Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sticking the boot in

These are hard times for Catholics in Ireland. All the old certainties are gone. Many Irish Catholics are floundering and not sure what to think. Many have simply drifted away. The seemingly incessant revelations of child abuse by priests and other religious are almost unbearable. Catholics are like wounded animals just waiting to be hit again.

So, not wanting to miss such an opportunity, Liz O'Donnell stuck the boot in yesterday.
In the strongest Dáil attack on the Catholic Church in memory, the PD backbencher called for an end to the "special relationship" between church and State.

"The cosy phone calls from All Hallows to Government Buildings must end," she said. She also demanded that "the church's almost universal control of education" be "radically addressed".

Apparently implying that children may still be at risk of abuse in church-run schools, she said Catholic Church control of education must be addressed "if our stated commitment to taking all necessary steps to protect children is to be more than just rhetoric".
I have no idea how often All Hallows calls Government Buildings for a "cosy" chat, but so what? There are still a large number of church-going Catholics in this country. Why wouldn't the government be interested in the Church's advice? And, I would imagine that other denominations and faiths are also regularly consulted - probably out of proportion to their relative sizes compared with the Catholic Church. I have no problem with that.

Watching her on the news last night, I saw her disdain for the Catholic Church haughtily on display. I doubt she truly believes in secularism, just anti-Catholicism.

Although O'Donnell complains that the Church has "almost universal control of education", the Church's influence is as nothing compared with the state's. Talk about 'universal control' - the state decides what is taught, who can be hired and who can be fired, the length of the school year, and countless other small matters. The state controls education from nursey school right up to higher degrees in universities. That's universal control.

O'Donnell's stance seems to imply that non-Church schools are free of such scandals, which is false. Although the media chooses not to provide the same breathless headlines, these scandals do exist in the state-run schools.

The Church is down, but not out. I believe the road back will be led by immigrants, many of whom are Catholic and have a strong faith. And, they know nothing of child sex abuse scandals. These scandals are history as far as they're concerned, not relevant today.