Kevin Myers

Not all priests are paedophiles

Kevin Myers says that the sex abuse scandal in Ireland is being exploited by ruthless lawyers and a guilt-ridden government

The nightmare of the Catholic Church in Ireland continues. Last month a US law firm, Manly & Maguire, ann- ounced it was suing the Irish diocese that trained the busy paedophile priest Oliver O’Grady. This worthy is now at the centre of at least 17 multi-million-dollar child-abuse lawsuits in the Californian diocese of Stockton.

Worse is to come. Another 18 Irish priests are facing multiple-abuse charges in California alone, with law firms hustling for their share of the action against the Irish dioceses from which they came. Lawyers in many states across the US where Irish priests sowed their paedophiliac oats, turning Catholic children into unwilling catamites, are now eagerly watching the Manly & Maguire case, meanwhile sizing up juicy Church assets in Ireland. This promises to be the largest seizure of ecclesiastical land since Henry VIII.

That Irish priests have been responsible for a truly appalling catalogue of sexual crimes, both in Ireland and in the Hiberno-ecclesiastical empire across the English-speaking world, is not in doubt. But what is equally not in doubt is that the degree to which priests abused children, sexually or otherwise, has been exaggerated. For abuse is no longer a subject of empirical observation, but of ideological dogma. The ginger group for victims of abuse, One in Four, is so named because that — allegedly — is the proportion of young people under 18 who have been sexually abused. It barely matters where this figure comes from, or what ‘abuse’ means: it is now established doctrine that 25 per cent of all people are victims of abuse, and this is no more available to ratiocination or analysis than are any of the items of faith of the Catholic Church itself.

In a way, the vast abuse industry — of which One in Four is merely one expression — has come to resemble inversely the organisation which it has been created to oppose.

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