ANTHONY IS AN PRIEST CURRENTLY ON A DIFFERENT PATH
I listened and watched the Stephen Nolan Show last night. I recall attended my first priest retreat as a newly ordain priest prior to any of these revelations and the theme of the retreat was 'The Loyal And Committed Man Was The Man Who Was Said And Lead By The Bishop In Everything'. What a degrading level the sheer level of dysfunctional? I was one of those who broke silence following the revelations of Fr Brendan Smith. The clerical collar for me then was a symbol of contradiction, it resembled a noose around my neck. I was vilified by my superior and constantly bullied and intimidated by people whom I considered had no commitment to the safeguarding of vulnerable adult or for priests who were prepared to sacrifice everything by speaking out to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
I consider that we had excellent scripture scholars in the seminary and for me, my value base was based on scripture rather than Canon Law. I was reminded by my bishop, " You gave me a vow of obedience on the day of your ordination". I replied, "Yes bishop I did but remember one thing it was obedience with my Christian conscience, not blind obedience". The bishop quickly retorted, "There is such a thing as respect?". My reply was, "Granted but the that it had to work both ways". Thereafter I never felt safe in this vile and corrupt system.
I repeatedly asked myself. How can I in conscience baptise innocent children into a system where they run the risk of being abused and never see truth, validation, redress or closure. Having to rely on the bishop for a roof over my head seriously undermined my security. It was evident to me that my superiors had no "value system or credibility" and that there was no timely commitment to resolve anything. What thing was evident to me I could not and would not collude with this endemic abuse so I duly resigned my position and left the diocese. The culture of abuse that prevailed was reflected in Mr Ian Elliott's finding.
I am sure that there a lot of good priests who feels compromised as I did who have not the means of extracting themselves from this corrupt organisation. If Stephen Nolan is highlighting is that it is imperative for priests to break rank with their bishops and the powers that be in Rome. It is the culture of silence and secrecy that is holding this vile evil empire together. What all victims of abuse want is truth, validation, redress and closure. How can a bishop verify the credibility of any priest in his diocese if he himself as shepherd of the flock is complicit with the practice of hiding abusers in its ranks?
I think there is a need for a Me Too campaign in terms the safety and welfare of good priests who have tried to advocate in terms of child protection and welfare. Ministry for me has to be primarily about abused victims and healing. What is required on the entire Island of Ireland is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Finally, I want to recommend a book which highlights the impact abuse has on victims and their families. Silence and secrecy cannot be allowed to prevail good Bishops and Priests must break the silence. The book is entitled, He'll On The Way To Heaven. Priests must never be expected to baptise children innocent children into a system where they run the risk of being abused and never see justice.