The Irish Church and the Sexual Revolution (plus "Conclusion")
Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland
Part  of "Liberal" and Green support for Paedophilia? is a continuation of Part , Part  and Part  and ends the article.
(6) The Irish Church and the Sexual Revolution
There were no equivalents in Ireland to the USA’s Father Paul Shanley or Belgium’s Bishop Roger Vangheluwe and Cardinal Danneels.(See Part ) Obviously there were cases where children were sexually abused by Irish priests or religious. However no clerical abuser gave public lectures to clergy and laity in which he defended sexual relationships between adults and adolescents (as Fr Paul Shanley did). And there was no Irish catechism like the Belgian “Roeach” containing drawings of naked children who were making statements like: “Stroking my pussy makes me feel groovy,” “I like to take my knickers off with friends” etc. In Belgium, after Alexandra Colen made futile attempts with other parents to get the catechism withdrawn, she decided to sever all ties with the Catholic education system and set up a homeschool together with other parents, so that their children would be educated in a Catholic environment.
In Ireland Catholic traditionalists often expressed frustration with the inadequacy – and inanity – of post-Vatican II religious teaching in schools, but they were not faced with THAT type of problem. The saga of Bishop Brendan Comiskey and “child- abuser” (more correctly adolescent-abuser) priest Fr Sean Fortune is relevant here. Brendan Comiskey had to resign as Bishop of Ferns in 2002 following claims that he had not dealt adequately with allegations of abuse made against Fr Fortune. In his resignation statement he said that he had tried everything in his management of Fortune but found him “virtually impossible to deal with”. When Fortune committed suicide shortly before facing trial, he left a note in which he claimed that hehad been raped by Bishop Comiskey! So we are NOT talking about the kind of cosy friendship that existed between Cardinal Godfried Danneels and the paedophile Bishop Roger Vangheluwe in Belgium. (Alexandra Colen writes: Mgr Roger Vangheluwe, the pedophile child molesting Bishop of Bruges, was the supervising bishop of both institutions – the Catholic University of Leuven and the Seminary of Bruges – whence came the editors in chief of this perverted “catechism” textbook.)
However from the 1960s – and especially after the Vatican II – the Irish Church was buffeted by waves of change which it proved unable to cope with. Most of the problems related to sex. In July 1968, in his sensational encyclical Humanae Vitae (‘On Human Life’) Pope Paul VI went against the advice of his own commission and proclaimed that the act of love must always be open to the possibility of procreation. ‘Natural’ methods of fertility control could be used but in Mary Kenny’s words the Pope’s ruling could be summed up in the phrase, ‘Give God a sporting chance’ – the pill and other forms of artificial contraception were out. This created a great furore. Many Catholic couples had been the pill in anticipation of its approval and many priests were coming to the view that the case for contraception, responsibly used, was reasonable. However conservative members of the hierarchy notably Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin and Bishop Cornelius Lucey of Cork came out strongly in support of the encyclical.
As in other countries, this controversy worsened the conflict between liberal and conservative parties in the Church that was to have momentous consequences. Subsequently there were two referendums in 1983 and 1995 to amend the Constitution in order to allow divorce, the second of which saw a narrow victory for the divorce lobby – and this is often cited as marking the end of Catholic Ireland. (Following the ‘yes’ vote, Conor Cruise O’Brien declared that Ireland was at last ‘a fit country for Protestants to live in’.) . The prominent feminist nun (and distinguished historian) Margaret McCurtain, spoke out for personal choice and for the division of Church and State on issues like divorce. There was an ongoing bitter controversy for decades concerning abortion. However where allegations of child abuse by clerics are concerned, the issue of homosexuality is the key one and this is what links developments in Ireland to those in Belgium, the USA and indeed worldwide.
Ireland may not have produced a cleric like Fr Paul Shanley who flaunted his homosexual lifestyle and gave lectures to clergy – and Bishops – on the joys of same. However in “Goodbye to Catholic Ireland” (pages 355-57), Mary Kenny details how some “liberal” Irish priests began to stretch the boundaries of what was acceptable in the area of sexual relationships. She quotes as a characteristic example of the new liberal tone among the clergy a strong article in the Furrow in 1979 about the pastoral care of homosexuals written by Redemptorist priest Father Ralph Gallagher.
“Father Gallagher questioned in this ground-breaking article, the traditional Christian view of homosexuality as being ‘contra naturam’: the theory he said was undergoing serious review. ‘Many debates on homosexuality reveal prejudice, fear and unsupported statements rather than the elements of reason and freedom which, theoretically are the basis of ethical analysis … Homosexuals should not be judged to be immoral any more than a blind person if prenatally the visual tracts are not complete.’ …Some of the unhappiness of homosexuals was, in part, the fault of the Church. ‘The alienation and loneliness of many homosexuals have been contributed to in no small way by the attitude of society and of the Churches.’ We should be cautious in our use of scriptural texts about homosexuality ….Ralph Gallagher warns his fellow clergy; we must challenge the notion that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil or ‘imperfect’. Homosexuality must be seen as part of a proper understanding of sexuality ‘in its wider sense’. And this wider sense was arising because sex was no longer simply about procreation: birth control had altered perspectives. ‘We must take cognisance of the changed emphasis on procreation in a theological understanding of sex. It can no longer be regarded as the single dominant norm by which all sexual behaviour is judged. The reality of personal sexual encounters is too wide to be compressed into the univocal notion of procreation.’
Mary Kenny comments that Hugh Hefner had said that after the pill, sex was about recreation, not procreation – and now here was a Redemptorist using (perhaps unconsciously) the ideas of the founder of Playboy magazine as source text. Father Gallagher himself had been deeply impressed by a letter from a homosexual who had struggled with his orientation and who wrote, ‘The most important thing that happened to me was the realization that homosexuality was natural for me and from God.’
Kenny comments [ my emphasis]: “As the 1960s slogan had it – if it feels good, do it! What feels natural is natural. The crucial change that the 1960s had brought about was this shift from reasoning to feeling.”
The development of feminism within the Catholic Church also led in some very strange directions. The Furrow began to show the influence of feminist theologians such as Rosemary Radford Ruether. ‘Patriarchy’ within the Church was the target and the idealised image of the Blessed Virgin as a role model was inextricably linked with the asceticism of the Church fathers. (As per Wikipedia: “In 2005 Ruether presented to an audience at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles her view that "Christianity is riddled by hierarchy and patriarchy” and that this created a social order in which chaste women on their wedding night were "in effect, raped by young husbands whose previous sexual experience came from exploitative relationships with servant women and prostitutes." ….. "modern societies have sought to change this situation, allowing women education, legal autonomy, paid employment and personal freedom. But the sexual morality of traditional puritanical patriarchal Christianity has never been adequately rethought." )
According to an article in The Furrow by Helen Sheehy in 1985 we needed a complete revolution in the male-dominated Church. ‘Todays sexual ethic promoted by a male celibate Church finds no answering chord in the hearts of many women . Feminist theology seeks to re-image God.’ This new image was not to replace Father with Mother: we really required freedom from God. ‘Ruether maintains that that the substitution of a female for a male image only serves to perpetuate a parent-child relationship to God, which she deems to be inimical to autonomy. Behind her thinking lies a valid desire to dismantle a patriarchal system of government in the Church.’
According to Mary Kenny: “Behind Ms Ruether’s thinking, also was Freud, who considered the concept of God a form of infantilism, and Sartre, for whom ‘autonomy’ was the purpose of life. There were many other articles on these lines and they indicated how the cookie was crumbling.”
The fact that The Furrow “a monthly journal for the contemporary Church” would publish such ideas and such authors is an indication that something other than “tolerance” is at work here. In the “About Us” section of its website, “The Furrow” highlights some of its famous contributors over the years. Among them is Mary McAleese former President of Ireland and a much more mainstream figure than a radical feminist theologian like Ruether (who is not listed). However the views of Mary McAleese indicate just what is regarded as “mainstream” in modern Ireland. According to her Wikipedia article (treating the period after she was President): 
“In a radio interview discussing her book Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law on 28 September 2012, said she was concerned at the growing number of young men, and in particular young gay men, who take their own lives in Ireland. She said that when the research is broken down, it shows that young gay men are one of the most risk-prone groups in Ireland. McAleese said many of these young men will have gone to Catholic schools and they will have heard there their church's attitude to homosexuality. "They will have heard words like disorder, they may even have heard the word evil used in relation to homosexual practice," she said. She went on to say "And when they make the discovery, and it is a discovery and not a decision, when they make the discovery, that they are gay, when they are 14, 15 or 16, an internal conflict of absolutely appalling proportions opens up". She said many young gay men are driven into a place that is "dark and bleak". McAleese said she met the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles John Brown, shortly after Easter to raise with him her concern about the growing number of suicides among young men in Ireland.” [My emphasis]
The influence of the Catholic Church has been in steep decline for the past 30 years or so, yet Mary McAleese sees no contradiction in blaming the Church for the increase in the number of young gay men who are committing suicide! Is this female logic? Not really – but it is definitely feminist logic!
The willingness of liberal theologians in the Catholic Church to pander to gay and feminist lifestyles and to their ideologies of victimisation has consequences in the real world also. In an interview with the Irish Times shortly after he retired as Bishop of Killaloe, the VERY liberal Bishop Willie Walsh made perhaps the only comment in his episcopal career that had the potential to displease his fellow liberals in the Church and the media: 
I’m very nervous about saying this – it’s an issue that hasn’t been faced – but practically all the abuse that I’ve come across has been abuse of boys, and boys of 14, 15 years old. [my emphasis] Now, that raises some serious questions, and if you really went into them you would be accused of mixing up homosexuality and paedophilia. If a priest abuses a 16- or 17-year old, is that homosexual? It’s certainly not paedophilia. Where does the division come? It is a very hazardous area – and there’s no question in my mind that I’m not equating homosexuality with sexual abuse by priests. No, I’m not. But I’m saying that at a certain point the distinction is not that clear.The reason that “it’s an issue that hasn’t been faced” is that Bishop Willie’s media admirers have no wish to face it. It’s a great pity that the Bishop himself made no attempt to refer to the elephant in the drawing room it until he was safely retired, but better late than never!
Pope Benedict was absolutely correct when he said in December 2010 that:
“In the 1970s, pedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained - even within the realm of Catholic theology - that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a "better than" and a "worse than". Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today ………
Our modern day liberals and anti-clerics have either forgotten what they and their predecessors were saying in the 1970s – or they are being deliberately dishonest!
Among the details they have managed to forget are:
- The fact that a pro-paedophile organisation The Paedophile Information Exchange was a member of the British “National Council for Civil Liberties” (now called “Liberty”) until 1983 and was closely association with the gay liberation movement in the UK.[Part 2]
- The fact that two leading feminist politicians Harriet Harmann and Patricia Hewitt cut their teeth as leading lights in the NCCL at precisely the time that organisation was associated with the PIE. (Curiously enough the NCCL cut PIE loose shortly after Harmann and Hewitt left to pursue their political careers.) [Part 2]
- The fact that it was only because of the intervention Mary Whitehouse in 1976 that the government-funded gay charity “Albany Trust” did not publish a booklet provided by PIE and the Paedophile Action for Liberation (PAL) group. The reason the Trustees gave for declining to publish the booklet was that it wasn’t sufficiently “objective”. It is difficult to know what sort of “objectivity” they had expected from the two paedophile groups but presumably they did not want to credit Mary Whitehouse with their change of mind! [Part 2]
- The fact that the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) was a member of one of the biggest gay rights movements in the world – the International Lesbian and Gay Association – right up until 1993. [Part 2]
- The fact that in 1977, a French petition against age of consent laws was addressed to the parliament calling for the abrogation of several articles of the age-of-consent law and the decriminalization of all consensual relations between adults and minors below the age of fifteen (the age of consent in France). This was signed by such luminaries as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Louis Althusser, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and André Glucksmann, Roland Barthes, by the novelist/gay activist Guy Hocquenghem, the actor/play-writer/jurist Jean Danet, writer and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet, writer Philippe Sollers, pediatrician and child psychoanalyst Françoise Dolto and also by people belonging to a wide range of political positions. [Part 1 - NOTES]
- The fact that Fr Paul Shanley the priest at the centre of the USA’s paedophile hysteria, was for decades a liberal and gay icon who was finally removed from his “gay outreach” ministry in 1979 because of protests by Catholic traditionalists. Because he remained a Catholic priest, his former liberal friends later used his lifestyle to demonise him as a paeophile and to demonise the Catholic traditionalists who had always loathed him! [Part 3]
It is very strange that former IRA-man and hunger striker Anthony McIntyre’s choose to denounce Pope Benedict on this issue in his blog “The Pensive Quill” (article entitled “Papal Bull” dated 26 December 2010). You would expect him to have some familiarity with the views of Labour Party stalwarts Harman and Hewitt as both had been Secretaries of State in the British Government and the NCCL had been vocal on the human rights issue during the IRA’s 30 year terror campaign. Moreover when a poster on The Pensive Quill referred to the 1977 petition to parliament from several French intellectuals - including Sartre and Foucault - Anthony McIntyre defended Foucault and minimised the significance of the petition. I tend to assume he would not have done this except in a context where the petition was being quoted to show that Pope Benedict was correct in his description of 1970s attitudes to paedophilia. Has Anthony McIntyre broken with the IRA only to replace the British Government with the Catholic Church, as the supposed fountain-head of all evil?
During the several years of violence that preceded the foundation of the Irish State in 1922, the Catholic Church was the sole force that united constitutional reformers with revolutionaries of every persuasion. This was a major factor in ensuring the survival of democracy in Ireland. In contrast, during the 30 year IRA campaign in Northern Ireland from 1969, both the Provisional and the Official IRA were anti-clerics whose attitude to Catholic Bishops was not very different to that of Dr Ian Paisley. For operational reasons both IRAs made some effort to conceal their antipathy during the years of terror and violence. Hardly had Taoiseach Albert Reynolds got the peace process under way in 1994 but (former Workers party TD) PatRabbitte felt free to destroy his coalition government by peddling fantasies about a conspiracy between Church and State to protect Fr Brendan Smyth. And now Anthony McIntyre has courageously broken with his former terrorist colleagues but continues to subscribe to a similar type of fantasy!
 Wikipedia article on Mary McAleese http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_McAleese
The Wikipedia article also contains the following:
In 1998, she met the Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, on an official visit to the US. In an interview in 2012 she said that Law told her he was "sorry for Catholic Ireland to have you as President" and went on to insult a junior minister who was accompanying the then president. "His remarks were utterly inappropriate and unwelcome," she said. McAleese told the cardinal that she was the "President of Ireland and not just of Catholic Ireland". At this point, a heated argument ensued between the two, according to McAleese.
By any chance did Mary McAleese express to Cardinal Law the same kind of “compassionate” views that she articulated in 2012, and could it be that it was that kind of “compassion” that annoyed the Cardinal?
 extract from “The Bishop Who Speaks His Mind” , by Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, 6 November 2010. Article is behind Irish Times firewall but can be viewed at