From a John A Kehoe, of Castleknock:
Sir, – It is surely ironic that the release on December 10th of the further audits by the National Board for Safeguarding Children established by the Catholic Church (Home News, December 11th) should coincide with World Human Rights Day. While the Vatican in 1990 with great alacrity signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, being the fourth chronologically to do so of the 193 signatory states, it was merely symbolically, but not altogether successfully, trying to bolt the door well after the horse had gone. – Yours, etc,
JOHN A KEHOE,
LLM (Human Rights),
This is the kind of letter that, to me, seems no better than chanting, "Nya, nya, nya, the abuse scandals." Mr. Kehoe thinks it is ironic that the release of the audits should coincide with World Human Rights Day. I don't think this is so very extraordinary. You couldn't stick a pin in a calendar these days without hitting the International Day of Something or Other. It rather devalues the whole idea of World Days. (Which don't greatly appeal to me anyway. I would happy to fill every week of the year with holidays and festivals, but World Days and International Days are the most dreary things imaginable.)
Also, the letter doesn't really say anything new. It says that the Vatican signed the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child while the whole child sex abuse scandals were beginning to emerge. I've never heard a Catholic deny the seriousness and the awfulness of these scandals. The Church has apologized for them time out of mind. It doesn't undo the damage, but surely there has to be a point where a religion that has existed for two thousand years and which comprises hundreds of millions of members ceases to be defined by the misdeeds of a few, at one moment in its history. The audits to which Mr. Kehoe refers acknowledge that the Church is now taking the question of child protection very seriously.
Nor do I see why it's ironic that the Church should sign the Convention of the Rights of the Child. It has been a staunch defender of the child's right to life-- its most fundamental right-- and it has given practical reality to the rights of millions of children to education and healthcare.
But this is just point-scoring, too. What good is point-scoring? Where does it get anybody? It could go on forever, like a table-tennis game between a pair of robots.
It's almost impossible to have a serious and mature discussion about Catholicism in this country. People who are measured, thoughtful and fair when it comes to most subjects become petty and spiteful and irrational when it comes to the Catholicism. It's weird.