Jude Collins

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Two funny women

Even the darkest debates have a ray of sunshine. The child abuse debate – well no, it’s not a debate, it’s an avalanche of criticism – has been brightened by the entry of that well-known guardian of Irish morals, Sinead O’Connor. Apparently she is upset about the reaction of the Catholic hierarchy and she’s calling on people to boycott Mass. She’s also a bit annoyed at the Irish government: ‘I also demand that brian cowan step down for his having no testicles in the matter.’ The lower case initial letters for Cowan’s name are hers, not mine. In fact her entire email is full of sentence fragments and odd punctuation errors. She’s a funny woman, but funny-peculiar, not funny-ha-ha. The last thing Sinead is is funny- ha-ha.

I was on BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Sunday Sequence’ this morning, with another funny woman (funny ha-ha in this case): Nuala McKeever. We were talking about child abuse again and Nuala castigated me lightly for having suggested reform and a widening of the democratic element in the appointment of bishops in Ireland. She ended by saying that what was needed was the Church run by ‘women and children’. I pointed out to her that this was sexism, but she didn’t seem to notice. I didn't point out that the remedy sounded if anything worse than the disease.

We had Fr Vincent Twomey and Breda O’Brien on as well, from Dublin. They’re both pretty bright, informed people, but when I left I was more impressed by the ability of people to jumble things together than their capacity to tease out and identify. The whole question of recidivism among paedophiles wasn’t touched on, nor was the motivation of Catholic bishops when they moved abusing priests from parish to parish. Did they hope that the abuse would stop? Was that a reasonable hope? There was much talk of reform in the Church, but again, the extent to which we were talking about reforms aimed at eliminating abuse by clerics or reforms aimed at a more democratic Church wasn’t clear. I think people are so intent on expressing their horror that they're incapable of thinking logically.

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