DUBLIN, July 25, 2011 ( – The Catholic Church in Ireland has been “without any leadership effectively for the last 15 years” says theologian and former student of Pope Benedict XVI, Fr. Vincent Twomey. Twomey, the emeritus professor of moral theology at Maynooth seminary, has called for every Irish bishop appointed before 2003 to resign, the Catholic Herald reports.

He told RTE radio that he is “incandescent with rage” over the revelations of “incompetence, inertia, and lies” in the recently published judicial review of cover-ups of abuse of young people in the Cloyne diocese. The report found that the fault lay with the refusal of Irish Church leaders to implement either their own national guidelines or the Vatican’s universal norms to protect young people.

The Cloyne Report put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the former bishop, John Magee, widely known for his strong “liberal” leanings. Each of the Irish bishops who have resigned over allegations of abuse and mismanagement have been representative of the radical liberal wing of the Catholic Church.

This group of bishops, mostly ordained in the 1960s and 70s, have for years supported the liberal agenda in the Church, underplaying the dangers of homosexuality in the priesthood, openly opposing the Church on issues such as contraception and divorce and have played loose with the Church’s liturgical norms.

Fr. Twomey is well known for his defence of the Church’s teachings on life and family. In a 2008 article in the Irish Catholic, he identified “mainstream” moral theologians who since the 1960s had opposed the Church’s teaching on contraception and the transmission of life, saying they had opened “the sluice-gates for the surrounding culture’s moral relativism to seep into the Church”.

This culture, according to Catholic observers faithful to the Church’s teachings, has created an entrenched liberal old-boy’s club that is now desperate to maintain its grip on the Church in Ireland.

One long-time observer of the Catholic scene, a publisher of a Catholic magazine, told that this bloc within the Church is using the “Cloyne debacle” to obstruct the appointment of new bishops loyal to Pope Benedict and the teachings of the Church. They hope, he said, to manipulate the situation so as to “lead to the appointment of someone favourable to the very establishment that has created the problem”.

At the same time, the government is using the situation to drive a wedge between the Irish people and the Church. The commenter pointed to the speech last week by the Irish Prime Minister attacking the Vatican, calling it “a gross act of deception” by Enda Kenny “and his socialist allies”.

“They are using this bandwagon of hate against the Church to make it easy for them to introduce abortion next year, same sex marriage and are currently trying to ban the daily recital of prayers in the Dail.

“They have shown their true colours and want to remove Christianity from public life.”

The Cloyne Report confirmed that Bishop Magee had lied to government and the Health Services Executive when he claimed that the diocese was reporting all allegations of clerical child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. It also revealed “the bishop deliberately misled another inquiry and his own advisers by creating two different accounts – one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files – of a meeting with a priest-suspect”.

Furthermore, Magee had refused to co-operate with a Garda (police) inquiry into abuse in 2006. The report notes that on at least one occasion, Magee is accused of the hugging and kissing a teenage seminarian on the forehead and telling him he dreamt about him and that he loved him.

Since the publication of the report, Magee has dropped from view and some in Ireland are calling for his arrest. He is rumoured to have fled to the US, but his current whereabouts are not publicly known.

Before his appointment to the diocese of Cloyne, Magee, who served as private secretary to popes Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, was well known as a bastion of the “liberal” school of Catholicism. He sparked national outrage when he attempted a massive “modernisation” of the 19th century neogothic interior of St. Colman’s cathedral in Cobh, a move that was only stopped by government intervention after years of protests.

During his tenure, Bishop Magee maintained that increasing the activity of the laity was the solution to the priest shortage. He was widely praised in the liberal wing of the Church for having appointed the first woman “faith developer,” tasked with transforming the largely rural diocese along the lines of a more “cosmopolitan” pastoral model.

Kenny’s speech attacking the Vatican instead of the entrenched liberal episcopate, was really about the establishment of a national Church, separated from the Vatican some commentators have said. In his speech Kenny singled out what he said was interference by the Vatican in the government’s efforts to curtail child abuse. Kenny blamed “Roman clericalism” and praised “good priests” who were labouring under its supposed yoke.

David Quinn, a columnist and commentator on religion in Ireland asked, “Did a priest angry at Rome help him write” the speech?

“One could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that he was trying to separate the Church in Ireland from the Church in Rome and to encourage the creation of an Irish Catholic Church, as distinct from the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland,” he added.

The government has not revealed who wrote Kenny’s speech, but it is known that one of his top advisors is Frank Flannery whose brother is Fr. Tony Flannery, founder of the Association of Catholic Priests. This group, widely quoted in the press in recent weeks, has called for the establishment of a nationalistic Church, separated from Rome,that would be run along democratic lines. It was formed last year and began by demanding that the Church “re-evaluate” Catholic sexual teaching.

David Quinn comments, “Ireland currently is deep in the grip of the sort of Jacobinism that seized France more than two centuries ago, only without the violence.

“But the attempt to seize the property of the Church is there. The wish to almost completely secularise society is there. The desire to demonise Rome is there, and just as in Revolutionary France there are priests and laity happy to go along with all this.”