DCU discusses: What do we do with the Church’s hurtful past?

David Kelly

“We made the dependent and vulnerable ones the problem,” said Dr James Gallen at the Kingdom Cafe event

Dr James Gallen spoke of the need for a truthful examination of the Catholic Church’s past to regain the trust of the faithful in light of the abuse scandals, at a talk hosted by DCU Kingdom Cafe on December 4th.

Gallen, an expert law advisor on the Mother and Baby Homes issue, spoke at the event titled: ‘What do we do with the Church’s hurtful past?’. Gallen, a Catholic, opened with a reading of the Gospel of Mark.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea,” said Gallen, quoting Mark 9: 38-50.

Gallen used this sermon to analyse the failings of the Catholic Church to help these ‘little ones’, the vulnerable in society. The Church abused those in society that needed help; single mothers, children born out of wedlock, young students, he said.

He noted that Jesus used incendiary, provocative language to highlight the importance of truth when holding the failings of those in power accountable; that being honest about the past is deeply Biblical; that the arc of the Bible is the repetition and recovering from mistakes.

“We made the dependent and vulnerable ones the problem,” said Gallen, with regards to the abuse scandals. Gallen spoke of how people like to think back on the glorious aspects of Irish history, such as the War of Independence, rather than the dark parts.

Gallen spoke of the need to break Church taboos regarding sex, that as the scandals centred around sex, it is no longer acceptable to avoid that subject. He condemned the Church’s response to the scandals, noting that they have only contributed 13 per cent of the redress.

Gallen mentioned the Papal visit and how he felt, as a Christian, the better place to be was at the Stand for Truth march, showing solidarity with the ‘little ones’ that Jesus spoke of. He urged the attendees to check out the ChurchToo hashtag on Twitter. The hashtag is used by abuse survivors.


David Kelly

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