James Finley was abused physically and sexually as a child. He overcame the abuse and decided to become a monk. Years into his training he was abused by a priest, and quit.
Finley turned his life around. Today he is a clinical psychologist and respected spiritual teacher. In Ireland last week he gave a moving talk to mark the launch of Spire, the new Irish Spirituality Institute for Research & Education.
But his visit was overshadowed by more revelations about sex abuse here. The kind of positive religious path that he walks, one praised by Fr Michael O’Sullivan SJ who introduced him, seems choked by a Catholic Church mired in abuse and cover-ups.
It is hard to look at pictures of the late Brendan Smyth, multiple child-molester, without wincing. He abused scores of victims when church authorities let him. And it seems, the Gardai let him also.
Any idea that people “did not adequately understand” what child abuse really was “back then” was blown away last week at the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland.
Revelations continue to emerge north of the border, where UTV in 1994 first revealed Smyth’s crimes.