By Andrew Madden

Thursday February 11 2010

IN her column in this newspaper last Saturday, Mary Kenny chose to make reference to my spiritual life. She pitied me for having no spiritual element in my life, assuming it consisted only of the material and was therefore bland and unimaginative.

Mary Kenny has, of course, never met me, never phoned me, never asked for a meeting or an interview over coffee, never tried to contact me in any way to ask me about anything. Until now I have made little or no reference in public to what spiritual life I do have, so she had absolutely no information on which to base her opinion. What she did have was the most contemptible arrogance to assume to know enough to write about it anyway. A more ignorant, condescending pouring out of sanctimonious drivel I have not read in a long time.

All Kenny knew was that I had completed the formal process of defecting from the Catholic Church, and from that one single fact she assumed to know everything else. Next week she’ll probably preach to us all she knows about humility. Thousands of others have chosen to leave the Catholic Church too but, unlike Kenny, I don’t assume to know all of their reasons.

I have been a Catholic in name only for many years, but after all I have seen of the church in recent times, I decided I did not want that organisation in my life anymore, not even in name only. To assume, as Kenny does, that I therefore have no spirituality in my life is truly reprehensible. I am crossing a line here I haven’t crossed before, but Kenny’s nonsense last Saturday cannot go unchecked. Almost 13 years ago I tried to stop drinking, having tried twice before and failed. I had been an active alcoholic for 14 years by then and was quite a mess at the end of it all. Anything I did, in all those years I was drinking, was done with a drink in my hand. I lived at about 10pc of what I was capable of and I struggled to do even that.

When I stopped drinking I had to learn how to live without it. I had to learn how to be. How to get through a whole day without getting drunk. How to pass an evening. How to enjoy music. How to conduct friendships properly. How to relax at the end of a day’s work. How to socialise and meet people sober.

I also learned that I could not do all of this by myself. I had friends who themselves had crossed the bridge from addiction to normal living, but more was needed. Over time, as I slowly became happy and confident, I accepted that I was receiving more help than that of friends. I came to believe in a power greater than myself and came to believe that that power was helping me stay sober and helping me learn to live happily. I chose to call that power the “Spirit of Recovery”. It didn’t come easy or natural for me to start believing in any such power, but as time in recovery passed, my belief in a power greater than myself grew. Instead of believing that a higher power was just helping me stay sober, I believed that it was helping me in all areas of my life. As a friend of mine says: “He’s looking after all of it, or none of it.” I see my higher power as a loving, caring essence in my life that wants me to live a good life.

Today I try to hand my will and my life over to the care of that higher power every morning before I leave the house in order that my actions and thoughts might be guided by my higher power’s will for me. At night I review my day and thank my higher power for everything, including the fact that I didn’t drink. I ask my higher power to look after other people too, just like I used to ask God to do when I was a little boy lying in bed thinking I would one day be a priest.

But of course, I don’t need to be a priest to believe in a power greater than myself, spirituality is not the preserve of practising Catholics. And having a sense of oneself that extends beyond the physical and the material is not an understanding exclusive to the obnoxious Mary Kenny.

And the next time she chooses to write about other people she should afford them the courtesy of getting her facts right first, and keep her patronising pity to herself.

Andrew Madden’s best-selling book ‘Altar Boy’ helped expose abuse in the Catholic Church

– Andrew Madden

Irish Independent


21 Responses to “Andrew Madden: Mary Kenny says I am to be pitied? Give me strength”

  1. Hanora Brennan says:

    Mary Kenny you were not sexually abused by your ‘older men’ in your wayward days of your youth because you were not and are not an attractive person! Coming from the middle classes as you do would ensure that you were treated with a modicum of respect so put a sock in it and go home!

    ‘The Burning of Bridget Cleary’ is another scary insight into Irish society. Exquisitely written by Angela Burke it is the story of a husband who burned his wife on an open fire and his defence was the ‘little people’ told him to do so!

    The cottage still stands today, but no one resides in it and the locals are still scared of it – almost 100 years after the event!

    It must have been so easy for the church to brainwash these people!

    Hooray for Education!

    TFYQA = Think For Yourselves, Question All!

  2. Dove says:

    Please stop refferring to Man Apes and Demons as human. They just manifest in that form. Religion outside the personal responability to the Devil etc… The ones they abuse are posseessed. Love miss spelling goes wth my dyslexia.

    I saw somewhere Irish Law being ridiculed for crimes of elves etc… Well obviously since Elves, Fairies, Leprachans, Banshees never stand trial then they are up holding those Laws. Unlike Ape Man. The ancient Celtics Faith oft time refer to a Mythical Characature referenceing the Pschological horror or Endearment of a person. Greaks had similar. Celts oldest and Foundation of Just Civilisation. Studied over Thousads of years to Build, New Grange, also (do you) Dowth or Knowth. Built and used till Roman conquest. A Celestial mapper. Yours Tuahata De Nannan, Ard Ri. Longest ever Liniage of Royal Dynasty in the Tara. Councillers to the Assembly of Eire. Where Peace and Justice reigned for millemias in the Celtic Empire to Indo-Europe. pictured as our Ard Ri tied to a Post, Flesh picked by 3 Ravens (clergy)after 3 Days. As the Strangers stood feared after Oh read the Legend yourself. Stands in the GPO.

  3. Who and what are victims actually fighting

    A Personal Opinion

    Peig Saors,my mother and many others spoke in feared tones of fairies who appeared after drowning and deaths in relatively recent times. The children to be abused were convicted in advance by the papel states as criminals and other described as temptresses and delinquents, etc. Protestants could not marry Catholics. Your body was the property of the church. Vile concepts, terrible ongoing consequences.

    In less recent times, even Darwin was under daily threat from violent intervention by church zealots for his breach of creationism. Before that, elves were recorded as official sources of criminal action in state courts. No joking matter. In-around the same time, dissenters (especially women) were burned at the stake for challenging the church-state norms and with regularity. Only the accusation was necessary (as it is today for children). Medieval horror that actually existed to be sure and masters of this were the churches. And two thousand years they have had to fire up this theme and encapsulate and indoctrinate fear and easy is has been in the absence of science and information. What a great and successful enterprise it has been for the beneficiaries (but massively outnumbered by the victims). Ordinary men of no particular talent, deeply psychotic juveniles, entrenched criminals and blaggards of no particular quality have risen to the illustrious posts of bishops, cardinals and popes without hindrance and it appears in many cases, the worse they were the further they got.

    Ireland 2010: The clerical bosses summoned to the castle of the medieval indoctrination system for a ‘conference’ following failings in their province.And what type of failing might they be and in whose interests are those failing damaging.

    There is a problem in old Rome and a major one. Science, knowledge, human logic, talent and information has breached the walls of the papal States. The walls are caving in. And whats more, the holies cannot control that information and truth, its an uphill battle. Hubris.

    Today though for free thinkers, the reality is emerging that the historical doctrine in practice has been a lie, from top to toe. Nothing more nothing less. A ghastly unfounded hoax manufactured by zealots, hoaxters and charlatans to deceive, deprive and exploits you and yours. You thought you lived in a democratic state but in reality you live in a papal state. A hoax far worse than the Golden Cow and the Pharoes. A brother ideology of the failed communism except it has thrived for thousands in the natural isolation of the pre-information era. Destruction of lives and all before it is no job too small for the sacred Vatican.

    So what about it? Are we now watching the transition into the future thousands of years of humanity within the context of logical and structured thought and emotion, a theme not beholden to classic concepts of almighty and deeply dubious scriptures conjured up for imperial purposes? Could we in fact be participating in one of the most tumultuous events in the history of humanity, an event not marked by war or by exploitation, an event in fact now demarcating the transition of all of humanity from the era of hate filled magical and medieval influences forwards into the era of uncorrupted enlightened abilities of man to structure the world around him with the skills and talents of the earthly logic around him. A world shaped by social knowledge, science and logic, sharing, reason and democracy. A world not festering with medieval concepts of social franchising in the form of religions where no person in reality has a choice. A world where little children cannot be terrorised by black suited adults trained to traumatise and intimidate with themes of jury trials and terrific torture after death. Say no to the indoctrination of their death culture.

    The vileness of what that bunch represents is unspeakable. The vileness of damage they have done right within the current time and to victims even more so.

    Goodness is within you not outside you. It always has been.

  4. Paddy says:

    This kid isn’t going to either Liberty Hall or to Wynne’s Hotel. There’s a kind of an irony in that. Wynne’s is the spot where many years ago, priest and nuns gathered. No doubt there were a few Christian brothers among their number. As it’s Valentine’s Day, anyone going to Liberty Hall will receive a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates wrapped in a padded read heart. Pity I can’t drag myself along – I like chocolate!!! Paddy.

  5. damien says:

    Is anyone going to the meeting of Soca in Liberty Hall at 2pm tomorrow? If so, what about meeting in Wynn’s hotel at about 1pm, for some coffee?

  6. Martha says:

    @ Redmond Barry and his “Brainwashing” post:-

    The only people who can be manipulated and controlled as ADULTS (ie., desensitised sociopathic other adults) are those who have no psychological immunity to such predators – usually, though not always, as a result of their own fragile experience of LOVE as children.

    In other words, sociopathic humans will INEVITABLY prey on their fellow human who happen to be very vulnerable (for whatever reason) – which, of course, is not natural. That is to say, it is not natural for a species to prey on its own kind – which is what Religious Dogma (eg., Roman Catholicism) is all about.

  7. Carmel Horan says:

    Mary Kenny has lots of opinions and of course they are always the correct ones. When she changes her mind as she did when she left her feminism ways she claims it was youth that clouded her judgement. What is it now? Could it be old age?

    Beautifully written piece that I will be passing on. Well done!

  8. Tony Duggan says:

    It might seem a strange thing to say but the physical and mental abuse doled out to survivors as children was not the only form of abuse indulged in by the Middle Eastern cult we call Catholicism.

    There are those in Ireland who are so brainwashed by it that they call themselves religious but have lost sight of the difference between right and wrong.

  9. Portia says:

    I sent this letter to Mary Kenny.

    She pitied me for having no spiritual element in my life, assuming it consisted only of the material and was therefore bland and unimaginative.

    Dear Mary.

    The Catholic Cult corporation has nothing to do with spirituality. It is about money and control of the sheep through fear, guilt, sin etc.

    We are all spiritual beings having a human experience.

    I have also sent in my papers to the cult, removing myself from their patriarchal brainwashing of me since birth.

    Also check the relationship with British crown and Vatican and see who told the British to finish off the job of killing the famous Shining Ones of Eire, with our sacred feminine seat in Tara.

    Who sacrificed the children of Eire to their god Seth on a daily basis- yes- the roman catholic cult- which has nothing to do with Christ either. They crucified him too because he belonged to the People of Love.

    So, maybe meet Andrew and Paddy for a coffee and get to know them.

    They are the true survivors- an inspiration to others worldwide.

    They are to be saluted for their bravery and courage, but pity is not i their vocabulary.

    Unless you have walked in our shoes, then you cannot know truth.

    That is just how it is on planet Earth.

    Kind Regards.


    Mary’s response.

    With respect, I think Mr Madden is over-stating the situation, and his analysis is a little solipsistic.
    I used his public statement “counting himself out” from the Catholic Church as a journalistic peg to discourse upon wider issues. But the original piece was not really about him at all.
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and to make their own decisions: and everyone has a different perspective which deserves respect. Mine would be different from yours, but that is part of life’s rich pattern. I know many, many individuals who derive enormous comfort from their Catholic faith and I am impressed by their witness too.
    How nice it would be to see Tara reinstated. Sadly, there is too much worship of the motor-car for that.
    Kind regards, Mary K

  10. Kate Dowling says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Great response to the ill-informed and presumptuous Ms Kenny. I’m glad to read another God-filled man (Paddy Doyle being the other). I experience from your article the very best kind of spirituality – the in-depth self-searching, the awareness and then the enlightenment. So may you, Andrew, continue to be held in that loving, caring presence – your essence – as you live a good life and become fully all you are meant to be. Keep up the good work.

  11. De-brainwashing Project.

    Specimen ID: Mary Kenny.

    Specimen Status: Fully Brainwashed.

    Programme Outline from Wikipedia (Brainwashing): “Theories of mind control and religious conversion”

    Over the years various theories of conversion and member retention have been proposed that link mind control to New Religious Movements, and particularly those religious movements referred to as “cults” by their critics. These theories resemble the original political brainwashing theories with some minor changes. For instance Philip Zimbardo discusses mind control as “the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes,”[18] and he suggests that any human being is susceptible to such manipulation.[19] In a 1999 book Robert Lifton also applied his original ideas about thought reform to Aum Shinrikyo, concluding that in this context thought reform was possible without violence or physical coercion. Margaret Singer, who also spent time studying the political brainwashing of Korean prisoners of war, agreed with this conclusion: in her book Cults in Our Midst she describes six conditions which would create an atmosphere in which thought reform is possible.[20]

    Approaching the subject from the perspective of neuroscience and social psychology, Kathleen Taylor suggests that manipulation of the pre-frontal cortex activates “brainwashing”, rendering a person more susceptible to black-and-white thinking.[21] Meanwhile, in Influence, Science and Practice, social psychologist Robert Cialdini argues that mind control is possible through the covert exploitation of the unconscious rules that underlie and facilitate healthy human social interactions. He states that common social rules can be used to prey upon the unwary. Using categories, he offers specific examples of both mild and extreme mind control (both one on one and in groups), notes the conditions under which each social rule is most easily exploited for false ends, and offers suggestions on how to resist such methods.[citation needed]

  12. FXR says:

    Mary Kenny is what’s known as a P.E.V.S, a Post Emancipation Voluntary Slave, as is any female who stoutly defends the Roman Catholic Church.

    You have to be to defend an organisation that’s spent the last 2000 years denigrating women, along with the rest of humanity, outside their clerical ranks.

  13. jack says:

    Well said and well done ANDREW
    May the balance of your life be lived in peace and soberness. God will exact his dues from these hypocrites, who pretend to represent him here .like what has been said, Mary Kenny, has a lot to learn from us and not we from her. Much success to you. Jack

  14. Emmie says:

    I am an English woman of Irish Catholic extraction living in England and I know all about sexual abuse from my own experiences as a child. I also know all about the way the Catholic Church has messed up the heads of many people with its arrogance and piety, covering up the most dreadful of deeds here in the UK and certainly in Ireland. As I am one of those poor unfortunate people who have decided to turn my back on this religion due to the way the teachings and behaviour of priests and nuns screwed up both my biological AND my adoptive parents, then I guess Mary Kenny must pity me too. Well, she can take her condescending and patronising pity and stick it right where the sun don’t shine for all I care, I am happier now than I have ever been, without religion!
    Brilliant article. Totally agree with it and heard and felt every word.

  15. damien says:


  16. Portia says:

    Brilliant article written from the core of your being.

    Mary might feel the need for some pity herself and may well be projecting that need onto Andrew unconsciously.

    Either way, she has a lot to learn.

  17. mmaguire says:


    I am surprised at your reaction.

    Have you not realised that the properties you see in Mary Kenny and interpret as contemptible arrogance, ignorance, condescension and sanctimony are your obvious, but human misinterpretation of the power, position and influence of this lady.

    I must add that I should have included self belief and importance too.

    She obviously has gained many qualities through her strength and belief including:


    but as far as I know she has yet to gain omnipresence.

    and that, I assume is the real reason she did not contact you beforehand.

    The first two qualities were obviously assumed by her to be sufficient for her purposes in this instance.

    Like her godhead, with whom she obviously shares many qualities, given like pages of the Bible, her character too, pours forth.

    She presumably has prophetic vision too.

    We are lucky that someone of her quality, insight and skill has been lowered, to be made manifest through her person, as she
    reveals certain predictable qualities such as love, compassion and grace but also reveals other traits including passion, commitment and anger.

    Her complete personality cannot be encapsulated in a sound bite and it cannot be captured in print; however, as a devout follower three traits or characteristics universally associated with God are already beginning to show through.

    Just insist that her omnipresence is fully adjusted and activated before her next outpouring.

    Best of Luck Andrew – just believe the addage that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” as Mary is “really trying”.,… and at least as far as I know from my distant knowledge of the Bible and other similar documents, it is unlikely that she: “will come again!!.



  18. Hanora Brennan says:

    Why is it these rampant roman catholics think they have a monopoly on spirituality? Catholicism is a ritualised religion and over the years many who attended chuch did so out of dutiful obsequiousness to the church, not out of any spiritual dimension. I know of an instant when a patient checked into our hospital here in Kilkenny and when the details were being taken prior to the operation, the word Catholic had been written in when the patient had told the nurse that Hinduism was the preferred religion! Andrew, take heart from the fact that anyone who is making or has made a difference in sny strata of society has been villified! Keep it up!

  19. Dear Andrew,

    I personnaly, fully understand your position, if it may be called a position. When I was released from St. Josephs,Glin, Co. Limerick in 1951 having been on my knees every morning noon and night in prayer,having said enough prayers for all Ireland whilst in captivity. My journey in life started three short months later on a mail boat from Dublin to Holyhead accompanied with a man I called Sir, my father. As I did not know him enough at that time having been without him since I was eight years old. My only confident in which I could look to for any questions, relating to religion, was a brilliant person who was born in Dublin, my music mentor, Bro. Murphy, he was the only Bro. I could trust, not all the Bro’s were evil as sometimes depicted in some accounts. My concerns which I relayed to him prior to being released from Glin were my damaged belief in the Catholic Church, I did not tell him why I felt that way, but he seen the concern I think, but did not delve further, what he said I will never forget, “Seanie, if for any reason in your life you have doubt of the Church, leave it, but son, pray to your holy mother, Mary, she loves you and no matter what sin, she will forgive you. I attended Church for a short time in England accompanied with my father, it was a fine big Church, much bigger than the little chapel in the school in Glin, and I wrote to Bro. Murphy, I was almost eighteen then and my question was, Bro. Murphy, am I a Roman Catholic ?, that may sound dumb but I did not know, he replied in a letter which I still have to this day, almost sixty years. I found out that I was indeed a Roman Catholic. I never returned to the Church since then. I married in a register office at age twenty one to a prodestant, raised three great children who blessed us with six grand children who now blessed us with three great grand children, I have not encouraged any of the whole family to ever enter a Roman Catholic Church and they have not. Every morning as I shower I pray to the Virgin Mary, my holy mother. I did not leave the Catholic Church Andrew, the Catholic Church left me. There is a higher power in my own mind and that higher power, I myself, call God. I too am an alcoholic I think. I am scarred from my time in Glin, so maybe that could be blamed, but then again I was a special forces active service member in the Far East in the 50s so that may be a factor, or maybe my construction life as a skilled tradesman which which was enjoyed at the end of each hard day in the pubs, Finally I have to seriously consider my Life now as a Private Investigator/security consultant as another factor, but where did it all start, I believe it started from the cradle of St. Josephs,Glin. They call it “Post Traumatic Stress Disease”. I will relate life in my book when ever I get it finished, the screen gets too blurred as I write my memoir “Damaged Goods” too often.

    All the very best to you Andrew from the bottom of my heart.


  20. Martha says:

    Well said, Andrew Madden! Mary Kenny is one those who violently reacted to her own Roman Catholic upbringing and then INEVITABLY became more RC than her own parents and childhood role models. She’s a classic product of Roman Catholic dogma in that she hasn’t a clue what true spiritually is, which Andrew articulates so well in this article. Keep up the good work Andrew, and as the saying goes, “Never let the B*stds grind you down!”

  21. Paddy says:

    Let’s all go round to Mary’s place for lots of TEA AND SYMPATHY. It’s just what we’ve needed all these years!

    An excellent piece of writing Andrew. Bloody brilliant.