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Prime Minister Kenny of Ireland speaks for all victims of clergy sexual abuse, including those in Milwaukee

July 28, 2011

The nation of Ireland has long had an impact on life in the United States, including here in Milwaukee.  In fact it was here in 1839 that Reverend Patrick O’Kelly, a native of Kilkenny County Ireland became the first resident pastor in the city of Milwaukee.  He is credited with establishing the first Catholic Church in Milwaukee, St. Peter’s.  Fr. O’Kelly’s time in Milwaukee was brief, he later moved on to Michigan, where in 1858 he passed away.

It is hard to imagine what Fr. O’Kelly would think about events which are taking place today in his adopted city of Milwaukee and in his native homeland of Ireland.  The archdiocese of Milwaukee is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings which were brought about because of the rape and sexual assault of hundreds of children, and the subsequent cover-up of those crimes.

Ireland likewise finds itself in the midst of its own clergy sexual abuse scandal with the recent release of the Cloyne Report.  The Cloyne Report examined reports of clerical sexual abuse from 1996 to 2009 in the diocese of Cloyne which encompasses the county of Cork in Ireland.  What is significant about the Cloyne Report is that it examined how reports of sexual assault against children are handled today by the church, not decades ago.

The results of the Cloyne Report were truly staggering.  The facts showed that little has changed in how the bishops of Ireland respond to reports of child sexual abuse.  It was shown that the Catholic hierarchy continues to conceal and cover-up the criminal activity of its clergy.  The report found that the bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, had not reported two thirds of sex abuse reports to the police, although he had told the Health Service Executive in Ireland that he had done so.

The Cloyne Report also exposed the role that the Vatican had in the concealment of child sex crimes in Ireland.  The report cited a secret 1997 letter that the Vatican addressed to the bishops of Ireland where they expressed their concerns about a policy of mandatory reporting for clerical child molesters.  The Vatican stated that they had concerns of both a “moral and canonical nature” if Irish bishops were to report clerical crimes to the police.

In response to the release of the Cloyne Report the Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny issued a scathing denunciation of the Vatican in an address to the Irish parliament.  He stated that “This is the Republic of Ireland 2011.  A republic of laws, of rights and responsibilities, of proper civic order, where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version of a particular kind of morality will no longer be tolerated or ignored”.

Prime Minister Kenny was voicing the outrage not only of his government, but of the Irish people, and indeed people throughout the world.  Mr. Kenny was stating unequivocally that the people of Ireland would no longer allow their children to be placed in harm’s way and subject to the intolerable sexual assaults that countless generations of children have endured at the hands of catholic clergy.

The Prime Minister when referencing how the Vatican continues to handle reports of clerical sex abuse stated “the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, …the narcissism…that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”

Prime Minister Kenny should know that he speaks not only for the citizens of Ireland but for all survivors of clergy sexual abuse throughout the world, including here in Milwaukee.  There has never been an independent investigation into the crimes committed by the archdiocese of Milwaukee.  The files of Milwaukee’s priest predators have never been released.  Victim/Survivors, their families, and the community have never learned the truth about what took place in this archdiocese.

Now, with bankruptcy proceedings under way, and with the depositions of archbishop emeritus Rembert Weakland, and bishop emeritus Richard Sklba a real possibility, it is possible that the truth may finally be exposed.

In the meantime victim/survivors in Milwaukee and around the world can take comfort in the words of Prime Minister Kenny who told his own citizens that “the abused should know they belonged to a nation where the law will always supersede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country”.

Thank you Prime Minister Kenny for stating what so many survivors have longed to hear from their civic leaders.


One Comment
  1. anonymous permalink

    Well said John and I agree that other than Archbishop Martin’s comments, Kenny’s comments are some of the strongest most poignant made since the crisis began to unfold.

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