I would like to thank Fr. Tom Doyle for allowing me to publish his more recent remarks in strong support of victims of clergy sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy. He is the strongest advocate for the victims of clergy sexual abuse among the ordained Catholic clergy throughout the universal Catholic Church community. He maintains a consistent focus on clerical abuse and rebukes his friends as well as adversaries.
A Dominican priest with a doctorate in canon law and five separate master’s degrees, Rev. Thomas Patrick Doyle, O.P. sacrificed a rising career at the Vatican Embassy to become an outspoken advocate for church abuse victims. Since 1984, when he became involved with the issue of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy while serving at the Embassy, he has become an expert in the canonical and pastoral dimensions of this problem—working directly with victims, their families, accused priests, bishops, and other high-ranking Church officials. Doyle has interviewed 2,000 victims of clerical sexual abuse in the U.S. alone, and has been the only priest to testify in court in over 200 cases as to the legal liability of the Church. He has developed policies and procedures for dealing with cases of sexual abuse by the clergy for dioceses and religious orders in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. As an expert in this area, he has delivered lectures and seminars for clergy and lay groups throughout the U.S. In 1989 he appeared as an expert witness before the legislature of the State of Pennsylvania concerning that State’s child protective legislation. As an Air Force major stationed in Germany, and who also recently served as a military chaplain in Iraq, he holds 16 military awards and decorations for distinguished service. He currently serves as a consultant/court expert in clerical abuse cases throughout the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Israel and the United Kingdom.
When The Voice of the Faithful honored Doyle with their first Priest of Integrity Award in 2002, David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), called Doyle “an absolute hero.” In recognition of his advocacy work for the victims of clerical sexual abuse, he has also received the Cavallo Award for Moral Courage (1992) and the Isaac Hecker Award from the Paulist Fathers (2003). In June of 2003 Doyle was also issued an official commendation from the Dominican Fathers for his “prophetic work in drawing attention to clergy sexual abuse and for advocating the rights of victims and abusers.”
Doyle is the author of several previous books including Meeting the Problem of Sexual Abuse Among the Clergy in a Responsible Way with Michael Peterson, M.D. and F. Ray Mouton (St. Luke Institute, 1985). Doyle lives in Vienna, VA.
In a recent speeches and articles, Fr Tom Doyle has taken positions of both criticism of some, even his friends, and praise of others, including the Irish Prime Minister’s remarks. Below are some examples:
|In speaking of his friends in the reform movement whom he felt did not showcase the sexual abuse of children by clergy more forcefully and publicly at a national conference, he remarked:“It is sure evidence that even the well intentioned don’t get it. They don’t get it about the evil nature and scope of this insidious reality that is all too alive and they surely don’t get it about the nature of the institutional Church they want to reform.The phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors and adults by Catholic clergy and nuns is more than the violation of innocent people and the criminal cover-up by the erroneously labeled “leaders” of the institutional Church.It is the mind and soul boggling revelation, over a long period of time, of the reality that there is a very dark side to the Church. It is a revelation that this long nightmare is part of the very fabric of the institution and not an embarrassing and destructive problem that is extraneous to the institution.
It is essential that those caught up in this dark side be affirmed, loved, understood and helped to heal.”
In praising the speech of Ireland’s Prime Minister Edna Kenny, Fr. Tom Doyle stated,
“The Taoiseach’s speech is historic not just for Ireland – it is unprecedented in global terms and it is extremely welcomed.” He went on to state in part of the Prime Minister who stated “… the Cloyne report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism… the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day” :
“They are the words of a man who has risen far above politics and above the mute deference to the hierarchy of the church to speak for the victims of sexual abuse by clergy, for their mothers and fathers and for the countless others who have been betrayed by the church to which they have given unconditional trust and obedience.
This speech is historic for many reasons, one of which is that a senior political figure – a Government leader – has taken the risk of speaking directly and bluntly about a critical problem that plagues many countries.
Yet in no other country has an elected or appointed leader bypassed the often-hypocritical subtleties of political discourse to stand tall in support of not just any class of vulnerable, abused and rejected people, but the victims of the Catholic Church, the largest, most powerful and most deeply entrenched pillar of Irish society.
The Cloyne report has moved beyond the stark exposure of decades of abuse and cover-up, as did the Ryan and Murphy reports and indeed the several grand jury reports in the United States. Cloyne clearly named the Vatican’s response as “unhelpful”.
The Taoiseach went even further and completely rejected the Vatican’s actions and attitude, expressing the Irish people’s “abhorrence of same”.
Strong words, but within the context of what prompted them, they are justified. The report dissolved the erroneous appeal to a pastoral approach as a substitute for treating a crime as a crime and not simply as a sin that can be absolved and forgotten along with the devastating impact of the sin on the victims.
The third explosive, but realistic aspect, of the report was the explicit acknowledgment that the bishops could not be relied upon to follow through with their own guidelines much less Irish law and therefore clear, effective and enforced measures must be taken to see that children are protected whether the church likes it or not.
Enda Kenny’s opening words point to a cause of this overall problem that hits right at the heart of the matter: the profound difference and distance between the heavily narcissistic clerical culture, especially at the level of the Vatican, and the abhorrence in the real world of Irish society and of any civilised society, of the rape and ruination of innocent children by anyone much less the most trusted members of society.
The Vatican and various elements of the hierarchy have flooded the Catholic world with countless words, all carefully nuanced and crafted, to express their regret and to their promise to change.
Kenny no doubt was as fed up with the meaninglessness of words without relevant action as the people of Ireland and every other country plagued by clergy abuse. He bypassed the seemingly endless and often convoluted rhetoric of the Vatican by getting right to the heart of the matter: the culture of arrogant neglect of children and some of key underlying causes. One target is clericalism, the virus that continues to corrupt the church to the point that the people of God are buried in anachronistic monarchism The Taoiseach’s groundbreaking speech buries the destructive myth that the institutional Catholic Church, with its monarchical governing structure, is some sort of superior or exalted political entity with self-created rights to subvert the civic order of any society that calls it to accountability for the behaviour of its privileged class.
Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan framed this in a stark and eye-opening way in his call for the expulsion of the papal nuncio: “… if any foreign government conspired with Irish citizens to break the law here, their ambassadors would be expelled.”
The Taoiseach repeated this sentiment by reminding everyone that Ireland is not Rome, “nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish Catholic world. 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.”
This is much more than a stirring address to the Irish parliament. It is the voice of a long awaited and sorely needed liberation from the chains of a clericalist control that sacrificed the very ones in whose defence Jesus spoke so passionately, for the sake of a kingdom that has tarnished the Body of Christ. This liberation is essential not only in Ireland but in any state or country where the Catholic Church hopes to regain its relevance not as a gilded institution but as a Christian way of life.
The only fitting conclusion is with Enda Kenny’s own words: “… I am making absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this Republic. Not purely, or simply or otherwise. Children first.”
Let’s hear from you. This is not just an article to read. This blog is a conversation that needs to take place between good people and good priests. I invite you to read and participate in this critical discussion.