Response to Catholic militant, Mary Kenny

I wrote recently about the attempt by Catholic militant, Mary Kenny, to downgrade the seriousness of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

The following reponse was recently published in the Irish Catholic (My emphasis).

Dear Editor,

Mary Kenny in her article implied victims of clergy abuse were misusing the term ‘child sexual abuse’ when using this term for abuse other than rape.

From her position, she sees distinctions between molestation, rape and masturbation. She further sees distinctions between a six-year-old child who is raped and a 15 year-old fondled.

This is a gross oversimplification of sexual abuse.

Her position on the Brendan Smyth case has not changed from 1994 when she wrote in The Tablet:

I find it much more likely that the explanation of the Attorney General’s slowness to respond to the case of Brendan Smyth lay in the attitude that many of us would have; feeling of disbelief, denial, procrastination and wondering really if it was all as serious as it was cracked up to be.

She then makes comment on a case:

A mother on the World at One (Radio 4) told how Brendan Smyth had abuse her young daughter; he had taken the girl on his knee and fondled her inappropriately. As I had been led to imagine by reports in the Irish media that Smyth was a ravening rapist the crime had been less than it had been made out to be.

A child fondled can be more harmed than a child raped depending on that child’s previous experience, support or lack of support from those around her/him, development or emotional stability at the time of the act.

Duration of abuse e.g. several years fondling versus one act of rape may be more harmful.

After 20+g years supporting clergy sexual abuse survivors, I can testify that damage done is not only about the ‘act’ but about who the perpetrator is, the level of trust given/expected, the support they receive around them, and the response on reporting.

Kenny’s attempt to be some sort of child sexual abuse specialist in this area simply leads to confusion for those who know little about child sexual abuse, promotes rejection of victims who are not raped and pours scorn on those who claim (validly) to say they have been sexually abused even if not raped.

Yours etc.,
Dr. Margaret Kennedy,
Founder MACSAS,
Co. Wicklow

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

A bizarre country

Fr. Brian Darcy spoke with Marian Finucane today on his censuring by the Vatican.

Fr. Darcy is a member of a ruthless, dictorial, child abusing religious organisation that sees human rights and free speech as a serious danger to its power.

Following the interview Marian spoke with Irish Times religious correstpondent Patsy McGarry.

This interview came to an abrupt end when Marian, a broadcaster on a national station that, in theory, represents all citizens realised the time.

Sorry Patsy, we’ll have to leave it there, it’s coming up to twelve o’clock and time for the Angelus.

Tom McGurk: Confused about religious education

Letter in today’s Sunday Business Post (Sub. reqd).

Most of the letters page (7 out of 10) was taken up with reaction to McGurk’s article (Teaching religion is of primary importance, SBP April 15) . Only one agreed with his ill informed views.

This strong anti- religious, anti-Catholilc response seems to be the norm in recent years – long may it last.


The underlying message to be taken from Tom McGurk’s article on religious education in schools is that any withdrawal of Christian religious teaching will damage the moral and ethical formation of children.

This narrow view suggests that the moral and ethical standards of billions of non-Christians and non-believers are, at best, inferior, and, at worst, irrelevant.

Human morality is a natural, evolutionary aspect of all humanity, not the invention of any one particular god.

If parents want to indoctrinate their children into a particular religion, they should do so themselves with the support of their particular church.
The State should play no part in religious indoctrination.

Your etc.,
Anthony Sheridan

Catholic militant, Senator Mullen, gets his answer

I was in the process of responding to an article by catholic militant Senator Rónán Mullen in which he spouts his usual intolerant demand that taxpayers should pay to have children indoctrinated into the superstitions of his particular religion when I read the following excellent letter.

Mr. Peregrine says pretty much what I had in mind.


The debate that has been carried out in this paper through the articles by John Waters, Senator Ronan Mullen and Paul Rowe and the letters submitted by readers has exposed a very ugly side to our little country.

Those who argue for secularism (a separation of church and state) have variously been accused of being unthinking monkeys and incapable of teaching morality or dealing with bereavement.

These are the type of articles one might expect to find in state papers in the theocracies that Mary O’Dowd (Letters April 18th) believes we should look towards for guidance.

A bit of clarity needs to be introduced to this debate to wash away the mud that is being slung about.

The State has a responsibility to provide an education for every child in this State, however, this does not mean that the State has an obligation to provide a particular religious education for every citizen.

John Waters and Senator Mullen’s arguments about the merits of a Catholic education and the hazards of atheism are irrelevant.

They can educate their own children however they see fit.

The argument should remain focused on whether the State should fund denominational primary schooling or provide non- denominational education and allow parents to indoctrinate their children outside the classroom.

If the State chooses to continue funding denominational education then it must provide schooling for all children be they the children of Catholic, Jedi or Jewish parents.

A Mormon child on Inis Meain would need and should be entitled to his/her own school if the current system were to be continued.

The current fudge means that most non-Catholic children are forced to attend Catholic schools and have to sit out while preparations are made for the various sacraments and rituals that are such a large part of the Catholic primary school curriculum.

In a non- denominational system no child would be forced to exclude themselves from the class and all children could receive indoctrination from their parents after school or in their various churches, mosques or temples.

This argument has been framed as one about freedom for religion to distract from the basic constitutional right of freedom from religion.

Nowhere has it been argued that parents should be denied the right to educate their children in whatever “ethos” they choose to subscribe to.

What “secularists” have been arguing for is a right to have their child educated free from any religious indoctrination.

Yours, etc,

Andrew Peregrine
Alen Park Drive,
Co Dublin.

State/Catholic child indoctrination rule recommended for deletion

The Advisory Group on Patronage and Pluralism in national schools has recommended that Rule 68 should be deleted as soon as possible.

Rule 68 is a rule issued by representatives of the Catholic god when they wielded total power in our schools and begins:

Of all parts of a school curriculum Religious Instruction is by far the most important, as its subject matter, God’s honour and service, includes the proper use of all man’s faculties, and affords the most powerful inducements to their proper use.

Thankfully, this state supported religious indoctrination/abuse of innocent children is rapidly coming to an end.

Here’s the rule in full:

Rule 68

Of all parts of a school curriculum Religious Instruction is by far the most important, as its subject matter, God’s honour and service, includes the proper use of all man’s faculties, and affords the most powerful inducements to their proper use.

Religious Instruction is, therefore, a fundamental part of the school course, and a religious spirit should inform and vivify the whole work of the school.

The teacher should constantly inculcate the practice of charity, justice, truth, purity, patience, temperance, obedience to lawful authority, and all the other moral virtues.

In this way he will fulfil the primary duty of an educator, the moulding to perfect form of his pupils’ character, habituating them to observe, in their relations with God and with their neighbours, the laws which God, both directly through the dictates of natural reason and through Revelation, and indirectly through the ordinance of lawful authority, imposes on mankind.

Catholic militant; Senator Mullen, lectures RTE on ethical standards

The obnoxious militant Catholic Senator Ronan Mullen was on Today with Pat Kenny (4th April) lecturing RTE for its treatment of Fr. Reynolds.

When I listen to this individual pontificating on morality, ethics and accountability I keep in mind that he’s a dedicated defender of the Catholic Church, an organisation responsible for the child abuse holocaust and the almost equal horror of actively working to help its criminal priests from being brought to justice.

Apparently, Mullen is pleased with RTEs new journalism guidelines.

I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen. If this is allowed to permeate the culture of the entire organisation and isn’t just a manual that is reached for when something goes wrong then I think we’re heading for better standards.

Better standards in RTE, he means, not the Catholic Church.

On RTE journalists:

I’d be more concerned about the lack of taking personal responsibility. I didn’t like the ruling out of sackings by RTE when this broke first.

What I would like to see is the people who are directly involved indicate that personally they regret what had happened; there’s still a little bit of hiding behind the institution.

He means RTE journalists hiding behind the institution, not Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals and popes.

Irish Times religious correspondent Patsy McGarry quickly got the measure of this individual.

Part of the tragedy of the Mission to Prey programme is that it has lent so much ammunition to people like Senator Mullen coming from his very, very narrow perspective.

I would also agree with McGarry’s summing up of RTEs major contribution to exposing child abuse by the Catholic Church.

In the context of what happened to Fr. Reynolds it has a very, very proud history particularly in the area of child abuse. RTEs contribution has been colossal.

Mary Raftery’s documentary, States of Fear, probably one of the most influential documentaries ever broadcast on Irish television which led to the setting up of the Ryan Commission, the Redress Board and the findings of Ryan published in 2009.

Mary Raftery’s Cardinal Secrets programme in 2002 which exposed what Ronan and others had been managing in the Dublin archdiocese.

Copy to:

Senator Mullen
Patsy McGarry

Is John Waters becoming an embarrassment to the Irish Times?

Catholic militant John Waters went a bit mad on Newstalk’s Sunday Show recently (12th Feb. 2nd part) during a discussion on the closure of the Irish embassy to the Vatican.

He returned to the issue in the Irish Times (17th Feb.) and was obviously still very angry at the evil conspiracy to do down his beloved Catholic Church.

The closure was, according to Waters:

An opportunistic act of neurotic bigotry by militant atheists seeking to impose their myopic beliefs on the rest of us.

Throwing in the usual stuff about an implacable media hostility towards the Catholic Church he tells us that the closure of the embassy is all part of a slithery agenda by the Labour Party.

This mad rant, of course, is par for the course for Waters as he continues his ever-quickening descent into the dark pit of religious fundamentalism.

The immediate (editorial) response from the editor of the Irish Times (Sat. 18th) was, however, surprising and, in my opinion, very welcome.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

Commentators have complained of a media culture that excludes or marginalises religious ideas, and even of the closure of the Vatican embassy as the product of a “militant atheist” Labour agenda.

The overblown rhetoric is almost comical, if not an insult to those who labour under real tyranny.

But is there a germ of truth? Are we really living in an age of liberal intolerance?

Hardly. In truth the reality of declining influence and deference – even within their own faith communities – is difficult to adjust to and accept.

Denial starts with blame. Shoot the messenger, the infernal media!

But amid the recriminations, compelling evidence of systematic media disparaging of religion has not been forthcoming.

I couldn’t agree more and I wonder if Waters is becoming an embarrassment to the Irish Times.

I wonder if the the editor is, perhaps, hinting that it’s time for him to move on.

Innocent until proved guilty – except for Mass card dealers

Letter in this week’s Irish Catholic.


In his article (Irish Catholic; November 24th) on the Fr. Reynolds/RTE defamation case Independent Senator Ronan Mullen asks:

Was the presumption of innocence that should be enjoyed by all citizens replaced by a presumption of guilt in the case of priests?

This is a very important question as the principle of innocent until proved guilty is enshrined in the legal code of all modern democracies as well as in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It would be interesting, therefore, to hear Senator Mullen’s views on Section 99 of the recent Charities Act legislation concerning the sale of Mass cards which states:

2) In proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved on the balance of probabilities; that the sale of the Mass card to which the alleged offence relates was not done pursuant to an arrangement with a recognised person.

Yours etc.
Anthony Sheridan

Prime Time/Fr. Reynolds scandal: The religious vultures are out

RTEs mismanagement of the Fr. Reynolds scandal has released the religious vultures from their cages.

For years they were kept in check, busily defending their church as the full horror of the child abuse holocaust spewed out its dark secrets.

These militant Catholics are now using the Reynolds/Prime Time scandal as a stick to assault the entire media effectively claiming that their obnoxious church is a victim of media prejudice.

Some of the principal militants are: John Waters; David Quinn; Breda O’Brien, Mary Kenny, Fr Sean McDonagh and Senator Ronan Mullen.

This group have already begun their media campaign of duplicity coupled with the usual warped Catholic moralising.

Mary Kenny has an article in this week’s Irish Catholic with the heading:

We all have to learn humility

Kenny warns her readers not to be too quick to crow over the faults of others and then goes on to do just that; some quotes.

Don’t get too much above yourself – pride will cause you to make a serious mistake.

It is merely human pride to persist in a line of thinking in which your ego is invested.

RTE is so vigorous in calling for ‘accountability’ from other sources; shouldn’t they practice what they preach?