Mary Kenny: An unrepentant Catholic militant

Journalist and Catholic militant Mary Kenny recently wrote an article (Irish Catholic, 10th May) in which she called for more clarity in the media when the crime of child abuse is being reported.

I think the word child abuse is a catch-all phrase and quite often in reports it doesn’t make clear what the offence actually was.

In her opinion there should be three categories of child abuse.

Category one: Molestation, which, according to Ms. Kenny, is known as ‘fiddling’.

Category two: Masturbation, which, according to Ms. Kenny, is known as ‘a hand job’.

Category three: Rape, which is penetration of the anus or vagina.

Her article, rightly, generated a great deal of anger particularly from child abuse victims.

When interviewed by Pay Kenny (11th May) on the issue Ms. Kenny began by saying:

Well, I’m not a specialist in this area at all and I’m not a lawyer. I write simply as a journalist and I try to follow George Orwell’s great rule that the first duty of a writer is to express clarity.

This, of course, is untrue. Ms. Kenny does not write ‘simply as a journalist’.

She writes and defends her extreme religious views because she is a militant Catholic who believes that her god and her church is the one true god/church.

I have no doubt that she understands, at least to some degree, the pain of those abused by her church.

I have no doubt that, generally speaking, she is a good person but I also have no doubt that she suffers from one very serious flaw.

Her reasoning faculty, like that of all religious militants, has been damaged by religious indoctrination.

Such damage allows religious militants to defend their particular religion no matter how many or how horrendous the crimes carried out in its name and under its protection.

Broadly speaking; those who are of a religious disposition can be broken down into three categories.

Those who are happy to continue practicing whatever beliefs they happened to be indoctrinated into as children.

Such believers usually deal with criminal behaviour within their church by separating the actions of their religious leaders from the goodness of their particular god.

Those who simply cannot accept the crimes done in the name of their god.

Such people either join another church or abandon religious belief altogether.

And then there are the militants.

These people go to enormous lengths to sound reasonable in the face of the horrendous crimes committed by their church.

Their church is, first and foremost, the most important aspect of their lives. They will allow nothing, absolutely nothing, to override their total dedication to their particular god.

Such people have an innate ability to defend the indefensible.

I include below part of the Pat Kenny interview of Mary Kenny and some responses from Marie Collins, a victim of Mary Kenny’s church.

Mary Kenny: Well, I’m not a specialist in this area at all and I’m not a lawyer.

I write simply as a journalist and I try to follow George Orwell’s great rule that the first duty of a writer is to express clarity.

I think the word child abuse is a catch-all phrase and quite often in reports it doesn’t make clear what the offence actually was.

Simply as a writer I would say there should be three categories of explaining what this offence is.

The first category would be molestation, which I think, in the vernacular, is called fiddling.

The second is masturbation, which is usually called a hand job in the vernacular.

And the third is rape, which is penetration of the anus and the vagina.

Sometimes when I read a report or read an interview and they talk about child rape I’m not sure whether they actually mean actual penetration or whether they mean it in a metaphorical sense.

Now all attacks on children are odious but I still think we should be told in clear language and follow that Orwell rule, what do they mean?

Many interviews with victims of child abuse, as it’s called, conceal more than they reveal, they don’t tell you what actually what went on.

I do think that context is very important. It’s very important exactly what age the victim was at the time.

Pat Kenny: Why is that important?

Mary Kenny: Because some people are very vulnerable at fourteen and some people are very street wise at ten.

Pat Kenny plays a clip from the recent BBC documentary concerning then Fr. Brady’s part in interrogating Brendan Boland, a child abuse victim.

BBC journalist: What did they ask you?

Boland: Did you ever do anything like this before with another boy or grown man and I said no.

They said, if not, why not? They kept asking me, did my body change, did I get an erection, did seed come from my body?

BBC journalist: What kind of questions are these to ask a fourteen-year-old boy?

Boland: One of the priests came over; I’m not sure, with a bible and made me put my hand on the bible and say:

I Brendan Boland do solemnly swear that I have told the truth, the whole truth and I will speak to no one about this meeting unless to authorized priests.

Then I signed it and the other signature on the document was Fr. John B. Brady. Now Sean Brady, Cardinal of all Ireland.

Pat Kenny: You see there a fourteen-year-old boy who found it difficult and inappropriate to discuss the nature of these offences with priests.

Mary Kenny: Of course and it was absolutely wrong of Fr. Brady getting the boy to swear to secrecy.

Marie Collins: (abused by a priest as a child)

I was totally sickened when I read the article.

After so many years of knowledge and awareness of child abuse, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

What Mary is not covering here is that the whole suggestion in this article is directed at Brendan Smyth’s victims and the whole suggestion running through it as a sub text is that somehow these boys, because they’re not coming out with the gory details, that they could have been colluding in their own abuse.

She says at one stage ‘I accept that if John was a victim of an odious crime’ but I want to know more about the circumstances, much more.

I would ask, why? What does she want to know about the circumstances? An adult male sexually interfered with a minor, that’s a criminal offence.

If Mary Kenny wants to know the categories of child abuse they are laid down in every child protection document that you ever read.

She is obviously ignorant of the fact that a child can be abused without being touched and I’d like give a personal example:

I was abused and category three, as Mary would define it, was part of my abuse and that was a penetration.

But I was also photographed intimately and that photography did more harm to my childhood and did more harm to the rest of my life than the actual category three abuse.

Mary Kenny is totally ignorant and her ignorance in this case is just so…I just hope victims don’t read this because there is already guilt connected with abuse and to suggest that ‘oh only this happened to you but not that so therefore it’s not as serious’.

Somebody’s life can be destroyed by being fiddled with as she says. It is just ridiculous to come in the context of Brendan Smyth the demand to know the actual details.

What Mary Kenny is saying is we want to ask the sort of questions those three priests asked that young boy, Brendan Boland, in 1975.

Does she have no idea how hard it is for a victim to talk to anybody about what has been done to them?

And she wants them to put it in print and if they don’t she’s suggesting they’re being evasive or that there’s not enough honesty.

The whole thrust of this argument in this article is sickening.

Mary Kenny: I respect everything Marie Collins says.

Marie Collins: Read the documents if you want clarity.

Copy to:
Mary Kenny

3 thoughts on “Mary Kenny: An unrepentant Catholic militant”

  1. My first impression of Mary Kenny was formed in the late 1960s campaigning for access to contraception with Nell McCafferty et al. She appeared on the Late Late Show with Gaybo and scandalised the nation (by the standards of that time) with her brashness and outspoken opinions. I considered her frothy headed then and I have no reason to change my mind.


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