I have spent the past few days beyond the boundaries of the European Union ensconced in a Muslim nation. But I tuned into news broadcasts from a diversity of sources around the world over the past few days to gauge the progress, consequences and response to the love-in that the Irish bishops conducted in The Vatican with the Pope over the past few days.
The laying of hands, the kissing of rings and the observations that reiterated the blindingly obvious (that paedophilia is a ‘heinous’ crime) were widely reported.
Today I read that the Bishop of Galway, having not been booted from his See, is ‘determined’ to remain in office despite widespread calls for him to move his ecclesiastical ass swiftly in another direction.
When the report into child sex abuse by priests in the Dublin archdiocese was published on 26 November a letter from me was published in the Irish national newspapers. I argued that a major impediment to restoring the credibility of bishops is the absence of adequate structures of accountability. I suggested that the prompt resignation of all bishops and those monsignors whose tenure in Dublin coincided with the era this abuse took place ought to promptly resign. This need not have precluded the reappointment of some of them provided that they had been properly revalidated
The resignation of the current Bishop of Galway, formerly an auxiliary bishop in Dublin, had been demanded by many victims and others who want the cobwebs of influence from the era this abuse occurred to be removed from office. He may not have been the spider that was responsible for the web but he an apparatchik connected to it.
Following his tete-a-tete in Rome this incumbent has advised the nation that he will not resign from office; that he did not want to offend the victims; that he was determined to continue his work in Galway; that it would be a betrayal of the people of Galway if he were to resign and that he had the courage to stay in office and that he believed that was the right thing for him to do. What other position of consequence in the world today would tolerate an incumbent having the absolute right to determine whether, or not, he continues to hold a particular office. The answer is found when one is only accountable to the foggy image one sees each morning in the shaving mirror