Southern Religion

Gerald Warner: Today’s ‘jump-to-conclusions and cast-aspersions’ award winner

Gerald Warner of the London Telegraph contrived to sneer at Barack Obama and tar Vatican II for the Irish Catholic Church/police clerical pedophilia cover-up.

Warner did so as part of his argument defending Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid, whom he admires:

The Most Reverend John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin (1940-1972) was a great Catholic prelate. Under his pastoral leadership, the numbers of clergy and religious increased by more than 50 per cent, he created over 60 new parishes and built over 80 new churches and 350 schools. But he was a Vatican II sceptic who implemented reform conservatively, in accordance with what would now be called the “hermeneutic of continuity”. So he is a bogey figure to radicals.

Warner argues that McQuaid was unfairly maligned because he retired in 1972, and the investigating commission dealt with “the period 1 January 1975 to 1 May 2004.”

Er, yes about the time periods, but the commission came across important cases which the record showed had earlier been presented to and not properly handled by McQuaid. The commission report finds as a result that McQuaid set the pattern of failure to enforce canon law. For example, it found with obvious cause (Part 2, page 191[.pdf]) “that Archbishop McQuaid acted the way he did to avoid scandal both here and in Rome.”

Rather than protect the children.

That case and others (some detailed by Warner’s commenters) involving decisions by McQuaid as archbishop, led the commission to state in its conclusions (Part 2, page 206 [.pdf] – emphasis ours):

This case has a special significance because it was one of the earliest in the Commission‟s remit. The apparent cancellation by Archbishop McQuaid of his original plan to pursue the priest through the procedures of canon law was a disaster. It established a pattern of not holding abusers accountable which lasted for decades. Firmer treatment of this priest might have avoided much abuse in the future. The Archbishop and Bishop Dunne had no doubt that a serious crime had been committed but avoided taking any action as that would have involved Rome becoming involved in the case. The Archbishop appointed Bishop Dunne to investigate the case and, in the Commission‟s view, promptly undermined him in his position.

In the Commission‟s view, Archbishop McQuaid‟s actions fell very short of what should have been done. Given that he was fully aware of the 1922 instruction, there was no justification for his failure to set up a proper canonical process to deal with the matter. In fact, he deliberately manipulated the situation in a manner that did not involve him reporting the matter to Rome.

Lacking compelling evidence that Vatican II either created McQuaid’s pattern-establishing behavior or precipitated Dublin’s fall, we must of course look elsewhere. Less fun than castigating our ideological foes, but if well-pursued, constructive.


November 29, 2009 - Posted by | Catholic, Churches, Crime | , , ,

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