Attending protests about the proposed move of the National Maternity Hospital to a site owned and controlled by nuns seems to have paid off. When I got home from the gym this morning, I was greeted by the breaking news on a radio programme that the Sisters of Charity were giving up their role in the health care group where the new hospital is supposed to go.
I’m happy but skeptical about this move. We know how the Catholic Church bodies have acted in the past in their response to paying their share of the abuse compensation bill. We know trusts have been set up to prevent schools being handed over. We know the liberal use of mental reservation by religious men and women to retrain control over processes and investigations.
So I won’t be celebrating just yet. After all, the best way to know what’s going to happen is to look at the past. And the past tells us that the record of Catholic bodies in Ireland is not one we can examine uncritically. The Sisters are pretty devoted to holding what they have, be it property, control or money, or all three.