Friday, 17 March 2017

Casey scandal was 25 years ago but Irish Church still has head in sand

Sarah MacDonald  Irish Independent




Bishop Eamonn Casey's son Peter with his mother Annie Murphy1
Bishop Eamonn Casey's son Peter with his mother Annie Murphy
BBC Radio 4 broadcast a series a few years ago called 'What If'. Hosted by historian Professor Christopher Andrew, the Cambridge don would ask what if some of the major turning points in history had taken a different path. What if the Germans had discovered that the Allies had cracked the Enigma code; or what if George Washington had lost the US War of Independence?
If they ever resurrect the programme, they might consider asking what if Bishop Eamonn Casey hadn't fled Ireland after it was revealed in 1992 that he had fathered a child with Annie Murphy while Bishop of Kerry. What if the popular prelate had stayed and faced the music and answered the questions that needed answering, would Irish Catholicism have benefited? Would the Irish faithful have been forced to grapple with some of the questions that they are only today addressing, such as the value of mandatory celibacy for Catholic clergy?
It is possible to argue that had Bishop Casey stayed instead of running away, first to the US and later to Ecuador, he might have formed a relationship with his son sooner. The plain people of Ireland might have forgiven him sooner and the Irish hierarchy might have taken its head out of the sand sooner on a host of issues.
I was a student in Italy when the Casey affair erupted and, to be honest, I can't recall much reaction there. Italian Catholics tended to presume that priests and bishops had clandestine affairs with women. Ireland in 2017 seems more like Italy in 1992, given that Canon Michael McLoughlin of Galway could acknowledge in his tribute to Bishop Casey, "To be human is to be both blessed and to be flawed".
Yet, people in Ireland recall the general reaction to the news in 1992 as one of utter shock. According to Fr Dermod McCarthy, the former head of Religious Broadcasting at RTÉ and a friend of Bishop Casey's, the revelation was "a big shock to the whole country, it was a bit like when Kennedy was shot - people remember where they were when news came out." Had they forgotten the plot of TV series 'The Thorn Birds', which we were all glued to in 1983?
The way Bishop Casey chose to deal with the scandal was cowardly. It seems strange to accuse him of that in view of his courage in facing down the right-wing military squads in El Salvador intent on killing mourners at the funeral of Archbishop Romero in 1980. This was also the man who took on US president Ronald Regan and refused to welcome him to Galway. His courage in speaking out against social deprivation and unjust structures, be they at home or in the Philippines, Africa or Latin America, was inspiring, as President Higgins and those who worked with him in Trócaire have affirmed. But when it came to Annie Murphy, a young woman whose attractions he couldn't resist, he was not so courageous or progressive. Though Bishop Casey was regarded as a breath of fresh air on the grey episcopal scene in Ireland and something of a liberal, he still publicly voiced his support for clerical celibacy. He was also a defender of the Church's ban on contraception. His stance in those areas may have crumbled had he stayed to answer questions in 1992.
If there is one thing that the Casey affair underscores, it is that the Catholic Church's rule on mandatory celibacy needs to be revisited. Twenty-five years after we could have had this discussion, we know that the Irish bishops, at their recent meeting with Pope Francis, refused to even discuss the matter.
But the Pontiff appears to have his feet more firmly planted on the ground than the Irish hierarchy, as he is already at work trying to prise open a debate on the issue. But he shouldn't look to the Irish hierarchy for support.
Bishop Casey's death came in the wake of the Commission of Investigation's interim findings on the mother and babies home run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam. In hindsight, knowing what we now know about high infant mortality rates in such homes and the heartbreak of children put up for adoption in trying to track down their mothers and siblings, we realise what guts Annie Murphy had to resist Bishop Casey's pressure to have Peter Murphy adopted. Had she not been so feisty, she might well have become just another number among the 35,000 unmarried mothers who spent time in the 14 mother and baby homes up to the 1990s.
Though the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has yet to make a comment on the death of Bishop Casey, it did issue a statement in response to the Tuam revelations, saying it provoked a sense of both sadness and shame. The group said that the revelations, coinciding with the attitudes of Vatican officials which led to the resignation of Marie Collins from the Vatican commission on clerical sex abuse, served to underline how, "There is still a long way to go before women are treated with equal respect and dignity in the Catholic Church".
Annie Murphy might have said as much 25 years ago, had we been willing to listen.


PAT SAYS:

Well written Sarah!

39 comments:

  1. So Annie Murphy has been praised for having the guts to resist Bishop Casey's pressure to have her child adopted and rightly so
    It was just a pity that she didn't show the same guts to resist the (unwelcome?) attentions of Bishop Casey himself.
    That would have impressed me a lot more!

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    Replies
    1. Which is more immoral?

      To have sex?

      Or to abandon a child?

      I know the answer to this!

      Delete
    2. I think that what the poster above is saying is that it might have been a better decision on Annie Murphy's part to reject the Bishop's advances and have become instead the partner or wife of someone genuinely free to be proud of her in public and proud to acknowledge and care for his son and so there would not have been the burden of secrecy at the beginning. There would not have the stress of the pressure to disown her child etc. So I agree with the poster that she paid a high price for her unwise choice.

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    3. So Casey is blameless.

      Typical apologist for lecherous Catholic cleric.

      Delete
  2. Bishop Casey's apparently contradictory moral stances (opposing oppression of the poor, while being a sexual libertine) are not such a conundrum as Sarah MacDonald appears to suggest: the institutional Catholic Church has, from at least the second century AD, compromised the teaching of Christ for worldly advantage, an enterprise that was well rewarded when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.

    Bishop Casey is, simply and sadly, one in a very long line of Roman Catholic prelates who have decided that they would rather have BOTH God and mammon rather than having to choose one or the other.

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    Replies
    1. MC I once lived a contradiction. It was like an adrenaline at the time and I was carried by the tide. This is not an excuse just an insight into a mixed up head. I suppose when one is in a disfunctional lifestyle issues will surface one way or another

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    2. Fair comment, Sean.

      What I meant by 'contradictory moral choices', where Casey was concerned, is that they were only ever apparent because, to Casey, there was no moral contradiction in his behaviour. He justified his relationship with Annie Murphy on the dubious ground that Jesus would understand, in other words, be sympathetic with Casey. This is one of the things that sickened me about him: he hadn't the backbone to admit to himself (let alone to anyone else) that he was breaching his celibacy promise, which he made of his own free will. The unrepentant always seek to rationalise their conduct.

      Delete
  3. What if Rev Patrick Buckley followed the instructions of his Bishop? I am not being funny by asking - what if? What would you being doing, in fact who would you be? I have guilt in my life, I am in my 70's now but very few regrets. I faced my issues in life, but with some people it is difficult to answer questions, face the issue because they never move on. It is difficult when it is thrown in your face. I made one mistake in my life and some people remind me about it still, it was over 50 years ago! Can we ever face issues like the one above? Does our Irish 'ways' / 'mindset' allow us to 'move on'? I am not a bright man, but these are my thoughts.

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    Replies
    1. I might be a cynical member of the clerical club putting the institution and my own welfare before the teachings of Jesus and the love of others?

      Delete
    2. 1.05 Please don't put yourself down.You may well be a victim as well as a survivor. Nobody is perfect and blame is much of the time more than a one way street. Sadly too one sometimes needs to experience sin in order to value salvation. Thing is though are we learning from the past and removing unnecessary obstacles

      Delete
  4. Pat, how do you earn a living?
    Keep up the great work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donations. Wedding and funeral offerings etc.

      Delete
  5. Magna Carta has taken over this blog!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You again.

      I am not preventing anyone from posting a comment. So no one has taken over anything.

      Get a grip.

      Delete
  6. Sean...but what is sin ?
    Making a baby out of wedlock....don't think so
    Making a baby with a priest....don't think so
    Casey had double standards..do as I say not as I do
    He should have stayed put , prob relinquished his fancy dress and became humble and worked for the good of his people here
    Nobody stoned him...did they ?
    He had opinions above his station...that's all
    And besides where did he get the money to keep his friends daughter
    US...that's where...sponging which is really stealing others hard earned cash

    ReplyDelete
  7. What about Amy's Interview about how a woman asked if he dressed up
    Sure he always dressed up....as they all are

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  8. What if Ms Murphy stayed away from poor Eamon and not take advantage of him - I think thats where the problem may lie. Was really glad that Eamon is now resting back in Galway where he was loved. They took him away from us in 92 but he returned to Gaillimh soil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think she went to him for support, so I suspect he took advantage of a vulnerable woman.

      Delete
  9. 10.25 MCs posts are informative and ballance. Pat tries to be objective in what he publishes. If you want to contribute more let your finger do the talking

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sean Page do you speak now for Pat and MC. Given your past you have the nerve to keep spouting on here. All we need to do is google your name and we can see your pedigree.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think Sean thinks he represents either MC or myself.

      Yes, like all people, Sean has a past.

      He has been honest about his struggle with both alcohol and celibacy and is now a member of the Church of England.

      Unlike Eamon Casey he put his money where his mouth (or whatever) was?

      Delete
    2. So Pat, why don't you spend time looking at the church of england? Looking at that institution and that flaws contained within.

      Delete
    3. Sean and Magna , just ignore negative posts that are cast in your directions
      Most on here appreciate all inputs, except those who want to criticise Other posters posts.

      Delete
  11. Sarah MacDonald has asked what would have happened if Bishop Eamon hadn't fled Ireland in 1992.

    The obvious answer is that a whole lot of other things would have very likely come out. A long time before he'd ever met Annie Murphy I'd heard a very grimstory about the misfortune of some people at the time when Eamon Casey was a priest in London .

    The 'exposure' became a masterly cover-up. Casey didn't so much 'flee Ireland as his fellow-bishops had immediately 'packed him off'.

    The Irish Times had restricted its report to what it was totally certain it could prove in court, and with the exposed cleric now already shamed the entire Media decided that any follow-up investigations would be improper.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just watched that Gaybo's Interview with Annie
    Why did those women come on and let themselves dowN so badly.
    So what if Annie said another was the daddy, she prob had not decided then to let on about Eamon
    Bet they regret it big time now...what a laugh they were
    Doesn't Everyone know that all authors embellish the truth for a more exciting read....gaybo sure made a hash of himself too...plonker


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  13. 13 .23
    Ah sure now isn't it great that the great Galway Man didn't die wondering
    Init sure begorra

    ReplyDelete
  14. 15 .53
    They mustn't Have heard of 'rubbers' in that part of London either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were one as bad as the other I say! Of course it was going to end in tears! And yes, - - Casey was the person in authority who should have shown Murphy respect by keeping the relationship at an appropriate distance. But over the space of time she was happy to go along with it. There you have it I'm afraid. (Sin never brings long term happiness. They both learned that lesson the hard way)

      Delete
  15. Do tell us about London
    Casey is dead now

    ReplyDelete
  16. What bishop takes a twenty something girl into his house
    Of course it wasn't his house
    The letcherous dirty excuse of a man
    And what man sent his daughter into a priests/ bishops house
    The gullible people poor people of Ireland keeping someone's Yankee daughter...had her ma no sense at all

    ReplyDelete
  17. 19 .40
    What da ya mean by respect
    He had no respect for his people getting them to support a 20 year old
    Did she get a job or was that woman with the stuck out tooth looking after her...driving her about etc etc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By "respect" in this context. I meant that Bishop Casey should have been able to do his job properly, but still maintain a professional distance in much the same way as for example, a doctor would with a patient. I cannot help you with your other questions as I don't know any of these details since I didn't know the lady personally... Sorry.

      Delete
  18. All these questions should be directed to Sean Page and Magna Carta, the so-called resident experts on this blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are NO experts on this blog.

      We are all truth seekers, trying to sincerely live the best we can and strive for best possible standards.

      Thats it.

      Delete
  19. Bishop Pat I'm afraid it seems that way. The amount of space you give to these two idiots (Magna Carta [sic] and Sean Page (whoever the hell that is) are totally disproportionate to the value of what they have to say. It really is putting many people off reading your excellent blog. Please Bishop Pat limit their postings. They really have nothing to say, and are as bad as each other in the vacuity of their opinions. A friend.

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    Replies
    1. God, I love winding you up, 22:44!

      Delete
  20. Jazs I never knew I had a vacuity Is it one for the g p or confession

    ReplyDelete
  21. You will have to google that one Sean
    Personally I don't give 2 figs as his posts
    don't seem to have much content

    ReplyDelete