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Freethought Today · Vol. 27 No.1 January February Combined Issue 2010

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

In the News - Jan./Feb. 2010

Irish Probe Church, Police Collusion

“That the Catholic Church covered up sexual abuse by priests for years is hardly news anymore.” That’s how the Christian Science Monitor started its story on what it called “another breach of public trust” in Ireland, which is 88% Catholic.

The 720-page Murphy Report, (named for Judge Yvonne Murphy), issued in late November by a commission probing child abuse by clerics in the Dublin Archdiocese, found that the Garda Síochána (the Irish national police) failed to investigate abuse reports and conspired to protect Catholic officials in Dublin for 30 years.

The study covered the period from 1975 to 2004 and came on the heels of the May 2009 Ryan Report that documented decades of abuse in schools and orphanages operated by 19 Catholic orders of priests, nuns and brothers.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said that the report exposed “misguided or undue deference” shown by the police to religious institutions and said, “That has no place in criminal investigations, it certainly has no place in 2009 under my watch.”

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin belatedly apologized for the actions of his four predecessors during the period of the abuse and the cover-up. “They were wrong, and children were left to suffer.”

According to the report, church officials did not ask police to investigate even one single incident of alleged abuse from 1975 through 1994.

When the first case was reported in 1995 to police, church officials and lawyers had compiled confidential files on more than 100 parish priests accused of sexually abusing children since 1940. The files were locked in the archbishop’s private vault.

The church secretly took out an insurance policy in 1987 to cover abuse claims and has paid out millions of dollars in settlements.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said that criminal investigations are forthcoming, adding that “a collar will protect no criminal.” He also criticized the Garda for having “too much support for the church.”

Four out of five bishops named in the Murphy Report have now resigned.

In related news, a Massachusetts group called BishopAccountability.org demanded that Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence immediately make public the names of any credibly accused Irish priests who have worked in their dioceses. The group has released the names of at least 60 accused priests it said were born in Ireland or are of Irish descent who came to the U.S. and were reoffenders. BishopAccountability.org has a database of 3,000 names of accused priests.

‘Jesus Scopes’ Coming off Rifles 

Trijicon Inc. of Wixom, Mich., announced it will issue kits so the U.S. military can remove bible verse citations the company had engraved on about 320,000 rifle scopes.

For example, 2COR4:6 was engrav­ed, referring to Second Corinthians: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

After ABC News broke the story, Gen. David Petraeus, chief of the U.S. Central Command, called the inscriptions “disturbing.”
Trijicon has a multi-year, $660 million contract with the military to supply the sights. It said it would also remove biblical references on all military products not yet shipped and stop inscribing them on gunsights in the future.

The Foundation issued an Action Alert to members and sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates objecting to the state-church violation.

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