Sunday, December 28, 2008

Removed from reality

SINCE his appointment 12 years ago as Bishop of the Cork diocese of Cloyne, John Magee has conducted his business outside the spotlight of national attention.

But last week, a damning Church report into his handling of child sexual abuse complaints against two of his priests shattered the calm and raised speculation that he must feel obliged to resign, as did the Bishop of Ferns, Brendan Comiskey, in similar circumstances, six years ago.

However, Bishop Magee gives no indication that he has any intention of resigning.

His self-righteous stance suggests that he has no real understanding of the gravity of his position and the damage that he is inflicting upon his own Church.

In the absence of any positive gesture, the bishop's acceptance of "responsibility" which was read out at Christmas Eve Mass in Cobh, is no more than empty rhetoric. Even if we accept the bishop's definition of responsibility, his choice of words do nothing to dispel the suspicion that he does not fully understand his situation.

Bishop Magee sought to defuse that situation by promising his congregation a clerical environment which is as safe "as it possibly can be". Does he believe therefore, that absolute safety for children is unattainable?

He is determined to ensure that it is "extremely unlikely that this will happen again in this diocese." Extremely unlikely? No, Dr Magee, neither the abuse of children, nor the accompanying procrastination by senior religious figures must ever, ever happen again. This is unconditional.

In contrast to the position of Bishop Magee, the former Vatican diplomat Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, reflects the Pope's mandate that the Catholic Church must be cleansed of the child sexual abuse cases that have damaged its credibility so grievously.

Commenting on the Church's own report into the failure of the Bishop of Cloyne to apply proper standards, Dr Martin has questioned the ability of the Government, the Health Service Executive and his fellow Catholic bishops to implement a single policy to safeguard children from clerical sexual abuse.

It was an extraordinarily frank statement and it appeared to urge Bishop Magee to set an example.

The appalling scenario which we had thought had been consigned to history still insists on hanging around, it seems.

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Sotto Voce

(Source: II)