from Ireland, a glimmer

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 11, 2004

It's not much, but it's a start. Some priests in Ireland are making personal sacrifices in reparation for damage done by their fellows:

Priests in the Ferns diocese have dipped into their own pockets to the tune of more than €75,000 to set up a new trust fund aimed at helping out victims of clerical sex abuse.

Serving and retired priests are contributing to the fund, which is one of a number of ways in which the diocese, one of the worst hit by scandals in the country, is responding to victims of abuse.

Good for them. It shows concrete concern for the victims' health, and perhaps also some awareness of the injustice of the usual situation, i.e., the laity's getting stuck with the bill for outrages visited upon them by the clergy.

We might hope that this first modest step might lead to others. Two sorely neglectly duties come to mind. If the wallets of the clergy are hit hard enough, it might move them to restore some "horizontal" discipline in their own ranks, leaning on fellow priests who spend time in the wrong places doing the wrong things. More importantly, they may move beyond concern for counseling to concern for souls, especially those of the victims and their families -- but also those of cops, journalists, and lawyers who have been shocked out of their faith by what they've seen and heard.

Wouldn't be a stupendous occasion -- an event worthy of Psalm 126 -- were a churchman to use the phrase "the state of grace" in a discussion of sexual abuse?

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