PATSY McGARRY Religious Affairs Correspondent
Irish Times 16th July 2011
The welfare of children and their protection from predators were low on clergy’s priorities
IRISH BISHOPS and the Vatican have played a major role in exacerbating the tragic story that is clerical child sex abuse in Ireland.

The Cloyne report has found that the Vatican’s reaction to the (Irish bishops’) 1996 framework document was “entirely unhelpful” to any Irish bishop who wanted to implement it and gave individual Irish bishops freedom to ignore it.

The Vatican refused to give the document “recognitio”; told the Irish bishops it was “not an official document of the Episcopal Conference but a study document”; and warned that it could be in breach of canon law. It also said the document’s advice on mandatory reporting gave rise to “serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature”.

The Vatican did so in a confidential letter circulated by the then papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Luciano Storero to every Irish bishop in January 1997, a year after the Irish bishops’ guidelines came into play.

Nor has the Vatican ratified or given the “recognitio” to the Irish Catholic Church’s 2005 updated guidelines. The papal nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza refused to explain any of this to the Cloyne commission, as was the case beforehand with the Murphy commission.

Msgr Denis O’Callaghan, vicar general and delegate in Cloyne diocese, “stymied” implementation of the 1996 document in Cloyne. He was allowed do so by Bishop John Magee who “took little or no active interest in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008 . . .”

Msgr O’Callaghan held all documentation relevant to clerical child sex abuse allegations in his own house. He “did not approve of the procedures set out in the framework document. In particular, Msgr O’Callaghan did not approve of the requirement to report to the civil authorities,” the report found.
Bishop Magee joins a long line of Irish Catholic bishops who have been found, by three statutory reports, grievously wanting where child protection in their dioceses was concerned.

The Ferns report of October 2005 found that both the late Bishop Donal Herlihy and Bishop Brendan Comiskey’s handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in that diocese was “inadequate and inappropriate”.
The November 2009 Murphy report into the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the Dublin archdiocese found that “the welfare of children, which should have been the first priority, was not even a factor to be considered in the early stages”. Instead “the focus was on the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of the good name, status and assets of the institution” and its priests.

And there is the Catholic primate and Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady. Just last year, after a period of reflection, he decided not to resign following revelations that in 1975 he swore two teenagers to secrecy after he concluded an investigation into their abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth. Then a 35-year-old canon lawyer in his own Kilmore diocese, Cardinal Brady concluded that the teenagers had been abused by Smyth and reported accordingly.

Bishop McKiernan informed Fr Smyth’s superior at Kilnacrott abbey in Co Cavan and Smyth was prevented from ministering in Kilmore diocese. The matter rested there and Smyth continued to abuse children for another 18 years, until his arrest in 1993.

Now it transpires that when the cardinal so vigorously defended Bishop Magee in January 2009, he was aware of allegations against Bishop Magee himself as well as findings by the church’s child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC), that child protection practices in Cloyne were “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”.

On December 19th, 2008, that NBSC report was published on the Cloyne website. Shortly afterwards, “Joseph” made his allegations against Bishop Magee known to church authorities. On January 7th, 2009, Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel informed Cardinal Brady by phone of the allegations against Bishop Magee.
On January 13th, 2009, Cardinal Brady explicitly rejected calls for Bishop Magee to resign in an RTÉ interview. In Killarney to address priests of the diocese of Kerry, he said “I have known Bishop Magee for almost 50 years. I think he is dependable and reliable. I think he has learned a very painful lesson and I think that he will do everything in his power to make sure that this terrible thing does not happen again in his diocese.”

He was “aware of those calls for his resignation and I understand why people would make those calls because some people are very angry . . . However, on reflection, I think he should not resign.” I think he should not resign.”

This he said of a man found by the NBSC report published three weeks beforehand to have presided over a diocese where child protection practices were “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”. This of a man of whom yesterday’s Cloyne report could say it was “a remarkable fact” that he “took little or no active interest in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the framework document was adopted.” This of a man who “misled” then minister of state for children Brian Lenihan on child protection practices in his diocese in 2005, who “misled” the HSE in 2007 and who “misled” the NBSC in 2008.
“Dependable”? “Reliable”?

Hardly the first words that come to mind.


1 Response » to “Child abuse tragedy made worse by Irish bishops and Vatican”

  1. The Catholic church has a world-wide, consistent, organized approach to concealing rampant child sex abuse by Catholic priests. In places where it’s investigated by outsiders – like Philadelphia, Ireland, etc, they’ve found epidemic child rape and criminal cover up.

    To see how bad it still is in 2011 in the US, Google “Philadelphia district attorney grand jury report” and read just the first 6 pages. The perverted sex with children, and the organized cover up are horrifying.

    It’s organized crime, and should be investigated and prosecuted in the US using RICO statutes. Unlike the mafia, it’s not the primary job of the church to commit these crimes, but there’s no question that they committed thousands of child sex crimes in the United States alone, and covered it up in criminal fashion, although they knew the laws well enough to outlast the statute of limitations.

    This makes them an organized crime institution, and they should be investigated like the mafia.

    The fact that they continue to ignore or fight the victims, and the fact that they continue to lie and mislead their sheepish congregation makes them a horrible church. God made the laws so simple, yet Catholic priests and bishops don’t follow them, and their congregation can’t figure that out.

    Elsewhere in the world, Amnesty International and others should use their power to sue the Vatican.

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