Thursday, December 12, 2013

Puerile, Point-Scoring Letter in Today's Irish Times

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,


LLM (Human Rights),
Roselawn Road,
Dublin 15

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.


  1. Hi M,
    glad to see that the 'Puerile, Point-Scoring Letter in Today's Irish Times' to which you refer wasn't mine!
    Seriously, saw the letter and thought much the same. But then, this is the same IT that is already trying to put as bad a spin as possible on what are actually quite favourable reports - most of the abuse allegations mentioned in them are from decades ago.
    And did you see the other tripe in the IT today? Their latest front in the war on religion is to attack faith schools' admissions policies as discrimination - two articles by Kitty Holland in that vein.
    The Irish Times should be praying for the RCC harder than anyone - half their staff would have nothing to write about if she wasn't around!
    God bless
    Paddy/Fr Levi

  2. As if I would ever say such a thing about you, Father!

    To be fair, the Irish Times do publish articles by orthodox Christians, like John Waters and Breda O'Brien. Not to forget the odd letter from myself and they can't be accused of not allowing Christians a platform. But I have often thought the same thing about the Irish media as you wrote-- that they should be grateful for the Church for the endless supply of copy it offers them. And as for that admissions policy thing-- how is it that "diversity" is a good thing but "discrimination" is a bad thing? How can you have the one without, at some point, having the other in SOME form? The idea that there is no such thing as benign discrimination is just silly.

  3. Ah, the old argument that schools should be secular because they're paid for our of taxes crops up on a regular basis. It's annoying because it's nonsense, but they're hoping that by repeating it again and again it will gain creeping credibility. Everyone pays taxes - and every group in Ireland has the right to set up schools for their own ethos. The CofI only has about 100,000 members in the Republic and we have dozens of schools, By their own claims Secularists have multiples of that number, but they've only set up a tiny number of schools. It seems they'd much rather 'piggy-back' on the work of others than do their own; and of course they have the added bonus of converting all schools in the country to their ethos. Two birds with one stone if people are foolish enough to let them get away with it.

  4. It's not a subject I know a huge amount about but I have heard that denominational schools actually save the tax-payer a great deal of money.

  5. Diversity is a joke, or at least in the way that it's used today. Being diverse for the sake of it is stupid. I guess the attitude of the writer above can sum up the mentality of most people against the Church. Nothing new.

  6. I do actually believe in diversity for its own sake, but not when it comes to religion, which is too important and where only one religion can logically be the true religion. (I'm not saying there aren't elements of truth in other religion, or that religious diversity shouldn't be respected. I just don't think it should be considered a good in itself.)