CONTRIBUTION · 16th April 2010
Dr. Kevin D. Annett
"I have a message to the Catholic church today: Get out of my country!"
Kevin Flanagan stood with me and fifty others, including a swarm of all the major media, as he said these words outside the Dail, the Irish parliament, in downtown Dublin today.
Tortured as a child in a Catholic school, Flanagan faced the truth unafraid, and shared it with all of us who gathered to confront the state coverup of horrible crimes by the church in institutions across Ireland - and to reveal how these crimes continue.
"My brother Christopher Smith was thrown into a mental institute in Cork by the police for being homeless. They held him there for forty years, and experimented on him with drugs until he died in 2007, a burned out shell of a man. They're still doing that to people, to little kids, in St. Stephen's Hospital in Cork, in Unit 5, right now. Where is the justice?"
So said Mary Smith to our crowd, as national televsion and newspaper media recorded the stories and asked me what I as a Canadian was doing there.
I spoke of how such crimes were international, of children who died in Christian Indian residential schools in Canada, of how there, as in Ireland, the churches responsible have gotten away with murder. And I spoke of how most of the crimes led to Rome, and the Vatican.
At one point, Paddy Doyle, a world-renowned author, pulled his wheelchair next to me, as we unfurled the banner that has flown outside the Vatican, in London, and around the world, declaring "All the Children Need a Proper Burial".
Holding out to me a bundle of children's shoes that were recently hung at another protest by survivors in Ireland, Doyle asked me to carry these shoes as a remembrance of all the children who suffered and died under church control.
Of all the moments I have shared on this long journey, Doyle's offering struck home the hardest. Taking the shoes, I said I would bring them with me wherever I went in the world.
Something seemed to join us all at that moment, and I suddenly knew that, in the midst of the official lies, the corruption, and all the unmarked graves, people like Doyle and Smith and Flanagan are part of what keeps the soul of humanity alive.
Even the police there today felt it. Watching from the entrance to the Dail, two young Gardai approached us as the rally ended, and extended their hands to me.
"I want to wish you luck, Reverend" said one of them.
But that wasn't good enough for all of us. Flanagan and John and a few of the best stalwarts hurried to the other side of the Dail after the rally, where an "official" meeting between church and government officials was taking place to plan so-called "compensation" to their victims. As the officials entered the side door, Flanagan began berating them with Gaelic fury.
"Shame on you!" he yelled.
"Shame on you murderers! We don't want your blood money! We want you in jail!"
I marveled at the moment, as the church flunkies looked terrified and the policemen smiled, and Flanagan allowed himself a rare sense of victory. I marveled at how the same spirit that defied the buggest empire in the world, just blocks away during the 1916 rebellion, lived on in the very hearts and lives targeted for death at a tender age.
Later, over tea and beer, Doyle announced that he planned to arrest the Pope when he comes to England in mid September. And I fully expect that all five foot two inches of him, a "disabled" man in a wheelchair, will do just that.
Today was more than our sixth "Aboriginal Holocaust Remembrance Day", celebrated now in the land of my ancestors. Today was our resurrection day.
To all the children, and to those we may have protected today.
Note: Kevin Annett will be continuing his European speaking and organizing tour in eight German cities between April 19 and 26.