No doubt many Catholics will be relieved that Cardinal Connell has withdrawn his High Court action to stop the Government-appointed Commission examining diocesan child abuse files.
David Quinn and Breda O’Brien, two of the most vocal apologists for the Catholic Church, will be especially relieved that this spot of embarrassment has concluded.
Writing in the Irish Independent last Friday Quinn tells us that he received about a dozen requests from the media to talk about the Connell case but he turned them all down because after ten years of commenting on clerical abuse he was sick of the whole thing.
‘Fortunately’, on this occasion he was prepared to come out of hiding and grace us with his opinion which in reality amounted to a series of excuses for Connell’s behaviour. Here they are;
The Cardinal has an unfortunate way of saying things that attracts controversy. This leads to misinterpretation by the public ‘egged on by a media determined to sock it to him’.
The Cardinal is in a very bad emotional and physical state, he’s practically a broken man.
The Cardinal took the case because he believes very deeply that certain advice a person receives from a lawyer is confidential and should remain so.
The Cardinal was probably annoyed when he found out that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin had handed over all files to the Commission.
It’s easy for the media friendly Dr. Martin to hand over files, it’s not him being investigated.
Quinn provided even more excuses on RTEs This Week programme (1st item).
The Cardinal is probably suffering from tunnel vision and a certain incapacity to see the bigger picture.
The Cardinal is probably mentally competent but may be surrounded by certain people who reflect back to him his own point of view.
Finally, Quinn reaches a conclusion of sorts; The Cardinal is not absolutely wrong to be doing what he’s doing, he has a point, but on balance he’s probably wrong.
So, ignorant public, aggressive media, health problems, pressure from lawyers, bad advice from ‘certain’ other people are all to blame but not the Cardinal, not the man who knowingly transferred a suspected child abusing priest to a hospital which had children among its patients.
Breda O’Brien was even less convincing in her fumbled attempt to defend this irresponsible prince of the Catholic Church (Drivetime, 7th item).
Asked did she think the Cardinal was misguided O’Brien just couldn’t bring herself to give a straight answer.
“I think that, I suppose in a sense you have to, it’s very difficult…I think I know why he’s doing what he’s doing but I think in the current climate it cannot but be misunderstood and misinterpreted as an attempt to hide.”
For most of the discussion O’Brien kept quiet but became very vocal and passionate when she got the opportunity to speak on one of her favourite topics – those members of the church who have been wrongly accused of abuse.
“Do you know I was just thinking about the whole Nora Wall case.
That at the height of it somebody that was absolutely innocent could be caught up and convicted of rape and sentenced to life; so was there suffering, my God, there was suffering.
I’m thinking as well of priests who are falsely accused and a case settled recently where the accuser was sent to prison, rightly I think. So I suppose there’s a balance to be kept.”
It’s revealing to observe O’Brien’s vague and fumbled response when talking about the part played by those responsible for failing to properly protect children from abuse with her straight talking outrage when talking about the small number of priests and nuns falsely accused.
She and other Catholic apologists labour under the delusion that the sufferings of a relatively small number of priests and nuns can be compared to the countless thousands of lives utterly destroyed by the holocaust of abuse perpetrated within the Catholic Church.