Monday, December 28, 2009

'Mentioned in the Murphy Report'

This news report is worth reading. It deals with the pressure on Bishop Martin Drennan to resign. The key sentence - to my mind - is:
The bishop has been under mounting media pressure since four of his colleagues mentioned in the Murphy report on how allegations of child sex abuse were handled in the Dublin archdiocese have tendered resignations.
Firstly, the 'story' here is about media pressure. This pressure which the media applies is one which doesn't come under near enough scrutiny. What is the motivation behind this pressure and who sees that it is applied responsibly?

Secondly, it seems to me that the only accusation leveled against Bishop Drennan is that he is 'mentioned in the Murphy Report'. This phrase seems to have taken on a voodoo-like power. It portends all kinds of wrong-doing and suggests imminent disaster for the one 'mentioned'.

What worries me in this case is that Bishop Drennan is merely 'mentioned' in the Murphy Report. He's not criticised in the Murphy Report. His behaviour wasn't found to be inadequate or harmful in the Murphy Report. No, he was 'mentioned' in the Murphy Report, and therefore there is 'Media Pressure' for him to resign. What is this? Some form of McCarthyism? What if one were to point out that Archbishop Martin is also 'mentioned' in the Murphy Report? Will there be media pressure for his resignation? Indeed, TV and Radio personality Gay Byrne is, if you want to be technical about it, also 'mentioned' in the Report. I guess he's lucky that he's already retired or he might have to face pressure as well.

To my mind, the targeting of Bishop Drennan shows that the line has been crossed between the media acting in the public interest and the media stoking up a witch hunt. Bishop Drennan has been accused of no crime or negligence. He was made Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997 - at a time when it seems that the handling of abuse cases was being put right. Anyone who has taken the time to actually read and digest the Murphy Report will find nothing even mildly critical of him.

What then is his crime? Guilt-by-association with Cardinal Connell? Being in the wrong place several years after the wrong time? Or is it simply the case of someone wanting an episcopal scalp?

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