Feature

How our priests could go so badly astray.

The week's news at a glance.

Ireland

Vincent Twomey
The Irish Times

When did the Irish Catholic Church lose its moral compass? asked Rev. Vincent Twomey in the Dublin Irish Times. For lose it we surely did in committing the great “evil” of covering up for pedophile priests. And the moment of wavering seems to have come in the wake of the radical changes of the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II changed our devotional practices enormously, as omissions that had been sins in the past were suddenly perfectly okay. “The result was an insecurity about traditional teaching and practices, especially among clerics.” Compassion was suddenly “in,” including the new notion of “compassion for the sinner.” We began to see sexual sins, in particular, not as evils requiring atonement but as, “at worst, emotional aberrations to be treated by psychiatry.” This is an explanation, but it is not an excuse. “The damage done to individual souls and to the inner life of the church by grievous sins, compounded by sacrilege in many cases, is incalculable.” The church must now return to an old-fashioned practice, one that predates Vatican II: penance. Irish bishops should proclaim an annual day of public penance “with strict fasting to be observed by all the clergy.” This day should be kept for years. The damage done by the predatory priests was long-lasting. “Reparation must also be so.”

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