Jackie McDonald telling Orangemen to not bother their heads trying to march down the Garvaghy Road, Edwin Poots or was it Nelson McCausland attending or was it talking about attending a GAA football match, the coldest winter in years in the midst of global warming - is there nothing constant, rock-like, onto which we can cling in r this world of alarming flux?
Ah yes – step forward Ian Paisley. No, not the one with the equine features who had some confusing dealings up about North Antrim - we’re talking here about his daddy, the Big Man himself. He’s writing in the News Letter and he’s explaining how sinful the Church of Rome is. Just like old times.
‘This week 24 Irish bishops, who know all too well what sin is, met the Pope in Rome in order to see what the Holy See intends regarding the unholy mess that secret sin, suppressed and shielded by Mother Church, has wrought in the lives of hundreds of people. The victims want a full apology from Benedict and they want it delivered in person at the scene of the crime – in this case Ireland.’
Don’t you love it? In print you’re not aware that the voice has grown shaky, the body bent, the features more weary. We’re back to the 1950s, when Ian would produce a born-again priest called Father Arribe or some such, to tell the congregation about the appalling stewpot of corruption that was the Catholic Church, followed by Ian’s own thunder against the Whore of Babylon.
Of course, Ian is right. There has been corruption in the Catholic Church - sexual abuse and cover-up and hypocrisy. The Ryan and Murphy reports have made that clear, and according to Ian there’s more of the same due to come out of Germany.
The only thing that casts a teensy shadow over Ian’s impressive hectoring is that he doesn’t mention the Free Presbyterian Church. Or the Presbyterian Church. Or the Church of Ireland. Or England. Or the Episcopalian Church in the US. I once asked a prominent evangelical Protestant during a radio discussion if he thought there weren’t child abusers within the ranks of the various Protestant denominations. Like Ian, he dodged round that one with some speed, declaring even more loudly that the Church of Rome was rotten.
Isn’t it time the investigators went in and checked out the state of sexual morals within other Churches than the Catholic Church? We’re told child abuse is a crime that’s found in all sections of society, so it’s hard to believe it stops when it gets to the porch of Protestantism. ‘Clergymen and Paedophiles’ doesn’t have the same ring as ‘Priests and Paedophiles’, but I expect we’d get used to it. And anyway, there’s not much point in cleaning out the mess in one room if you haven’t worked up the courage to peep into the other rooms of the house.