The ongoing Ennis scandal involving Fr Ger Fitzgerald – accused of breaking his celibacy promise and Yvonne – his alleged mistress now forced into hiding out of fear – obviously has a profound human dimension.
Both are human beings and both are suffering in different ways – and both are feeling threatened and vulnerable.
My attention was drawn to Ger celebrating Mass on Holy Thursday evening at 8.30 pm. He came across as a man who had not slept well, was dishevelled, spoke hesitantly and looked as if he was not really present.
On the other hand, Yvonne is being treated like a leper in Ennis, has come under intense criticism and threat and is in hiding.
It looks as if Ennis, or certain parts of it, are supporting and comforting the erring priest and condemning the woman for telling her story.
Ennis is treating Yvonne with the judgement and condemnation with which the Jews treated the woman caught in adultery and Mary Magdalen.
Ger is 40.
Yvonne is 33.
Ger has a public promise of celibacy.
Yvonne is a single woman.
The Church, with Ger’s permission, has appointed Ger to be the model and teacher of morals to the people of Ennis.
Yvonne is a private, previously unknown individual who does not represent any religion and does not preach or make moral pronouncements.
WHERE THE BUCK STOPS:
No criminal offence has been committed in this case. So there is no role for the police.
The “crime” is moral, pastoral and canonical.
The “authority” in this case is the bishop, Fintan Monahan.
He is also the person with the highest duty of care as Ger is his priest and Yvonne is his daughter in God.
Fintan has a number of things he must do”
1. He must look after Yvonne who was sexually used by one of his priests.
I asked Fintan to care for Yvonne last Monday
I have kept in touch with Yvonne, Fr Ger Fitzgerald’s ex lover.
She is very afraid just now.
Yvonne is afraid she will be targetted physically.
She has not left home since the scandal broke and is a mental wreck.
I know you are conscious of your obligation in Canon Law to care for the laity.
Could you consider informing the Garda of her vulnerability?
Your brother bishop,
2. He must ask Ger to step aside pending a canonical process.
3. He must look after Ger’s welfare while he is off the mission.
4. He must initiate a canonical procedure against Ger.
Ger should NOT be presiding over public Mass and ceremonies while this cloud is hanging over his head.