Bishop never thought of leaving over scandal

By John Fallon Irish Examiner.
Thursday, September 06, 2012

Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby said it never occurred to him to consider resigning after it emerged he had moved two priests at the centre of child sex abuse allegations to other parishes.
He dismissed a suggestion that it was unwritten Church policy in the early 1990s to move priests suspected of child abuse to new parishes rather than report them to the gardaí.

Bishop Kirby, 73, said that 20 years ago he “hadn’t a clue” about how paedophiles operated, and thought paedophilia was “a friendship that crossed a boundary line”.

Dr Kirby, who has been the bishop of Clonfert since 1988, said he had felt moving the priests to new parishes might solve the problem, but denied it was Church policy at the time.

“I think that is unfair presumption on the part of people. I literally thought, and you can put it down as gross innocence and naivety, that if I separated the priest and the youngster… I would have solved the problem. I was not aware that youngster was part of a group and that there were people before him and after him.”

Nine allegations were made against two priests in the early 1990s. One was convicted and served a jail term but the other was not prosecuted as his victims declined to make statements to the gardaí. The third priest was dead for four decades when allegations were made against him.

Bishop Kirby said he reported the allegations to the Western Health Board and presumed it would report them to “civil authorities”, including gardaí.

The bishop said that if he reacted now as he did when the cases occurred, he “would be gone in the morning”.

“It did not occur to me [to resign]. Times were very different. It was 1990 in the first case and 1994 was the second. There were no guidelines available at that time.

“Clearly, if it was now, I would have no question, I would not consider resigning. I would be gone in the morning.”

Bishop Kirby said the priests at the centre at the allegations were not monitored when they were moved to other parishes.

“It would be dishonest of me to say that there was monitoring. There was wishful thinking.

“I now know that the whole issue of child sexual abuse is compulsive and addictive and that my response was grossly inadequate.”

Bishop Kirby said he wished to apologise to the victims and their families.

“I wish to apologise for my own previous lack of understanding of the sinister and recidivist nature of the child abuser, and the life-long damage that this destructive behaviour has on victims. Most of all… I profoundly regret and apologise for moving the priests concerned to different parishes thereby placing others at serious risk.”

Bishop Kirby said he was now confident the necessary safety measures were in place in his diocese.

“There is a full range of policies based on the Safeguarding Children process that has been established in Maynooth. We have our own diocesan committee, the full policy is sent to priests and to the local safeguarding representatives.”

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Category: Child Abuse

5 comments on “Bishop never thought of leaving over scandal

  1. A friendship that crossed boundarys. Well if a father crosses boundarys its called abuse. The priests are called Father. And the nuns mother. this title gives them certain responsabitys. also as thay are supposed to know what thay are deciding. this bishop opposed others to have his own way and insisted so its too late to say he is ignorant. its crazy that he is given a job like that

  2. Charles Pragnell wrote:-

    “There were no guidelines available at that time”.
    Crimen Solicitianos :
    d) As often as, in the prudent judgment of the Ordinary, it seems necessary either for the amendment of the delinquent, the removal of a near occasion [of sin], or the prevention or repair of scandal, there is to be added an order to live in a certain place or a prohibition from the same (Canon 2302).
    and the Ratzinger letter.
    Those were the guidelines the Bishop followed to protect the Roman Catholic Church.”

    The key word here is GUIDELINES. The Irish government has traditionally used this word, as if it means the same thing as the Law of the Land, which applies to ALL Irish citizens. I became aware of this fact many years ago when I made enquires to the Irish Department of Education with regard to their policies on the treatment of children by teachers and principals in our national primary schools. Note, I made such in-depth investigations as a mother.

    Nothing has changed with regard to the Irish socio-political system in that regard. Guidelines are still just that, guidelines. They are not the same as the Laws of the Land, which is precisely why the Catholic Church still has the same “diplomatic immunity” in Ireland as it always had. This dynamic, (or, as its commonly called: “special position”) will not change unless and until enough Irish citizens wake up from their conditioned childhood “slumber” – in other words, grow up and become ADULTS, proper.

  3. I just dont believe thay anyone on this earth dident know what pedophlie was in the 90 ths or 80the or in the last century. thay did know. there is written proof.what thay did was hope it would go away all by itself. when Jean paul first spoke of this problem he named it as media rumeurs.when that dident work he pretended that it was so secret that he was unaware of the problems in spite of the fact that he had dealt with the problem hmself. so it carried on. when cardinal brady sat making notes during interviews with victims he heard all about what was happening to these children he did understand he just walked away from the victims without a thought of stopping the abuse. thay sound too self important. why lie about this. thay cant be that out of touch. we are all on the same planet.And some priests also claim that thay were abused so of course thay knew the dangers of moving abusers around the world.

  4. “There were no guidelines available at that time”.
    Crimen Solicitianos :
    d) As often as, in the prudent judgment of the Ordinary, it seems necessary either for the amendment of the delinquent, the removal of a near occasion [of sin], or the prevention or repair of scandal, there is to be added an order to live in a certain place or a prohibition from the same (Canon 2302).
    and the Ratzinger letter.
    Those were the guidelines the Bishop followed to protect the Roman Catholic Church.

  5. It wasn’t Church policy to move child rapists to other parishes. It’s just pure coincidence that it was done all over the planet thousands of times for decades by the same Church.

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