074. State Money Should Not Be Given To Private Religious Bodies

How does one start an article on such an emotive topic? The best advice is usually to stick to the facts, but as with anything relating to religion, facts are not necessarily the most important thing. However, whatever way one wants to colour it, the Catholic Church stood by idly while hundreds of their clergy sexually and physically abused young children over decades. 

The Catholic Church have not denied this and they signed a deal with the Former education minister Michael Woods in 2002,  to compensate their victims. The Department of Education, for the record, were also equally culpable, because they also stood idly by. Some would argue that this might be unfair because Ireland was effectively a church-run state but the Department of Education are excellent at hiding behind their responsibilities with their claim of only “providing for” education to avoid any action arising from anything happening in any school in the country.

One would think that this would all be fine. The church would have no issue with paying 50-50 with the government to the victims. One might even think they would apologise. One might even believe they would cease control of their 90%+ of schools to the state.

No. For some bizarre reason, the church managed to convince the government to cap its liability for child abuse compensation at €127 million. The abuse bill runs into billions. 

In case there was the possibility of land or buildings being offered in lieu of payment to victims, the church scurried together and set up a handful of Trustees to ensure that this didn’t happen.

Believe it or not, almost 20 years later, much of the compensation has still not been paid back.

However, in perhaps one of the greatest coups, if anything goes wrong with any of their buildings, the Department of Education fixes it and the buildings still 100% belong to the church. In fact, every single cent paid to ensure these buildings are heated, electrified, plumbed, etc. is paid by the Department of Education. The Catholic Church doesn’t pay a thing for the upkeep of their own buildings or land.

You’d be surprised that so many people defend this arrangement.

Anyway, I don’t, and I think any logic would suggest that the church should pay 50% of the compensation owed to the victims of clerical abuse. I’m being very generous at 50%.

If they don’t have the money, they have plenty of buildings and land which could be handed over to the state to be run by other patron bodies. The value of the land and buildings could be established by an agency such as NAMA. The money could then be given to the victims.

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