Church must investigate abuse culture – expert

‘We have nothing to fear from the truth’

A prominent theologian has said that Church leaders should appoint an expert panel to review what went wrong in Irish Catholicism to cause the prevalent culture of abuse.

Fr Vincent Twomey told The Irish Catholic that the Church could not expect the State to excavate the Church culture that led many priests and religious to be unquestioning in the face of wrongdoing.

Fr Twomey, emeritus Professor of Moral Theology at Maynooth, said the Church had missed an opportunity at the time the Ryan Report was published in 2009 to ask deeper questions about Irish Catholic culture in the 20th Century.

He said that a Church-backed commission “led by someone from outside Ireland who can look at this dispassionately” could provide a valuable insight. “We must come to terms with the past.

“If we do not do this, every time there is a new scandal we will be found guilty and unable to answer the questions raised.”

Fr Twomey said that lessons to be learned from the Ryan Report into institutional abuse had been “lost” with the release of the Murphy Report into the Dublin diocese just months later.

“It makes for harrowing reading,” he said. “A lot of pain and suffering was caused in institutions run by the Church.”


However, he also insists that “a lot of injustice has been done to orders too. I am convinced they were doing their best in very difficult circumstances.”

Fr Twomey said that a Church-backed inquiry could and should look at the cultural background of the time towards explaining “why insufficient numbers [of priests and religious] were questioning and reflecting”.

“We have nothing to fear from the truth,” Fr Twomey insisted.

“I don’t think the Church should be asking the State to do its work for it. We should put our own house in order,” he said.