It’s a minimisation to say that the report of The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation makes for disturbing reading – and it’ll take some time before I’ll ever get through all of its hundreds of pages. The authors of the report can be complimented for being clear and direct. Already in page 4, the conclusions are stated unambiguously:

“The Dublin Archdiocese‟s pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The Archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the State.
“The situation improved from the start of the implementation of the Framework Document3 in 1996. However, it took some time for the structures and procedures outlined in that document to be fully implemented. In particular, its provisions on support services for complainants were not fully implemented until the establishment of the Child Protection Service within the Archdiocese in 2003. This failure caused added distress to complainants. The Commission is satisfied that there are effective structures and procedures currently in operation.” p.4

Maynooth's falling leavesAn urgent concern for all who care for the mission of the Church is to examine and ask why. Why has it been the case in just about every diocese in the US, in the UK, in Austria, in Ireland … wherever the response to child sexual abuse by the institutions of the church has been examined that they seem to have consistently placed the needs of the child or young person last?

It’s too simple to say that this is just carelessness or lack of understanding. What is it about the culture of the hierarchical Church that makes it difficult to name the sin in its own ranks?