Benedict XVI: A self-serving pastoral letter to rub salt into wounds of his Church’s Irish victims Print E-mail
 London ~ December 13 2009

Gerald Scarfe cartoon for Ireland

 London ~ December 13, 2009


Self-serving Vatican runs true to form

The increasingly lonesome challenge of keeping faith with the Catholic church has not been assisted by Pope Benedict’s response to the Murphy commission’s report on the Dublin archdiocese. While the statement issued by the Vatican on Friday contains some merit, it is undermined by the implicit supposition that church elders still hold moral sway over this country.

Andrew Madden, who was sexually abused as an altar boy and now speaks with the eloquent authority squandered by the bishops, has decried the Vatican’s statement as “self-serving nonsense”. It is difficult to argue with his conclusion. For the Pope to say he shares “the shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland” is disingenuous. It is anger we feel, not shame. Most lay Catholics are innocent of collusion in the crimes committed by priests against children and covered up by superiors.

It is as though the papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, had been absent from Friday’s meeting of the pontiff and the Irish bishops. The communique says nothing about the Holy See’s snub to the Murphy commission by failing to answer its correspondence. Nor does it promise the curia’s co-operation in future. Victims of clerical abuse in Cloyne diocese, which the commission is currently investigating, will be dismayed by this glaring omission. It is tempting to dismiss the Vatican’s promise of structural reform in the Irish church as some diversionary tactic. That would be wrong. The Murphy report unambiguously calls for improved communication in the uppermost diocesan ranks and for a new perspective in deciding senior positions to take into account managerial abilities and not just doctrinal orthodoxy.

The over-riding focus of the Vatican response is the intention to look after its own interests. It makes an obscure pledge to tweak the system but there is no acknowledgement that some practices of the worldwide church must be overhauled to effect real change. Even before impaired local communication allowed paedophiles through the net, the ban on married and female clergy created an environment that lured them and let them flourish. As long as the celibate priesthood prevails, the Catholic church will not be fixed.
 Dublin ~ Saturday December 12 2009


Vatican response falls short

COULD it be that we are about to see real action from the Vatican about clerical sexual abuse, rather than impassioned rhetoric?

There is to be a major reorganisation of the Catholic Church in Ireland, according to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, after he and Cardinal Brady had met Pope Benedict XVl yesterday to discuss the Murphy report into child abuse.

But is that a sufficient and appropriate response to the crimes that were committed and to the attempts by senior religious figures to cover them up?

Has the promised 'management training' for aspiring bishops got anything to do with redress for past crimes and prevention of future ones?

Remarkably, the cardinal and the archbishop have admitted that, when they spoke to the Pope, there was no discussion of the failings of bishops and auxiliary bishops identified in the Murphy report.

What then were they talking about?

Meanwhile, a Vatican statement that the Holy Father shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by the faithful in Ireland was greeted by survivors' groups here as being disingenuous and inadequate.

After all that has happened, their scepticism was understandable.

All too often Catholic churchmen would have us believe that the past is another country, a country in which what's done is done and what's lost is gone forever.

Dr Martin clearly believes that the proposed shake-up of the church's structure in Ireland is significant, but victims had hoped that the Pope would insist on the resignation of the bishops named in the Murphy report.

They want to know whether the Holy Father is as upset about the crimes of the clerical paedophiles as he is about the actions of those superiors who shielded them and moved them around so that they could work their evil in pastures new.

The Vatican is another country, and its head of state has promised to send to the people of Ireland -- or at least to the faithful therein -- a pastoral letter which will spell out initiatives in response to child abuse.

We were not told when this is going to happen, but the wheels of diplomacy grind almost as slowly as the cogs of the Catholic Church, so it is probably safe to assume that the letter is not yet in the post.
 London ~ December 13, 2009

The Church needs to learn the real value of humility

Justine McCarthy

The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines the word “humility” as “a modest or low view of one’s own importance”. Even a bishop with his fingers crossed behind his back would not dispute that definition. Talking the talk, however, is not quite walking the walk.

In Maynooth last week, braces of bishops in sombre civvies paraded past the television cameras with their heads bowed or their eyes averted, projecting the essence of humility. Nice Bishop Willie Walsh was red-eyed with grief. His namesake, Bishop Eamonn Walsh, was sporting a sore on his lip that made him look a little broken, as he protested: “If I had done anything wrong, I’d be gone.”

Most of the other bishops were mere silhouettes who, despite being members of a tiny, exclusive club, would be unrecognisable to almost anybody outside their own dioceses, and to many within, too.

At the end of the first day of their winter conclave in Maynooth, they issued a statement that they were “shamed” by the cover-up of child sexual abuse by the episcopacy. “We humbly ask for forgiveness,” they pleaded. Yet, to a man, they still held onto their jobs as they dispersed to their bishoprics.

Ireland’s Catholic bishops have many lessons to learn. Not least is that, simply saying you are humble does not automatically make you so. Bishops are the bling-bling princes of the church. They wear gold rings and kingly garments. They major in pomp and ceremony. Their residences are called “palaces”. They are accustomed to people bowing before them. The threat of their mitres has paralysed national legislators with deference.

Such deeply engraved privilege does not vanish with the wave of a magic wand, or an appropriate formula of words. It has been a mantra of Catholic defenders since publication of both the Ryan and Murphy reports within six months of each other that “we are all the Church”, as if it is some gigantic conglomerate of equals. Once again, saying it does not make it so.

Regard the gilded extravagance enjoyed by the top bishop, Pope Benedict XVI, who presides over a realm of priceless treasures. He is waited on by minions, has the use of several mansions, and a small army of Toys-R-Us-like ceremonial soldiers. It is not what you would call a “humble” lifestyle.

When President Mary McAleese met Pope Benedict in the Vatican in March 2007, setting a record as the most ubiquitous head of state calling on His Holiness since his installation, she assured him that, if he accepted a standing invitation to visit Ireland, the government would do all in its power to make his visit a success.

It was the fourth time the prospect of a visit to Ireland was raised in the Vatican on this country’s behalf since the former Cardinal Ratzinger succeeded John Paul II: twice (that we know of) by Cardinal Sean Brady, once by the president, and once by former taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Considering the criminal injuries, the hurt bewilderment and the sense of betrayal the institution has wreaked in Ireland, the invitation to the pontiff is predicated on a breathtaking presumption ­ that he is wanted here.

The ecstatic welcome accorded 30 years ago to John Paul II is unlikely to be repeated but, if JP’s less charismatic successor fancies an Irish visit, he and his bishops will have to undergo a crash course in humility. Prostration is the very least required.

While they were in Maynooth, the hierarchy would have been well advised to study the example provided by one of that university’s most impressive teachers. Enda McDonagh, the theologian who was chaplain to Mary Robinson’s presidency, understands what full and sincere contrition entails.

Speaking on Marian Finucane’s radio programme last May, following the publication of Judge Sean Ryan’s report on child torture in residential institutions run by religious orders, he cautioned: “We cannot present ourselves as Christian in public until we can undertake the complete humiliation that shows us for the sinners we are. It’s not a verbal thing. We have to openly see how we have failed and we can actually only begin repentence if there is a sort of encouragement from the abused.”

Instead of withdrawing the invitation to visit, Ireland should insist that the worldwide head of the Catholic church come here next year when he visits Britain. It has been reported that he is impatient with the Irish bishops for not wrapping up the clerical child sexual abuse scandal faster. If that is an accurate reflection of his attitude to the revelations, Il Papa too has much to learn.

There is evidence that Ireland has been a significant contributor to the church’s global child-abuse contagion. Criminal priests were hidden by the Irish church in dioceses as far-flung as Australia, the US, Canada and Japan. God only knows what went on in Africa. As a source of the problem, this country needs urgent and radical attention ­ not a quick fix.

Benedict must come here now. He must come in utter humility and he must listen. Let us build a stage in the Phoenix Park with chairs upon it reserved for such VIPs as Colm O’Gorman, Andrew Madden, Marie Collins and any other survivor of the church’s criminal negligence who wishes to be heard. Let the princes be silent; let them desist from the incense-filled ritual that puts them centre-stage. Let them listen to those survivors whose courage has done more for the institution than all the pieties in Rome. We might, at last, hear what Colm O’Gorman was prevented from saying in the cathedral in Drogheda when his invitation to speak there was withdrawn.

What the bishops must understand before they can attempt to honestly make amends is that the hierarchy has done the greatest damage to the church. They have harboured criminals who defiled children, and supplied them with more prey.

They have lied, obstructed, defied, threatened and vilified to protect church assets; crushing people’s faith, fostering suspicion of those who were abused, turning neighbour against neighbour, and parent against child.

All this they did in the name of Christ.

If he were alive, he could sue them for defamation in the Four Courts (and, no doubt, the church’s lawyers would advise fighting all the way).

The scandals besetting the Irish church are not a PR problem to be fixed. They are a human tragedy. Words without action are salt in the wounds.

 Dublin ~ Sunday, 13 December 2009

Church needs a change of mentality to truly reform

New structures will count for nothing unless the culture of collusion and cover-up is rooted out

By Ronan Fanning

THREE events last week -- the meeting between Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin and the Papal Nuncio in Iveagh House on Tuesday; the Catholic hierarchy's meeting in Maynooth on Wednesday and Thursday; and what happened in the Vatican on Friday -- demonstrate that what I wrote in this newspaper last Sunday of the historic significance of the Murphy report understated the case.

Never before has an Irish government minister taken a Papal Nuncio so publicly to task. Mr Martin's announcement, stressing "the need for a substantive response even now to the questions that have been raised", and his insistence that the Vatican must provide a "comprehensive response" to any questions that might be raised by the Murphy commission's ongoing investigation into the Diocese of Cloyne, were utterly unprecedented.

Also unprecedented was the divide in the ranks of the Irish hierarchy of which the television cameras afforded us some startling glimpses on the fringes of the Maynooth meeting. The language -- and more tellingly, the body language -- of the participants, said it all. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Cardinal Sean Brady appeared gracious, forthcoming and willing to engage with whatever questions were put to them. Other bishops were graceless, evasive, and even in some cases, resentful. Resentment boiled immediately to the surface, for example, when Patsy McGarry, the Irish Times religious affairs correspondent, asked Bishop Eamonn Walsh, an Auxilary Bishop of Dublin named in the Murphy report,

about suggestions that he was under pressure: "Yeah. Well, you and your newspaper have put me under pressure." But at least Bishop Walsh had the guts to say on the first day of the Maynooth conference that he saw no reason why he should resign; not so Bishops Ray Field and Jim Moriarty, who waited until Archbishop Martin and Cardinal Brady were safely en route to Rome.

What happened in Rome dwarfs the importance of the earlier events. Never before has a pastoral letter been specifically addressed to Irish Catholics; indeed, it is extraordinarily rare for any pope to address a pastoral letter to any local church.

There are two key passages in the Vatican statement issued after Pope Benedict's meeting with Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin. First, that the pope "will follow this grave matter with the closest attention in order to understand better how . . . best to develop effective and secure strategies to prevent any recurrence [of these shameful events]". Second, that "the Holy See takes very seriously the central issues raised by the reports, including questions concerning the governance of local church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children".

Note the absence of any specific reference to Dublin. With a further report from the Murphy commission (into the Diocese of Cloyne) already pending and the prospect of further investigations into Raphoe and other dioceses, there may be worse to come. Archbishop Martin spelt it out to the media in St Peter's Square immediately after he met the pope. The pastoral letter, he suggested, may demand "a very significant reorganisation of the church in Ireland". We seem on the brink of the most historic change in the structure of the Catholic Church in Ireland possibly for centuries, and certainly since the aftermath of the Great Famine.

But structural change will count for no more than shuffling around the deck-chairs on the Titanic unless it is accompanied by a fundamental change in mentality, a rooting out of the endemic culture of cover-up and collusion.

Archbishop Martin seems the only bishop who could plausibly be cast to act as an agent of change and who might play a role in what he has described as the process of renewal. Indeed, he has already won international acclaim -- most notably in a remarkable editorial in the New York Times on December 7 which compared Archbishop Martin's behaviour with that of Bishop Edward Egan of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bishop Egan's then diocese (he has since been elevated to the position of Cardinal and Archbishop of New York) fought a lawsuit for seven years resisting the release of 12,000 pages of documents alleging decades of sexual abuse of children.

Bishop Egan, wrote the New York Times, in stark contrast with Archbishop Martin whose initial response to the Murphy report they quote at some length, "responds to accounts of abuse not with shame, but scepticism, and exhibits the keen instinct for fraternal self-protection that reliably put shepherds ahead of the traumatised flock". Bishop Egan, "with institutional pride, looks at the relatively low rate of proven abuse cases as a sort of perverse accomplishment. 'It's marvellous,' he said, 'when you think of the hundreds and hundreds of priests and . . . how very few have even come close to having anyone prove anything'."

Cardinal Egan could have been the star turn in that sickening concert of episcopal complacency we glimpsed in Maynooth, crooning the traditional Irish ditty: "It's all right, as long as you're not caught!"

The spotlight of international attention exemplified by the New York Times editorial points to the Vatican's larger dilemma. Clerical sexual abuse of children is an international, not just an Irish, issue. The pastoral letter to Irish Catholics will receive much wider scrutiny, especially throughout the English-speaking world where such abuse has been particularly prevalent. Pope Benedict confronts a stark choice.

He can take refuge in pious platitudes and endorse the institutional solidarity with which Cardinal Egan and those delinquent Irish bishops who refuse to resign are identified. Or he can identify with the victims, sanction the transparency personified by Archbishop Martin and treat Ireland as an exemplar of a new policy of zero tolerance to any bishop who has ever turned a blind eye to sexual abuse. In the unlikely event of his taking that second course the Murphy report will stand as an historic landmark not merely in Ireland but throughout the Catholic world.

Ronan Fanning is Professor Emeritus of Modern History at University College Dublin

 Thursday, 3 December 2009

Vatican didn't know either? Pull the other one, there's church bells on it

By Eamon McCann

It would be wrong to say that nothing has changed, but right to say not much. The Vatican will, even now, be pondering the latest dispatches from the battlefront in Ireland and pursing its lips with satisfaction that it hasn't taken more of a hit.

Hard pounding, Your Holiness, but we're coming through relatively unscathed.

The confidence of the Church that it won't suffer grievously from the suffering it has inflicted on children is most clearly expressed in the continuance of the cover-up. More brazen than ever, the conspirators are now hiding in clear sight.

There's scarcely a bishop in the 32 counties who hasn't issued a statement explaining how dismayed/distressed/shocked/bewildered he's been to discover the extent of the depravity perpetrated by fellow clerics. Some have widened their eyes in displays of wonderment: "I cannot begin to understand the mentality."

Do they take the people for fools? I suppose it's what they do.

Complaints of sexual abuse of children by clergy in Ireland have been in the public arena for at least 25 years. For the most part, not much heed was taken of complaints or complainants.

The response of state authorities, south and north, ranged from the inadequate to the inert. But, you could bet the Third Sunday Silver Collection that the Catholic Church itself has been paying attention throughout, tracking every complaint, monitoring reaction.

Now they tell us that they didn't have an inkling of the extent of the criminality until the day before yesterday. Pull the other one, your lordships, it's got church-bells on.

At the beginning of 1996, there were investigations of complaints of sexual abuse under way - however inadequate these were to turn out to be - in the dioceses of Achonry, Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Armagh, Cashel and Emly, Clonfert, Cloyne, Cork and Ross, Derry, Down and Connor, Dromore, Dublin, Elphin, Ferns, Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenor, Kerry, Kildare and Leighlin, Killaloe, Kilmore, Limerick, Raphoe and Waterford and Lismore.

We are being asked to believe that at that time, and since, the bishops never discreetly inquired of one another during prayer breaks at their conclaves at Maynooth or All Hallows or whenever, 'How's that business with Fr So-and-so going?' or, 'Anymore word about that wee girl from such-and-such?' or, 'Is the mother in that other case still onside?'.

Never uttered a dicky-bird. Yeah, right.

The Church's enmeshment with the state helps explain the bishops' confidence that they can blather on regardless. On Tuesday, the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, claimed in the Dail that the Vatican had "acted in good faith" in refusing to cooperate with Judge Murphy.

No, it had not. It may have acted in accordance with diplomatic nicety, but the record shows that good faith and the Vatican are mutually exclusive when it comes to the abuse of children by priests. Cowen's abject performance spoke volumes about the deference of the southern state towards the Church in spite of all.

A state which had genuine concern for its children would have responded to last week's crime scene by taking decisive action to remove the Catholic bishops as patrons of primary schools. Three thousand of 3,200 primaries in the Republic have bishops as patrons. Can any less appropriate category of men be imagined to have such power over the moral formation of children? But not a single TD has urged any such thing.

Control of education is at the heart of the matter. A ferocious determination to secure the right to train the consciousness of the next generation dictated the Catholic hierarchy's attitude to the emerging Irish state in the early years of the last century: give us the children and we'll give you our backing against the British and help shore up your state.

The state was born in the embrace of the Church and has never fully recovered from its origins. Judging from its politicians at least. The Catholic Church is an all-Ireland body. It will require all-Ireland radical action to extirpate the evil it contains from within Irish society. The controversy still raging as I write, may soon recede. That's what Church rulers hope and believe will happen.

But it shouldn't be allowed to happen. The victims, as we keep hearing, must come first.

Consider this: a priest is transferred from the south to a parish in the north. The night before he arrives, the priests in the parochial house are visited by an emissary from the bishop, who tells them to "keep an eye" on their new colleague and specifically to ensure that he is not left alone with children. Over the next few months, he rapes two little girls. The family of one of his victims informs the bishop what's happened. He does nothing.

The family then writes to the cardinal, describing their daughter's experience in heart-rending terms and the effect, both on her, and her family. The cardinal acknowledges the letter, assuring the family that he will pray for them.

The rapist is moved out of the parish to a monastery in the south. When he is traced there and exposed, the bishop lies in public that the Church had earlier informed the civil authorities of the allegations. The priest is eventually jailed.

The bishop concerned has been among those seen in the past week explaining that the situation in his diocese regarding the handling of allegations of child sex abuse has always been tickety-boo.

 Dublin ~ Monday November 23 2009

Archbishops put church honour before children

The paedophile priest Brendan Smyth is led from the Four Courts in Dublin after being sentenced to 12 years in July 1997

By John Cooney

AT the height of Ireland's clerical child sexual abuse scandals, American canon lawyer Fr Tom Doyle predicted the archdiocese of Dublin rated "at the top of the heap" on a world scale for its appalling quota of rapist offenders whose heinous crimes were blithely covered up by the church authorities.

Confirmation of the accuracy of Fr Doyle's assessment has appeared in the first leak from the report of the Commission of Investigation into the Dublin Archdiocese which is with the Government for edited approval at tomorrow's Cabinet meeting.

Its damnable and sordid details of how pervert clergy preyed on children -- while four successive archbishops of Dublin failed to inform the gardai of indictable crimes -- also confirms what for almost a year now Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has lost no opportunity in warning "will shock us all".

It is a tragic horror story of how three powerful archbishops -- John Charles McQuaid, Dermot Ryan and Kevin McNamara -- put the honour and respectability of the institutional Church above the dignity and the welfare of innocent children under their pastoral care in a tightly controlled system of clerical authority from the school desk to the hospital bed.

It is also a nightmarish tale of how Cardinal Desmond Connell, an academic of international repute, proved to be a slow learner in his handling of the legacy from his three predecessors when confronted with an unstoppable tide of revelations and complaints.

The report recognises that the cardinal was appalled at the scale of abuse after taking over in 1988 but became too reliant on legal and medical advice, as well as feeling constrained by canon law.

These dignitaries of the Church were more concerned with elevating secrecy and confidentiality as primary policy priorities at the expense of safeguarding boys and girls from flesh-lusting clerics.

Hiding behind the mask of not giving public scandal to "the simple faithful" long conditioned by their spiritual leaders to owe them utter deference, the Lord Archbishops of Dublin, their chancellery officials and clerical courtiers covered up time and again.

They sent errant clerics either to paid sabbaticals in clinics for psychological assessment or, worse, moved them on to pastures new, where the unsuspecting flock was unaware of their past -- and voracious appetites.

In a telling phrase, one priest called child molestation "merely innocent pleasure", a blasphemous euphemism which rationalised child carnality as being only a venial -- and certainly not a mortal -- sin.

However, no excuse for such moral laxity and abdication of duty can be extended to the four rulers of Catholic Dublin who were all well educated in theology, attending learned institutes of education both in Ireland and abroad. Furthermore, all four archbishops had been educators by profession before their call by Rome to assume sole governance of one of the biggest and most prestigious archdioceses in Europe.

Astonishingly, not one of the four archbishops who held awesome power over the Dublin diocese from 1940 to 2004 deemed it necessary to inform the gardai until late 1995 when Cardinal Connell did so as a civil obligation under hostile media attention.

The shameful reality is that since the foundation of the State in 1921 until very recently, the media, as well as the gardai, politicians, lawyers, doctors and members of the caring professions regarded the Church as a divine institution that was above and beyond the law.

This collusion, ingrained into their secular compatriots by bishops, that the ultimate purpose in life was to save their immortal souls goes a long way to explaining how even a garda commissioner felt it was the remit of Archbishop McQuaid, not the law, to decide the fate of fallen clergy.

Such was the arrogance of the Church's 'officer class' that they regarded any outside lay intrusion into their internal affairs as interference in the temporal work of God invested in them as successors of the apostles. They demanded unquestioning obedience.

This mindset also gives an insight into how the complaints of courageous victims and the occasional priest whistleblower were met with dismissive contempt, even denial. Of how the families of victims would be ostracised by the pious for smearing the good name of the clergy.

At a time too when the Irish Church in Dublin dominated the property market with its expanding church and school-building programme into the then sprawling working-class suburbs of Cabra and Crumlin, its preoccupation with Mammon comes chillingly in how Archbishop McNamara from 1986 to 1987 purchased insurance against clerical sexual misconduct.

This insurance protection undermines the subsequent protestations that it took time for the church leaders to recognise both the seriousness of allegations against priests and that paedophiles were devious and recidivist.

Cardinal Connell inherited a legacy of pervasive child sexual abuse among the Dublin diocesan clergy and religious orders, which shows that this evil had become an integral part of a corrupt clerical system that Archbishops McQuaid, Ryan and McNamara had presided over.

Falteringly, Cardinal Connell came to see the appalling vista and give cooperation to the secular authorities, but his 16-year reign was devastated by the abuses, and it was left for Archbishop Martin to cleanse the Palace in Drumcondra of its murky abuse secrets.

 London ~ Thursday, 26 November 2009

Catholic church in Ireland covered up child abuse, says report

Inquiry into child abuse at Irish Catholic institutions condemns systemic 'perversion of power and trust'

Associated Press
?The Roman Catholic church in Ireland hid decades of child abuse by its leaders to protect the church's reputation, an inquiry found. Photograph: Danilo Krstanovic/Reuters

The Roman Catholic church in Dublin covered up decades of child abuse committed by priests because bishops wanted to protect the church's reputation at the expense of victims, an expert commission reported today after a three-year inquiry into previously secret church records.

Abuse victims said they welcomed publication of the investigation into the mishandling of child abuse cases from 1975 to 2004 in the Dublin archdiocese, home to a quarter of Ireland's 4 million Catholics. But they said government and church leaders had not compensated for past wrongs.

The government said the investigation "shows clearly that a systemic, calculated perversion of power and trust was visited on helpless and innocent children in the archdiocese".

"The perpetrators must continue to be brought to justice, and the people of Ireland must know that this can never happen again," said the government, which apologised for the state's failure to hold church authorities accountable to the law.

This is the second major government-ordered report this year exploring how and why Irish authorities permitted widespread abuse of boys and girls at the hands of the Catholic church throughout most of the 20th century, the gravest scandal in the history of independent Ireland.

The 720-page report, delivered to the government in July, analyses the cases of 46 priests against whom 320 complaints were filed. The men were selected from more than 150 Dublin priests implicated in molesting or raping boys and girls since 1940.

The report named 11 priests because they all were convicted of child abuse. But 33 others were referred to only by one-name aliases, and two others had their names blanked out after the Dublin high court ruled that publication would prejudice their chances of receiving a fair criminal trial.

Investigators spent three years poring over 60,000 previously secret Dublin church files. They were handed over by the Dublin archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, a veteran Vatican diplomat appointed to the Irish capital in 2004 with a brief to confront the scandal. Among the files were more than 5,500 Martin's predecessor, the retired cardinal Desmond Connell, tried to keep locked in the archbishop's private vault.

The investigators, led by a judge and two lawyers, said they had no doubt that the 46 priests were responsible for abusing many more than 320 children.

"One priest admitted to sexually abusing over 100 children, while another accepted that he had abused on a fortnightly basis during the currency of his ministry which lasted for over 25 years," they wrote. They said it was not their job to confirm the scale of abuse cases, but "it is abundantly clear … child sexual abuse by clerics was widespread throughout the period."

The commission found that three archbishops of Dublin – John Charles McQuaid (1940-72), Dermot Ryan (1972-84) and Kevin McNamara (1985-87) – did not tell police about clerical abuse cases, instead opting to avoid public scandals by shuttling offenders from parish to parish.

It was not until 1995, seven years into his reign, that then-archbishop Connell allowed police to see church files on 17 clerical abuse cases. The documents were kept in a secret, locked vault in the archbishop's Dublin residence. Records show Connell had records of complaints against at least 29 priests at the time.

The report rejected the bishops' key claim that they were ignorant of the scale and criminality of priests' abuse of children. It dug up a documentary trail showing that the Dublin archdiocese negotiated a 1987 insurance policy for future legal costs of defending lawsuits and compensation claims.

The investigators said McNamara, Ryan and McQuaid knew about at least 17 priests linked to child abuse in their archdiocese when that policy went into effect.

"The taking out of insurance was an act proving knowledge of child sexual abuse as a potential major cost to the archdiocese and is inconsistent with the view that archdiocesan officials were still 'on a learning curve' at a much later date, or were lacking in appreciation of the phenomenon of clerical child sex abuse," the report said.

In May the government published an investigation into decades of child abuse in Catholic-run schools, workhouses and orphanages. That investigation also found that thousands of boys and girls suffered rape, beatings and mental abuse by members of Catholic religious orders. More than 12,000 of those victims have received compensation payments from a government panel exceeding €800m (£730m).
 London ~ November 27, 2009

Four archbishops colluded to cover up child sex attacks

Dermot Ahern, the Irish Justice Minister, told press he felt "revulsion and anger" on reading the report (Peter Morrison/AP)

David Sharrock
, Ireland Correspondent

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland connived with the authorities in a cover-up spanning decades to shield paedophile priests from prosecution, an official report concluded yesterday. Hundreds of crimes against children were not reported as the four archbishops of the Archdiocese of Dublin remained wedded to the “maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church and the preservation of its assets”.

Instead, the church hierarchy shuffled the sex offenders from parish to parish, allowing them to continue to prey on victims. In some cases paedophile priests were even promoted. The 750-page report by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse on the Dublin archdiocese ­ the second significant inquiry this year to expose appalling levels of sexual abuse of minors in Ireland under the aegis of the Roman Catholic Church ­ said that it had uncovered a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy throughout the period that it investigated between 1975 and 2004.

It said that the State had helped to create the culture of cover-up and that senior police officers regarded priests as “outside their remit”.

“The State authorities facilitated that cover-up by not fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that the law was applied equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes,” it concluded.

“The Commission has no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities.

“The structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated that cover-up.”

While the inquiry found no evidence of a paedophile ring, it said that there were some worrying connections and that one priest admitted sexually abusing more than 100 children.

Another admitted that he abused on a fortnightly basis during his 25-year ministry. One priest, against whom a single complaint was made, admitted abusing at least six other children.

Over the period within the report’s remit “the welfare of children, which should have been the first priority, was not even a factor to be considered in the early stages”, it said.

“Instead, the focus was on the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of the good name, status and assets of the institution and of what the institution regarded as its most important members ­ the priests.”

Four archbishops, John Charles McQuaid, who died in 1973, Dermot Ryan, who died in 1984, Kevin McNamara, who died in 1987, and Cardinal Desmond Connell, retired, did not hand over information on abusers.

The first files in the cases of 17 priests were handed over by Cardinal Connell in 1995 but, even then, he had records of complaints against at least 28 priests.

In one example of what the report called inappropriate contacts between the authorities and the archdiocese, it took police 20 years to decide to prosecute a priest.

Allegations were made against one priest, known as Friar Edmondus, but Garda Commissioner Daniel Costigan handed the case to Archbishop McQuaid and took no other action.

“A number of very senior members of the Gardai, including the Commissioner in 1960, clearly regarded priests as being outside their remit,” the report said.

“There are some examples of Gardai actually reporting complaints to the archdiocese instead of investigating them.”

The commission examined complaints made against 172 named priests and 11 unnamed priests before concentrating on a representative sample of 46. Altogether 320 children had made complaints about the 46 clerics, 11 of whom have been convicted of sexual assaults. “Unfortunately, it may be that the very prominent role which the Church has played in Irish life is the very reason why abuses by a minority of its members were allowed to go unchecked,” the report said.

The Church in Ireland has been plagued by sex scandals for at least two decades. The disclosures in May of floggings, slave labour and gang rape in many of the now abolished industrial and reform schools eroded the Church’s moral authority further.

Similar abuse cover-up charges have dogged the Catholic Church in other countries, especially the United States. Seven dioceses there have filed for bankruptcy protection to shield themselves from lawsuits by abuse victims.

Abuse cases have also been reported in Britain, Australia, Austria, Canada, France and Poland.

The Pope has condemned sexual abuse by clergy and said that paedophile priests should be brought to justice. He met abuse victims during his 2008 visit to the US.

Dermot Ahern, the Irish Minister for Justice, said: “I read the report not as Justice Minister but on a human level. As a father and as a member of this community, I felt a growing sense of revulsion and anger.

“Revulsion at the horrible evil acts committed against children. Anger at how those children were then dealt with and how often abusers were left free to abuse. What is of the utmost importance now is that we continue to pursue relentlessly the perpetrators of abuse to bring them to the justice they deserve.”

Diarmuid Martin, the current Archbishop of Dublin, said: “I offer to each and every survivor my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened.”

“I am aware that no words of apology will ever be sufficient,” he said.

“The fact that many abusers were priests constituted both an offence to God and an affront to the priesthood.”

Fachtna Murphy, the current Garda Commissioner, said that he was “deeply sorry”.

Seeking redress
Taoiseach apologises to abuse victims (1999) An explosive documentary series, States of Fear, was broadcast on Irish television detailing the abuse suffered by children throughout the entire childcare system. In response to the programme, Bertie Ahern apologises to the victims and sets up the Commission to study alleged abuses dating back to 1936

Complaints of child abuse (2001) More than 3,000 complaints were made to the Commission by people alleging that they were abused as children within Irish educational institutions

The Laffoy Commission (1999-2003) Judge Laffoy resigned as the chair of the Commission after four years. She blamed the Irish Government for causing delays to the commission’s work

Ryan Report (May 2009) Report by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a harrowing five-volume report that took nine years to compile. It said priests beat and raped children during decades of abuse in Catholic-run institutions. The Commission became known as the Ryan Commission in 2003 when Justice Seán Ryan took over running the body from Judge Laffoy

 Dublin ~ Thursday November 26 2009

How the story of abuse emerged

Ireland Timeline

1987 – Insurance taken out by dioceses around the country to cover them against allegations of clerical child sex abuse.

1987 – The Irish state publishes its first set of guidelines on child abuse.

1988 – Desmond Connell appointed Archbishop of Dublin.

1990 – Irish Catholic Church establishes internal committee (chaired by Bishop of Ossory Laurence Forristal) to assess legal implications for Irish priests of child abuse revelations in the future. No Irish case has yet been made public.

June 1994 – The scandal breaks – Fr Brendan Smith is sentenced to 4 years in prison for abuse of children in Northern Ireland.

October 1994 – Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference refuses to comment on reports that two Kerry priests were removed from their duties on foot of allegations of child sexual abuse.

November 1994 – Government falls over divisions between coalition partners Fianna Fail and Labour over Attorney General’s handling of extradition requests for Fr Brendan Smith to Northern Ireland.

April 1995 – Andrew Madden is the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public. The Irish Press reports that he has received a compensation payment in respect of his abuse as a child.

May 1995 – Archbishop Desmond Connell announces that the archdiocese has never paid compensation to any victim of clerical child abuse. He later explains that the money used to compensate Andrew Madden was a “loan” from the archdiocese to Ivan Payne.

June 1995 – a Dublin priest receives 12-month sentence for child sex abuse; Belfast priest Daniel Curran sentenced to seven years for child sex abuse. A number of other priests charged with abuse during following months.

September – RTÉ Prime Time programme names Ivan Payne as abuser of Andrew Madden. Archbishop Connell threatens to sue over suggestions that he facilitated the compensation payment to Andrew. No case is ever taken.

October 1995 – The Irish Times reports that another Dublin priest paid £50,000 compensation to a man he abused as a child.

November 1995 – Bishops issue fullest apology to date.

November 1995 – Wexford priest Fr Sean Fortune charged with child sex abuse.

January 1996 – Bishops publish new guidelines on child sex abuse cases – The Framework Document, otherwise known as ‘the green book’.

June 1997 – A Dublin priest received an 18-month jail sentence for sexually abusing a young girl during the 1970s.

July 1997 – Fr Brendan Smyth jailed in Dublin for 12 years for abusing children south of the border.

February 1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announces that mandatory reporting of child sex abuse will be introduced within lifetime of current government. (To date, this has still not happened.)

June 1998 – Irish priest Fr Patrick Maguire (Columban) jailed in London for child abuse (18 months).

June 1998 – Fr Ivan Payne jailed for sexual abuse of eight young boys. His two-year sentence is criticised for being too light.

July 1998 – Fr Gus Griffin (Holy Ghost Fathers) sentenced to seven years for abusing young boys.

July 1998 – Fr Thomas Naughton sentenced to three years for abusing four young altar boys.

March 1999 – Fr Sean Fortune commits suicide on the eve of his trial on multiple charges of child abuse.

June 1999 – Pope John Paul II rejects any linkage between child sexual abuse and priestly celibacy.

September 2001 – retired judge Gillian Hussey appointed by hierarchy to chair Church’s Child Protection Committee. Audit of all dioceses announced.

March 2002 – BBC television broadcasts Suing the Pope on the abuse of boys in the Ferns diocese by Fr Sean Fortune.

April 2002 – Bishop of Ferns Brendan Comiskey resigns in response to evidence that he covered up child sex abuse in his diocese.

April 2002 – Government announces establishment of independent inquiry into child abuse in the Ferns diocese.

June 2002 – Maynooth trustees announce inquiry into allegations of improper behaviour by its former vice-president, Monsignor Micheál Ledwith.

October 2002 – RTÉ’s Prime Time broadcasts Cardinal Secrets on the handling by a number of bishops of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the archdiocese of Dublin.

November 2002 – Government pledges to establish full independent judicial inquiry into Dublin archdiocese’s handling of abuse allegations.

December 2002 – Hierarchy disbands its own national audit committee.

January 2003 – Mervyn Rundle, abused by Fr Thomas Naughton, receives one of largest settlements to date, reported to be over €300,000.

May 2003 – Diarmuid Martin named as successor to Desmond Connell as Archbishop of Dublin.

April 2004 – Cardinal Desmond Connell steps down as Archbishop of Dublin.

October 2005 – Ferns Report is published, detailing extensive child abuse and cover-up.

November 2005 – Judge Yvonne Murphy appointed to head up Commission of Investigation into the Dublin archdiocese.

January 2008 – Cardinal Connell seeks to refuse access by the Commission of Investigation to over 5,000 documents which he claims are confidential. He eventually drops his challenge.

March 2009 – Bishop Magee of Cloyne steps aside from his duties after it is revealed he did not follow proper child protection guidelines. Government extends remit of Dublin Commission of Investigation to examine the diocese of Cloyne.

May 2009 – publication of Ryan Report on widespread abuse of children in Ireland’s institution.

International Timeline

1984 – The first case of clerical child sex abuse to go public – Fr Gilbert Gauthé in Louisiana , USA, is revealed as a serial paedophile.

1985 – Fr Tom Doyle, a US canon law expert, warns of dire consequences if scandal is not dealt with openly and effectively. He is ignored and removed from his position in the Vatican embassy in Washington.

1993 – Pope writes to US bishops – “I share your sadness and disappointment” – but points out that the child sex abuse problem concerns only a small group of priests. His spokesman, Dr Navarro-Valls, sums up the Vatican attitude: “One would have to ask if the real culprit is not a society that is irresponsibly permissive, hyperinflated with sexuality and capable of creating circumstances that induce even people who have received a sound moral formation to commit grave immoral acts.”

1993 – Canadian bishop Hubert O’Connor resigns after being convicted of molesting teenagers at a boarding school.

1995 – Austrian Cardinal Hans Herman Groer resigns as head of the Austrian Catholic Church amidst allegations that he sexually abused boys. He remains on as Archbishop of Vienna.

1995 – Two German Catholic bishops investigated for covering up clerical child abuse

1997 – Australian bishop Ronald Mulkearns resigns after failing to act against a priest later convicted of child abuse.

1997 – Catholic diocese of Dallas, Texas, ordered to pay $118 million to victims of Fr Rudy Kos. It is the largest ever child sex abuse settlement. The diocese was held to have covered up Kos’s abuse.

2000 – UK Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor rejects calls for his resignation over his handling of Fr Michael Hill, who received a five-year jail sentence for child sex abuse.

2001 – French bishop Pierre Pican on trial for failure to report his knowledge of sex abuse crimes by a priest against children. He receives a three-month suspended sentence.

2001 – Reports made to Vatican of widespread sexual abuse of nuns by priests throughout Africa. No response from Vatican.

2001 - Archbishop of Cardiff, Dr John Aloysius Ward, resigns in midst of controversy over his handling of paedophile priests.

January-February 2002 – Clerical child sexual abuse scandal explodes in US with release of thousands of documents implicating Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston in a major cover-up.

March 2002 - Archbishop Juliusz Paetz resigns over allegations of improper behaviour with trainee priests.

April 2002 – US cardinals summoned to Rome by Pope as their child sex abuse crisis spreads nationwide.

June 2002 – Third US bishop resigns over abuse allegations. Bishop of Lexington Kentucky Kendrick Williams joins Bishops Anthony O’Connell (an Irishman) and Bishop Rembert Weakland, both forced to resign earlier in 2002.

October 2002 - Archbishop Edgardo Storni of Argentina resigns amidst allegations that he sexually abused seminarians.

December 2002 – Boston Cardinal Bernard Law resigns over evidence of cover-up.

June 2003 – ex-Governor of Oklahoma Frank Keating resigns as head of US Catholic Church sex abuse oversight panel after comparing some bishops to the mafia.

February 2004 – report finds 10,600 children abused by US priests since 1950.

July 2004 – Diocese of Portland is first in world to sue for bankruptcy in the face of compensation claims from clerical child abuse victims.

April 2005 – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger becomes new Pope (Benedict XVI), following the death of John Paul II

July 2008 – Pope apologises for clerical child sex abuse scandal in Australia.

September 2009 – Canadian bishop Raymond Lahey resigns after his arrest for distributing and selling child pornography.

 Dublin ~ Friday, November 27, 2009

Vatican and nuncio ignored letters on abuse


LETTERS SENT to the Vatican and the papal nuncio in Ireland seeking information on clerical sex abuse cases were ignored, the Dublin diocesan report disclosed yesterday.

In September 2006, the commission wrote to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith seeking information on reports of clerical child sex abuse sent to it by the Dublin archdiocese over a 30-year period. It also sought information on the document Crimen Solicitationis, which deals with clerical sex abuse.

The congregation did not reply.

Instead, it contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs stating that the commission had not gone through appropriate diplomatic channels. As a body independent of government, the commission said it did not consider it appropriate to use diplomatic channels.

In February 2007, the commission wrote to the papal nuncio in Dublin asking that he forward all documents relevant to it and which had not been or were not produced by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. It also requested that he confirm if he had no such documents.

The papal nuncio did not reply.

Earlier this year the commission again wrote to the papal nuncio enclosing extracts from its draft report which referred to him and his office, as it was required to do. Again, there was no reply.

At his press conference Dr Martin said he regretted these letters were not answered. “I believe letters should be answered,” he said. “There were other channels the commission could have used, but it didn’t use them. I’m not too sure why that was.”

There were “various ways in which communications between states take place. I regret that this happened in this way”, he said.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said yesterday that any outside requests made to the governance of the Holy See, as in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would pass through diplomatic channels – in this case the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and the Irish Embassy to the Holy See in Rome. “If you are looking for official documents from the Vatican, then you have to go through the normal diplomatic channels,” he insisted.

Vatican observers told The Irish Times that the same “diplomatic” reasoning would apply to lack of a reply from the nuncio in Dublin who, as the Vatican’s ambassador in Ireland, cannot respond directly to a request from an albeit independent Irish body.

On the Dublin report, Fr Lombardi said “that is for the local bishop. In the case of Dublin, we have an excellent archbishop and he knows what has to be said”.

It also emerged in the report that the 1996 framework document on child protection, prepared by the Irish bishops, was not accepted by the Vatican. The congregation felt it was “contrary to canonical discipline. In particular ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature”.

 Friday, November 27, 2009

Priests and their depraved crimes

Some 46 priests were dealt with in the Commission of Investigation report.

In total, the commission received information about complaints, suspicions or knowledge of child sex abuse in respect of 172 named priests and 11 unnamed priests.

However, if all of the cases were to be investigated, it is likely the commission's work would have had to continue for several more years.

Of the 46, just 11 have been named. The others have been given pseudonyms to protect their anonymity. Some may face charges in the future, some died before allegations could be fully tested and others were not prosecuted, even though evidence was gathered against them.

The following are examples of the cases investigated:

Fr James McNamee

McNamee built a swimming pool in his back yard while he was parish priest in Crumlin in the 1970s, so he could fondle young boys. He would get the boys to swim naked and would sit them on his knee for “a chat”. McNamee settled out of court with one victim for £100,000 in the mid-1990s.

Fr Edmondus*

Edmondus abused young children between the ages of eight and 11 at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The commissioner turned the matter over to the Archbishop John Charles McQuaid. Edmondus was referred to a doctor, but no action was taken to inform hospital authorities.

Fr Patrick Maguire

The 82-year-old Columban Father is a convicted child sex abuser, and has served prison terms in Ireland and the UK.

The commission found many complaints were largely ignored or avoided over a period of 20 years.

Fr Donal Gallagher

Alcoholic Gallagher was 58 when he died in 1994. The Vincentian priest served in a Dublin parish between 1975 and 1979 and was a teacher and chaplain to a secondary school.

The commission said it was aware of 14 complaints of child sexual abuse against Gallagher, but that it was likely he had abused many more.

It found the allegations were not properly investigated and questioned the attitude of a Garda sergeant involved, who believed there was only a slim chance of a successful prosecution.

Fr Noel Reynolds

Reynolds, who died in 2002 aged almost 70, told a diocesan official about his paedophilia in 1996 ­ after abusing over 20 children since the 1970s ­ but even the shocking admission did not lead to a thorough Church investigation. The DPP was prepared to prosecute Reynolds, until the priest's solicitor made representations about his deteriorating health.

Fr Ivan Payne

Ivan Payne is a convicted serial child sex abuser who worked as chaplain to Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

The commission said it was aware of 31 people who had made allegations against him, 16 of whom say they were abused when he held the position at the hospital.

Fr Horatio*

Now retired from ministry, Horatio faced complaints of abusing a 15-year-old boy he met in a gay club in 1980. He admitted the incident to Monsignor Richard Glennon and Bishop Laurence Forristal, but insisted he thought the young boy was 18. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin asked Horatio to step down from his ministry and passed over all information held by the Archdiocese to the gardai.

Fr Cicero*

Cicero, who was 63 when he died in 2002, was the chaplain of an inner-city parish.

In the mid-1980s he would invite young girls back to his house. He had a personal computer and was an expert programmer.

He developed a computer programme that commanded the girls to remove their socks and tops, to kiss each other and to kiss him.

Complaints were finally referred to gardai in April 2002, but the priest had died before an investigation could take place.

Fr Harry Moore

In February 1999, a man complained to gardai that Moore had sexually abused him while he was a priest attached to Bayside parish between 1983 and 1985.

Moore, now aged 73, was charged with 18 counts of sexual assault, including buggery, in 2000. The charges were later reduced to four and in July 2004 he pleaded guilty to two charges of buggery and was sentenced to seven years in jail.

Fr Septimus*

Septimus has had restrictions placed on him by the Archdiocese since 1997, so he cannot come into contact with children following a series of complaints of abuse.

The commission said it was aware of 17 complaints, mainly related to the beating of boys.

A further complaint of a similar nature was received in 1995 and gardai began an investigation. However, the DPP recommended no prosecution.

Fr William Carney

Carney, a serial sexual abuser of children, both male and female, was dismissed from the clerical state in 1992.

The commission said it was aware of complaints or suspicions of child sexual abuse against him in respect of 32 named individuals.

As a teacher he had access to children in residential care, took groups on holiday and went swimming with groups of children.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault in 1983.

The Archdiocese has paid compensation to six of his victims.

Fr Tom Naughton

More than 20 complaints of child sexual abuse have been made against Naughton, according to the commission. He has twice been convicted of child sexual abuse.

Fr Dominic Savio Boland

The Capuchin priest, whose real name is John Boland, is a convicted child sex abuser.

He is now living in one of the order's houses in Ireland, with restrictions on his activities and ministry.

The first allegation against him was made in 1989, when it was claimed he fondled a 13-year-old boy. The head of the order decided to “look after everything” by getting counselling for the boy and getting a psychiatrist for Boland.

Fr Benito*

Fr Benito, a former teacher, is still in ministry in the Archdiocese.

A brother and sister complained to gardai in 2001 that they were sexually abused by Benito.

Fr Frank McCarthy

McCarthy used his position as a seminarian to target children's homes which they knew housed vulnerable children.

Children were allowed to visit McCarthy's home and go on holiday with him.

McCarthy was convicted in 1997 after he pleaded guilty to abusing an orphan and the young victim from Dunlavin.

He was given a suspended sentence and was later allowed say mass at a Dublin convent.

* denotes pseudonym

 Friday, November 27, 2009

Abuse: why did the Vatican remain quiet?

By John Cooney, Shane Phelan and Lesley-Anne Henry

The paedophile priest Brendan Smyth is led from the Four Courts in Dublin after being sentenced to 12 years in July 1997

Victims campaigners have reacted with anger and disbelief after it emerged the Vatican and papal nuncio in Ireland ignored repeated requests from investigators for information on clerical sexual abuses cases.

Judge Yvonne Murphy, who carried out a devastating report into clerical sexual abuse within the Dublin Archdiocese, revealed her investigation received no co-operation from the Vatican or its Irish diplomatic representative despite a number of requests.

The report said that in September 2006, the commission wrote to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith seeking information on reports of clerical child sex abuse sent to it by the Dublin Archdiocese over a 30-year period. It also sought information on the document ‘Crimen |Sollicitationis’, which deals with clerical sex abuse. The congregation did not reply.

It then wrote to the papal |nuncio in Dublin in February 2007 requesting that he forward |documents in his possession relevant to the commission’s terms of reference. The papal nuncio did not reply.

Earlier this year the commission again wrote to the papal nuncio enclosing extracts from its draft report which referred to him and his office, as it was required to do. Again, there was no reply.

John McCourt, who suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of nuns at the Termon Bacca boys’ home in Londonderry for 10 years, said he was disgusted by the level of obstruction those in the higher echelon of the Catholic Church went to and supported calls for inquiries to be held into all the dioceses in Ireland. Mr McCourt said this revelation not only angered him but it also shocked him.

“First of all I am angered and secondly given the place that Ireland actually holds in the Catholic Church and the elevated position that popes through generations have given Ireland in its example of the Catholic faith, I think it’s an absolute disgrace,” he said.

“If we are talking about finding some saving grace in the church about a restoration of confidence in the Church then the people who are at the helm of a diocese or higher, the people who are responsible for saying something should admit something went wrong.

“I am just shocked and angered and I totally support the call that was made yesterday for an |inquiry to be held in all dioceses.”

The introduction to yesterday’s report highlighted the case of Fr Brendan Smyth, a Norbertine priest who was jailed in 1994 for 74 cases of indecent and sexual assault.

It stated that the case was the catalyst which led to the development of guidelines for dealing with clerical child abuse.

There have also been calls for inquiries to be held into dioceses throughout Ireland.

Earlier this year it emerged the Irish Government asked the Commission of Investigation to extend its work to deal with the Co Cork diocese of Cloyne after a separate report conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland revealed that poor management at the diocese had exposed “vulnerable young people to further harm”.

Bishop John Magee, who is originally from Newry, resigned in March this year following weeks of public scrutiny.

The Catholic Church in Ireland apologised to victims and admitted it stole the childhoods of hundreds and failed them again when they had the courage to come forward.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, issued an |unequivocal apology to victims of clerical abuse in the Republic for the systematic cover-up of |hundreds of child sex abuse cases.

 Dublin ~ Thursday, December 3, 2009

Every auxiliary bishop had some knowledge of crimes

ANALYSIS: It’s not just about Bishop Donal Murray. Many other bishops failed and they should all resign


AS BISHOP Donal Murray thrashes about trying to save his own skin, it is clear he is doing immense damage to his brother bishops, as he divides and sets them against each other. It is not too difficult to find a rationale for his tenacity in the face of such strong public revulsion at his lack of action to protect children from gruesome abuse – he was not the only one (true), and consequently it is unfair that he be singled out to pay for the gross negligence of so many other bishops (also true).

The answer to this is not of course that Donal Murray should remain as bishop of Limerick. It is rather that all the other guilty ones should also resign. The point has been made that some of these are more seriously implicated than others, and all should not be tarred with the same brush.

However, this is to miss the single most crucial aspect underlying all of this – namely that each and every auxiliary bishop in Dublin had some knowledge of heinous crimes against children and did not perform their duty as citizens to report this knowledge of criminal activity to the Garda. This is what at heart defines the cover-up. The reason we know that each of them had such knowledge is that the Dublin report tells us that the auxiliary bishops met regularly, once a month, and that at these meetings they discussed cases of specific priests who were known to have sexually abused children.

Ten of the bishops involved in this cover-up are still alive. Five remain in office and five are retired. The focus quite properly is on those who continue to exercise the functions of bishop, particularly as this involves such an extensive controlling interest in schools.

Three former auxiliaries are now full bishops. First among these is Donal Murray, whose tenure spanned the reigns of three archbishops – Ryan, McNamara and Connell.

The details of Bishop Murray’s callous lack of action in at least three cases of clerical child abusers are by now well known. He has in his own defence chosen to emphasise that he had been a bishop for only 18 months when approached by the two men in Valleymount who voiced complaints about Fr Thomas Naughton being “too close to the altar boys”. His lack of proper action, he claims, was due to his inexperience.

It is of interest to note that Bishop Murray was no obscure curate when elevated to auxiliary bishop in 1982. He was no less than professor of moral theology at Clonliffe College, the capital’s main seminary. Further, he was expert on ethics, in which subject he lectured extensively in UCD.

Next up is Jim Moriarty, bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, who was an auxiliary in Dublin from 1991 to 2002. This is the key period during which there was an explosion in the number of complaints of clerical child sex abuse in Dublin. Consequently, the subject would have arisen repeatedly at the monthly meetings of auxiliaries during this period, adding to the knowledge of crime which each of them was covering up.

We also know he received a very specific complaint about Fr Edmondus, the priest who abused Marie Collins (among others) at Our Lady’s children’s hospital in Crumlin. His response was to pass it up the line to his archbishop and wash his hands of it.

In a statement last Sunday to his parishes in Kildare, he made no reference to this. He, like his fellow bishops, focused on the crimes of the abusing priests while conveniently ignoring their own heartless and cynical betrayal of children through their cover-up.

Then there is Martin Drennan, bishop of Galway. He is barely mentioned in the report. However, as auxiliary bishop in the capital from 1997 to 2005, he must share in the complicity over cover-up. Although he had no responsibility for the earlier periods during the 1980s and 1990s when cover-up was routine and automatic, he nonetheless functioned during a period when the archdiocese considered itself under no obligation to co-operate with Garda investigations and continued to hide information of criminal acts from the civil authorities.

Of those who remain auxiliary bishops in Dublin, the most interesting is Eamonn Walsh. He is tipped as successor to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, and is deeply immersed in the politics of the Dublin archdiocese.

An auxiliary since 1990, he was intimately acquainted with diocesan secrets even before that in his capacity as secretary to the archbishop from 1985. Previously, he had been head of Clonliffe College since 1977.

Given his longevity at the heart of the Dublin archdiocese, Eamonn Walsh perhaps more than most of his fellow bishops faces the charge of cover-up and failure to report his knowledge of crime to the civil authorities.

Finally, there is Raymond Field. An auxiliary since 1997, he is a barrister, having been called to both the Irish and the English bar, and so should have been acutely aware of the overriding duty to report all knowledge of crime to the police. There is no evidence that he did so. Further, he is directly criticised in the Dublin report. With regard to the case of Fr Benito, Bishop Field did not convey complete information to a parish priest with regard to serious concerns around this priest’s relations with certain children. This was as recently as 2003.

The retired bishops who must also stand condemned as central to the cover-up are Cardinal Desmond Connell, bishops Laurence Forristal, Dermot O’Mahony, Brendan Comiskey and Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh.

Worst among these are Connell and O’Mahony, although Comiskey and Forristal are also singled out for stern criticism by the Murphy commission.

Of all 10 of these surviving Dublin bishops, only a single one (Forristal) admitted “unequivocally” to the commission that he had handled complaints badly. This gives some sense of the moral bankruptcy that permeates the ranks of the supposed moral and religious leaders of our society.

Dublin - Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pope remains silent on chilling revelations

By John Cooney

Pope Benedict XVI has stayed silent over the devastating Dublin diocese abuse report more than 24 hours after publication of its sordid revelations that have shocked Mass-going Catholics and couples with young families.

On Thursday, hours after the release of the chilling report, the Vatican chief spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, said issues such as abuse scandals were handled by the local Church rather than by the Holy See.

But last night the Pope's representative in Ireland gave an assurance to the Irish public that Pope Benedict was committed to rooting paedophile priests from the ranks of the Irish clergy.

Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, told the Irish Independent that Pope Benedict had told all the Irish bishops during their meeting with him in Rome after the Ferns report of his abhorrence of child sexual abuse.

The Pope had instructed the Irish bishops, headed by Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, to make every effort to cleanse the Irish church of the scourge of priestly paedophilia.

The Dublin commission's report revealed that two letters seeking information from the Nuncio had not been answered, and that a similar request to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had told the Department of Foreign Affairs that the commission should use normal diplomatic channels.

But the commission's chairperson, Judge Yvonne Murphy, said that the commission was independent of the Government, and that she did not avail of the diplomatic post between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Vatican.

Asked for a specific comment on this reference to the Nunciature and the congregation, a spokeswoman for Archbishop Leanza said: "It is not the practice of a Nuncio to comment in public on Church-State relations in the country in which he is working on behalf of the Holy Father."


 Dublin ~ Wednesday December 02 2009

Unholy row with Rome an affront to victims

By John Cooney

ALL eyes in a crowded Italian restaurant in the leafy Dublin suburb of Terenure a few weeks ago surveyed the grand entrance of a refined-looking foreign church dignitary and a well-dressed Irishman. Both men were led deferentially by Fabbio, the head waiter, to the best table in the house.

Word soon spread that the special dinner guests were none other than the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, and the general secretary of the Department of the Taoiseach Dermot McCarthy.

What the Taoiseach's right-hand man and the Pope's representative in Ireland discussed at table was of little concern to the other diners, who were more thrilled that they had sighted in their midst a powerful Vatican official with access to Pope Benedict XVI.

However, had the Sicilian-born nuncio stepped into the popular Bellagio restaurant in the turbulent days since the publication last Thursday of the Commission of Investigation into the cover-ups of clerical child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin, he would most probably have received a frosty welcome from the customers. Second only to elusive and unaccountable bishops who elevated the dignity of the Church above the welfare of children, the public ire has turned against the Pope and his curial civil service in Rome.

There have been calls for Micheal Martin to summon the nuncio to Iveagh House for a slap of his soutaned wrists. Some even want him expelled from the country.

This spontaneous outrage against the Vatican was kindled by the revelation that two letters seeking information from the nuncio were not replied to, and that the "watchdog" Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also failed to reply to a request for information in 2006. However, the Congregation, formerly the Inquisition, wrote to the Department of Foreign Affairs pointing out that the appropriate protocol was for the commission to liaise with it through diplomatic channels.

To defuse an unholy schism between the Holy See and the land of St Patrick, Archbishop Leanza has broken the traditional silence to explain that the Vatican's lack of a response was not a snub -- and he strongly hinted that both the commission and the Government showed a lack of diplomatic savvy in their dealings with Rome.

The nuncio observed that the commission should have requested the Irish Government to contact the appropriate authorities in the Vatican; and that at the outset the commission should have directed its request for information through the Government. This suggests that either the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Irish ambassador to the Holy See should have discussed with the Vatican Secretary of State, the Pope's prime minister, a "norm" for the commission to communicate with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. This obviously was not done.

This raises the question as to whether the commission was so protective of its independent status that it did not entrust its communications to the Government which appointed it!

Perhaps the Government displayed a lack of foresight in coming to a prior agreement on the modalities for communication with the Vatican via Foreign Affairs which it should have incorporated in the terms of the commission's mandate.

In the event, Judge Murphy was like a tourist demanding that the American Embassy hand over their files to her. In his own defence, the nuncio explained that the first unanswered letter had been sent to his predecessor; and that by the time he took office in April, the commission's report was virtually completed.

Did the commission know that the Vatican had a new man in town and did they not talk to him? This smacks of a diplomatic cock-up rather than conspiracy by the Government, the commission, the Vatican and the nunciature. The Irish public, especially the victims of clerical child abuse, deserved better and they need a better explanation than so far offered by the Taoiseach and the Archbishop.


 Dublin ~ Monday November 30 2009


Time for secrecy is now long gone

SINCE the publication of the Murphy report, a new debate has begun. Not about the details of clerical sex abuse, horrifying though they are; not even about the disclosures of deliberate cover-ups or the bizarre entry into common currency of the phrase "mental reservation", which to any person of normal intelligence means giving oneself permission to tell a lie.

No, the debate has moved on. Now it is about the future of the Catholic Church in Ireland. But to make any future certain -- one might almost say, to make it possible -- the Church must repudiate its long-standing "culture" of secrecy and arrogance.

It has already changed in significant ways, not always desirable ways. For the monolith has broken under the weight of the scandal.

Bishops are openly at odds with one another, notably on what should happen in relation to senior clergy found to have been involved, to varying extents, in concealing criminal activities. Not only for fervent Irish Catholics, but for everybody who cares about the role of the Church in our society, that is as sad a sight as the depravity itself and the disclosures of cover-ups. But it must be acknowledged. And the necessary action must be taken.

Action is not the responsibility of the Church alone. The civil sphere is involved, in the Garda investigation and the reforms which -- one hopes -- will be taken rapidly by the other relevant State agencies.

Unfortunately, the Garda inquiries will most likely take several years. That is too long to wait for an outcome, either in the form of prosecutions or in action by the offenders' superiors.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has asked persons named in the report to consult their consciences as to whether they should resign from office. The implication is inescapable. He has been backed by some bishops. But others have remained silent and still others take an opposing view.

The issue is so serious that if it cannot be settled internally it should be decided at a higher level. If necessary, Pope Benedict XVI should consider intervening personally.

One of many considerations that have gravely disturbed Irish Catholics is the reluctance of the Vatican and the Papal Nunciature to take any notice of what is nothing less than a crisis for Church and State. If the authorities in either institution think the crisis will blow over, they are mistaken. Secrecy and equivocation are options no longer.
Dublin ~ Sunday November 29 2009

Half-truth that gave lie to protector role

A medieval tactic kept clerical consciences clear while covering up years of child abuse

By Gene Kerrigan

When Cardinal Desmond Connell lied to RTE, he did so carefully. He used a 17th-century variation on a 13th-century philosophical technique employed by the heavies from the Catholic Church elite. This enabled him to deceive RTE and the public while keeping a clear conscience. What a clever, learned man. How adeptly he used this ancient manoeuvre to protect his standing and power.

And how recognisable the technique is, to those of us familiar with the skills of modern politicians.

The Murphy report -- mercifully -- doesn't go into the relentless detail that was appropriately used when the Ryan report described the frightful abuse heaped on children. Some detail is unavoidable, but by now we are all so sickened by this squalid affair that a simple statement that abuse took place is usually sufficient to convey the dreadfulness.

Instead, the Murphy report emphasises the abuse of language, logic and conscience, by bishops, senior policemen and others, as they protected the abusers and thereby allowed the abuse to continue for years after it might have been stopped.

Each report serves us well. Ryan described the horror of what was done, how widespread it was and how it went on and on and on. Murphy describes the techniques of self-defence employed by powerful individuals, and a dominant institution, to try to protect and preserve that power and dominance.

And Murphy shows the role played by obsequious cheerleaders and facilitators -- and by a deferential Catholic laity. There is evidence of others for whom the law and the protection of children was paramount. Garda Finbarr Garland was less than a year on the force in 1983. By his own standards, he didn't do anything extraordinary. He simply did his job, thoroughly, when two boys complained of abuse by a priest. His immediate superiors, a sergeant and inspector, backed him without fuss.

It was the higher-ups who saw the law and the protection of children as a lesser cause than the protection of a powerful Church. The logic behind the cover-up was that the souls of the ignorant laity, and the proper direction of Irish society, were best left in the hands of a powerful, paternal Church. Anything that might reduce that power was bad. And if protecting the Church meant covering up widespread child abuse, so be it. And if that meant that abusers had to be moved on to fresh fields of abuse, so indeed be it.

In 1995, Cardinal Connell was in a dilemma -- young Andrew Madden was pursuing his abuser, Fr Ivan Payne, through the courts. Payne needed money to try to kill the case, so Connell gave it to him, from church funds. Questioned by Joe Little of RTE, Connell denied church funds were used for that purpose.

Happily, Cardinal Connell was familiar with the doctrine of "strict mental reservation". This allowed him to say one thing and mean another. Because God knew what was in his mind.

The report describes how Cardinal Connell told Andrew Madden "that when he was asked by journalists about the use of diocesan funds for the compensation of complainants of child sexual abuse, he. . . had responded that diocesan funds are not used for such a purpose; that he had not said that diocesan funds were not used for such a purpose. By using the present tense, he had not excluded the possibility that diocesan funds had been used for such purpose in the past." Who's a clever boy?

Even by the lights of his own theology, Connell was lying.

The classic example of the doctrine of 'mental reservation' is this -- suppose a man is being hunted and you help conceal him but those eager to kill him demand that you tell them where he is. You may say, "He didn't come through here", thereby misleading them. But (and I bet Cardinal Connell gets a kick out of this), as you say this you covertly point your finger up your sleeve.

By "through here" the hunters think you mean the building or area. But God sees your pointing finger and your mental reservation, so you mislead the hunters by literally saying the guy didn't go through your sleeve. And you keep a clean soul by not literally telling a lie. Lord, they must have had a barrel of laughs back in those late medieval days. ("So, I stuck the oul' finger up me sleeve and, says I to him. . .")

Taking the most tolerant interpretation of this carry-on, the doctrine of mental reservation was supposed to allow priests to maintain the secrecy of the confessional, or to protect the innocent in peril. To claim it includes concealing the Payne cover-up and preserving Cardinal Connell's standing is just silly.

In politics, simple truth and transparency are abominations. Back in the early Nineties, at the Beef Tribunal, Fianna Fail's Ray Burke explained that if the opposition "don't ask the right questions they don't get the right answers". In 1995, Fine Gael's John Bruton said the Dail wasn't given certain information because "the right question" wasn't asked.

Remember how Fianna Fail stated categorically that they would not bring in benefit cuts after the 2002 election? They couldn't have been more explicit. But they had a mental reservation. And immediately after they won the election they explained that they hadn't had an intention of bringing in cuts, but they had intended to make "adjustments".

Back in the Eighties, Charles Haughey, in opposition, denounced the fact that: "Health Cuts Hurt the Old, the Sick and the Handicapped." He won the election and imposed deeper health cuts -- his mental reservation allowed him to denounce cuts as long as he didn't deny that he would impose even worse cuts himself. All for the greater good.

The Catholic bishops had four conditions that allowed them to stand back as children were abused: 1) They believed they were serving a higher purpose, the protection of God's Church and their power in the land. 2) Powerful people in their own ranks, and within the police, supported their position. In return for power, the Church looked after unwanted children, provided health and education services -- not in addition to state services, but as a substitute. Grateful politicians deferred to whatever the clergy thought best. 3) The media was submissive -- in those days, when journalists met bishops they literally kissed their rings.

And 4), and probably most important, the Catholic laity were obedient. Murphy tells of parents who knew their child had been abused and complained to the Church. For this they were ostracised by their devout neighbours -- to the extent that they later wouldn't complain to the police. For the laity, accepting that the allegations were true would undermine basic beliefs.

We can see a parallel in today's politics. Huge decisions are being made that will have long-term consequences for our children and theirs.

The reasoning behind the decisions is Jesuitical, and some of the alleged truths on which those decisions are supposedly made ("credit will flow") are transparently false. But people who should know better are compliant -- because confronting the reality of what's happening is too daunting.

Certain circumstances raise fundamental questions about power. Too often we avoid confronting the appalling vista. While it's undeniable that churchmen such as Diarmuid Martin are genuine in their regret and in their concern for children, as an institution, the Catholic Church's abhorrent record has broken its power in this country.

There's a new power in the land -- in the banks and in corporate Ireland. Which is why so many of the previously submissive, among politicians and laity, feel free to kick the old power, now that it's on its knees.

Sunday Independent
 London ~ November 29, 2009

Murphy report: Church with a rotten core

Read full report at:

By Justine McCarthy

Fr William Carney, a “crude and loutish” priest who “used bad language” and was then aged 29, had lunch with Michael Woods, the then health minister, in 1980.

For three years Carney had been making inquiries about his chances of fostering children. A social worker who dealt with him thought his plan odd because “generally, priests don’t parent children”.

After his lunch with the minister, Carney wrote to Dermot Ryan, the archbishop of Dublin, claiming that Woods anticipated “no difficulty from the Eastern Health Board” in acquiring approval as a foster parent.

On the day before a general election was called in 2002, Woods, now the education minister, capped at €128m the religious orders’ liability for compensation of people abused as children in residential institutions.

He told the Dublin Commission of Investigation which published its finding last week he had no recollection of his lunch with the priest. But around the same time Carney had also written to Woods directly.

In his letter he set out his proposal following their previous discussions.

He cited his involvement in children’s homes, claimed his parish priest was in “full support” and that he had a “house mother” ready and waiting. Two years later Carney requested permission to foster a particular boy from an institution at the commencement of Ten Plus, a programme designed to encourage the fostering of children aged over 10. This boy subsequently alleged that Carney abused him.

After his ordination as a priest of the Dublin diocese in 1974, Carney regularly sexually abused boys and girls. The Dublin Commission records complaints or suspicions about him relating to 32 named individuals and says there is evidence he preyed on many more. There is cause, too, to suspect he was part of a clerical paedophile ring and may have colluded with two other child-abusing priests, Fr Francis McCarthy and Fr Patrick Maguire, in finding victims in orphanages and at swimming pools.

“He [Carney] was one of the most serious serial abusers investigated,” the report states.

The case of Carney, who was defrocked in 1992, helps illustrate the Catholic church’s iron grip on Irish society and the machinery of the state.

The commission finds it “astonishing” that the state even considered letting him foster, a plan encouraged by James Kavanagh, an auxiliary bishop who had “a soft spot” for Carney. Maurice O’Connor, a garda chief superintendent, told the commission that the bishop, who lived in his Whitehall precinct, was in the habit of dropping into the station for a casual chat.

Kavanagh’s attempts to muzzle the garda investigation into Carney’s crimes against children came to naught only because lower-ranking gardai had already sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The commission report finds that neither the church nor garda authorities warned health-board social workers of the danger Carney posed to children.

What is especially disturbing is that Kavanagh was the head of the department of social science at University College Dublin (UCD). In effect, he was responsible for the education of social workers charged with safeguarding the welfare of children. At that time, social work was considered outside the secular remit.

As a member of the menonly Portmarnock Golf Club, Kavanagh rubbed shoulders with the country’s most powerful civil servants. When he died, aged 88, at Sybil Hill nursing home in Raheny on August 8, 2002, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a tribute. It was led by Cardinal Desmond Connell, Dublin’s archbishop, by then mired in the scandal of his own diocese’s cover-up.

“It is with the deepest regret that I have been informed of the death of Bishop James Kavanagh. He was my devoted brother in the episcopate, my friend and constant support,” said Connell, a fellow UCD academic.

During inquiries by the commission led by Justice Murphy, a family revealed that one complainant about Carney had committed suicide. Carney worked as a taxi driver in Dublin after his laicisation. A survivor of his abuse inadvertently got into his car one day. The former priest left Ireland more than a decade ago and his whereabouts are unknown.

The commission concluded: “The handling by the archdiocese of the large number of allegations and suspicions in relation to Fr Carney is nothing short of catastrophic.”

THROUGHOUT the 720-page report, the role of women ­ both as second-class citizens of the church and as the ultimate whistleblowers ­ is stark.

Marie Collins met not just a wall of silence when she complained to the archdiocese about Fr Edmondus (a pseudonym), but a wall that threatened to collapse on her and silence her too.

Edmondus sexually assaulted a number of sick children aged from 8 to 11 in Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin, where he was chaplain in the 1950s and 1960s. Sixteen years later, when he was based in Co Wicklow, he committed a sexual assault on a nine-year-old. He was given a nine-month prison sentence in 1997 for the indecent assault of two girls. He remains a priest on restricted ministry, is not allowed to wear clerical garb and resides in Dublin. The persistence it required on the part of Collins to expose him makes distressing reading. She first complained to her local curate in November 1985 that Edmondus had sexually abused and photographed her in the hospital when she was 13.

The curate, Fr Eddie Griffin, replied that he did not want to know the priest’s name because he would have to do something about it. In his garda statement in 2004, Griffin said: “I told her not to feel any guilt about what had happened and that the priest had done wrong and, if she had guilt, I could give her absolution.”

In 1995, Collins wrote to the then Archbishop Connell, informing him of her attempt to tell the curate about the abuse.

Connell passed her letter to his chancellor, Monsignor Alex Stenson. He arranged to meet Collins in October 1995. She felt he listened sympathetically, but he did not tell her there were other incidents and suspicions about Edmondus’s conduct at Crumlin hospital.

When confronted, Edmondus at first replied: “I cannot place the girl.” Eventually he admitted assaulting her. A garda file was forwarded to the DPP and Collins was assured by Stenson that her abuser was receiving therapy and confined to a religious house. Later, she discovered that, on the contrary, Edmondus was still a curate in Edenmore parish in Dublin.

Connell told the commission: “I did not remove him from his parish immediately. I told him he was not to live there and he wasn’t to minister there. In that sense, I took him out of his parish.”

In her evidence to the commission, Collins said: “He abused his power and used my respect for his religious position to abuse and degrade me ­ a child. Not just a child but a sick child. How much lower can you sink? A man like that deserves our prayers, not our protection.”

Within the Catholic church, women’s role was defined as servile. They were home-makers, priests’ housekeepers and flower arrangers for church altars. In one of his almostdaily letters to former taoiseach Eamon de Valera, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid wrote: “The feminists are getting angry and are moving into action. They seem stung by the suggestion that the normal place for a woman is the home. I shall shortly have another note to meet those persons. Their thoughts are confused.”

McQuaid and his successors ensured that women continued to know their place right to the end of the 20th century. It must have been a foreign experience for senior churchmen to be called to account by the three-person commission of investigation, two of whom were female, including the chairwoman, Judge Yvonne Murphy.

It is an inescapable aspect of the Murphy Report that, among all the personnel who handled complaints against priests, no woman was involved. Yet in many cases it was women who forced the church to face up to its “earthquake” of dirty secrets.

The courage it took for them to make a stand is illustrated by evidence given by the mother of a boy abused by Fr Ioannes (a pseudonym). In 1974, she and her husband made the first complaint against the priest, who had knocked one child unconscious. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to various charges.

According to the report: “The mother of the boy told the commission that she and her husband discussed reporting the matter to the gardai but decided against it in their son’s interest. ‘It would have been better not to go to the guards because we never heard of anything like that before, and we thought that we were the only ones,’ the mother said.

“They also wanted to protect the priest ‘in case it was scandal, I suppose. That’s the way we were instructed in those days: you didn’t give scandal and we went out of our way not to let anybody know who it was.’ They then decided they had to report it to the church in the interest of other children.”

Another mother was forced to act in 1979 in relation to Fr Patrick Maguire, Carney’s accomplice in finding victims at swimming pools. The woman complained to a priest in the archdiocese that, while Maguire was an overnight guest in her home, she had found him in bed with her two sons. His excuse was that he was cold. She gave him a hot water bottle and sent him back to his own bed. Later that night she found him in her sons’ bed again.

Nearly 20 years later, the two brothers wrote to the archdiocese to find out why their mother’s complaint had never been pursued. Maguire has admitted abusing about 100 children in Ireland, and others in Britain and Japan.

THE danger inherent in the publication of the Murphy Report is that officialdom in both church and state may regard it as the final chapter ­ closure. The report repeatedly points out that it is anything but. It highlights the inadequacies in the civil administration and its laws that allowed the church to cover up an epidemic of crimes against children. It proposes that law enforcement be bolstered by a dedicated national garda unit, that the penal system be amended so that some offenders are no longer released back into society without supervision, and that the HSE’s statutory role be expanded.

The report questions the record of the DPP in bringing charges against priest suspects. Only 11 of the 46 priests examined in the report have been convicted in the courts. “Many victims of child sexual abuse have expressed concern about the failure of the DPP to prosecute in certain cases,” it notes.

Even if politicians and public servants with a deferential attitude to the church undergo a Damascene conversion, the rules of the state are still deficient. So too is the regime within the church.

Murphy warns that stringent policing of abuser priests is largely dependent on the integrity of two people: the archbishop of Dublin and the director of the church’s child-protection service.

Her conclusions about the deceitfulness of senior churchmen are unequivocal. She does not accept the well-worn defence that they did not know about child sexual abuse by priests until the 1990s.

For one thing, she observes, the archdiocese made inquiries about insurance cover for compensation claims in the mid-1980s, and cover from Church & General was in place by 1987. The initial premium was IR£515 (€650), with a limit on any single claim of IR£50,000 (€63,500).

The report states that, when the policy was put in place, the authorities in the archdiocese (Kevin McNamara was the archbishop) were aware of child abuse allegations involving about 20 priests.

On July 2, 1996, Church & General agreed to pay IR£3.4m (€4.3m) in settlement of any indemnity under all its policies in Ireland. By the mid-1990s, the Dublin archdiocese was receiving claims for compensation by abuse survivors.

It emerged that the archbishop had provided a loan to Fr Ivan Payne to make a settlement with Andrew Madden, whom he had abused as an altar boy. Payne had also been a chaplain at Crumlin children’s hospital, whose chairman continues to be the incumbent archbishop of Dublin.

Similar to the exposure of cosy capitalism in the banking system, the repeated accounts of “connivance” and cover-up of crimes against children always comes back to the intimate links between the church and the Irish state.

Stonewalled by Rome
One of the disquieting subtexts of last week’s report is how Rome behaves as though it rules.

An Irish church source likens the revelations in the Dublin archdiocese to “an earthquake deep beneath the surface hidden from view”. It’s a perspective that contrasts starkly with the imperiousness and discourtesy inherent in the Vatican’s attitude to Justice Murphy’s commission.

Her team wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in September 2006 asking for information about the promulgation of its crimen sollicitationis (solicitation within the confessional) document and any information about child abuse it received from Dublin. The CDF did not reply. Instead, the office, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger until he became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs to complain that the commission had not gone through the appropriate diplomatic channels.

“The commission is a body independent of government and does not consider it appropriate to use diplomatic channels,” last week’s report states.

The following year, in February 2007, the commission wrote to the papal nuncio, the Vatican’s ambassador to Ireland, requesting all documents in his possession relevant to its terms of reference. Again, no reply.

The commission tried once more. Earlier this year, it wrote to the papal nuncio enclosing extracts from its draft report which referred to him and his office, as it was required to do. That letter too met with silence.

In 2001, Pope John Paul II gave Ratzinger’s CDF responsibility for handling investigations into child sex abuse by priests. That April, Ratzinger wrote to every bishop, reminding them that strict penalties would apply to anyone who divulged details of allegations made against priests.

Ratzinger’s letter was relying on crimen sollicitationis, a set of procedural laws first issued in 1922 and updated in 1962. One of its requirements is that any person making a complaint of abuse against a priest is required to take an oath of secrecy.

Breach of the oath can be punished by excommunication. The document, exposed in a BBC Panorama documentary by clerical-abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman, deals with what it calls the “worst crime”, child sexual abuse. The main difference between the 1922 and 1962 versions is that the second one extended its remit to members of religious orders.

According to the Dublin report: “It appears that both documents were circulated only to bishops and under terms of secrecy. Each document stated that it was to be kept in the secret archive to which only the bishop had access. The commission has evidence that the 1922 document was known to senior figures in the archdiocese of Dublin, especially during the time of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, and that, in the words of one witness, it was a ‘well-thumbed’ document.”

The commission found that the document was used by McQuaid in the case of Fr Edmondus, who abused Marie Collins and other patients in Crumlin children’s hospital.

Another document was issued by the Vatican in May 2001 under the title Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela. It signalled a significant shift in policy, requiring all plausible allegations of abuse to be referred to the CDF in Rome.

“The commission has been informed that this policy was adopted in order to ensure a co-ordinated and uniform response to allegations of child sexual abuse against clergy throughout the Roman Catholic world,” the report says. “The [Dublin archdiocese] chancellor, Monsignor John Dolan, gave evidence that the policy was subsequently modified as Rome was unable to deal with the vast numbers of referrals.”

Monsignor Gerard Sheehy, a former chancellor and judicial vicar, was Cardinal Desmond Connell’s principal canon-law adviser when he was archbishop. Sheehy believed that only canon law should have jurisdiction over alleged child abuse by priests. “He rejected the view that the archdiocese had any responsibility to report child sexual abuse to the state authorities,” the report states.

It criticises the inadequacy of canon law and church leaders’ weak grasp of it. “The archdiocese of Dublin was, in the period relevant to the commission’s inquiry, apparently ignorant of many of the laws relating to the church’s self-governance and sought to justify its actions and inactions by reference to canon 1341, which provides for fraternal rebuke and reform rather than legal process.”

There are more than one million Catholics in the Dublin archdiocese.

 Dublin ~ Friday November 27 2009

Church admits it 'stole childhoods of hundreds'

THE Catholic Church last night admitted it stole the childhood of hundreds and failed them again when they had the courage to come forward.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, issued an unequivocal apology to victims of clerical child sex abuse for the systematic cover-up of hundreds of child sex abuse cases.

“The damage done to children abused by priests can never be undone,” he said. “As Archbishop of Dublin and as Diarmuid Martin, I offer to each and every survivor my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened to them. I am aware, however, that no words of apology will ever be sufficient.”

Dr Martin led the Church's act of contrition after the full extent of decades of abuse by priests and the subsequent cover-up by his four predecessors in the Dublin archdiocese was laid bare in the damning 700-page report of the Commission of Investigation.

The report uncovered a systematic calculated perversion of power and trust that was inflicted on innocent children in the archdiocese over 29 years. It confirmed that the Church and State colluded in a conspiracy against the defenceless in their care and covered up generations of abuse by clerics.

The Vatican was also strongly criticised for not cooperating with the commission.

Cardinal Desmond Connell, who was one of four former archbishops criticised in the report, last night apologised for his failure to protect children.

"The abuse of children is an unspeakable crime. I apologise again now from my heart and ask the forgiveness of those who have been so shamefully harmed," he said in a statement.

The Bishop of Limerick, Dr Donal Murray, a former auxiliary bishop of Dublin who also came in for criticism, also expressed his "deepest regret".

For many survivors of clerical sex abuse, the Church's act of contrition was not enough.

Victims accused the Church of "denial, arrogance and cover-up" and called for an investigation into child sex abuse in every diocese in the country.

"Not one single person has been convicted of recklessly endangering children," One in Four chief executive Maeve Lewis said. "We are calling on the DPP to immediately instigate criminal investigations into all those who colluded and conspired to protect the Catholic Church and allowed children to be sexually abused."

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday vowed that clerical abusers would not get away with their crimes. "The bottom line is this: a collar will protect no criminal," he said.

The report unmasked a litany of failings by gardai in dealing with clerical abuse cases.

A former garda commissioner was criticised for handing over a case to the Dublin Archdiocese rather than having the force carry out an investigation.

Gardai involved in another investigation in the 1980s were found to have connived to ensure a serial sex abuser was not brought to justice.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy last night said he was "deeply sorry" for previous garda failures.

He said recent improvements in investigative techniques had brought the force into line with best international practice.

The commission investigated sex abuse allegations from 1975 to May 2004. Since that cut-off point, 131 new child sex abuse complaints have been made.

Children's Minister Barry Andrews admitted successive governments had failed to protect children under state care.

"The Government will take the necessary steps to put in place the appropriate legislation framework," he said.

 Dublin ~ Tuesday December 01 2009

Relatives of tragic victim again call on Bishop of Limerick to quit

Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray

By Barry Duggan

THIS is the second time in recent years that Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray has been at the centre of a controversy over clerical sex abuse.

Abuse victim Peter McCloskey took his own life in 2006 after he unsuccessfully attempted to seek redress from Bishop Murray over the sexual abuse he suffered on numerous occasions at the hands of a priest in the diocese in the 1980s.

Since the shocking revelations in the Murphy report, McCloskey family members have called on Bishop Murray to resign.

Peter's father Aidan had said "a criminal would have been treated better by the bishop".

The deceased man's brother, Joseph, accused the bishop of treating his brother "disgracefully" and supported his father's call for the prelate's resignation.

When contacted last night, his mother Mary did not wish to comment.

In 2002, Peter McCloskey approached Dr Murray and reported that he had been raped by a priest who previously served in his diocese.

Peter, then aged 33, had that year summoned the courage to inform his family of the torment he had suffered as a child.

While serving as an altar boy in Caherdavin parish in 1980 to 1981, Peter was raped on numerous occasions in the church sacristy by Fr Denis Daly from Ogonnelloe, Co Clare.

Fr Daly had worked in Sydney, but was banished by police on foot of what was recorded in his diocesan file as "a moral lapse". He served in Limerick from 1980 until his death in 1987.

The priest, who was often moved between parishes across the world, was never brought to justice.

In 2004, Peter went to Australia to examine the file held on Fr Daly by his former diocese. It contained documents covering 30 years of sexual abuse by the priest and included correspondence between the Australian Church and their Irish counterparts.

Upon returning home, Peter, a married father of three children, tried to take the matter up with Bishop Murray again, but was rebutted and met with legal threats from the clergy.

Peter became depressed after Bishop Murray's dismissal. In March 2006, he attended what was described as a 'mediation conference' with the Limerick diocese. However, these talks failed Peter, and he took his own life on April 1, 2006.

 Dublin ~ ~ Friday November 27 2009

Gardai as bad as the abusers

DARK DAY: Our police force was in connivance with the very ones who brutalised our children

What hope was there for the child victims of rogue priests when even the Gardai would not do their duty?

That is the question that must stand out for many of us as we read the findings of the Murphy Report.

The Church's practice of keeping complaints of abuse within its own walls was a major facilitator of the exploitation of children.

But the reluctance of Gardai to deal with complaints of abuse by priests practically guaranteed these priests a free run.

It meant those who were abused had nowhere to turn.

Think of the enormous emotional toll of making a complaint. Imagine that you are asked to describe your most recent sexual act, in detail, to a stranger? You would be embarrassed, wouldn't you, no matter how normal that act was? Now think of a child having to describe that act to a parent. And then think of the child having to describe that act to a Garda.

What an ordeal. Is it any surprise that many children could not bring themselves to say the words?

So if the child goes through that ordeal to the extent of describing the act to a stranger, a Garda, then the child has made an enormous effort. Adding to the stress of making the complaint is the fact that it is against a priest, at that time the most respected figure in society.

And then what does the Garda do? Not his duty, which is to investigate the complaint.

No, the Garda goes to an archbishop, a bishop or a priest with the complaint. He washes his hands of it. He hands it over the very organisation whose representative has abused the child.

It is hard to imagine the despair which this must have induced in those who were treated in that way. They were not important enough, as people, even to be protected by the law of the land.

Were the Gardai in question bad people? Not necessarily. They were a product of a society in thrall to the Church. Many were themselves in thrall to the Church. The parish priest was a higher authority than the sergeant.

The Church itself thought it had an interest in protecting the abusers. Better that children should suffer than that the name of the Church should be dragged through the mud.

This consideration surely did not apply in the case of those Gardai, who failed to do their duty with regards to the investigation of complaints of clerical child abuse. Or did it?

The fact that some junior members of the force went ahead and investigated complaints suggests that these junior members were not in awe of the church. That in turn suggests that some of their seniors allowed their awe to override their duty as Gardai.

What an appalling trap that created for children. What an appalling opportunity it created for rogue priests. The children were locked out, their complaints unheard.

Authority turned to them a hard face and a deaf ear.

Garda Commissioner Facthna Murphy was right when the said there had been inappropriate contacts and relationships between gardai and the Archdioces of Dublin at a time when society showed "misguided or undue deference" to religious institutions.

He was also right when he acknowledged that these relationships could have no place in a criminal investigation.

Had the Gardai in question done their duty, would rogue priests have been stopped in their tracks?

Or would they themselves have been stopped in their tracks by Church bullying?

We will never know. But what we do know is that they should have tried. That was their duty.