[photograph of Sinead O'Connor is from here]
Above: Anderson Cooper, reporting on CNN, takes us through a brief timeline of the current pope's involvement with child sex abuse cases. Note: Anderson is cute. Immediately following his report, he interviews Sinead O'Connor on this matter.
Since reading in Mary Wollstonecraft's 1792 ECD feminist classic decades ago, I have firmly and unwaveringly believed in vindication for the rights of women. And I hope that now, FINALLY, Sinead O'Connor is seen to be the brave spokesperson she always was (and is) for survivors of child sexual abuse. What follows is discussion about her most recent interviews online and in other media, on the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, specifically now, the reports that the current pope was part of the cover-up, years ago.
I have always loved Sinead O'Connor. She and Cyndi Lauper were two of my white musical artist sheroes in the 1980s. I liked their standing up for other women, including for themselves--each a survivor of child sexual abuse. I loved it that she tore the image of the pope on Saturday Night Live, and the level of hostility that came down on her, aggressively, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was targeting someone who deserved to be targeted, but who was protected--pardon the pun--by the masses. (But not for long.)
Once the recurring stories of Catholic priests sexually abusing children maintained presence in the dominant press, detailing horror after horror, each case both produced and protected within the Roman and Irish Catholic Churches' hierarchies, administration, and practiced values of harming others for selfish reasons, Sinead was proved she was right. What Westerners learned, as a civilisation, was that the ripping apart of children's souls WAS more important and more destructive than ripping up one photo of a predator-protecting pope. (At least I hope that's what Western societies have learned.)
To Sinead O’Connor, Pope Benedict’s apology for church sex abuse rings hollow
[What follows was written by Sinead O'Connor:]
When I was a child, Ireland was a Catholic theocracy. If a bishop came walking down the street, people would move to make a path for him. If a bishop attended a national sporting event, the team would kneel to kiss his ring. If someone made a mistake, instead of saying, “Nobody’s perfect,” we said, “Ah sure, it could happen to a bishop.”
The expression was more accurate than we knew. This month, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a pastoral letter of apology — of sorts — to Ireland to atone for decades of sexual abuse of minors by priests whom those children were supposed to trust. To many people in my homeland, the pope’s letter is an insult not only to our intelligence, but to our faith and to our country. To understand why, one must realize that we Irish endured a brutal brand of Catholicism that revolved around the humiliation of children.
I experienced this personally. When I was a young girl, my mother — an abusive, less-than-perfect parent — encouraged me to shoplift. After being caught once too often, I spent 18 months in An Grianán Training Centre, an institution in Dublin for girls with behavioral problems, at the recommendation of a social worker. An Grianán was one of the now-infamous church-sponsored “Magdalene laundries,” which housed pregnant teenagers and uncooperative young women. We worked in the basement, washing priests’ clothes in sinks with cold water and bars of soap. We studied math and typing. We had limited contact with our families. We earned no wages. One of the nuns, at least, was kind to me and gave me my first guitar.
An Grianán was a product of the Irish government’s relationship with the Vatican — the church had a “special position” codified in our constitution until 1972. As recently as 2007, 98 percent of Irish schools were run by the Catholic Church. But schools for troubled youth have been rife with barbaric corporal punishments, psychological abuse and sexual abuse. In October 2005, a report sponsored by the Irish government identified more than 100 allegations of sexual abuse by priests in Ferns, a small town 70 miles south of Dublin, between 1962 and 2002. Accused priests weren’t investigated by police; they were deemed to be suffering a “moral” problem. In 2009, a similar report implicated Dublin archbishops in hiding sexual abuse scandals between 1975 and 2004.
Why was such criminal behavior tolerated? The “very prominent role which the Church has played in Irish life is the very reason why abuses by a minority of its members were allowed to go unchecked,” the 2009 report said.
Despite the church’s long entanglement with the Irish government, Pope Benedict’s so-called apology takes no responsibility for the transgressions of Irish priests. His letter states that “the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children.” What about the Vatican’s complicity in those sins?
Benedict’s apology gives the impression that he heard about abuse only recently, and it presents him as a fellow victim: “I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.” But Benedict’s infamous 2001 letter to bishops around the world ordered them to keep sexual abuse allegations secret under threat of excommunication — updating a noxious church policy, expressed in a 1962 document, that both priests accused of sex crimes and their victims “observe the strictest secret” and be “restrained by a perpetual silence.”
Benedict, then known as Joseph Ratzinger, was a mere cardinal when he wrote that letter. Now that he sits in Saint Peter’s chair, are we to believe that his position has changed? And are we to take comfort in last week’s revelations that, in 1996, he declined to defrock a priest who may have molested as many as 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin?
Benedict’s apology states that his concern is “above all, to bring healing to the victims.” Yet he denies them the one thing that might bring them healing — a full confession from the Vatican that it has covered up abuse and is now trying to cover up the cover up. Astonishingly, he invites Catholics “to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.” Even more astonishing, he suggests that Ireland’s victims can find healing by getting closer to the church — the same church that has demanded oaths of silence from molested children, as occurred in 1975 in the case of Father Brendan Smyth, an Irish priest later jailed for repeated sexual offenses. After we stopped laughing, many of us in Ireland recognized the idea that we needed the church to get closer to Jesus as blasphemy.
To Irish Catholics, Benedict’s implication — Irish sexual abuse is an Irish problem — is both arrogant and blasphemous. The Vatican is acting as though it doesn’t believe in a God who watches. The very people who say they are the keepers of the Holy Spirit are stamping all over everything the Holy Spirit truly is. Benedict criminally misrepresents the God we adore. We all know in our bones that the Holy Spirit is truth. That’s how we can tell that Christ is not with these people who so frequently invoke Him.
Irish Catholics are in a dysfunctional relationship with an abusive organization. The pope must take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates. If Catholic priests are abusing children, it is Rome, not Dublin, that must answer for it with a full confession and a criminal investigation. Until it does, all good Catholics — even little old ladies who go to church every Sunday, not just protest singers like me whom the Vatican can easily ignore — should avoid Mass. In Ireland, it is time we separated our God from our religion, and our faith from its alleged leaders.
Almost 18 years ago, I tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” Many people did not understand the protest — the next week, the show’s guest host, actor Joe Pesci, commented that, had he been there, “I would have gave her such a smack.” I knew my action would cause trouble, but I wanted to force a conversation where there was a need for one; that is part of being an artist. All I regretted was that people assumed I didn’t believe in God. That’s not the case at all. I’m Catholic by birth and culture and would be the first at the church door if the Vatican offered sincere reconciliation.
As Ireland withstands Rome’s offensive apology while an Irish bishop resigns, I ask Americans to understand why an Irish Catholic woman who survived child abuse would want to rip up the pope’s picture. And whether Irish Catholics, because we daren’t say “we deserve better,” should be treated as though we deserve less.
* * *
OKAY, SO NOW DO YOU GET IT???
[image is from here]
What follows next is from *here*, and is the Q&A session Mike linked to.
Sinead O'Connor on Pope Benedict and Catholic abuse scandal
Friday, March 26, 2010; 3:30 PM
Musician Sinead O'Connor was online Friday, March 26, at 3:30 p.m. ET to discuss her Outlook article: Pope Benedict's apology for church sex abuse rings hollow. Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.
Sinead O'Connor: Hi... Sinead here... happy to be speaking with u... am looking forward to ur questions
Richmond, Va.: Thank you for your editorial today. Why has there been no legal action in the U.S. or Ireland taken against anyone or everyone who was aware of these crimes, and helping to cover them up? Why can't or won't the courts force the Church to divulge what they knew and what they did?
Sinead O'Connor: It's an absolute mystery 2 me.. I can only guess it's history has made govts afraid to challenge church... or.. govts have bodies buried.. i..e. .. collusion by govts?
Arlington, Va.: I am very moved by your article, and wonder what steps you would like the Pope to take to show true understanding?
Sinead O'Connor: I feel out of respect for victims, The Holy Spirit and all catholics.. The Pope shud admit Vatican cover up.. and attempted cover-up of cover-up. Shud open Vatican to allow for full criminal investigation. and should stand down. For not having represented The Holy Spirit accurately.
Ann Arbor, Mich. : Hi Sinead, Are your kids baptized? I am an Irish American practicing Catholic. I love the Church but very often not what the clergy does. How do we get to a place where there are more checks and balances inside the ranks of the church to account for and prevent this type of abuse? I know my priest is accosted on a regular basis by non-Catholics who just assume he's a child-molester because he's a priest. Good priests everywhere should be up in arms. What can WE do to take back OUR Church? 200 deaf boys. It makes my stomach turn. Blessing.
Sinead O'Connor: To take back our church we must cease being afraid to admit the hierarchy/Vatican are not representing true catholicism accurately. We should demand a full criminal investigation of theVatican. And clean out whoever has covered up. If church is to survive it must b run by people who really do believe God is watching.
London, U.K.: Christopher Hitchens has suggested not only must Catholic priests who abused children be prosecuted, but also the people who have been complicit in covering up their crimes, including the Pope. What are your thoughts on that?
Sinead O'Connor: I know an 82-year-old man. He's going bit dotty wiv age.. has money but stole donuts from store.. was handcuffed, arrested and spent a day in jail.. yet no one connected with cover-ups has been questioned by police.. We should ask our govts to order investigations.
Worcester, Wash.: Will it take another generation of popes and bishops to get to the truth of all this?
Sinead O'Connor: No darling, WE ARE the generation who will rescue catholicism and The Holy Spirit from these people.
Boston, Mass.: Hello Sinead,
I thank you for your bravery. I was a child when you ripped up the photo of JP2, and it made me start asking questions.
Do you still consider yourself a Catholic? And if so, why? I left the Church for another long ago and I'd really appreciate your perspective. Thanks.
Sinead O'Connor: Yes I am catholic. And I don't like to see catholicism being brought into such disrepute by those in charge who don't seem to believe in God at all... they act like they don't think God is watching.
Oakland, Calif.: Greetings Sinead -- I've always admired your talents - I'm now a former Catholic, mainly because I realized that the Catholic Church is, and has long been a corrupt institution. How are you able to keep the faith in spite of that? Thanks for your time, and your courage.
Sinead O'Connor: Easy to keep faith.. God is good... only one mistake he made... free will... therefore can't intervene unless we ask.. but gospels show, when we ask we must believe we will be answered... then all manner of things will b well.
Anonymous: Hi Sinead. love your music. Huge fan. Why do you think millions of Catholics are still giving money to the church, still being faithful to the church? It blows my mind that so many people can still apparently dismiss these allegations as being something of the past. If these allegations came out about the Church of Scientology for example, those same people would say scientologists are crazy for continuing to support the church. Is Catholic guilt so powerful??
Sinead O'Connor: I think centuries of disembowelments and burnings at the stake put fear of challenging them into our dna.. But.. let's not let them fool us into thinking TRUE catholicism isn't beautiful.. it IS. It's just they don't represent true catholicism.. or true christianity... so.. we must chant for them to move aside and be replaced by Christians.
Philadelphia, Pa.: Have the Irish begun to leave the faith? What are the stats of the influence of Catholism in Ireland. As a former Catholic I can't understand why anyone would continue to support a church with leaders who have no morals.
Sinead O'Connor: We Irish have always adored The Holy Spirit.. we wont in the end, allow our church to die because of bad leaders. We chant for christian replacements.
St. Thomas, V.I.: With so many other churches out there, why remain catholic? Why not join another sect?
Sinead O'Connor: I love The Holy spirit... don't matter if u call it Allah, Jehovah, God, Krisna, jah, fred or daisy.. it's all the same Spirit. I am certain the biggest shift in human thinking in the 21st century is happening now... we can love religion as we need rituals.. BUT... The Holy Spirit is a bird, free to fly and land where it likes... and we will come to see, very soon, that we don't actually need 'religion' in order to have a relationship with The Holy Spirit.. Too many wars an violence over religion... we need to see it's all the same spirit and we are part of that spirit.. so we shouldnt b fighting over what name we call it... its a free bird.
Wilmot, N.H.: Do you feel that abuse victims are afraid or will be stigmatized that they will treated as "bad or unfaithful catholics if they press for prosecution of these criminals?
Sinead O'Connor: I think victims have carried awfully heavy burden and shud now lay it at the feet of those of us who were not abused by clergy and we shud now take up the fight for justice on their behalf.. Chanting for truth, transparency and confession also.. the fight for justice for The Holy Spirit which has been so badly misrepresented
washingtonpost.com: To Sinead O'Connor, Pope Benedict's apology for church sex abuse rings hollow (Post)
Arlington, Va.: Is it not amazing that despite the abuse, you were given a faith that survives in you from a religion that you stand ready to reengage with should it come clean?
Is Yusuf Islam a model to you to remain engaged with a faith despite other persons' use of that faith to kill and engender hate?
Sinead O'Connor: U mention islam.. a religion horribly misrepresented by terrorists... which is like the IRA saying they represented Irish people.. Islam is a BEAUTIFUL religion.. wud make u cry its so beautiful... and gentle.
Reston, Va.: Not being in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, why do you feel that you are in a position to comment on their policies? Aren't you actually in a state of excommunication?
Sinead O'Connor: No darling, I have never been excommunicated... and the idea of 'excommunication' suggests a person can be excluded from God... a blasphemy... I love catholicism... I am not out of communion with it... I just don't believe the people running it presently, believe in God at all... at least not a God that watches... I would like to see us reclaim catholcism... which belongs to us.. and The Holy Spirit... There is SO much that is BEAUTIFUL about catholicism... it's just not being represented well by its leaders... and how I feel in position to comment is....I Know The Holy Spirit is truth... and I love The Holy Spirit.. and The Vatican are lying when they say there wasn't an active cover-up... they trying to cover up the cover-up... in case u don't realize what of.. let me remind u... the vicious raping of small children.... Would Christ have covered up? No. Ergo... they not fit to say they represent christ.
Anonymous: You write about what happened in Ireland because of the church's special position there. But this also happened in the United States, where the Catholic church does not have a government-approved position. I don't think the special position in Ireland had much to do with it. If you disagree, say why.
Sinead O'Connor: I agree entirely actually... I m stumped.. as to why civil authorities are turning their backs... a taxi man yesterday told me he thinks maybe govts colluded and are afraid to be found out... so they skulking off... maybe he's right... I dunno... but it sure is staggering they doing nothing... is very weird.
Miami, Fla.: I never hear about similar scandals in the Jewish or Buddhist faiths. Any thoughts on that?
Sinead O'Connor: Maybe they believe better that God sees everything. Maybe they run by people who actually believe in God.
Catholic Teaching: Ms. O'Connor,
As a young catholic boy and a bit of a smart aleck, I asked the nuns whether I could kill somebody and then go to confession and "get away with it". The answer I got was that committing a crime was a sin and that confession alone could not wipe away your sin without submitting to civil authority.
I think of that answer every time I read about a priest committing sexual abuse.
Sinead O'Connor: When my father was 5 he was told a story by his priest... that a boy he knew had died without having been to confession, and was sent to hell... and priest claimed how he knew this was.. his bedroom burst into flames one night... and when the fire was put out there were two little handprints in the bottom of the bed, the boy had come "screaming back from hell" to have his confession heard... when they finish investigating sexual abuse, then it will be corporal punishment.. and then psychological abuse such as my father endured >>> are these things representative of Christ> No.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: What do you think the best way to engage traditional, older churchgoers in a movement to question the divinity, or at least the actions of, the Pope?
Sinead O'Connor: The best way would be to ask them very gently would they please read "The Murphy Report" into catholic archdiocese handling of abuse allegations. And also The Ferns report >> can be mail ordered at www.justice.ie our govt Web site.. or click there on publications and download... older church goers are very innocent people.. it's hard for good people to recognize bad in others...
New York, N.Y.: I loved the headline recently when the Pope condemned Irish priest abuse, as if abuse in other countries is okay. Obviously, that is not what he meant. Yet, do you see some signs that the Catholic Church may eventually be ready to admit there have been systematic cases of abuse and that they failed for a long time to deal with these cases?
Sinead O'Connor: Quite horribly... in Germany this week EXTREMELY manipulatively, Vatican/German hierarchy stated "The Church is being persecuted as the Nazis persecuted the Jews... How horrific a statement is that ? to all of us... and more to those who studied the history of anti-semitism... For which the Vatican has had a vast amount of culpability throughout history
washingtonpost.com: The Murphy Report: Irish church and police covered up child sex abuse, says report (The Guardian, Nov. 26, 2009)
Chicago, Ill.: Let's be honest. Priests and nuns are mostly devoted people who served their communities. Yet, the respect we give people in these positions is also an attraction to some people with certain inclinations to abuse these positions. Isn't it time we better scrutinize people who deal with our children?
Also, do you believe priests and nuns should be allowed to marry?
Sinead O'Connor: Something I want to say... when John Paul 2 was ill and dying... the man had every last drop of blood metaphorically squeezed from him by those around him. I remember him in the window overlooking peters square, after his trachia operation.. he put his hand to his throat as if there was a problem with the tube... and what came to his aid? Not a person... but a long stick... which poked his tube back into place and so they continued milking him>>> what kind of people would not have put an arm around him? Or what kind of people would not let him rest like any old gentleman?
Washington, D.C.: Sinead, It's great to hear from you after all these years. I hope you are doing well.
What do you think about the expansion of Catholicism into the developing world like Africa and Latin America? Do you worry that these types of abuses are occurring in the Catholic Church there and that there is no way to find out about it or bring the perpetrators to justice?
Sinead O'Connor: There is growing evidence sadly, which shows that African nations have been subjects of abuse also.. and by the end of this year we will see that tragedy come to light.
Pompano Beach, Fla.: Thank you for your editorial. In the U.S., there's been some recent controversy about the term "social justice" and whether it is an appropriate topic for churches. Some people believe the term is code for a leftist political agenda. I, personally, believe that social justice is a basic principle of Christianity.
It seems like many people would like to see Christianity be a passive force, maintaining status quo, when it was intended to be an active force of bringing truth to light, bringing people out of darkness .... including abuse, neglect, poverty, starvation.
Do you see any connection between the lack of social activism within the people of church, and their willingness to accept abuse in their church's name? Ultimately, it's the "church" (meaning the people) who allow this stuff to continue. We are willing to accept injustice of all kinds rather than standing up and overturning the money- changers tables in the temple.
Sinead O'Connor: In Ireland our religious leader is Cardinal Sean Brady.. he in trouble last week as was discovered he made three kids in 1975 sign oath of secrecy under threat of excommunication when they complained of a BRUTALLY violent rapist priest... No one reported the priest.. Brendan Smyth... google him... and in Ireland people have asked why? Cardinal Brady has actually said "I was under no obligation to go to the police" Other bishops have said same thing... that statement is proof of cover up... IF THERE WAS NO COVER-UP THEN UNDER WHOSE LAWS DID THEY NOT CONSIDER THEMSELVES OBLIGED TO GO TO THE POLICE?
Detroit, Mich.: Sinead O'Connor's criticism on the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict no doubt arise from her personal experiences which have colored her with an anti-Catholic bias. Her actions, including a scandalous 'ordination' as a priestess reveal that she is using the sexual abuse scandal as cover for more of her anti-Catholic rants.
Sinead O'Connor: U couldnt be more mistaken. I suggest u research the subject. One can only speak honestly if one is informed of the facts.
Longmont, Colo.: Do you perceive any hope of honesty from the church regarding what is probably centuries of sexual abuse of children and develop a realistic notion of this terrible legacy of incomprehensible behavior? The church's handling of this by putting off this responsibility to those on the receiving end is a stunning paradox. I am a first generation Irishman and former Catholic having survived 12 years of Catholic school and two abusive priests. I am now a staunch atheist. How can this go on?
Sinead O'Connor: You r quite right when u say abuse goes back centuries... the murphy report (google) traces it back to 320 ad. Documents all there to prove it.. www.justice.ie download murphy and ferns reports.
Miami, Fla.: Hi Sinead, my students and I have been debating the effectiveness of your actions since the SNL event in ending the silence of child sexual abuse by the Vatican. We have many points of view but I would like to know how you see your role, and how big of a role, do you think (or hope) you played in ending the silence?
Sinead O'Connor: I doubt the Vatican could care a rats a_ _ what i do... what's working is millions and millions of people chipping away... so.. students.. write letters to papers.. go out in the streets... write to ur governments.. and ask to be honoured with the truth
Remember bob marley's words...
Why boasteth yourself oh evil man?
Playing smart but not being clever
You work iniquity to achieve vanity
But the goodness of Jah Jah endureth forever
So if u are a big tree
We are a small axe
Ready to cut u down
To cut u down
Eugene, Ore.: Hello.
I have always respected your work.
Do you think that the Pope may have been directly involved in the covering up and not going to legal authorities in the time before he became Pope?
Sinead O'Connor: There is documented proof that he was... i refer u to yesterday's new york times and also der spiegel magazine in germany
Montreal, Quebec: Would you consider leaving the faith?
Sinead O'Connor: To me The Holy Spirit is beyond religion.. I could never leave that spirit.. but i don't have to go to church to find it... BUT... no>>> Im not going to let these people make me leave what is my religion of birth and culture... not gonna let them keep bring it into disrepute... Think shud b ok now.. to state in non p.c way... that it isn't a shame to be catholic, despite all this... we will clean out the bad apples and stand up our beautiful church with christian people to run it.
Sinead O'Connor: So... let me make very clear... that I am not a hater of catholicism> I dislike those leaders of it, which have brought it into such horrific disrepute... And I believe the name of catholicism can be made good again by changing its present leaders and by confession and transperency.
There should be a FULL criminal investigation of every catholic hierarchy in all countries where abuse has been an issue.
A full criminal investigation of the vatican.
And a full criminal investigation of the present pope, for his involvement as prelate for the congregation for the doctrine of the faith < therefore the man in charge of abuse issue from 1982 til his ordination as pope.
We want a true christian to represent christ.
TRUE christians would confess.
I feel the pope, the vatican, and all involved in cover-up... should confess The cover-up... and the attempted present cover-up of the cover-up in the same words they ask us to use at mass...
"I confess to almighty God,
And to u my brothers and sisters
That I have sinned thru my own fault
In what I have done and what I have failed to do
And I ask the blessed mary, ever virgin
And u my brothers and sisters
to pray for me to the Lord our God"
Sinead O'Connor: Ok... gotta go snuggle my boy now for bedtime. xxxx
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