THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH:BEATING THE LOVE OF GOD INTO THE IRISHSINCE THE TWELTH CENTURY

From CONTACTMUSIC.COM:

Irish actor, Gabriel Byrne, was sexually abused and viciously beaten during his training to become a Catholic priest. The “In Treatment” star joined the Irish Christian Brothers as an 11-year-old altar boy, and undertook his seminary to become a priest for over five years.

In an interview with Irish broadcaster, Gay Byrne, he reveals, “Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse. It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn’t want to be left in the dressing room with him. There were certain boundaries, sexual boundaries, that were crossed. It didn’t go on over a prolonged period but it happened at a very, very vulnerable moment. I feared being beaten, and I was beaten very regularly. It did affect my sense of myself.”

Comments

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH:BEATING THE LOVE OF GOD INTO THE IRISHSINCE THE TWELTH CENTURY — 13 Comments

  1. Why did Gabriel Byrne want to become a priest, though, if this is the sort of example he was given? … Very odd of him. I wonder if there were other priests around during his childhood who did rather better than this and made him think, “I want to be like that”? Possibly, just possibly? … It would be typical for an interviewer to leave anything positive out and just put in the nasty stuff. I’m not saying the nasty stuff shouldn’t be said.

  2. I love Gabriel Byrne’s acting – especially in IN TREATMENT. He’s positively brilliant. There’s a sadness in his eyes that is unmistakable.

    Why did Gabriel want to become a priest? Because there’s an unmistakable link between sexuality and spirituality. He brings the exploration of that link to his acting. That being said, I think, given his role models, he made a wise vocational choice.

  3. this whole Irish scandal is so appalling! I live in *near* Scranton, a hugely Catholic town and the local paper has this, belatedly, on the back pages… of course, the publishers are RC. pisses me off. so disgusting. why can’t they see the evil of their clergy recruitment, training and celibacy lunacy?

  4. My understanding, and it may be entirely wrong, is that, until very recently, it wasn’t that you wanted to become a priest in Ireland, but that that was what was expected of you, especially of the oldest or youngest child.

    As to the example set, this is why the sexual abuse is so horrifying: children believe what adults tell them is okay. On top of which, I think seminary education was begun much earlier in those days, and, being educated by the Christian Brothers, he would’ve been told he had a vocation, and not given much choice.

    It was a bad system all around – or, at least, a system far too easily abused.

  5. My understanding, and it may be entirely wrong, is that, until very recently, it wasn’t that you wanted to become a priest in Ireland, but that that was what was expected of you, especially of the oldest or youngest child.

    Is this true? I did not know this. How interesting.

  6. Why did Gabriel want to become a priest? Because there’s an unmistakable link between sexuality and spirituality.

    Elizabeth – yes true – but you’d still think the above-mentioned abuser was such an awful example of a priest that Byrne would have been completely repelled

  7. Yes, Cathy. Gabriel was sent to seminary when he was 12. Hardly an age at which he would know what he wanted to do with his life. There was even an attempt to do something similar in England at Anglo-Catholic school/seminaries like Kelham in Nottinghamshire.

  8. There was even an attempt to do something similar in England at Anglo-Catholic school/seminaries like Kelham in Nottinghamshire

    Yet another winning idea from someone or another.

    Makes you wonder why people think the Christian church is oppressive.

  9. Full disclosure: my parents overrode my decision to apply to minor seminary after elementary school, as being another one of my cockamamie schemes.

  10. That is my understanding, as I said, Cathy. It’s based on the talks I’ve had with my former rector, who was raised Irish Catholic and had various cousins in the priesthood back in Ireland.

    It was a very different place than we think of Ireland today. We look aghast at things the RCC in Ireland says and does and gets called out for these days, but they have that sense of entitlement because they had for so long been given such entitlements. The parish priest counted for more than the local magistrate, even to the local magistrate! This extended to families, where the laity felt they, quite literally, belonged to the church.

    MadPriest confirms what I believed to be true about seminary. We think of it as post-secondary education, graduate school, but it was a very long track in the good ol’ days, and you got promising lads started before they hit puberty!

    This is a holdover, I believe, from the practice of giving children families couldn’t afford to monasteries as oblates, novices, often before they were old enough to walk. It’s a practice that is criticized in 20th Century fiction in the Brother Cadfael novels, though it is unlikely the actual Abbot Radolfus had many problems with it, other than the drain of another mouth to feed without the promise of a mind capable of learning or a body capable of work.

  11. Wot Dahveed said. Was it “too soon” (for Fair Use) for the relatives/defenders of the pictured clerics?

    ***

    Geoff said… Full disclosure: my parents overrode my decision to apply to minor seminary after elementary school, as being another one of my cockamamie schemes.

    And they say gayness isn’t innate… ;-/

    [Hope that isn’t over the line, Geoff—but I’m another TEC Yank still smarting over that “Raisin cakes to Isis” kerfuffle YOU started at TA. I willing to BET there hasn’t been a dubious “ecclesiological experiment” here Stateside, that hasn’t been equaled or exceeded in the Frozen North (Ours, per always, just get more press—usually from other Yanks, natch’). Then, of course, there’s “Family Firm”-style Anglicanism . . . which is nothing BUT a (gawdawful) ecclesiological experiment! >:-( ]