Reflections and reveries from the Urbane Society of Sceptical Romantics...
Saturday, September 25, 2010
the patron saint of whistle-blowers?
Well the latest revelations about Mary Mackillop have suddenly raised my interest in the future 'saint'. Not that I've ever lacked admiration for a woman who was such a battler for children, education and overcoming disadvantage. Also for her struggles, as an obviously headstrong, dedicated and independent-minded woman, with the male authoritarian hierarchy of the RCC. It's just that she was no more a saint or a miracle-worker than anyone else.
The revelations are that Mackillop was ex-communicated in 1871 at least partly because she attempted to blow the whistle on a sex abuser in Kapunda. As is the way with these things, the offending priest, Father Keating, was shifted back to Ireland, where he continued to practise as a priest, and no doubt to pursue his other interests. Meanwhile, Keating's crony in Kapunda, Father Horan was apparently incensed by Mackillop's interference, and was bent on revenge. He prevailed upon bishop Shiel of Adelaide to act against the sisters of Joseph, the order set up by Mackillop and Father Tennison Woods.
In fact the article I'm referring to isn't clear about whether Mackillop was ever actually ex-communicated. It seems that the issue never actually went to Rome, and I'm not sure if local bishops, or archbishops, have the power to ex-communicate. In any case she was banished for a time. That means being put out on the street, with nothing but the habit on her back. A few months later the dying bishop repented of his decision and lifted the ban. It's quite likely that the bishop finally decided the Josephites' good work among the poor outweighed their meddlesome interference in secret men's business. One commentator suggested that Mackillop be declared the patron saint of whistle-blowers. That's one form of sainthood I would subscribe to..
Of course priestly child sexual abuse has been going on since the RCC came into power, and no doubt before. This site mentions four texts illuminating the problem, to which Geoffrey Robertson's new book should no doubt be added:
-‘The Power and the Glory: Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II’s Vatican, David Yallop, Constable & Robinson Ltd, London, 2007.
-‘Sex Priests and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000-Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse’, Doyle et al, Volt Press, Los Angeles, 2005.
-‘Fallen Order: Intrigue, Heresy, and Scandal in the Rome of Galileo and Caravaggio’, Karen Liebreich, Grove Press, New York, 2004.
-Peter Damian, ‘Book of Gomorrah: An Eleventh-Century Treatise against Clerical Homosexual Practices’, Ed. P Payer, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1982.
The site also provides lots of online info and links on the subject.
I should also add, for my own information if nobody else's, the work of the American, Patrick Wall, especially his book 'Sex, priests and secret codes'.