is not as its many secular/liberal critics like to suggest, the Church itself, but the reaction of a powerful elite trying desparately to hang on to the very power that allowed such institutional transgressions against its own moral code.

The church leadership has now adopted a three-fold strategy: blame the victims; invoke anti-Catholic persecution; and identify modernity as the root of the problem. Benedict himself began the process of blaming the victims in his Palm Sunday sermon when he spoke of not allowing oneself to be “intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion”. The next step of painting the church leadership, not as powerful people with questions to answer, but as innocent victims of persecution, was taken by the preacher to the papal household, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa.

Showing that no strategy is too tasteless to be deployed, he cited a letter from a “Jewish friend”, comparing attacks on the church’s record on child abuse to “the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism”. Cantalamessa himself linked demands for accountability in the church to the “herd psychology” and the search for a scapegoat through which “the weakest element, the different one” is victimised. The ironies in this exercise in self-pity are almost beyond satire.

As for those liberal critics, Fintan believes they are looking in the wrong place. Religion per se is not the common factor here:

They may blame Catholicism itself, as if other belief systems did not end up justifying vile crimes. They may blame celibacy, as if the vast majority of attacks on children were not perpetrated by non-celibates – often, indeed, by the child’s own parents. The truth is that child abuse and cover-up are not primarily about religion or sex. They are about power. The bleak lessons of human history are that those who have too much power will abuse it. And that organisations will put their own interests above those of the victims.

Indeed. Anyone thinking this is a uniquely Catholic thing needs to cast their mind back a few decades, when they may recall the profoundly unsatisfactory way in which the Kincora inquiry ended: literally in secrecy. And there are other homes, not all of them by any means Catholic run that have fallen under the long shadow of suspicion.

A paper by Northern Ireland’s Minister of Health, Michael McGimpsey, that is thought to call for some form of historic is currently awaiting approval from the Executive.

It remains to be seen whether it is any kind of answer to Bernadette McAliskey’s plea for realistic action

As for Benedict he, according to O’Toole, is taking precisely the wrong road:

The church’s combination of temporal authority, spiritual control and a closed, internal hierarchy created the power that corrupted it. The backlash of the past few weeks has merely confirmed what was already overwhelmingly likely: that Benedict is entirely incapable of grasping this reality, let alone altering it.

He has spent much of his career crushing dissent and rolling back the anti-hierarchical spirit of Vatican 2. His solution, as he suggested in his pastoral letter, is more of the same – more obedience, more authority, more resistance to secular modernity. Those who looked to the Pope to respond to one of the most profound crises in the history of the church now know they will have to look elsewhere.

That is not something we need to replicate in Northern Ireland.

  • Forget the Thomian twisting on the head of a pin.

    The Kincora parallel has lurked in my mind for some time, particularly when some “usual suspects” on Slugger or elsewhere tried to make it a sectarian horror.

    It’s a power thing, not just a sex aberration. The difference amounts to a supranational hierarchy having more power than a small group of perverse criminal minds (who may have had limited local state and other protection).

    So, as Mick @ 09:34 AM suggests, That is not something we need to replicate again in Northern Ireland.

  • Rape and abuse have always been about power.

    Kincora has been discussed on Slugger before and I have been one of those calling for a fresh investigation. I believe there needs to be investigations into every diocese and that includes protestant and other faiths, and obviously other institutions and schools.

    We do need to investigate all diocese in the north. The polarization of society there may well mean the problem was even worse in some parishes. Kincora indicates a problem across the board, and banning sections of the report is not a good sign.

  • articles

    As an aside can anyone remember a novel which interwove fiction and fact about kincora and stalker as a background to a thriller.

  • Framer

    It is about power in the sense that the Catholic Church in the south had effective state power once the Irish Free State came into existence. Crimes involving priests were therefore only to be dealt with by the church. This untouchability seeped into the north as well for various reasons.

    So while the Kincora cases (and others) came to court the RUC permitted Catholic suspects to be exiled south by the Cardinal and their Bishops.

    Nobody has ever thought “this is a uniquely Catholic thing” as Mick suggests. In that vein he then speaks of “the profoundly unsatisfactory way in which the Kincora inquiry ended: literally in secrecy.”

    That is hardly the case. There was a public enquiry led by Judge Hughes whose report was published.

    If it did not accuse MI5, the Royal Family and much of the Unionist Party of sharing round the Kincora boys, it wasn’t for want of assertion by anti-unionists (not a ‘sectarian’ charge Malc) but because of a total lack of evidence.

    Nasty old thing, justice.

  • Framer

    The report into Kincora kept sections secret, that along gives rise to suspicions. The investigation needs to be reopened to remove all doubt.

    The abuse and rape of children or indeed anyone is always about gaining and proving power.

    The RCC was different. It already had the power, especially here. The cover up of the crimes was about obviously about maintaining power, but it was also, and possibly even more, about maintaining the mystique of the church. Any church is only as powerful as its people allow it to be.

  • Munsterview

    I agree with much of Fintians article, in fact most of it. His conclusions about closed power circles are valid, we have only to look at the so called Golden Circles of Financial Interests in this State and their establishment collobators that brought financial devastitation on this country for generations to come, to see how corrupting absolute power can become.

    Even now with all the devastation evident the chief facilitator of the failure by his actions as Minister for Finance, far from being demoted has in fact been promoted and given an even freerer hand to cause even more devastation through Nama to protect his financial backers from the inevitable consequences of their own hubris and stupidity.

    And these same people like Dermot Ahern and Micheal Martin have the unmitigated gall to criticize Church Structures and responses for lack of accountability.

    This is especially so in Dermot Ahern’s case: the mother of a child who was sexually abused by a police informer with the collusion of certain Gardai and Department Of Justice officials hand delivered a letter requesting a proper enquiry to Ahern’s constituency sec last January.

    She is still awaiting a reply!

    Slugger is read by a wide cross sections of Politicians probably from the president down. It is certainly read by all the party back-room guys and gals yet despite the sustained opportunistic campaign against Church sex abuse scandals, this particular sex abuse elephant like many others is still allowed to wander around toe corridors of Linster House unchecked.

    We have the same power circles of financial/ intellectual incest operating in this country as we do at the top of the Church. When will Fintian bring his considerable skills to bear and trace the gene pool of some of these Builders, Bankers and W*****S into the Dail, Bar Association, The Incorporated Law Society, the Senior Civil Service and indeed the property page editorials and other media circles.

    These people have not gone away you know!

    Until such time as they are exposed and held accountable for their actions we will continue to have Rome at Home.

  • harpo

    “It is not as its many secular/liberal critics like to suggest, the Church itself, but the reaction of a powerful elite trying desparately to hang on to the very power that allowed such institutional transgressions against its own moral code.’

    Surely ‘the Church’ in this case is the elite that runs it. The RC church isn’t a bottom-up organization. The ordinary RC person has no say in how the church is run. It’s a top down outfit and the guy at the top makes the decisions. He’s got an elite under him and they run the church.

    And like most elites they have become used to the power that they have and don’t want to lose it. Thus the current reaction to pressure on them.

  • Framer

    Pippakin – you say “the report into Kincora kept sections secret”. I am not aware of this or don’t recall it and don’t have a copy.

    Have you, and could you quote from it or reference your statement?

  • Munsterview

    Kincora is not the most recent cover up. Normally I would be slow to jump to any conclusions regarding this subject matter without knowing the background and the agenda of the claimants. However in relation to much of the subject matter discussed in these sites, I already heard a lot of these claims made at an open History lecture by an eminent Surgeon who has made a lifetimes study of paedophile activity. He named many prominent serving politicians with known activities in this area. I am giving site details for people to access and make up their own minds on the subject as follows.


    “…………The articles I wrote concerning the “Operation Ore” cover-up and the 100-year blackout order imposed upon the report concerning the Dunblane massacre of children used and abused by senior Scottish Labour government ministers can still be found here:

    Alleged Pedophiles at Helm of Britain’s War Machine, Massive Cover-Up [Ref. 1]

    Blair’s Protection of Elite Paedophile Ring Spells the End For His Career [Ref. 2]

    Blackout in Britain: Alleged Pedophiles Helm Blair’s War Room

    Blackout in Britain: Alleged Paedophiles at Helm of Britain’s War Machine

    Tony Blair Caught Protecting Elite Paedophile Ring

    Cremation of Care: The New World Order and the Dunblane Shootings

    Dunblane Secret Documents Contain Letters by Tory and Labour Ministers

    These stories, which also implicated the Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith, former NATO Boss Lord Robertson, and the Svengali of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s rise to power, the flamboyant homosexual Peter Mandelson (now Lord Mandelson), were widely publicised on the Internet, excited debate within numerous online forums, and inspired Robert Kilroy-Silk’s former Veritas Party to undertake a detailed examination of the extent to which senior and junior ministers close to Gordon Brown were given free licence to engage in paedophiliac activities under the protection of the British intelligence services…..”

  • Munsterview

    Sorry : should have also given the two sites containing this information; they are as follows.

    British Pedophile Elite Updates

    March 1

    UK Pedophile Politicians

    February 28

  • Framer

    I am sorry I did not get back to you sooner. I have been trying to find the right books. I am afraid I cannot find them yet! and my broadband is not reliable enough for me to check online.

    I will go through all my books on the subject and get back as soon as I find the relevant titles. It may be of help if you check Slugger I was involved in a debate in January/February this year. It was about the allegations against Liam Adams and widened.

  • Framer

    I should add that info is widely available on Google some implicate Lord Mountbatton with Kincora.

  • lamhdearg

    Hard to believe stuff like this could be supressed given the british public’s odsession with all things involving child abuse.

  • lamhdearg

    Stuff like this is being suppressed as I type. See Munsterviews comment on the thread entitled ‘Time to Expose Collusion’. It is not on this subject but he mentions an ongoing battle with our govt and judiciary.

  • A propos for the last few posts:

    “I can’t believe that!” said Alice.

    “Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

    Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said “one can’t believe impossible things.”

    “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

    Through the Looking Glass, chapter V: Wool and Water.

    Oh, how I wish I was vouchsafed this arcane knowledge of how, inevitably, we are all being misled, controlled by shadowy forces, by some great galactic conspiracy.

    So, out of sheer curiosity I set out to prove a point to myself: starting from munsterview‘s recommendations, within five clicks I had reached one of those sites which warn us about the lizard aliens in our midst.

    Now that really is scary.

  • lamhdearg

    pip, I have seen “time to expose collusion” i made a comment on it, I dont think the gov could cover up a child abuser in their ranks, its just my view.

  • lamhdearg

    You are perfectly entitled to your opinion of course, and perhaps you are right, but if you are why, when the Ryan report was published, did some of the victims express anger that no members of the judiciary were mentioned.

  • lamhdearg

    pip, British gov, British people are slightly less sheep like.

  • lamhdearg

    British people are slightly less sheep like? I doubt that. If anything they are more doe eyed and bovine than we are.

  • lamhdearg

    pip, May i ask you a question, Do you believe a member of the british cabinet abused childern as part of a pedophile ring and other cabinet ministers managed to cover it up.

  • lamhdearg

    Do I believe a member of the Brit cabinet abused children as part of a pedophile ring and other cabinet ministers managed to cover it up?

    The answer is I dont know. The problem is I would not be surprised.

    Munsterview referred to Peter Mandelson as a flamboyant homosexual. It means nothing, and quite rightly has made no difference to his career, but I remember the panic attack Jeremy Paxman had when Mandelson was outed on Newsnight.

    The thing is it was so well hidden, only those ‘in the know’ knew.

  • Framer

    The Mountbatten connection to Kincora is repeated assertion without evidence. Just throw in the name of somebody famous who is gay or bisexual and see how the conspiracy theory has gathered pace.

  • Munsterview

    ” From ways of The Craft ye shall divert “……… yes indeed Malcom in a couple of clicks you can get little green men or lizards etc. I have even been at a series of weekend seminars on mainly serious historical subjects where at one a senior ‘former’ MI5 man at the Irish Desk claimed to be a incarnation of Jesus and gave Biblical and other proofs of it.

    To the average person there the man appeared stark, raving bonkers and in serious need of a long lie down on a couch with a good psychologist sitting near by. However after most of the questioning was over I put a number of questions to him, the principle one being if he was such a whistleblower and anti-Mi5 domestic works and pomp’s, how come he was still walking around?

    I then invited him to share with us the audience some of the ‘dirty tricks’ he got up on behalf of his masters as what was done against us on Irish streets would be next done in streets of the English cities. The mad mulla suddenly became a very coherent, cagey M I5er like I believed he always was and it was no co-incidence that this interest in our seminars coincided with the invite to the Leading Surgeon to speak on paedophile activity in the upper political elites of the British Establishment.

    This guy was there for the same reason as two branchmen were in the audience and taking notes at history weekend commemorating Thomas Davis in Mallow organized and run by…… wait for it, Fianna Failure!.

    When I interrupted the speaker and drew the chairmans attention to their presence and activities they suddenly had more pressing business elsewhere. Goodness knows how many phones were tapped and families put under surveillance because of their note taking.

    For the benefit of Northern Readers, the country cross section there would have made an average UU meeting appear radical.
    Incidently I, to the best of my knowledge, was the only militant Republican there!

    Yes little green men, yellow men and Lizards etc may be a good diversion and plenty to be found on the net. There is also plenty of hard core information on Intelligence organizations and what they do; it do not take an Einstein to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Do your other posting fraternity the benefit of common sense and their own intelligence and the ability to thresh the grain for themselves irrespective from whatever sources.

  • Framer

    I am not giving an opinion either way. I just told you what was out there.

    Mountbatten lived a long and relatively happy life with his ‘dirty little secret’ locked up tight. Times have changed and no ‘secret’ can be expected to stay that way for long, and I for one am glad about that.

  • Munsterview


    I did not personally refer to Peter M., I just cut and pasted a reference from two internet articles from a site that I have been following, no more and no less.

  • Munsterview

    I read your comment #9, final paragraph. It seemed to me to be direct from you. Sorry if I got it wrong. It makes no difference though, he was and presumably still is, and why not between consenting adults.

  • lamhdearg

    pip,”Times have changed and no ‘secret’ can be expected to stay that way for long” you make my point better than me, Munsterview, In post 9 gives links to stories from 2003, surley by now these allegations (if true) would have been outed just like peter mandelson was.

  • lamhdearg

    Maybe, but it was apologies all round and a shame faced “I thought everybody knew” from Mandelsons ‘outer’.

    I suspect the older the story the less likely we are to find the truth of it.

    I am not a believer in conspiracy theories, but I do believe some people have and always have had secrets to hide. I also believe that when it comes to child abuse it is naive to believe only school teachers, scoutmasters and now priests are perpetrators.

  • lamhdearg

    pip,”I am not a believer in conspiracy theories”. I am, but some just don’t add up, ps i am off to bed, Work and all that, Goodnight.

  • Munsterview

    Do not be too sure of that. Padophiles are well networked and as I have previously pointed out these people are well networked. The Fr. Smith episode showed some of the positions those who tolerated them, if not part of their sordid activity, had reached in the South.

    As I have already pointed out in most major Irish cities, North or South to night, anyone in the know in a hotel can send out for a call girl, or boy………. or child and expect to get away with it, as they do, especially if children are involved. And are we expected to believe that a powerful man like Mountbatten could not have every whim serviced discretely?

  • J Robinson

    It isn’t just the Labour government, as there have also been serious allegations with regards to Tory politicians being involved in the North Wales care home abuse scandal.