Email Us My Blog


Added to on 19 December 2007

[ You could draw a number of lessons from the Irish Times account of this meeting of the Catholic Bishops in Maynooth in April 2002. For example you could compare the moral status of Cardinal Connell with that of the journalists who questioned him. However I will concentrate on Gerry Kelly, a founding member of the Alliance for Healing of Institutional Abuse (now Alliance Support) and a "survivor" of Artane. 

The Irish Times describes how Mr. Kelly harassed and jostled a number of bishops until "finally, the Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh, came over for a sympathetic word and Mr Kelly wept." This may look like a touching moment - a representative of the oppressors reaching out to one of the oppressed in a display of Christ-like compassion. For those who know Gerry Kelly, it is more like a black comedy - or knock-about farce. Consider the following:

Following the conviction of Nora Wall for rape in June 1999, Gerry Kelly attempted to get a "close family friend" of his to make ANOTHER rape allegation against the former Sister of Mercy. This attempt come to a sudden end after the collapse of the case against Nora Wall.  [1]

Moreover on Louis Lentin's TV documentary "Our Boy's", (first broadcast in October 1999) Gerry Kelly claimed that, while he was at Artane, he had attended the funerals of boys who had been beaten to death by the Christian Brothers. No boy died of any cause while Gerry Kelly was at Artane. [2]

Bishop Willie Walsh is regarded as a liberal and is much approved of by Irish Times journalists. Did he know nothing about Gerry Kelly's background? Or did he know but decided to have a sympathetic word with him anyway? If the latter is the case maybe he could do the same for priests and religious who have been targeted by Gerry Kelly and by people like him.

Otherwise "compassion" can very quickly turn into decadence.

Rory Connor
18 December 2007

[1] "Gerry Kelly and Nora Wall" also on on 10 August 2006 quoting articles in "Ireland on Sunday" dated July/August 1999

[2] "Gerry Kelly and the Christian Brothers" also on on 10 August 2006 ]

'I Am As Human As Any of You,' Dr Connell Tells Media
Irish Times, 9 April 2002

The day-long meeting of Catholic Bishops ended with sincere apologies and a promise to establish the truth about child sexual abuse, writes Frank McNally, in Maynooth.

There were passionate words, too, from Cardinal Connell, stung by suggestions he was a late convert to confronting the problem. But the key question of whether internal files would be handed over to independent inquiries was fudged.

The Bishop's Conference may have illuminated the issue. The bishop's press conference did not. Asked repeatedly whether the files would be released, the Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Seán Brady, pointed declined to mention files, saying instead that the church would "co-operate" or "provide the information required".

The clerics emerged blinking into the media spotlight 90 minutes later than the appointed time. They were accompanied by a carefully worded statement, confirming the establishment of an independent audit and making contrition for past "inadequacies" in their response.

Caution dominated their responses to questions, however, and it was only when Dr Connell was tackled repeatedly on his alleged failures that the tone was finally dropped.

"I am as human as any of you," he said. But it was "slanderous" to suggest his interest in the issue was recent when "it is the issue which has devastated my period of office".

There were more than 30 bishops at Maynooth and only one protester, but the protester made his presence felt.

Waterford-born Gerry Kelly says he was sexually abused by a Christian Brother in Artane Industrial School in the 1960s. Yesterday he was taking his anger out against the church, and any bishop who emerged from the cloisters was likely to be collared in more ways than one

The auxiliary bishop of Dublin was then jostled and the Bishop of Meath was confronted in his car.

Finally, the Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh, came over for a sympathetic word and Mr Kelly wept.

The media event was held off a hall where photos of past graduates included a young Eamon Casey.

Dr Connell's final riposte as he left the room was almost a cry of pain. "You people," he began, before correcting himself with a sigh. "I'm very sorry, I shouldn't say 'you people'. But you come along and treat us as if we were utterly indifferent to what was going on. And I have gone through agonies over this thing."