The Sunday Times carries an interview with the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. He manages to dig himself even deeper into the hole he began excavating for himself when he described abusive Irish priests as "courageous". "We shouldn’t forget that this account today will also overshadow all the good that they also did," he says. He seems blind to the fact - stressed in the report - that the systematic brutalisation and maltreatment of the children caged in Ireland's "industrial schools" went far beyond the actions of a minority of perverts. And this really takes one's breath away:
The vast majority of abuse in this country happens within the home. This does not mean that all homes are bad. Just one act of abuse is too many but it should be remembered that the priests who have abused are a tiny minority of the total number of priests and the abuse they have carried out is a tiny proportion of all abuse – less than a half of 1%.
I don't know if he has the figures to back this claim up. But this sort of special pleading is scarcely appropriate given the enormity of last week's revelations.
Then Dominic Lawson asks him whether celibate priests can "really understand the full complexity of human behaviour within relationships". Nichols tells him:
Experience also has its shutters. No two marriages are the same. Nobody experiences everything and there are other fields in which experts speak without having first-hand experience of, I don’t know, say . . . sadomasochism.
I find that answer disturbing on so many levels. Especially as Lawson then suggests that Nichols can't be considered a graduate of the university of life, and he protests, "I do live a human life from top to bottom".
Lawson thinks that Nichols is "the church’s most media-savvy operator". Poor church.