A woman denied an education and left malnourished after being forced to work at the age of 11 when her father died has won a battle for compensation.

Mary Cavner, 80, who lives in Hampshire but grew up in County Cork, was sent to work in one of Ireland’s notorious Catholic-run Magdalene Laundries.

She said her six years at the workhouse affected her “throughout her life”.
She was initially told she was ineligible for compensation but will now receive €76,000 (£69,500).

The Magdalene Laundries, which were initially institutions for what were described as “fallen women”, saw 10,000 young females pass through them between 1922 and 1996.
The women and girls toiled behind locked doors, were unable to leave after being admitted and received no wages.

In 2013, then Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach), Enda Kenny, formally apologised on behalf of the state for its role in the scandal.

Image copyrightIFIImage captionFor decades thousands of women were forced to work in the Republic of Ireland’s Magdalene laundries

Mrs Cavner, a mother-of-five, was initially denied compensation and the payout comes almost 70 years after she was first placed in the Good Shepherd Convent in Sunday’s Well, County Cork.

She was separated from her siblings and despite only being 11 when she arrived, she received no teaching from the nuns and experienced long-term hunger while working into the night looking after babies, cleaning, working in the laundries and preparing meals for the nuns.

“They held me there and worked me until I was nearly 18,” said Mrs Cavner, who now lives in New Milton.

“We weren’t allowed to talk or associate with anybody else.”

The Irish government said 770 former residents of the laundries have so far been awarded more than €29.8m (£27.32m) in compensation.

However, Mrs Cavner said she was told by the authorities she would not receive compensation because the laundry she worked in was not eligible under the government’s redress scheme.

A lengthy legal battle ensued and she complained to the Irish ombudsman, which went on to recommend that the redress scheme be extended.

“I had never mentioned what happened to me to my husband or my children, so it took all of my courage to admit what I had been through and then they called me a liar,” Mrs Cavner said.

“My experience in the laundry left me unable to communicate properly.

“I have had really low points as they have made me live this again and to be accused of not telling the truth made me feel rejected.”

What were the Magdalene laundries?

• Originally termed Magdalene Asylums, the first in Ireland was opened in Dublin in 1765
• Envisaged as short-term refuges for “fallen women” they became long-term institutions and residents were required to work, mostly in laundries on the premises
• They extended to take in unmarried mothers, women with learning difficulties and girls who had been abused
• The last Magdalene asylum in Ireland, in Waterford, closed in 1996

The Irish Department of Justice and Equality awarded Mrs Cavner a lump sum of €50,000 (£45,800) and a further €26,000 (£23,800) which will be given to her in incremental payments in the future.

She said receiving the payment was “bittersweet” and her fight was “never about getting compensation” but to “hold those who made me stay in the laundry to account”.

A spokesman for the Irish Department of Justice and Equality said the government “recognises the sensitive nature of these cases” but could not comment on Mrs Cavner’s specific circumstances.



At the time I did not realise it and nobody ever told us we were visiting a Magdalen laundry.

It was Waterford 1973 – 1976. We used to visit single old ladies in a row of cottagems for elderly retired Magdalens as part of our pastoral training.

The seminary never told us who they were and neither did the ladies themselves.

It was only in later years I realised where I had visited.

As a deacon in my final year I used to take turns celebrating Benediction for the younger Magdalens in the actual convent.


The whole Magdalen Laundry is a

very dark stain on Ireland, its political leades and its bishops, priests and nuns.

These poor young pregnant girls were gieven a lifetime sentence of hard labour.

What I cant understand about it is the faact that the bishops, priests and nuns dI’d not realise it was against the teachings of Jesus in the Bew Testament.

They were so blinded by their man made rules and conventions that they behaved in an anti Christ way.

It’s a situation that shows religion can be evil and its spirituality that counts.





Many priests were afraid of him and indeed if a priest ever said even one word against the Catholic Faith Mc Quaid would hastily and ruthlessly demolish him.

But there was another, hidden side to McQuaid – a side I got to know during my contacts with him from 1970 to 1983.

He was very good to poor people.

Mc Quaid had a rule that any homeless of down and out person who called at Archbishop’s House had to be seen by him personally. He kept cash near the back door of the house to give to those in need.

He not only gave money to people in need. He often went on to get them a house by contacting Dublin Corporation or get them a job through his many contacts with senior and wealthy business men.

In fact he got me summer jobs in 1971 and 1972 so that I would be able to buy the books I needed in Clonliffe Seminary.

Every night on the way home from Archbishop’s House to his home in Killiney he visited sick priests and people in Dublin’s hospital.


He also visited a youth club he set up in Eccles Street. On one occasion one of the boys asked him to dress up in all his episcopal gear. The following night he came with his gear and explained the history and meaning of each garment. He allowed several of the kids to try on his mitre.

He was particularly interested in helping Dublin’s prostitutes to give up their sex work. He appointed a Canon John Pierce (my PP at one time) as a special chaplain to the girls and insisted they were to be helped financially and to find a home.

He was very supportive of the trade union movement in Dublin and often acted as a mediator between the unions and the employers.


He was very good and kind to priests who got into trouble through drinking or womanising. He sent them for help and payed all their living expenses until they were able to return to ministry.

He once asked the Church of Ireland archbishop to help a Church of Ireland priest who was in trouble. The archbishop agreed after asking McQuaid was the problem “Punch or Judy”. Mc Quaid told him it was both!”

He was ahead of his time in founding organisations and charities to address all kinds of social issues.

In the early 1970s he was asked by the Papal Nuncio to tender his resignation but was firmly told it was just a formality and it would not be accepted.

But it was! McQuaid was devastated.

Soon afterwards I was visiting him in Archbishop’s House and he said to me:

“Pat, when I leave here I will lose all my so called friends. Will you come and visit me”?

Of course I agreed and every Friday afternoon until he died I got the bus to Killiney and spent several hours with him. We prayed together and talked.

My exact return bus fare stood as a little column of coins on the corner of a his desk.

He lived between two mansions – one in Drumcondra and one in Killiney.

But his personal life was extremely. His bedroom consisted of an single iron bed, a chair and a prie-dieu under a crucifix and a wardrobe.

His bathroom next to it, which I also used was bare and as clean as an operating theatre – thanks to the three nuns that looked after him – members of the Notre Dame sisters.

Incidentally his Killiney house was called Notre Dame de Bois – Our Lady of the Woods.

One Friday I arrived and saw a Jack Russell pup in the back garden. I asked him was it his. He replied: “It is. A gift from a well meaning man”. Then I noticed he had a plaster cast on his wrist. I asked what had happened and he pointed to the pup that had tripped him. I asked “What is its name Your Grace”? He replied: I have not decided yet, but I am thinking of calling him Lucifer for he tripped an archbishop over”.

He had no problem with alcohol. His nephew, the child psychiatrist Paul McQuaid went to see him on Sundays. He would pour Paul a full glass of wine and put a thimble full in his own glass to play with.

I also used him as a confessor and spiritual director.

I felt very sorry for him on the day his successor Dermot Ryan was being installed. He stood alone on the stairs of the Pro Cathedral Presbytery and cut a very forlorn figure.

On that day I had been chosen to be Dermot Ryan’s personal assistant. He picked me up at 9 am and dropped me off at midnight. He never spoke one work to be during the day. When I got him a cup of tea he never said thanks. When I tipped him on the arm to let him know that Bishop Eamon Casey wanted a word with him he shouted: “Get your hands off me”. When he dropped me off at midnight he never even said thank you or good night.


John Charles was certainly very wrong to dictate to politicians and political leaders. He was also criticised for his handling of abuse cases.

But he was a man of his time and he believed that the RC Church was God’s representative on earth and that he was God’s representative in Dublin and Ireland.

Obviously a man of great contradictions. And in spite of all his failings he tried to do all the good he could.

I was quite devastated when at lunch time in Clonliffre on April 7th 1973 The president announced that” His Grace Archbishop McQuaud died during the night”.

No more trips to Killiney and no more the column of coins sitting on the corner of a desk.




Father John Irwin got into a bit of bother in 2014 when he was accused of stealing £2,000 from parish accounts. The diocese reported him to the police and a judge gave him a conditional discharge.

After the court case banned Father Irwin from publicly celebrating Mass or the sacraments.

Father Irwin, who in his late 70s retired to Dungiven and he has opened his house for public Mass.


At first only two or three people went to the Masses but the numbers have now grown. His Masses are being attended by people between the ages of 16 to 80.

Local parishioners are supporting him against the bishop’s ban.

Of course it was wrong for Father Irwin to steal parish money.

But then again many priests help themselves to parish funds on a regular basis.

By giving him a conditional discharge the judge obviously regarded his crime as being on the lower end.

He has probably served more than 50 years as a priest and I think that McKeown should have given him a second chance.

He could even have offered him CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS!


If anyone knows anything about independent Catholic ministry it is me. I have been doing it now for 33 years.

Cackle Daly told my successor as curtate of Larne that I would only last 6 weeks!

I told Cackle that I would be still in Larne when he was pushing up the daisies.

Of course its not as easy as having the support of a big wealthy institution.

On the other hand I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to serve people in the way they require.

I have been giving divorced and separated people a second chance in those 33 years.

I have also ministered to the gay community and provided blessings for them for their marriages. And now, that is legal in the Republic of Ireland, I am celebrating their marriages – including a Marriage Mass if they want one.

Everyday people come to me about their needs. Yesterday I was involved in getting a woman with spinal problems to see a consultant. I’m also working on getting a South African lady leave to remain in the UK. I represent people in the labour courts and at health tribunals.

As an independent priest you have to become a Jack of all trades.

I believe that God did me a very big favour in bringing me out of the RC institution.

I’d hate to think of how I might have been had I stayed.

In the meantime, the more priests give ishops the two finger salute the better

They only have control over us if we allow them to.

Let us say to them what nationalists said to the unionists – “We refuse to be governed by you”.



The Catholic Church’s national seminary at Maynooth is “still trapped in an old vision”, according to the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

Along with the other three Catholic archbishops in Ireland, and 13 diocesan bishops, Dr Martin is a trustee of St Patrick’s College and its associated university.

He said St Patrick’s is “far too weak” and needs radical reform.

“Where does it stand? What role does it play in the overall intellectual ethos of the country?” he asked. “Whatever the solution, it must be very different to what we have today.

“The seminary and university are still trapped in an old vision. It’s going to be quite different, I hope,” he said.

Dr Martin also indicated that Archbishop’s House in Drumcondra, which is not currently on the market, will be sold in the future.

“I would doubt my successor would move in [there],” he said.

Last month it emerged that the archdiocese is to receive about € 95 million from the GAA for its 19.12 acres beside Archbishop’s House, on the site of the old Holy Cross seminary, Clonliffe, near Croke Park.

Monies from the sale are to fund vocations and formation of lay people and priests in the archdiocese.


Dr Martin, who is to retire next April on reaching the age of 75, does not know when the name of his successor will be announced. “The pope is the only one who makes that [decision],” he said. “It is unlikely that it would be done well in advance of my 75th. It’s usually done after.”

We need a new generation. We’ve got a great crowd of priests of a particular age

As to whether he might be persuaded to stay on, he said that was a decision for Pope Francis.

“We need a new generation. We’ve got a great crowd of priests [in Dublin] of a particular age. The changes I’ve been making in the diocesan administration give them a role to play. Nobody goes on forever. Some will be very happy to see me go.”

He hoped that when the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation report is published next spring, the words of Pope Francis in Ireland last year would be “flying high in the responses of the church”, he said.

In a homily at Mass in the Pro Cathedral on Sunday, he recalled how the pope had then spoken “about the difficulties experienced by single mothers trying to find their children, and children trying to find their mothers and who at times were told that such searching was a mortal sin”.

‘Fourth commandment’

“His response was simple but sharp and unequivocal: ‘that was not mortal sin, it was the fourth commandment.’ Honour your father and mother.”

There was also Francis’s warning to Ireland’s bishops to “not repeat the attitudes of aloofness and clericalism that at times in your history have given the real image of an authoritarian, harsh and autocratic church”.

Dr Martin added: “I don’t see it quoted enough.”

During the Mass he and Pro Cathedral administrator Fr Kieran McDermott unveiled a plaque commemorating the visit of Pope Francis at the St Joseph altar there on August 25th last year.

As the archbishop said in his homily, it was where Francis “prayed in silence before a candle that has been burning for some years now recalling the suffering of those who were abused within the Church.

“That candle is special to me in that it was not my idea or the idea of the Church establishment, but of survivors themselves.”


I have a certain respect and liking for Diarmuid Martin that I do not have for any other Irish bishop.

Diarmuid himself keeps a certain distance from the other bishops too – leading me to think that he does not really see himself as one of them.

He took a strong stand on Maynooth.

He took action in the Gorgeous case.

He treated the abuse victims and survivors better than any other Irish bishop.

He engages in dialogue with some people.

I know his relationship with the Dublin priests has not been great and that is regrelatable.

But no bishop is great in all areas.

I regard DM as the best of the current bishops.

I have no time for Amy, Phonsie, Deenihan and Lugs Monahan of Kilaloo. Little Hitler’s.

DM knows that Maynooth’s days are over.

He knows that the RCC is in big trouble in Ireland and internationally.

He deserves his retirement.

God knows who Dublin will get?

We might all be saying: “Come back Dermo. All is forgiven”.



The miracle of Monto?

A chequered history, from prostitution to pilgrimages


Knock, Lourdes, Medjugorje, Monto – it’s like one of those sequences in which the objective is to ‘guess the odd one out’. But there isn’t one. Monto – nestled in the heart of Ireland’s heathenish capital, the place James Joyce called “the centre of paralysis”, is alive with mysteries and now also promises salvation.
Local historian Terry Fagan is our unlikely prophet – his gospel, a tale of prostitution, dilapidation and a purportedly miraculous statue that locals are hailing as the “Sacred Heart of Monto”.


An area of less than one square mile in Dublin’s North Inner City, Monto has a rich local history. It got its nickname from Montgomery Street, now Foley Street. It was a place that, at the beginning of the last century, was notorious for prostitution and poverty, boozers and its despotic ‘madams’. It is immortalised in the ballad ‘Take Me Up to Monto’, a Luke Kelly favourite. Although still an area of acute social disadvantage, it may now also become a beacon for the religiously devoted.

This summer (2002) alone there have been several heroin-related suicides in the North Inner City, adding to the over 150 deaths caused by heroin there during the last 20 years. It is an area that typifies the nature of ‘The Celtic Tiger’, new luxurious apartment blocks and business complexes juxtaposed against downtrodden corporation flats, excessive new-spun wealth cheek to jowl with the effects of generations of poverty.

Terry sees local history as a key facet in the regeneration of a community that, demonstrably, has lost a great deal of its identity and sense of worth. He got involved in compiling local history in the 1970s, while working delivering meals for the elderly.

“I always found when dropping in meals to them – they were lonely people, their families had moved on and they were left behind in the inner city – they always had a story to tell. And I found there wasn’t anybody recording the local history, as such. From then on, I began to gather a lot of information and when the North Inner City Folklore Project was set up I got involved in it.

“Over the years I recorded history from one of the most important parts of the city – Monto – which was classed as one of the biggest red light districts in Europe.”

Monto was in operation from the late 1860s up to 1925, and the area was run by successive ‘madams’ – women who housed, fed and generally exploited prostitutes and the population of the surrounding area with impunity. “It was estimated that 1,200 women operated [prostituted themselves] in the area,” Terry says.

It was 1911 when the first Catholic Commissioner of Police, Sir John Ross, orchestrated raids on the madams, and he did succeed, albeit temporarily, in shutting down Monto’s prostitution rackets. “But the madams basically said to the women, listen: ‘we’ve no more business for you now, out you go’,” Terry explains. “So the women made their way up to O’Connell Street, what was then Sackville Street, and were touting for business. And that shocked the mainstream; word spread to the likes of John Ross. People said that ‘you can’t have them operating in the middle of the city’. So basically what happened then is that the green light was given to them to go back again to Monto and they returned accordingly.”

The second set of madams to take over the running of the area became infamous. Madams like Betty Cooper, whose brother was executed on the orders of Michael Collins for the betrayal of Volunteers Dick McKee and Peadar Clancy, and May Oblong, who is mentioned in Roddy Doyle’s book ‘A Star Called Henry’ and in James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’.

“Some of the clients were the cream of Engish and Irish society. King Edward VII accessed the place through secret tunnels dotted all over Monto, and was a frequent visitor there over a period of time. There’s a few little King Edwards running around here, I’d say,” says Terry. The aforementioned Joyce was also a regular.

Over that period of time, the madams made the bulk of their money from the British Army. “It was said that the girls in Monto done more damage to the British Army than the Republican Movement,” Terry jokes. “Had there been an uprising in Dublin in the latter part of the 1800s, well, half the Dublin garrison were out sick with venereal diseases.”


“When the Treaty came,” Terry continues, “one man who was working for the British Administration at that time was Frank Duff. He worked mainly on statistics, and then, on the foundation of the Free State, for a brief time, he was actually a secretary to Michael Collins.”

Duff had also joined the St Vincent de Paul (SVP), which was mainly set up to cater for the South Dublin Union, visiting men in workhouses. But Duff was also concerned for the welfare of Dublin’s women.

“Originally he wasn’t interested in joing the SVP, but what turned things around for Duff was his exposure to the conditions of women in the Monto area,” says Terry. “As he was going down Chancery Street, he saw this group of women and, his suspicions aroused, he happened to go into their house and discover that they were prostitutes. He was so shocked that he pleaded with the women to give up prostitution, but they wouldn’t do that. He then got the local priest – as if he was going to change them – to come down, and he appealed to the women’s religious nature, beseeching them to give up their profession.

‘If we give up prostitution,’ they asked, ‘who’s going to feed us? Where will we get jobs? How are we going to live?’

“Duff then decided to try to find a convent that would accept the women for a retreat and give the SVP time to deter them from prostitution. After a great deal of difficulty, Duff managed to secure a convent in which to hold the retreat, but now he needed somewhere to keep the women so they would not lapse back to prostitution.

“So he went to see the head of the Irish Free State at the time, William T. Cosgrave. He agreed to give them a house – it was actually a house from which Michael Collins had escaped from the Black and Tans on many an occasion – 76 Harcourt Street. He gave them the house and got them a cheque for £50, which got furniture and which allowed them to set up a hostel called the ‘Sancta Maria’.

“Everything went OK until 1923, when two of the girls left and went down to Monto – and Duff decided to go and get them back.”

Duff had founded the Legion of Mary in 1921. “Its founding meeting was in an old store on Francis Street,” recalls Terry. “He said to the three or four women attending, ‘we’re going to call ourselves The Legion of Mary and this will be great’, he said. ‘There’ll be millions in this’. And the women looked around at each other and started laughing. But history would have it that 12 or 13 million people would join the Legion of Mary, in Ireland and across the world.”

In his attempts to retrieve the two women from Monto, Duff was directed to May Oblong of 14 Corporation Street, who professed to have given up her business as a madam. Initially Oblong was helpful, and presented herself as a good-living Catholic, but when it was suggested that she could help the Legion remove the women from Monto, she angrily ejected Duff and an associate from her home. Duff saw racks of coats and hats on his way out “and knew there was too much there for one woman”.

“May Oblong hadn’t given up prostitution – but was a costumer to the women in Monto. The women in Monto used to rent out their clothes off the madams, and they had to pay that, plus their keep – so they never really made anything.”

Duff eventually found one of the girls, sick in her bed in Monto, and he got her to a hospital in Townsend Street. She eventually died. Her’s was one of the biggest funerals ever held in the Monto area.


“So, Duff started to take on the madams. It so happened to be that there was a retreat to be held in Marlborough Street Pro-Cathederal, by the Jesuits, at that time. Duff went up to see them and told them that not a stone’s throw away from the church was one of the biggest red light districts in Europe. He asked a priest to condemn it from the pulpit, and he agreed.

“The Legion of Mary, together with the SVP, began to canvass the area, letting people know they were embarking on a mission against prostitution and inviting them to the retreat in Marlborough Street. And many people responded.” Several thousand, in fact.

“The priest condemned what was going on from the pulpit and the retreat went on solidly for three weeks. In the meantime, the madams were getting worried: the writing was on the wall. The British Army had gone – their main source of funding – and the new Free State was becoming increasingly aware of Monto. So Duff, along with the Jesuit priests, set up a base in the Belvedere Hotel and from there they went down and knocked on the doors of the madams and summonsed them, one by one, to meetings with the priests.”

The madams eventually agreed to the sum of £40 as recompense for them having to close their businesses, with even May Oblong acceding – only after having threatened to open a brothel beside the parish priest’s presbytry, though.

Monto’s closure was set for 12 March 1925 and, despite some Store Street gardaí who enjoyed the ‘benefits’ of Monto being reluctant to close the brothels, a threat of dismissal from the Garda Commissioner to the local superintendent ensured Monto did indeed close on this date. Gardaí rolled into the area, arresting 120 people, including a TD and other well-known dignitaries. Two madams were arrested, one, Polly Butler, spending six weeks in prison – the only jail term ever given to a madam in the area’s history.


The following Sunday, hundreds marched behind a large crucifix through the streets of Monto, nailing pictures of the Sacred Heart to the walls. Frank Duff dedicated the closing of the prostitution rackets to the Sacred Heart. Some time after this, a statue of the Sacred Heart was erected above a building in Mabbot Lane, where it remained until an eerie series of events was set in train on 12 May last year.

It was a sunny afternoon when two workmen were sent up to take the statue down. One was on the roof holding its head, the other on a ladder, chiseling at its feet. Both claim, along with eyewitnesses, that when the statue shattered a dark cloud appeared, blocking out the sun. As they, somewhat unsettled, removed the statue to a skip below, gusts of wind circled the lane, lifting a picture frame from the skip and hitting the workman holding the statue in the neck. He dropped the statue and they ran inside.

Terry says that he was sceptical on hearing this story, but this was not the last of the strange occurrences. He did, however, contact the building developer responsible for the project and remonstrated with him for taking the statue down. “It’s part of our history, and should remain in place,” he said. The developer, unsettled by the incident, agreed to have the statue repaired

Local handyman Gerry Pickett, along with Terry, then spent six weeks putting it back together. One day Pickett contacted Terry, claiming that the statue was effusing water and a strange aroma. The aroma was the scent of roses. Terry couldn’t sense this smell, but soon had a similarly weird experience. When he returned with photographs of the statue being fixed from the developers, one photo (pictured) added to the unfolding ‘miracle’.

“There it is,” Terry points, the revelation in hand. He points to what looks like the image of Christ’s face, which can be seen clearly in the left hand side of the photo (circled). He compares it to another picture, one of the Turin shroud. The resemblance is remarkable.

Terry immediately consulted with four separate professional photographers, all of whom agreed that the image was inexplicable and could not be put down to double exposure. RTé followed the story up, and then TV3 – studio staff for the latter station even claimed that they also noticed the scent of roses from the statue.

Terry claims he’s not a “deeply religious” person. “I don’t go to Mass, but I do believe in God,” he says. “I am a sceptic.”

Temporarily housed in Pickett’s workplace at Fairview Fire Station, the statue’s alleged scent was also sensed by a cleaner. “It got so popular that people were going mad to get into the Fire Station to see the statue. And Tony Sheehan, the director of the Fire Station, was afraid that there’d be chip vans and pilgrimages outside the station. We had to get it rehoused.”

Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Seán MacDermott Street now hosts the increasingly famous Sacred Heart of Monto; a story of relics from the statue curing a sick local has already emerged.


All the while the priests were condemning the women and girls of Monto they themselves were having sex with adults and abusing little boys and girls.

Basically their attitude towards these sex workers was “Do not do what I do but do what I tell you to do”.

I’m sure most of the women working in Monto were doing it as it was their only inc9ome and to feed themselves and their children.

Of course no one should be forced into prostitution by poverty or indeed by force.

There is a famous story of Archbishop McQuaid hearing of a prostitute working in the Drumcondra area. He got the local PP to talk to the woman and ask her to stop being on the game in return for a week’s wages every week – which was to be provided by McQuaid himself – with the woman not knowing who her patron was.


This worked well for a while but eventually the woman instead on knowing the name of her patron. She was told by the PP and invited, with her children, to tea at Archbishop’s House.

McQuaid’s housekeeper served the woman and her children a nice big fry and McQuaid sat and ate with them.

Eventually one of the woman’s son cried out: “Ma, there’s a rind on my fucking rasher”.

2568-600x600 (2)

McQuaid rang the bell for the housekeeper and said to her “Would you mind removing the rind from his fucking rasher” 🙂 




A Dublin priest has given me correspondence to and from Joe Carroll, the late auxiliary bishop of Dublin.

As well as being auxiliary bishop of Dublin he was president of Clonliffe Seminary when I was there – 1970 – 1973.

He was a pompous man loved being a bishop and dressing up as a bishop.

The correspondence I have were letters to and from him about his Episcopal consecration in 1968.

Bishop Patrick Dunne




Dunne is thanking Joe Carroll from buying him a purple bishop’s biretta from the famous, and expensive Gamarelli Roman clerical outfitters.

He is also sympathising with Joe Carroll about the people saying they cant attend.

The Taoiseach of the time, Jack Lynch said he was coming.

Another letter from Bishop Dunne laments the fact that he and another bishop were not wearing enough clobber at a recent consecration and the fact that he did not get enough prominence at the ceremony.


Bishop Dunne wanted to buy Joe a chain for his pectoral cross – a good one from Rome – solid gold I’m sure. And Dunne refers to him as “My Dear Lord’.

So much for

“There is only one Lord and he is in Heaven.

And then there is the letter from the Chief Hearld of Ireland about Joe’s coat of arms.

And then the note to Ossie Dowling the press officer saying

“Ring my private line. Let it ring three times and then hang up and ring again”

The documents I recieved

As I said poor Joe was very pompous.

He loved parading around in all the gear.

He once announced at lunch time in the seminary that he had mistaken for Cardinal Manning that morning. He was beaming,

But the correspondence in an insight into Irish bishops in 1968.



Two survivors share stories of grooming, emotional manipulation and sexual abuse by nuns in the Catholic Church.

By Carol Kuruvilla and Jessica Blank Huffington Post.

The predator nun walked into Trish Cahill’s life straight out of the blue, on a busy summer day in the late 1960s.

Cahill was a teenager back then, wire thin with long, chestnut brown hair framing her face. She was babysitting her cousins in Glen Rock, New Jersey, and there were eight of them to look after ― a big Catholic family, much like her own.

One cousin was playing outside that day and Cahill had another little one in a high chair in the kitchen. It was quite a common child care tactic at the time, she said ― stick a kid in a playpen in the yard and watch through the window while doing chores and taking care of the others inside.

Cahill was washing dishes at the sink when she looked up and spotted a nun, in a full religious habit, hovering over the baby’s playpen.

At that point in her life, the teenager was still trying to make sense of a painful secret ― the sexual abuse she says she experienced just years earlier from her uncle, a Catholic priest. So when she saw the nun leaning over the baby, Cahill said, she sprinted outside to protect the child.

“It was like, ‘You’re not going to touch her, you’re not going to put your hands on her,’” Cahill remembers thinking.

But the nun she met took her by surprise.

Sister Eileen Shaw (pictured above) was 21 years older than Trish Cahill when they first met in Glen Rock, New Jersey. (Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Trish Cahill)

The woman introduced herself as Sister Eileen Shaw, telling Cahill that she was out on a walk from her nearby convent.

“She’s nice to me, which was confusing,” Cahill recalled.

The two struck up a conversation, Cahill said, which led to an invitation for the teen to play guitar at an upcoming Mass. That invitation led to more special treatment, private phone calls and private trips.

In fact, this strange encounter on the lawn was just the beginning of a long period of grooming and emotional manipulation, Cahill said. She didn’t realize until much later that the 12 years of history she had with Shaw was not a relationship ― but sexual abuse.

“She stole from my body, my mind and my soul,” Cahill, now 66, told HuffPost. “The woman was a thief who did not keep her vows.”

For over a year, the Roman Catholic Church has faced a reckoning over the crime of clerical sexual abuse. Catholics are once again demanding answers about bishops’ mishandling of abuse allegations, after high-profile scandals in the U.S., Australia and Chile toppled prominent figures. In response to this renewed call for transparency, Pope Francis acknowledged for the first time ever this February that nuns have been victims of sexual abuse by priests and bishops. Nuns from across the world have come forward to share their stories and demand change.

But stories like Cahill’s, about nuns being the perpetrators of sexual violence, have largely been lost in this new wave of accountability. Although abuse allegations against “women religious,” meaning nuns and Catholic sisters, are rarer than allegations against priests or monks, Cahill and other survivors of nun abuse are convinced that there are more stories out there. But because of gender stereotypes about female perpetrators of abuse, it is much harder to see the broader picture.

As survivors push more states to extend their statutes of limitations for child sex abuse cases, experts believe more of these stories will start coming to light.

“Why are they not coming out?” Cahill mused about fellow survivors of abuse by nuns. “They don’t have any other survivors to see what’s happened. They’re the only one.”

“The boys thought they were the only ones for a hundred years,” Cahill added. But now, she said, “the girls think they’re the only ones.”

A Childhood Lost

Trish Cahill is a 66-year-old survivor living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (HuffPost)

Church was an integral part of Cahill’s life growing up. Her family made sure to respect holy days of obligation ― the days in the liturgical calendar that Catholics are expected to attend Mass. Her parents sent her and her siblings to Catholic schools. Cahill said she was taught from a very young age to believe that heaven and hell were real places where people would be sent based on their earthly deeds.

So when her uncle ― the priest ― allegedly threatened that she would “burn and blister in the fires of hell” if she told anyone about the sexual abuse he was inflicting on her, Cahill said she believed him.

Cahill said the alleged abuse from the Rev. Daniel F.M. Millard, who died in 1973, happened between the ages of 5 and 13. (The Diocese of Camden told HuffPost that Millard’s name was not on a recently released list of credibly accused priests because Cahill’s allegation against Millard ― “the only accusation ever received about him,” it said ― “was deemed not credible.” The diocese also pointed to a 2005 article in which a family member questioned Cahill’s reliability. The diocese said it has not been provided with additional information since 2002.)

Trish Cahill claims she was abused as a child by her uncle, the Rev. Daniel F.M. Millard. (Courtesy Trish Cahill)

Because of the abuse Cahill claims happened to her as a little girl, when she met Shaw, she was already feeling vulnerable and lost.

At the time, Shaw was a teacher at St. Catherine School in Glen Rock. Cahill was a student at Paramus Catholic Girls’ High School, which was staffed by Shaw’s religious order, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth.

Back then, Cahill said, she was just flattered that an adult who seemed so kind and caring was paying attention to her.

“For her to be nice to me was just fantastic. She cared like she wanted to be with me. She was 36. I was 15. Who gets to hang out with a 36-year-old?” Cahill said. “Everything was in my favor.”

Looking back, the unusual nature of the pairing seems so obvious, Cahill said. She said she now wishes she had somebody “just watching out for me.”

Cahill remembers Shaw calling her at home for private, scheduled chats. The nun gave the teen gifts. Cahill said she soon felt safe enough to confide in Shaw about her uncle’s abuse.

About three months after they first met, Shaw allegedly invited Cahill to her bedroom at St. Catherine Convent ― which is where the abuse first turned physical.

In the years afterward, Shaw used to pull the teenager out of high school in the middle of the day, Cahill said. They would go to a nearby motel, where the pair would stay for hours.

“Then she’d bring me back to school, so I was there for dismissal,” Cahill said. “Nobody questions a nun.”

Trish Cahill is pictured with Sister Eileen Shaw in this photo collage. Cahill said Shaw sexually abused her throughout high school. The pair remained close until Cahill was about 27 years old. (Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Trish Cahill)

They started taking trips together ― to Shaw’s parents’ house and vacation home, to religious retreat houses, to Atlantic City, to the Meadowlands Racetrack. They traveled all over the East Coast, Cahill said, from Florida to Quebec. They went on camping trips and slept in the same sleeping bag, she said. Shaw allegedly taught Cahill how to gamble on horse races and introduced her to alcohol and drugs. The nun told her how to dress and fashion her hair, and discouraged her from dating boys, Cahill said. They once went to a gay bar in New York City’s Village neighborhood, she said.

“She told me she loved me,” Cahill said. “I believed it.”

Shaw had a medal inscribed with the religious name she took when entering her religious order ― Sister Marian Anthony. That medal took on another meaning during their time together, Cahill said.

“She would take it off of herself at night and put it on me, and then we would have sex. Not a relationship, sex,” Cahill said. “And then, in the morning, it would go back on her. It was the seal of confessional.”

“It worked.”

Cahill told HuffPost that members of the Sisters of Charity knew or at least suspected that she was spending an inordinate amount of time alone with Shaw.


Now we have the nuns abuse story.

Some nuns were quite normal and very well integrated.

Others were either neurotic or psychotic.

There was a lot of lesbianism in convents.

Lesbian nuns targeted girls and girl teenagers.

I attended a convent school in Carlow in the late 1950s.

One of the nuns that taught me was a raging sadist and loved doing out corporal punishment.

A lot of girls were forced into convents by ambitious Catholic families.

Their reproductive drive was denied and it made them crazy.

In my earlier years as a priest I was stalked by two nuns.

They acted crazily and it was hard coping with them.

Abuse by nuns is a large part of the RCC system.



An American priest with Irish roots has been accused of stealing funds from his parish to spend on his male lovers and a lavish lifestyle.

Fr Joseph McLoone (56) is accused of stealing nearly $100,000 (€88,746) from his parish and spending it on a beach house, travel, dining and men he dated.

The Chester County District Attorney’s Office said Fr McLoone had been arrested on Wednesday for alleged theft from St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Prosecutors allege the priest, whose parents emigrated to the US from Co Donegal, diverted funds into a secret account and allegedly misappropriated fees charged to parishioners.

They have claimed he used the money for a beach house in Ocean City, New Jersey, as well as to fund his lifestyle.

Prosecutors further allege that Fr McLoone gave himself a pay rise by doubling the amount he collected as a stipend for each Mass, wedding and funeral held at the parish, where he had worked for eight years.

Information posted on the Chester County District Attorney’s Office website said Fr McLoone, a resident of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, was charged with “theft by unlawful taking” and related offences.

It said he had been arrested on August 21 and his unsecured bail had been set at $50,000 (€45,077).
District attorney chief of staff Charles Gaza said: “Fr McLoone held a position of leadership and his parishioners trusted him to properly handle their generous donations to the church.”

The office said it was alleged in the criminal complaint that in 2011, Joseph Connell McLoone took over as pastor of St Joseph’s Parish in Downingtown, Chester County.
“During his tenure at St Joseph’s Parish, the defendant used his position as pastor to circumvent financial controls and illegally change practices which benefited him financially,” court papers say.

It is alleged that on November 2, 2011, the defendant opened an account at TD Bank which he named the ‘St Joseph Activity Account’.
Over the next six years, he diverted around $125,000 (€112,665) in donation cheques written to the St Joseph’s Parish into this account.

“The sources of these diverted funds included donations for the use of the church and school by community groups, donations from the congregation related to special collections held during masses, fees paid to the parish for weddings and funerals by those married at the church or holding funeral services for a loved one, and other gifts made out to St Joseph’s parish,” the court papers say.

Some money from the account was recovered.

The papers allege Fr McLoone created the activity account for the purpose of avoiding disclosure of the funds to the diocese.

“The defendant took full advantage of the lack of control over the activity account and used it to fund his personal lifestyle,” it is alleged.
“His lifestyle included a beach house, travel, dining and spending on adult men with whom he maintained sexual relationships.”

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said the priest was on administrative leave and it was continuing to cooperate with the authorities.


There are temptations everywhere and money sitting around or in bank accounts you control is a massive temptation.

His salary was not enough for him to live his desired lifestyle and to keep his boyfriends in the the fashion they had become used to.

A few years ago this would not have come before the courts as the financial systems were not in place.

In the old days BISHOOS treated diocesan money as if it were theirs – and parish priests did the same with parish funds.

In the 1970s I visited a parish in Belfast and the curate had a big steel bucklet in the presbytery where he threw the collections, stole fees and Mass offerings.

Evertime he went out he grabbed a big handful of notes from the bucket.

In the same parish the PP kept all the coins in a safe in his house and if the altar obliged him by sitting on his knee in only their underpants he have them a handful of coins.



World’s oldest living bishop, who is uncle of Chile’s president, accused of abuse

Inés San Martín – Crux.


MADRID, Spain – Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera, has urged for the Catholic Church to be investigated over clerical sexual abuse, and he gave his full support to new law that ends the statutes of limitations on abuse cases.

However, when it comes to the allegations made against his uncle, the world’s oldest living bishop, he’s having a hard time believing it.

Archbishop Bernardino Piñera, who served as Archbishop of Serena from 1983-1990 after previously serving as Bishop of Temuco, is being investigated by the Vatican over allegations that he sexually abused a minor 50 years ago. The news was announced by the Holy See’s embassy in Chile on Tuesday.

Soon after, the president said: “As a nephew, I find it hard to believe because I know his behavior, his attitude over a lifetime, and I find it hard to believe a complaint that is made against a man who’s 103 years old today, over an alleged event that occurred 50 years ago.”

RELATED: New revelations on sex abuse hit Chilean Church
Despite his personal disbelief, the president urged that the investigation be continued.
Piñera’s words came during a visit to Temuco, in central Chile. Asked about his uncle, he said that his government’s position is “firm, clear and consistent: Any complaint must be rigorously investigated to verify its likelihood and to clarify the truth, and this case is no exception.”

The Vatican’s announcement only confirmed that Piñera is accused of abusing a minor, but gave no further details about the accusation.
The statement said that they reached out to the person who has filed the complaint and that, at the same time, they’re respecting the principle of the presumption of innocence.
Also on Tuesday, Archbishop Piñera issued a statement saying that he’d learned about the Vatican’s investigation against him through the press statement.

“I manifest that I am unaware of the accusation that has given rise to [the investigation] and I offer my full disposition to collaborate in the clarification of it,” the older Piñera said.

“I attest that, during my long priestly life that began in 1945, I always had impeccable behavior,” the letter concluded.

The archbishop had previously been accused by abuse survivors of covering up for his successor, former Archbishop Francisco Cox, who was removed from the priesthood by Pope Francis last year.

Though it’s unclear when Cox’s acts of abuse began, it’s been well documented that by the year 1974, when he arrived as bishop in the Chilean diocese of Chillan, Cox was already abusing minors.

From Chillan, Cox would move on to become secretary of the Vatican’s former Pontifical Council for the Family, a position he held from 1981 until 1985, when he was sent back to Chile as coadjutor bishop of La Serena, to replace Piñera. In 1987 he was tapped to organize Pope John Paul II’s visit to Chile, which allowed him to become close to then-Archbishop Angelo Sodano, papal representative in the country.

Cox was eventually named archbishop of La Serena, a position he kept until 1997, when his resignation was discreetly accepted by the Vatican. It came five years after a priest made a formal complaint to the bishops’ conference claiming he had discovered Cox having sex with a young man.
RELATED: Pope expels two Chilean bishops from priesthood over sexual abuse

Yet until 2002, when he began living a life of “penance and prayer,” first in Switzerland and then in Germany under the care of the Schönstatt Fathers at the request of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, Cox remained semi- active, with positions in the Conference of Latin American Bishops as well as in the Vatican.
Francis has accepted the resignation of eight Chilean bishops over the past year, after all of them offered to step down in May 2018. The country’s bishops have found themselves engulfed in scandal due to decades of mismanagement, cover-up and, in some cases, personally having committed sexual abuse.

In addition, nine bishops have been summoned by the prosecutors’ office to testify on charges that they either covered up for abuse or sexually abused minors and young seminarians themselves. Among those accused of covering up abuse is Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who was removed by Francis as Archbishop of Santiago earlier this year.


The age of the bishop – ordained 74 years ago, lets us see that the abuse problem is a very old one.

He is accused of abusing 50 years ago.

Sad to reach the wonderful age of 103 and then be accused of abusing.

Of course, his age is no block to investigation and prosecution. I think in Italy people over 70 are not sent to prison?

If he is an abuser its hard to imaging that no alarms were raised before now.

Or did someone cover up for him?

There appears to be a lot of clerical sex abuse in South America.

Wait until the African story blows!



A.W.Richard Sipe


This is a long but very important article. It’s a vital read for those of us who want to understand the mind blowing rot at the heart of the RCC.

Abstract: Catholic deacons, priests and bishops live in a unique psychological environment commonly referred to as the “clerical world.” A fundamental characteristic of this sub-culture is narcissism which in some clerics becomes pathological. The narcissistic component of the clerical world has a toxic effect on its spirituality.

Spirituality is an awareness of a personal relationship with a transcendent reality.

Every religious tradition allows for persons of spirituality. Spirituality is independent of doctrine and discipline. The biblical psalms are preeminent examples of this traditional expression. A prominent example of this expression is a prayer of St. Augustine recorded in his Confessions:

Late have I loved you

O Beauty ever ancient ever new.

Late have I loved you!

You were within me, but I was outside.

And it was there that I searched for you.

In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things that you created.

You were with me, but I was not with you.

Created things kept me from you;

Yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.

You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.

You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.

You breathed your fragrance on me.

I drew in breath and now I pant for you.

I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.

You touched me, and I burned for your peace. (J. Ryan, 1960, p. 254)

Two main sources support the development of Roman Catholic spirituality, the cult of saints and personal contact with a Catholic clergy person.

Because tradition presents a priest or bishop as a representative of God and Jesus a betrayal by them is profoundly destructive. Knowledgeable people have labeled the effects of sexual betrayal by a priest or bishop more devastating than those of incest. It is rightly called it soul murder. Our religious and clinical experience with victims of clergy abuse validates those observations and repeatedly records that the experience of abuse by clergy demolishes spirituality.

How is it possible that such a destructive dynamic can prevail in an institution of religion whose explicit purpose is to promote spiritual health? Experience with priest perpetrators demonstrates and confirms that they are a product of and participants in a culture that is rightly named narcissistic. An individual clergyman may or may not escape the toxicity of that culture.

The veneer of holiness and altruism that cloaks the institution of the Roman Catholic Church covers a clerical culture infused by excessive narcissism. The institution is not what it appears in its public pronouncements, ritual manifestations, and glorious vesture. I have seen how its self-serving elements have had a pervasive destructive influence in propagating toxic spirituality that enables and fosters sexual assault on vulnerable children and minors and yet protects and projects an image perfection and moral purity.

The literature on narcissism, personal and cultural, is nearly epidemic. That ubiquity neither lessens its importance for understanding human behavior nor its significance in the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by men publicly proclaimed to be celibate therefore sexually safe. Nor can it be discounted as an element in a culture that selects, molds, produces and protects abusers despite its protestations of selfless service to God and humanity.

The thesis is simple and clear: Clerical Culture is the context of the sexual abuse of minors witnessed in the last half-century. This is no secret. The Prime Minister of Ireland addressing his parliament on July 20, 2011 said that a recent report on the system of abuse in the Irish diocese of Cloyne (Kenney 2011); “Excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism—the narcissism that dominate the Vatican to this day.” The cause of abuse by men who sexually violate children and the vulnerable within a church context is that they are products of formation and inculcation into the clerical system. That system of abuse can be traced from top to bottom. If the culture did not operate in ways that tolerated secret sexual activity of superiors (including but not limited to child sexual abuse) and function as a web of mutually supportive secret clerical liaisons, sexual abusers of minors would find no place in the system. As one highly placed American prelate said on his return from a trip to Rome: “The organization to which I belong is rotten to the core and from the top down.”

The clerical system from earliest days in seminary training throughout illustrious church careers conspires to hide sexual tendencies behind a veil of confessional secrecy—often by confessors and rectors (bishops and superiors) who themselves are not celibately observant. Known sexual activity—even behaviors with fellow seminarians and priests—is dismissed as “growing pains” or passing phases or even as salutary educational experience. Words, pronouncements and directives not withstanding this is how the system operates.

The Catholic Church’s institutional veneer of holiness covers a clerical culture marked by excessive narcissism. This narcissism has had a pervasive influence on the toxic clerical spirituality that has enabled the sub-culture of abuse. The path to wholeness and healing for many of the abused requires the discovery of an authentic clerical-free spirituality. The process of discovery involves the painful process of liberation from the controlling bonds of the institution. Here we explore the complex effect of institutionalized toxic narcissism and the steps that can lead to freedom and a healthy spirituality.

Normal Narcissism

Any responsible consideration must account for the normal and necessary condition of narcissism at the infantile level of personality development. It is self evident that most cultures go to great lengths to foster children, keep them safe as they develop a sense of self worth based on the solid experiences I am loved—I am loveable. The self-centered supports necessary to secure a firm personality are transient and give way to maturing socialization where sharing and the sense I can love develops as the child matures. Thomas Traheme rightly observes, “Had we not loved ourselves at all, we could never have been obliged to love anything. So that self-love is the basis of all love.” (T. Traherne, 1672).

This journey to establish a foundation of love, self-confidence and mastery can also make a child vulnerable to unscrupulous and pernicious men (and women) who pose under the guise of helpers—in the case we are considering, Catholic priests. The clerical culture that we have discovered is ominous at best and destructive and perverted at worst and has not been adequately studied and analyzed. The widespread awareness of minor abuse across the Catholic Church gives urgency to its examination. Clergy abuse is a symptom of a cultural in dysfunction, spiritual bankruptcy and is unavoidable because it is criminal behavior.

The harm done to the normal development of youngsters from the experience of sexual or physical assault by the trusted is incalculable. The psychological steps to mature loving relationships are side tracked and in many cases destroyed. The self-absorption of men steeped in clerical culture is one element in their deficient empathy and disregard for the need for children to be protected. Innumerable bishops have given witness to their disregard for the rape and torture of children in favor of the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and reputation. Bishop Loris Waters gave voice to this unfathomable clerical attitude toward the effects of abuse in his statement: “Little boys heal” (L. Watters, personal communication, 1984).

Acquired Situational Narcissism

How is such a perverted attitude that values institutional image over the protection of children get established? Since the Council of Trent each diocese was commissioned to set up seminaries to insure the education and formation of priests. Part of the process of introduction and survival in these ecclesiastical enclaves involves a relinquishing to one degree or another ones self to a circumscribed, all male authority regulated, supposedly sexually abstinent group where conformity of mind and will are demanded and prized. These are “total institutions” which confer an alternative identity and security in exchange for the personal sacrifice. Little by little candidates immerse themselves in an atmosphere and function of a group that has all the right answers and is more powerful and important than any other entity.

As a man moves up in the ecclesiastical system more conformity and obedience are expected and demanded for further advancement. Obedience that binds an individual (even blindly) to authority is the ultimate test of loyalty and proof that the individual can now justly assume institutional identity. There is little psychic distinction between self and institution and thus one’s value is subsumed by identification with the power, prestige, and status of the church. Clerical dress advertises the identity and elaborate public ceremony that dignifies prelates in impressive rich robes adds to the attraction to identify with the whole church institution suffused with its power, arrogance, vanity, and inordinate self-esteem. Certain cult-like qualities imbedded in the Roman Catholic culture remain to be teased out of the system for understanding. There are some strong personalities who can escape indoctrination to one degree or another and function maturely in the system. Not enough, however, to alter the system at this critical level. A large proportion of priests leave the ministry before the twenty-fifth anniversary of their ordination. Thirty percent of two graduating classes, 1966 and 1972, from a prominent American seminary turned out to be sexual abusers of minors. In fact, between six and nine percent of U.S. priests have violated children (Author’s personal research, unpublished). The operation of the system favors the production and preservation of psychosexual immaturity and narcissistic behaviors.

Altruism in the Service of Narcissism

Clinical evaluations and long term experiences in seminaries and religious houses reveal many men who remain psychosexually immature. Often times those who look bestrise to the top of the ranks. Their works can be exemplary and they can have good reputations among clergy and lay people. When they are discovered to have double lives many people who have benefited from their good works are incredulous and rise to the defense of the offender. Elizabeth Bowen correctly observes: “Nobody can be kinder than the narcissist while you react to life in his own terms”.

The narcissist forces his colleagues and his victims to play a role assigned to him by God. The narcissist determines the agenda. Seducers are kind and disarming. Most priest child violators are not violent, but rather proceed under the cloak of care and kindness. Many can delude themselves that they are loving and helping the minor grow. The narcissism underlying their behavior is not hard to decipher when their whole history is revealed. Many of those who do not abuse minors participate in an atmosphere, climate, and operating culture that favors this kind of dichotomy and double life. Secrecy is the code and loyalty to the institution is the coin of the realm. A member violates either with great personal peril .The narcissist rewards compliance with his script and punishes any deviation from it with severe abuse. The narcissist conditions people around him using intimidation, positive and negative reinforcements and feedback, covert, or controlling abuse.

Institutional Malignant Narcissism

In 1970, Otto Kernberg coined the term “malignant narcissism“; he pointed out that the sociopath was fundamentally narcissistic and without morality. Malignant narcissism includes a sadistic element, creating, in essence, a sadistic psychopath. The revelations about the sexual abuse of minors and how the institution produces and protects clergy abusers from the highest echelons on down betray the actual social construct of the Church. Its stated goals about the welfare of children weaken and wither in preference of avoiding scandal, salvaging the reputation of superiors, maintaining power and control and saving face. Narcissism is contagious. It creates a “magical universe”, similar to a cult; within its ken special rules apply. It does not conform to external reality, but relies on the power of its construct (Cf O. Kernberg, 1975).

Sociopaths—those without empathy and conscience—flourish in the institutional atmosphere of the Roman Catholic clerical system. Obedience, not charity or justice is the guiding principal within the clerical structure. In the center of the vow cardinals take before the pope is the phrase: I vow to keep secret anything confided to me that if revealed would cause harm or scandal to the Church. The blind obedience to authority (the pope) extolled and inculcated in clerics on every level of the institution kills the development of spirituality. It distorts conscience because truth is subservient to the institutional mind that is dedicated primarily to self-preservation at all costs. A lie is not a lie if spoken according to institutional values. As Bishop John Ricard said to one of his priests who related it to me: “I only lie when I have to”. This aspect of the clerical institution becomes patently clear in a review of cardinals’ and bishops’ depositions regarding clergy abusers. The scarlet bond that unites church authorities—and all Catholic clergy by extension—holds the institution in a monarchical system that demands obedience, silence and cover up of imperfections at the expense of real protection and service. Victims of clergy narcissists often come to assimilate the narcissist’s way of thinking and his modus operandi—his methods in self-destructive ways. The narcissist seldom abandons his victims. He resides deep inside the traumatic memories, torturing the victims and well meaning disciples, like an alien snatching bodies.

The continuing exposure of the institutional system that fosters and protects child abuse by its narcissistic nature offers us an opportunity to analyze its structure and indicate a direction for a spirituality of reform.

Any spirituality of reform must free itself from the institutional bonds of fear, shame, and guilt that the narcissistically malignant institution instills with its process of control and the exercise of its power. Only willful blindness and pathological denial can allow one to overlook the reality that the symptom of clerical abuse reveals a Roman Catholic Church as dysfunctional and corrupt sexually and financially as during the time of the Protestant Reformation. Only a spirituality that confronts the institution in a fundamental way will meet the current need of Catholic Christians.