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The Confessions of a 14-year-old child.
Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been a week since my last confession. During the week I used the curse word a lot of times but I didn’t mean to, and I took another boys jam from the press in the dining room. I also said a lie to my friend and went up the town without permission on Saturday. I also smoked some cigarettes up at the handball alley.
The (possible?) Confession of a Catholic priest.
Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been a week since my last confession.
During the week I lost my temper on at least two occasions. The first time, one of the pupils was playacting during breakfast and I felt the need to discipline him. I picked him up by the ear and slapped him across the face twice, just after I let go of his ear. When I walked back up the dining room I noticed that his nose was bleeding into his breakfast cereal, so I asked him to go to his room. The second occasion was somewhat more serious. I was having a meeting late one night in my rooms with a number of other clergymen and as there were none of us free to patrol the dormitories the Pupils decided to run wild, knowing that I and the rest of the priests were otherwise engaged. As soon as the meeting broke up I went to the dormitories to discipline the students and while there I noticed a smell of tobacco smoke emanating from the fire escape. When I went down to the end of the fire escape I found three pupils smoking.
Considering what they have put me through that night and the embarrassment that they caused to me as head of the school, I decided that I would discipline them. Fortunately, I brought a piece of plastic orange gas tubing with me. I disciplined the boys but may have punished them to severely. It was only on reflection that I realised that I beat them with the tubing for over 10 minutes. On one of the boys, I actually drew blood from his leg due to the skin being broken.
Whether are not the priest concerned in the above abuse ever made an act of confession I do not know but ,I know that the details contained within it are actual fact. Unfortunately, I have no doubt that the above scenario has played out tens of thousands of times in this country over decades. In my previous post I said that members of the church in Ireland had knowingly covered up the truth in relation to the abuse of children in their care. Sadly, with the release of the recent report on the Dublin diocese this has proved to be an accurate representation. What is even even more shocking is that the reports that has been released only covers a scientific sample of priests in the diocese, does not extend to the rest of the country, and yet contains hundreds of examples of how this trust was betrayed and contains details of the brutality with which these men operated with.
I’ll accept that they were indeed different times but what I cannot accept is that members of an organisation that bases itself on trust and almost laughably on the premise of promoting love and peace could so cruelly carry out these acts. I acknowledge that the perpetrators of such actions were probably a very very small minority of the members of the church but I cannot understand how the hierarchy covered up the details and not only denied the victims justice also allowed the perpetrators to continue for as much as 20 years. All the time being aware of what exactly was going on.
I have met several fantastic priests in my time, men who have devoted their entire lives to the service of others. They have been an example and inspiration to me and continue to be so, father Peter McVerry springs to mind as one of these people. I feel sorry for people like him today, as thier name and their ministry is being dragged through the dirt ,because of the actions of a few. That being said, the people who are responsible for carrying out such acts of brutality on children must be named, shamed and locked up.
This scandal, is just another in a long list of failures of the society in which we live. One in which there are so many culpable parties that it becomes nearly impossible to unravel who did what to whom and when. The trouble is, that we the people of this country in our naivete placed our trust in the institutions of the state and of the Church itself. We willingly gave away our power to these people believing that somehow they were infallible and we must believe what they say without question. This goes for the bank manager, the priest, the local sergeant, the doctor and last but not least the government.
Whatever else comes of this, what we need to do is to carefully consider those in which we place our trust. We must never be afraid or fearful. We must remember that there is never a bad time to ask the right question. We must have the courage to stand up to anybody who dares to violate the values or rights of ourselves and as or more importantly, the values and rights of others.
I know the confession of the 14-year-old boy above is the truth, because I was that child and it took my leg six weeks to heal. I also know that the events described in the fictitious confession of the Catholic priest involved are also the truth, because I will never forget that night as long as I live. And neither should the priest, who the Bishop of Derry , Most Rev(?) Dr Seamus Hegarty.
This very well written piece by Eamonn indirectly underlines Karl Marx’s theory that ‘religion is opium for the masses.’ Ever since society began, humans have looked up to other their intellectually superior peers who have in turn instilled the fear ‘of God’ in them and abused their trust. Take the priests of the 12th Century in England who were extremely well read and had advanced meteological skills. To exercise their power, they would, for example, predict a severe weather warning and tell a farmer who had not paid his taxes that his crops would perish on Tuesday. The farmer, ignorant of the priest’s alterior motives, would see him as a sort of demi-god who could do no wrong when the storm did indeed arrive. Perhaps an unnusual example, but it does highlight how these people galvanised total control over their communities. The same could be said for the goings-on in Eamonn’s posting here. Nobody who is of a religious order is ever questioned, because once they are indoctrinated into that sect they are automatically a good and trustworthy person. I believe society has a responsibility to argue that this should not be the case.
Moreover, it is not just the Christian religion that has struck fear into the hearts and minds of men and women down the ages as a means of control. Just this week, Mehmet Goran was jailed for 22 years for the honour killing of his own daughter Tulay; who fell in love with a man from the wrong side of the street. Police have now disclosed the catalogue of missed opportunities to save Tulay’s life in the weeks leading up to her death in 1999. It is possible that the establishment was scared to question a man who held his religion in such high regard because of fears of being called racist or ridiculous.
Here endeth the lesson.
Thank you for this piece Eamonn, however I believe that there were more members of the church guilty of these crimes than is being highlighted. I am sceptical that those involved are in the minority.
Even if they never raised their hand to a child or approached a child inappropriately. If they knew it was happening elsewhere, if they heard rumors or speculation, if they had the slightest idea that it might be happening and they did nothing, then they are also just as guilty of the crime.
I would question the idea that the majority of priests could lay their hands on their bibles and say in all honesty that they were unaware and totally innocent.
Good piece. Well written. It’s hard to know where, as a country, we go from here. The publication of the Murphy Report last Thursday is most likely only the tip of the iceberg.
Bananna republic indeed.
“We willingly gave away our power?” I just believed what i was told and feared authority, when the priest siad he liked my hands i didnt know what he was thinking… Even the Buddhists are wanting to go aginst the true following of their teacher to burn the catholic offenders. How spiritual is that? Some of society do bad things-even buddists!!!
Nuggie, I was not referring to children when I wrote of giving away power. I was talking about us, the decision makers within this society. Generation after generation walked down the aisle and were too afraid of the opinions of each other, to question the authority that they and the people before them, had vested in the church. Sorry for not making that clearer.
Eammon, thank you for sharing this; it’s very moving and beautifully written.
Like most people I am deeply distressed by the seemingly endless abuse stories that are being exposed daily, I can only begin to imagine the emotion scars of the victims and my thoughts are with them. It is no doubt, a black scar on us as a nation. My hope is that we can learn and grow somehow from this darkness. I’m thankful we live in a country where the media has the freedom to bring this severe violation of human rights into the public awareness. On a positive note, I was educated by the Dominican Sisters, and my memories of those nuns are one of love, kindness and encouragement to follow my dreams.
Eamon – well told. what is astounding is that these men of the cloth were allowed to continue in their mission to bring their brand of “discipline” and abuse to many of the children of ireland.
And that the top brass of the clergy were intent to cover it up.
Pushed on from parish to parish where they were allowed to continue these sins against children. Is it any wonder we are all as disturbed as we are.
It is evidence that the catholic church in its present state is something that does not work. It is a bazarre and backward organization that does not care for the wellbeing of its fellow man.
God help them.
I’m sorry…I don’t see why its such a big surprise. We are talking about the MOST murderous institution in history. The Taliban has nothing on the Catholic Church, as a Buddhist I have to believe that Ratzinger and his ilk has their own karma to deal with, as a man I hope to Be THEIR KARMA. Burn witches BURN
Well done Eamonn! I assume that your esteemed Reverend is still alive and trashing (not literally I hope). The sadistic, Nazi Blood Hound of a Christian Brother who made my life in school a living hell, shuffled off this mortal coil after a long and painful terminal illness – poor fella! (Although not nearly painful enough, I think). I have very fond and vivid memories of being dragged from my desk by my locks and ears, being punched in the chest and arms, having the duster thrown full force at my head from the top of the class and being systematically caned and leathered with little reason. Some of the lay teachers were pretty well equipped to do as much damage too!
I have written to the Archbishop’s house to let the Archbishop and indeed the fine institution of the Irish Catholic Church my disgust of the heinous behaviour that they and the Government are fully responsible for carrying out and covering up! I’m in the process of doing the same to the Minister of Justice, the Minister for Health and Children, the Minister of Social & Family Affairs and of course that big useless lump of a Taoiseach, Brian Coward. What good it will do ??? at least I’ll have got it off my chest! This is the most despicable and the darkest period of our modern history – I am hoping that none of this will ever be allowed to happen again. As for the perpetrators and the coverers, dig them out and let them face the full rigour of the law of the land not the church) regardless of their age or their health!