Saturday, July 31, 2010

On your knees, fathers, we demand a proper apology

On your knees, fathers, we demand a proper apology
Friday July 30 2010 Irish Herald

Apparently priests are getting angry. So angry in fact that some are considering forming their own union to give them a public voice and fight for "civil and ecumenical rights".

According to their spokesperson, Fr Brendan Hoban, "we have things to say and we are prepared to say them". Quite.


Here's the problem, reverend. While the public have a passing interest in your ability to organise yourselves into a pressure group, that is all it is. Passing. What we really want to know is what will be the items on the agenda at your inaugural meeting? The rights of Travellers and asylum seekers? Noble. The possibility of getting the Anglican Communion to rejoin the Roman fold? Ambitious. However, here's what all your faithful really want on this agenda.

Item 1 has to be serial clerical sexual abuse. We want it to stop and we want the shielding and denial to end now. We want the clergy top to bottom, right and left, to atone for its collective sins.

We want an apology from the Vatican with no caveats. We want the Church to fall Christ-like to its knees and beg for forgiveness. It's called Christianity.

Item 2 must be the abandonment of rampant clericalism. Unlike you, we the poor humble flock, do not see you as demi-gods, rather merely the gate-keepers of the faith.

Item 3 has to be women priests. What's with the misogyny, gentlemen? Not taking account of anything women say, never mind ensuring there are no women priests, is plain embarrassing with absolutely no theological or biblical foundation.

Item 4 should be celibacy. Unfortunately when you deny your sexuality you deny a part of your humanity. It's not rocket science.

There is no benefit to celibacy. God didn't want it (check the Bible for this also) and society certainly doesn't want it. It's not cool, it's weird, and anyone who says differently needs attention.

Final item. Humility. Christ was big into this. Ask not what can be done for you, etc. Here's some fun. Try a discussion on how you might actually make yourself meeker than your flock -- you know, right down into the metaphorical earth.

So for that first meeting don't appoint a PR person or discuss the relative merits of social security payments or child benefit for the poor.

Instead get your own house in order without delay. Remember you are the foot soldiers. Make like an army and bring down those who believe their purple and red robes are more important then the message of their faith. Now that would be a proper union.

John O'Keeffe is a law lecturer and former priest

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