Trust between priest and bishop has been replaced by suspicion
Sir, – Breda O’Brien (Opinion, February 11th), in writing about the possibility of complacency regarding child abuse, says: “There is also the very real fear among priests that things have moved so far in the opposite direction that any priest is presumed ‘guilty as charged’. There are some bishops . . . who believe it is impossible for a priest to return to ministry even when it is clear that a priest was falsely accused.”
The implications of these attitudes for the working relationship between bishop and priest are far-reaching. The promise of respect on behalf of the priest was to be honoured by the bishop with a duty of care. In the past the exaggeration of respect and honour led to a culture of clericalism but their absence now as a result of the abuse crisis has created a vacuum in which trust has been replaced by suspicion on both sides.
Gathering around the bishop as a sign of unity has lost its meaning since I, and many priests like me, on being summoned to Archbishop’s House on any issue would not attend unless accompanied by a witness, if not a solicitor. – Yours, etc,
Fr GREGORY O’BRIEN PP,
St Jude the Apostle,