Dublin theater throws spotlight on priestly sins

Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:35am EST
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By Barbara Lewis

DUBLIN (Reuters Life!) - The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland could well feel it has nowhere left to hide.

As the press carried blanket coverage of this week's meeting between the Pope and bishops summoned to Rome following the Irish church's vast pedophilia scandal, Ireland's national theater has joined those taking up the theme of ecclesiastical hypocrisy, to loud applause.

Irish playwright Thomas Kilroy's new play "Christ Deliver Us!" at Dublin's Abbey Theater is nominally set in the 1950s, but its topicality is startling.

It does not directly accuse the church of pedophilia, but it is severely critical of sexual repression, corporal punishment and censure of minor teenage lapses that are insignificant compared with those of the religious teaching fraternity.

"We're hiding under the black ... The truth will out," declares one character Father Seamus, played by Tom Hickey, whose credits include a part in the film "My Left Foot" and extensive theater work.

He then tears off the black priest's cassock that has been effectively concealing his sins as he has laid down the law to students grappling with puberty.

The Abbey Theater itself underlines the parallels with the findings of two reports into child abuse by priests published in Ireland last year.

"We as a society are still reeling from the revelations of the Murphy and Ryan reports," the theater said in a program note. "For this reason, it is an important play for the Abbey, as the national theater, to present now."   Continued...