The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #134382   Message #3060300
Posted By: Joe Offer
23-Dec-10 - 05:38 PM
Thread Name: BS: And yet more abusing priests (Ireland)
Subject: RE: BS: And yet more abusing priests (Ireland)
Smokey, I can't find the 1962 document you speak of. I searched this page for 1962, and didn't find the reference. Can you lead me to it?

And still, I insist, the story hasn't been told in a way that makes sense to me. I live near Auburn, California, about 50 miles northeast of where I used to live in Sacramento. Auburn is the site of the motherhouse of a province of the Sisters of Mercy. The sisters came here from Ireland 150 years ago, mostly to serve Irish Catholics who had come to the Sacramento area during the Gold Rush. A steady flow of young Irish women came to the Auburn convent until the mid-1970s, and the convent also recruited a reasonable percentage of American young women. The Irish women came in their late teens, with the understanding that they would never go home again. In the 1970's, Irish priests in Sacramento collected money so that the Irish nuns could visit their families in Ireland occasionally. I'm an associate member of the Sisters of Mercy, and I have come to know a number of these Irish-born nuns quite well. I used to think of them as sweet little old ladies, but I've found that a number of them are brilliant women, full of passion and courage and wisdom. One of these Mercy nuns was recently excommunicated by the Bishop of Tucson for authorizing an abortion for a woman who was in danger of death. As one might suspect, the nuns don't have much good to say about the bishop.

But I've asked a number of these nuns what it was like to grow up Catholic in Ireland, and it was a good experience for all of the women I asked.

When I moved to Sacramento in 1980, I was amazed to find that almost all of the priests in the Sacramento Diocese had been born in Ireland - the "FBI" is what they were called (Foreign-Born Irish). In time, I grew to like these Irish priests, because most of them are pretty good people. Many of them tend toward alcoholism, and they can tend to be short-tempered; but most of them are good-hearted and generous to a fault. Again, I've asked many of them what it was like to grow up Catholic in Ireland, and it was a good experience for every one of them. One of them, who grew up in a poor family in a rural area not far from Limerick, told me, "That Frank McCourt had a reputation as a whiner" (McCourt wrote Angela's Ashes, about growing up in Limerick. McCourt's brothers did not describe their youth in such depressing terms).

I may well know more Irish-born priests and nuns, than many people who are living in Ireland know. And while I have a very good impression of most of them, I also must say that a number of the worst child-molesting priests in the U.S. were born in Ireland. One of the most notorious US child molesters was Oliver Francis O'Grady, an Irish-born priest of the diocese of Stockton, California. summarizes his history:

I've found one book that gives an excellent insight into the child molestation problem in the Catholic Church in the U.S. It's called Priestly Sins, a novel written by Fr. Andrew Greeley of Chicago. The main character is a young priest who learns that a fellow priest has been raping young boys. The whistleblower goes through hell in his quest to expose the crime, and wins out in the end.

I know a priest who was a whistleblower. He uncovered a pastor who was using parish funds to pay for a home for himself and a male lover; and two younger priests in the same parish were having an affair. He was away from the priesthood for ten years, because his bishop wouldn't give him an assignment. He appealed to the Vatican and won, and was assigned to a neighboring diocese, Sacramento. This priest is a brilliant and talented man and has a lot of people who think he's wonderful, but other people hate him. I think that often he's a pain in the ass, and I've noticed that whistleblowers are often a pain in the ass. I think it often takes that kind of personality to buck the system and speak out for what's right. I've often found that whistleblowers have tunnel vision, and have trouble seeing the full picture. I'd also say that whistleblowers can be deeply flawed personalities, and can often be problem employees themselves.

Women love this whistleblower priest that I know, and he loves women - a bit too much, for my liking. When he greets a woman he likes, he engages in what somebody told me was a "full-body kiss." I've sometimes said to myself, "It he feels my wife up like that again, I'm going to punch him out." But I don't, because he's twice my size and all muscle - and thankfully, he's no longer in this area.

And still I say, the story hasn't been told in a way that makes sense to me - especially the story of how this scandal has played out in Ireland. I don't deny any of it - the horror of the rape of children by dozens of priests, the beatings and other humiliations suffered by hundreds (maybe thousands) of children in state-owned schools run by nuns and brothers, the coverups by bishops and priests at the highest level of authority in the Catholic Church in Ireland and Rome. It's all true - I don't deny it.

On the other hand, I have Irish priests and nuns who have told me stories of the sweetness of growing up in Catholic families and Catholic parishes in Ireland, so I know it could not have been all bad. While there is much to be deplored, there is still a history of deep spirituality, boundless generosity, and stunning intellectual achievements in the Catholic Church in Ireland. How do we balance the bad with the good and come up with the truth?

So, as I say, the story is yet to be told. It won't be told by the newspapers or by television. It will take a far deeper study to come to the truth.

I'd recommend Greeley's Priestly Sins. It's a good start of telling the tale of the priest child molestation scandal in the U.S.