independent

Sunday 18 August 2019

Diocese condemns priest's comments

CONTROVERSIAL ABUSE REMARKS CRITICISED

ELAINE FURLONG

THE FERNS Diocese has distanced itself from controversial claims by a priest that the wives and mothers of Ireland 'probably surpass' the failure of the bishops in the cover up of child sexual abuse.

Fr. Paddy Banville, CC in St. Leonards, admits that few can accept his 'politically incorrect' point that there is another category of people that will match the failure of the bishops and probably surpass it – the wives and mothers of Ireland.

' Not exclusively wives and mothers but far too many who failed miserably to deal with the abuse of their children by other family members,' stated Fr. Banville, writing in the Irish Catholic newspaper.

'In time, I believe Ireland will discover that there is nothing particularly unique in the Catholic bishop's bungling attempts to deal with clerical abuse... i believe that covering up is a typical response to child abuse right across the board, at least until very recently,' he wrote.

'A multitude of people are implicated in this cover-up. I believe it is a significant percentage of the population. Nobody in this once sovereign democratic republic wants to hear this'.

Adapting the words of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's recent speech in his Dáil criticism of the Vatican, Fr. Banville said ' there is no shortage of dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism in the Republic of Ireland 2011, where the rape and torture of children are downplayed or managed, to uphold instead the primacy of the family, the family name, its power, standing and reputation, and where multitudes living in our midst, have turned a blind eye: not my business!'

' We don't know it yet, or perhaps we don't want to know it, but in terms of child abuse the Catholic Church is holding up a mirror to Irish society,' added Fr. Banville.

The Diocese of Ferns has said this week that Fr. Banville has expressed views which he accepts are his own personal views and have said the mentioning of any one group is 'not helpful' in this debate.

' The use of the phrase 'wives and mothers' is particularly regrettable,' said a Diocesan spokesperson.

' The diocese reaffirms its position that all sexual abuse, whether it takes place in the church, in the family or in society at large, is criminal. For the sake of the victims who continue to suffer, this is a conversation, however painful, we as a society need to have,' added the spokesperson.

Fr. Banville continues to stand over his comments and outlined he had not argued that wives and mothers had exclusively failed to deal with the abuse of their children, but was saying that for a mother to discover that their child had been abused and fail to do something was 'perhaps the most horrific failure of all'.

He also stated that he is not in any way defending the church. ' The church is just the beginning of a much bigger picture,' he said.

Meanwhile, his contentious remarks have been slammed by victim support groups.

The One in Four organisation is reported as saying it had nothing to say about somebody 'who could show such complete lack of understanding about sexual abuse', while the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) chief executive Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop said ' to put the onus on the mothers of Ireland in the context of what happened to the victims of clerical child abuse is just shocking'. However, the DRCC said the comments were a good argument for a second nationwide report into the extent of sexual abuse and violence in Ireland.

Fr. Banville was not available for comment when contacted by this newspaper this week.

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