Friday, July 3, 2009

Catholic Church Still at Odds With the Rest of our Society

Original article

ON Monday night as John Bowman presented his last Questions & Answers programme it was a trip down memory lane but, like all such trips, not all memories are indeed pleasant.

When the Ryan Report was discussed over four weeks ago on the programme the panel went back and forth discussing its content. It was only when 75-year-old Michael O'Brien, a survivor of sexual and physical abuse, spoke with tears in his eyes and his voice raising like a barometer at the frustration and disbelief at how he was treated that silence fell like a dark cloud not only on the panel and the audience but the entire country.

He was eight years old when he was marched into St Joseph's School, Ferryhouse, Clonmel. On his second night he was raped. He was beaten and he was flogged during his time there; in effect, his childhood robbed from him. He recalled that when he went to the LaFoy commission there were seven barristers questioning him, and who told him he was telling lies. "I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got a merciful beating after it ... and he came along the following morning and put Holy Communion in my mouth."

The priests who raped, beat and inflicted psychological torture on children should absolutely and without question be named and shamed. There is no road for the Church in this country to travel on if it does not operate on a completely transparent level.

On a separate issue, recently, a priest in North Cork stated that people who fell into the category of 'not being regular church goers' or in an 'irregular marital situation' may not communicate (receive Holy Communion). Instead, the persons who wished to receive communion should approach the altar with their hands crossed on their breasts, for a blessing.

In the Church statement, the priest wrote that while the church invites and encourages everyone to come to mass - not everyone, however, is invited to receive the Eucharist. This teaching is from 'The Catechism of the Catholic Church,' this reporter was later informed by way of fax.

Within the section 'Offences against the dignity of Marriage,' it is stated that the sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. 'Outside of marriage, it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion.'

The priest wrote: 'If we are to take the Ryan report at face value then surely some priests and religious did close their eyes to terrible abuse that took place on their watch. Is there not a similar blindness today in respect of reception of the Eucharist.'

The family structure has greatly changed these past two decades. Four out of 10 children are born to mothers who are not married but who may be living either alone or with a partner. There are thousands of people who are divorced and living with new partners. It would lead one to question how can this filtering system operate in a time when the Catholic Church has more than its fair share of troubles on its hands.

There are numerous religious persons in this country who are the social glue of their community. However the day when the parish priest calls the shots and dictates in a harsh manner to his parishioners is well and truly over. The empty pews at Churches is testament to this.

The question now remains for the Catholic Church to decide which road they wish to take.

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