Clerical rapists and the Irish state

Raping children is not a serious crime. Well, that seems to be the attitude of the Irish state. With thousands of cases of reported child abuse by clerics, and an admission by the Catholic Church all the way up to Cardinal Connell, that they refused to report abusers to the gardaí, there has been remarkably little action taken against them.

There have been no raids on the Archbishop's palace in search of the withheld complaints against priests. There have been no arrests of priests and bishops who have publicly admitted helping accused clerics to avoid prosecution. Given all that we now know about the organised cover-up of what happened in Catholic institutions, churches and hospitals it is fair to say that if any other organised group were guilty of the same offences there would be charges brought of "conspiracy to pervert the course of justice".

The only excuse put forward by the bishops is that they "did not understand" the seriousness of raping children! These are the same guys who, with great certainty, condemned multi-denominational education in the 1970s, who opposed the legalisation of contraception and divorce, who call abortion "murder". But when it came to destroying the childhood of young children we are expected to believe that they didn't realise it was a particularly bad thing! Bollocks.

Of course the state can hardly claim to be neutral. The majority of hospitals and the vast majority of schools are owned by the Catholic Church. Yet the state (with our tax money) pays the wages and pays 85% of the building costs. The Church authorities are then given the power to hire and fire nurses and teachers we pay for.

The government even gives the main churches money to promote their religion. Back in 1998 (March 25th) the Supreme Court dismissed an application by the Campaign to Separate Church and State to prevent the Minister for Education paying chaplains in community schools. So, we have the absurd situation where people of minority religions and of no religion at all see their tax money used to pay priests. It's just a little reminiscent of the tithing system of Penal Law days whereby Catholics and Presbyterians were forced to pay 10% of their income to the Anglican clergy.

Churches should have the right to worship their gods as they see fit, to organise their own affairs as they see fit. They should have the same rights as any other voluntary group but with no special privileges. Anarchists are not out to stop anyone practicing their religion, but we are determined to end the 'special position' of the churches (supposedly abolished in the 1972 referendum). Anarchists will continue to defend the weak and vulnerable, and will continue campaigning to break the power of the bishops.

Joe King

See also

Anarchism and Religion
Anarchists traditionally have a hostile attitude to religion, summed up by the slogan 'No Gods, No Masters'

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This edition is No73 published in November 2002

WS 73 front cover