2 Feb 2008

Irish cardinal tries to block access to abuse files

Reuters UK - February 1, 2008

By Paul Hoskins

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Cardinal Desmond Connell has asked Ireland's High Court to stop a state inquiry into clerical sex abuse examining files released by the Archbishop of Dublin.

Connell is objecting to the use of documents relating to the abuse of children by Dublin priests that were classified as legally privileged during his time as Archbishop of Dublin.

Diarmuid Martin, who succeeded Connell as Archbishop of Dublin in 2004, has pledged to cooperate fully with the inquiry. The Catholic Church in Ireland is struggling to restore trust after a string of child sex abuse cases.

"Archbishop Martin hopes that the legal matters which have now arisen will be dealt with expeditiously for all concerned so that the commission can conclude its work," the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin said in a statement.

Martin has handed over more than 60,000 church documents to the investigation into how senior members of the Dublin clergy handled complaints of abuse against more than 100 priests.

"The overarching aim of all must be that of attaining a more accurate understanding of the truth concerning sexual abuse of children by clergy," the archdiocese said.

Connell's lawyer could not be reached for comment. The Irish Times newspaper reported Connell was in hospital in Rome following a fall this week.

A report in 2005 on the Irish diocese of Ferns was highly critical of the church hierarchy for moving priests who abused minors to new posts rather than defrocking them.

The One in Four support group for sex abuse victims said Connell's actions were a "slap in the face to the women and men who have waited decades for truth".

Michael Kelly, deputy editor of the Irish Catholic, said that while Connell had undoubtedly made mistakes, he might fear he would be "hung out to dry" (cut adrift) over the issue.

"These were historic cases which went back over several archbishops, generations really, and it all seemed to land on Cardinal Connell's desk because of the particular time when these revelations came out," Kelly said.


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