March 30, 2010

To Sinead O'Connor, the pope's apology for sex abuse in Ireland seems hollow

Posted: 06:50 PM ET



By Sinead O'Connor

Sunday, March 28, 2010

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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.


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Joe G. (Illinois)   March 30th, 2010 7:21 pm ET

The attention always seems to be about

Me..Me.. Me..
You.. You.. You..
Us.. Us.. Us..

But why does the Pope want to go to Heaven?

Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength
and your neighbor as yourself.

But it's always about Me.. Me.. You.. You.. Us.. Us.. like that is going to solve something and bring about a solution...!

LacrosseMom   March 30th, 2010 7:37 pm ET

Yes, the pope's words are hallow. They are worthless. IF anyone believes for one second that Ratzinger did not know, they are delusional. In the hierarchy of the Catholic church nothing...... nothing happens without the direction of the boss, whoever that happens to be.

Clean up your act Roman Catholic Church, or your credibility will be irreparably damaged! Who would have known that the demise of the Catholic Church would have come from within the ranks of its hierarchy!

A. Smith, Oregon   March 30th, 2010 9:05 pm ET

Cardinal Ratz, now Pope Ratz aiding and abiding a serial child sex offender to shield them from the police, US Courts and MOVE them to another location where the serial child sex offender went on to rape, sodomize and sexually abuse hundreds of more innocent unsuspecting child victims would normally be a LIFE IN PRISON offense.

Pope Ratz is not above the laws in America, UK, Europe nor anywhere else that he appears to have shielded clerics that have been later found by US, UK and European Courts to have been serial pedophiles, and moved those horrific criminals to new parishes upon unsuspecting children who were themselves RAPED and SODOMIZED!

Pope Ratz should resign.

The Vatican should be sued back to the Dark Ages.

Courts around the world should hold Pope Ratz and the Vatican responsible for their actions in aiding and abiding these serial criminals whose aid and support DIRECTLY led to the continued RAPE and SODOMY of new child victims in care of the church.

stuart   March 30th, 2010 9:18 pm ET

I blame the leadership of a great church. The Catholic people are a great deeply religious group. But a question, if a person covers up a crime isn't that a felony? Just asking......

Patty K   March 30th, 2010 9:34 pm ET

The Catholic Church is to blame, they do not allow the priests to have relationships so they prey on children. The sickening part is that they have covered it up for decades and gotten away with it. The priests have mental issues to do this to children, but they need to be held accountable. The Catholic Church is so arrogant with all of their crazy rules and then they cover up for child rapists.

Olga   March 30th, 2010 9:46 pm ET

The question is always asked, just as Larry did tonight while interviewing the two deaf gentlemen, as to why wait for so many years before revealing something as troublesome as sexual abuse, and as a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a catholic priest, I want to say that it is important for people to understand that:

1)unless a person has gone through it and experienced it no one will be able to fully understand why sometimes it just makes more sense to simply keep quiet. Is not about covering up, is about the shame and the humiliation and the fact that when it is happening, especially when one is 12 years old, as was I and many others, it is hard to grasp the fact of what is happening, the seriousness of the situation, what it truly means. At that age it is hard to express any feelings because the person doing it is supposed to be someone trustworthy, 'godly', but they are far from it
2) There is disbelieve that it is happening and there is fear, fear of talking because we dont know if others will believe such accusation and fear of retaliation. The people that do this do not abuse just our bodies, but our minds also, and somtimes that abuse is worse than all the touching and molesting that takes place during the abuse. I lived with daily flashbacks of what was happening for more than 10 years, finally being able to block the thoughts in order to be able to live a somewhat normal life without having to constantly think about it. This abuse and the mental manipulation ends up affecting every single relationship we have with other people, especially spouses and how we react to anyone who comes into contact with our own children, perhaps for fear of the same thing happening to them.

3) Additionally, it is a very hard thing to have to tell ones parents. Its been more than 30 years for me and my parents still dont know.

So next time anyone out there questions why wait so long, why come out when we are in our 30's 40's or older, to talk about what happened when we were kids, try to put yourself in our shoes, and at this moment in time maybe someone out there is saying, oh well, if it would have happened to me this is what I would have done, dont because its easier said than done.

Liz from MI   March 30th, 2010 9:48 pm ET

Mr. Donohue has ZERO objectivity. He seems to believe that the whole world is out to get the pope. – The other day I saw a statement from the pope that basically chastised people for gossiping about this – well then speak up and deal with it!

I am Catholic who is struggling with this whole situation – the easiest thing would be to just leave the church, probably the only thing keeping me there is our particular priest who rails against the abuse in the church, and against the US involvement in the wars we are in.

stuart   March 30th, 2010 9:55 pm ET

If you cover up a crime, that is a crime. The question is who specifically covered the crimes and to what extent? I would like the Church to address that. In the Pope's defense what is the evidence against him? I am just disappointed in how the crimes were addressed by the leadership of the church in the past. Can we look with hope and faith to the future of the Catholic Church, I think so.

melba   March 30th, 2010 9:58 pm ET

I, too, am a devout Catholic broken-hearted by this most recent news. I'm blogging tonight, though, to question the LK Show's wisdom in choosing to include a Legionaires of Christ priest on tonight's panel. The Order is currently itself under review by the Vatican for the alleged sexual abuse committed by its founder; thus, it's hardly a reputable source esp. in this context if any.

Olga   March 30th, 2010 10:05 pm ET

And one more thing, priestly abuse is not just a problem in the US and Europe, this is happening ALL over the world. We are yet to hear from ALL the kids that have been abuse in South America and the Caribbean. Im from Puerto Rico and the priest who abused me was from South America and I know he took advantage of many other kids, both in SA and PR. It is only a matter of time before the allegations from other parts of the world will make the news and hopefully faster than the vatican will be able to keep up with them.

It is my hope that the voices of these people will rise loud enough to bring down the walls of secrecy, deception and abuse of authority, just like the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, so that the world may see the truthof a church that from its beginings have done nothing more than misrepresent God through violence, unbiblically sound doctrine and pedophilia.....and all in the name of christianity.

suzanne mc intyre   March 30th, 2010 10:12 pm ET

Congratulations Larry!!!!!
I am SO glad that the terrible abuse by "priestophiles" is finally being
talked about on T.V. I am from Derry Northern Ireland, and I knew of
the abuse of one wee girl by one of those animals in the 1950's,
but we could NOT even think about telling anyone, as we were
devout catholics, and those men were so "untouchable" but the poor children were not untouchable to them.
Just a few years ago, I heard from a young man who was an orphan at Termonbacca (in Derry) run by the catholic church, and he was very
badly abused for years, it makes me want to VOMIT when I read about this, there is NO doubt in my mind that the man in the Vatican
did exactly what they say he did in Munich , they have covered it up for \
years and years, cant write any more I am getting sick to my stomach.
Thank you again for being the MAN that you are.
Suzanne Mc Intyre

Cliff   March 30th, 2010 10:23 pm ET

William Donahue's comments tonight – especially at the end of the segment – are making a very bad situation worse. Somebody fire this guy. He's not helping.

Kathy Hogan   March 30th, 2010 10:30 pm ET

The "crime," in addition to the abuses of children,is the longstanding strategy of the Church to knowingly, purposely, and deliberately "delay, derail, and deny."

To the best of their abilities, official Church strategy was to preserve the image and repitation of the Church by 1)delaying any investigations; 2) derailing any investigations that were started; and 3) deny (even when the coverups were caught) that it was still going on. And make no mistake, it is still going on.

The Church is not responsible for the criminal actions of its priests. They are responsible for their deliberate and strategic cover up of crimes, tens of thousands of known abuse crimes, all over the world.

I doubt the Church will ever come completely clean about their complicity in the coverups, except around the edges, when they occasionally are hit with legal settlements.

The Church is very forgiving, particularly of themselves, and any outrage over their conduct in the systematic coverups gets attacked as being "anti-Catholic."

In the meantime, the tens of thousands of victims may never get justice. A very tiny percentage may. As is the norm with victims of abuse, most will never even come forward.

Susie   March 30th, 2010 10:38 pm ET

The only person who made sense on this panel was Thomas Roberts. Larry could have him back along with a panel of people who have some ability to speak clearly, not rigidly, and are not angry at the question but rather are angry with the abusers and their protectors who were the leaders in the Church. The truth will come out and show that leaders who knew what was happening to the children, did nothing to stop it. They should be held accountable as much as the offenders.

A. Smith, Oregon   March 30th, 2010 11:38 pm ET

Catholics look to Pope Ratz as the apostolic succession of Jesus Christ. They bow to Pope Ratz, kiss his hands, kiss his huge golden elaborate rings and pray to him as God in the flesh.

Pope Ratz ordered his Church Parishes in America to file Bankruptcy rather than Pay the US COURT ORDERED monetary settlements to the thousands of children the Vatican clergy raped and sodomized.

Does that sound like a decent man, much less anyone with ethical and moralistic standards YOU admire?

The order to bypass US Court ordered monetary settlements is a cold hearted and utterly disgusting signal that Pope Ratz does not care one iota about the thousands of sexually abused children and he cares completely about the Vatican's wealth and plunder.

I can think of NO WORSE example of a religious leader.

Pope Ratz is a utterly disgusting religious father-head who has not even a grain of the spirit of Jesus Christ running in his body.

Pope Ratz should RESIGN

The Vatican should be sued back to the Dark Ages and shunned by the civilized world.

marge perez   March 31st, 2010 12:54 am ET

It is upsetting that these priests, cardinals and bishops are protected by the church. Cardinal Law of Boston was actually given charge of one of the most beautiful churches in Rome after he left Boston. What does that say to victim about how he was "not held responsible".

sheilla   March 31st, 2010 1:15 am ET

Hi larry, im not catholic but watching your show last night left me feeling that the very children that are supposed to be protected from molesters are being handed to them. i believe in God so and i don't have kids of my own but i was sexually abused since i was about seven by a family member. the program i watched tonight with the guy protecting the pop almost seemed repetitive to me. why would i trust that the post knew? has he stopped being human because he's a preist? has he lost the humanely capacity to lie and protect himself. the "fight of fleet" mechanism. i think that he should answer to questions that people want to know. after all is he God? how do you get humans like yourself to trust you if You do not demonstrate that You as a leader believe in the protection of the innocent children who are at your care and trust you. i have little idea about priest hood but i do believe that this, ignorance is not accepted.

Faith   March 31st, 2010 1:29 am ET

I just watched the show on the abuse in the Catholic Church. The spokesman for the church sounds like a hypocritical, unfeeling, off the wall creature.

He made an idiotic statement that the abuse of 12 and 13 yr old boys by priest is a homosexual problem, not a pedophile problem. If a woman is raped by a man is it a heterosexual problem??? It is not the person's sexual persuasion that is the problem – it is the RAPE and the MOLESTATION.

Trying to equate people who love each other and have consensual sexual relations with one another, be it hetero or homosexual, with the RAPE of anyone is INSANE. It is not a crime to be a sexual being, it is a crime to force yourself sexually on ANYONE. And evidently the celibacy requirement attracts people who want to have sex criminally..instead of a normal consensual relationship.

Ibrahim   March 31st, 2010 3:40 am ET

Dear Mr. King, I am from Pakistan and as today UN committee to investigate on assasination of Benazir Bhutto was to submit reports to H.E. The Secretary General and Embassy of Pakistan has on the request of The President of Pakistan postponed submitting the report. The 180 million people has trust and faith on the UN Committee and the respectable members conducted investigation. The hopes of 180 million people who are already aware of the assasinor and people behind the murder, were expecting to have the announcement in words are now having loosing the trust and faith on The Committee as to why the report is being posponed and under what rights The President of Pakistan can ask The Committee to hold the report.

My request through you to respectable Committee is to kindly maintain the trust and faith not only the people of Pakistan has on UN but people all over the world. No individual should intervene and ask the Committee to hold for anything as such and neither The Committe should act on such advises, please.

Eddie   March 31st, 2010 3:42 am ET

Please.....THE POPE! Only pointed fingers away from his own country....Where the scandals are just as severe!!!

Nancy   March 31st, 2010 3:49 am ET

Larry, My Uncle who would be 90 years old now shared with me that a priest sexually abused him from 2nd to 4th grade in Madison, WI.
Also, a priest who was a pedophle from Ireland was sent over to Mazomanie, WI to be the pastor of the parish. When found out he was sent back to Ireland. It caused a small scandal. NJO

Marg   March 31st, 2010 3:50 am ET

The first segments of the show about abuse in the Catholic church with the two deaf men were excellent. However, the panel that Larry assembled left much to be desired. There were three people on the panel taking the part of the church and one man, Thomas, who was a former victim. Pretty lopsided if you ask me!

It seems to me that Ms. O'Connor was reading her thoughts from the notebook she held in her hands. She never seemed to veer from her pre-determined script. Every time she spoke she kept going back to opening ones heart. She really seemed to make no contribution at all.

The priest who was on the show said he was hopeful because in the last ten years the church had BEGUN to make changes. Holy cow! You shouldn't need ten years just to BEGIN to make changes. In ten years you should have made very substantial changes. He was trying his darndest to make the church look good. He failed.

William Donohue should be ashamed of himself. He lashed out at the victims and defended the pope. He simply continued the abuse that was done to these victims. His abuse was emotional and verbal, but it was still abuse. He should not be allowed to speak on this topic as he is continuing to create harm for the victims.

Thomas was excellent and spoke with calm and wisdom. He was a real inspiration and the only one on the panel who had any positive contributions to make.

I'd really like Larry to assemble a panel that included a lawyer who represents some of the victims. Hopefully, that person could defend the victims and show Donohue for what he is...someone lacking in any compassion for those who have been abused.

I was truly unhappy with this show. I've never posted here before, but felt I must do so tonight. I must voice strong objection to subjecting victims to people like William Donohue. They don't need any more harassment. He should never be on any show where there are victims. Ever!

It's time for the Catholic church to come clean about all the abuse that has been suffered in their church. I am tired of hearing them say that other churches have abusers and teachers are abusers. These things are true. However, that does not address the problem in the Catholic church. Additionally, the percentage of complaints at other churches are far fewere than the Catholic church. So let's not kid ourselves, there is a problem and it needs to be dealt with. And it can't be resolved by pointing the finger at others. The church needs to take a long hard look at itself and do something about the abuses it has condoned by trying to cover them up and in so doing has only added more abuse.


Nancy   March 31st, 2010 3:56 am ET

Could you please take my last name off of the post, please. NJO

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   March 31st, 2010 4:50 am ET

Do they go to CONFESSION I wonder.

I am getting so sick of hearing about all these abuses and carryings on. Go and confess your sins all of you or repent.

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   March 31st, 2010 5:03 am ET

Thank you Sinead O'Connor for your well-written article and enlightenment.

This is shameful what is going on.......the Catholic Church needs to clean up it's act.

The Pope is not God for goodness-sake. Get real.

Stanley osi   March 31st, 2010 6:03 am ET

It just lies and for others in ireland,germany and just an avenue for fame

Stanley osi   March 31st, 2010 6:13 am ET

i'm a catholic and an aspiring priest so i think that if it's true the priest should be blamed and not the church nor the pope pleeeease let handle issues with maturity not scandalous words used by my fellow people.the pope is taking the matter steadily lets not rush the pontiff

Ted   March 31st, 2010 8:55 am ET

Do not think this pedophile affair is new and happened only during the 1950-1080s?
The catholic clergy, including nuns, monks and priests were practicing it for the last thousand years. Young boys and girls were just as well raped 500 years ago as they still are today!

We cannot tolerate in our country a second set of laws and another government that thinks that they are above our laws.
The press should take this opportunity to clean up that old cesspool and should not stop until our government takes drastic action.

Albert   March 31st, 2010 9:49 am ET

RE: The Catholic Church Sex Scandal
The current issue about the sex scandal PALES in comparison to the crimes of the Catholic Church in their past history of henious tortures and deaths in their Inquisitions and bloody Crusades. Even though this is past history, it diminishes the character of the church even more. And isn't Jesus recorded as saying that you would know a tree by the fruit it bears? A fine tree does not produce rotten fruit.

Susan Jones   March 31st, 2010 10:31 am ET

To Jean: Read Matthew 18

As for William Donohue, what a embarrassment.
He has no idea what he is talking about.
Only 6 victims have come forward recently??
We work with these victims in Illinios and have had
three come forward in the last 6 months!!
Just another form of ongoing cover up.

People are finally waking up and realizing all of the lies and shameful things the Bishops and Cardinals have been doing these past decades. They are not worthy of being respected or being known as holy men.

A. Smith, Oregon   March 31st, 2010 12:20 pm ET

How many young innocent children committed suicide after being repeatedly raped and sodomized while under the care of Vatican Clergy?

CNN Staffers have the resources to find out how many children that were raped and sodomized by the Vatican Clergy went on and took their own lives as a result of that horrific experience that shattered their young innocent lives.

Tony   March 31st, 2010 12:36 pm ET

Hey Sinead, interesting article. My parent, who passed last year at 95, told me why his family stopped practicing Catholocism...seems the oldest sib, a teen girl had been forced to fight off the priest at her school. This at turn of the century New York! Grandma marched over there, opened a big ol' can of whoop-a@@ on that priest and was never more a catholic woman.

Makes me feel sad this kind of thing happens in the church, just gone gone, gone beyond wrong.

sesansenkoya   March 31st, 2010 3:37 pm ET

Its really pathetic, is the father in question still alive, he should face the music

Dodie   April 2nd, 2010 3:44 pm ET

The continued tragedy of sexual exploitation of children has its roots well within the confines of the church for over a thousand years. This MUST cease, end, terminate, extinguish immediately. This behavior MUST be Abrogated, annihilated obliterated.

The gravest concerns I have with the Church is the deceit in which they used secrecy as a means to cover-up. I am very saddened to know those in high positions at the Vatican knew of the child molestations and made the “conscious choice” to move the priest around realizing he will target other children. This is where I draw the line. Why was this done? I suppose to keep continuity within the church and the disciples happy! I am outraged at the denial and prevarication used knowingly to conceal truth by the church and the decision resulting in horrific crimes perpetrated on the innocent of our culture............... our children.

The sexual predation and treacherous acts to children are perpetuated; generation after generation under the "word of god" only ending when society and the Church is finally forced to see the horrendous atrocities in such a way there can be.......
No denial...................
No excuses...................
No Justification .................
No rationalization!!!

With that in mind, wishing everyone a ~*~ Happy Easter ~*~

Just remember when you view a child in church, wonder if this child has been molested by a prodromed priest!!!

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