13 Nov 2010

Irish priest says cover-up of clergy abuse "goes right to the top in Rome"

Belfast Telegraph - November 28, 2009

Inquiry uncovers 80 new cases of child abuse by Catholic priests

By Tom Brady, Edel Kennedy and John Cooney

Eighty files are to be sent to the Republic's Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) by a garda team investigating fresh complaints of clerical child abuse.

The complaints were made after publication in May of the Ryan report, which detailed horrific physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by members of religious orders.

The revelation comes as gardai turn their attention to investigating priests in the Dublin Archdiocese who are the subject of the Murphy report, which was published this week.

Bishops who served in the Dublin Archdiocese while children were being sexually abused were desperately resisting calls for their resignations last night.

Pope Benedict XVI remained silent over the devastating abuse report, which accused the Church of "denial, arrogance and cover-up", with survivors saying there was no regard within the Catholic Church for child welfare.

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, said 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.

A number of bishops yesterday issued apologies for their handling of complaints -- but none went so far as to say they would resign.

Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray, was found by the Murphy inquiry to have handled a number of complaints and suspicions "badly". But he insisted he would not resign.

"I certainly was never involved in a cover-up. I was not involved in covering up," he said. "I don't think I was aware of the scale of it. I am horrified at the scale of it (the report)."

Both Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and prominent priest Fr Brian D'Arcy said the Limerick bishop should resign following the shocking revelations.

"In my view, from the point of view of personal leadership, of Church integrity, to have any semblance of moral authority to lead, people who were in positions and are still in positions should not continue in those positions," said Mr Kenny.

Fr D'Arcy said the findings of the report were "absolutely sickening". And he pointed out that although he served on the Council of Priests in Dublin during the 1990s, he never even "heard a hint" of accusations of abuse.

"This is not just in the diocese, this goes right to the top in Rome," he said, adding that the policy of cover-up was the same in Ferns and in Boston, where a similar investigation was carried out.

Meanwhile, publication of the Ryan report in May resulted in around 150 calls to a special phoneline and led to new lines of inquiry being opened.

The flood of complaints was lodged with the gardai following the publication of the report into horrific levels of physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by religious orders.

A group of clerics accused of abuse offences have since died and those inquiries have been ended by the gardai, while other callers wanted details of progress on allegations that had already been made.

But 80 individual allegations are being actively pursued, with inquiries being carried out in the Irish Republic and in the UK.

Each one will result in a file to the Irish DPP, who will determine if criminal charges should be brought against the suspects.

Around 60pc of the fresh complaints involved sexual abuse of children by members of religious orders, while the rest referred to physical assaults.

Meanwhile, a separate hotline, established by the gardai this week for victims in the wake of the publication of the report on abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, has so far received about a dozen calls.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said he had ordered an examination of the findings of the report on the handling of complaints and investigations by the Church and state authorities.

He said he had asked Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony to carry out the investigation and make inquiries as he deemed appropriate and to issue a report to him with recommendations.

Mr Murphy said he would then consult with the Republic's DPP as to what issues arose in the context of criminal liability.

He stressed that garda investigations could never be influenced by the profession or background of a suspect and must concentrate on dealing sensitively with victims, applying the best investigative methods, and placing a case before the courts to secure a just outcome.

"The commission has identified failings on the part of both Church and state authorities in their response to complaints of child sexual abuse. The focus of this examination will be to establish whether those failings amounted to criminal behaviour."

Mr Murphy appealed to victims or anybody with information about criminal offences in the context of the report to contact the gardai.

Source: Irish Independent

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Belfast Telegraph - November 28, 2009

Catholic Church supporting 15 priests accused of child sexual abuse

The Catholic Church is continuing to support priests accused of child sexual abuse -- including five who were convicted.

Of the 46 priests in the damning Dublin Archdiocesan report, 15 are receiving financial support either directly or indirectly from the diocese.

However, the Church has also employed an ex-garda detective to work as a liaison officer with the priests and monitor their behaviour.

Some 11 of the 46 were members of religious orders, while one belongs to a UK diocese. A further 10 mentioned in the report are dead but as of July 2008 the report found that out of the remainder:

  • Eight are supported by the Clerical Fund Society, three of whom are convicted abusers.
  • Two are supported by the Curial Trust -- both are laicised and both are convicted abusers.
  • Five are supported by the Common Fund, four of whom were in ministry.
  •  A further nine are not supported by the archdiocese and are not in ministry. Two of these were convicted of child sex abuse.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said the continuing support given to priests who had been accused of child abuse was a "deliberate policy, based on current best practice, aimed at protecting children".

"The men involved receive less financial support than retired priests and less again than working priests of the diocese," she said.

"They are asked to cooperate with the Irish Child Protection Service in the diocese which monitors their living arrangements and stability. If they don't cooperate their financial support is cut off. This is the only service of its kind in the country . . . that we are aware of that works in this manner with people accused."

She added that any information on these men is shared with the gardai and the Republic's HSE.

However, she refused to say whether financial support had been cut off from any priests since last year, saying she had "nothing further to add".

Up until July 2008 a total of €77,000 was paid by the archdiocese in legal fees for the priests. However, priests pay their own legal fees if they are charged with an offence.

Last night, Maeve Lewis of One in Four said the priests should be supported in whatever way helps to prevent them from further abusing children.

She said that in some dioceses the priests were automatically laicised and this means that the Church "ceases to have any supervision" over them.

Marie Collins, a victim of clerical sex abuse, said that if the Church was financing the men, then that had to go hand in hand with "very intense monitoring" of their activities. "Care must be taken that they have no access to children," she said.

Source: Irish Independent

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