Opinion: Bishop Brennan Of Ireland Under Attack: Anti-Catholics at Work?
By F. K. Bartels
FERNS, IRELAND (Catholic Online) – Dozens of internet news services are reporting on the so-called outrage over the alleged suggestion Bishop Denis Brennan, the Bishop of Ferns, made on Monday. Reports indicate that he asked his 100,000 parishioners to contribute funds toward the diocese´s legal and compensation bills which were incurred as a result of the child abuse scandal in Ireland.
However, while speaking on a local radio show on March 5, Bishop Brennan denied that he had made specific requests for additional donations, stating that it was up to the parishes to decide if they wanted to sell assets or donate funds to meet financial obligations. “We have not ruled anything in or out. We need to get people’s reactions. We are trying to be as transparent as possible.”
Nevertheless, in typical anti-Catholic fashion, most internet sites are reporting that the Bishop´s remarks are drawing intense criticism and outrage, as if any sane person in the world—Catholic or otherwise—should be offended at such “heedless and insensitive remarks.”
The inflammatory comments of anti-Catholic Irish Singer Sinead O´Connor— whose shredding of a photo of Pope John Paul II was broadcasted on US television—are often quoted. In a letter published in the Irish Independent, Ms. O’Connor expressed her astonishment that Bishop Brennan should even suggest that his flock might pay the bills arising from the sex abuse scandal. “If Christ was here he would be burning down the Vatican. And I for one would be helping him.”
One question that comes to mind is “Why not?” Why not have parishioners donate funds? From where else does the Diocese of Ferns—or any other diocese for that matter—obtain its funds if not from parishioners? The old adage, “Money doesn´t grow on trees,” comes to mind. Money doesn´t fall from heaven either.
While the lopsided reporting of the so-called “outrage” over Bishop Brennan´s remarks are entirely consistent with the anti-Catholic rhetoric of today´s world, it is important to point out a few truths in the matter.
First, while no one denies that the Catholic clergy and religious who are involved in abusing children should be punished as the law requires, the child abuse scandal that was uncovered in Ireland includes more than just Catholic priests and religious. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse recorded that “Witnesses reported being physically abused by religious and lay staff and others including: visiting clergy, members of the general public and men in work and holiday placements. Witnesses also reported being physically abused by co-residents” (Chapter 7: Record of Abuse (Male Witnesses), Nature and Extent of Physical Abuse Reported).
Where is the outrage over “members of the general public,” the “lay staff,” and workers in “holiday placements” who abused these children? The reason for the inattention toward these other individuals is obvious: shining a spotlight on them doesn´t aid the cause of attacking the Catholic Church.
Second, the assumption is often made that if parishes fail to meet these financial burdens, the Vatican itself will have to flit the bill, which will result in the financial ruin—and eventual destruction—of the Catholic Church. While we can easily visualize those who would rejoice in a “Catholic-free” world salivating at such an idea, it is nothing new. There have been perhaps thousands of financial attacks on the Catholic Church throughout her two-thousand year history. They have not yet succeeded in bringing ab out her downfall.
Nevertheless, one area of concentration of late by those who oppose the Catholic Church is the attempt to bankrupt dioceses through a process of unending litigation. These types of attacks are occurring not only in Ireland but in the US as well. Rev. Michael P. Orsi, Ph.D., observed that in New York a move is being made to “suspend statutes of limitations for civil suits alleging the sexual abuse of children. The bill is directed at non-profit institutions, most of which are religious (and, for the most part, Catholic). It specifically exempts all public workers and agencies. Similar laws have been past in Delaware and California, . . . [which] have cost the Church over $1 billion” (Fourth-stage anti-Catholicism, homiletic and pastoral review, January 2010).
In this notion of destroying the Catholic Church through financial ruin there is an obvious failure to understand the full dimension of the Catholic Church. The Church is both divine and human: she is not the sum total of her earthly members nor what is presently visible only. Should those who despise the Church set out to martyr every Catholic, plunder every iota of wealth, demolish every chapel and cathedral, the Church—the body of Christ—would remain: no earthly army of invaders can destroy Christ´s Mystical Body.
Further, the Catholic …
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