8 Jun 2011

Northern Ireland survivors of clergy crimes say Vatican investigation inadequate, call for government inquiry

UTV - UK June 6, 2011

Victims hit out at church abuse inquiry

Members of an NI survivors group have expressed their disappointment after a party of senior Catholic churchmen from the Vatican completed a series of meetings across Ireland, in the wake of the sex abuse scandal.

The trip to Ireland, known as an "apostolic visitation, was announced by Pope Benedict last year, following the publication of reports into abuse in Catholic institutions.

Led by retired archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the six visitors held meetings in the archdioceses of Armagh, Cashel, Dublin and Tuam, aimed at helping the victims of abuse and ensuring it doesn't happen again

They met a group of clerical abuse survivors from Northern Ireland in January.

Margaret McGuckin, who was abused at the Nazareth Sisters orphanage in Belfast, said survivors are "sorely disappointed by the lack of any outcomes" following the meeting.

In a statement released on Monday, the Catholic Church said the Visitation proved "very useful, thanks to the cooperation of everyone who took part in this initiative."

Visitators set out to examine "the effectiveness of the present processes used in responding to cases of abuse" and "the current forms of assistance provided to the victims".

They say no further Visitations are necessary, but "visits in loco to some religious communities will follow".

The statement added: "The Visitators have been able to arrive at a sufficiently complete picture of the situation of the Irish Church with respect to the areas under investigation."

The Vatican will publish an overall report in 2012 to include the Visitation results.

"That means nothing and offers nothing to the Victims of Child Abuse on both sides of the border," Ms McGuckin said, on behalf of the Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland.

"Sadly, it seems clear that the Catholic Church is institutionally incapable of responding to the child abuse crisis, that is why Victims in Northern Ireland now look to the Northern Ireland Executive to establish an Independent Public inquiry into child abuse in both Church and State run institutions."

This article was found at:


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  1. Bishop quits over health days before abuse audits

    By Greg Harkin, Irish Independent November 24 2011

    A Catholic bishop stepped down yesterday just six days before child sex abuse audits into two dioceses where he served are due to published.

    Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty's resignation on health grounds was accepted by Pope Benedict just two weeks after offering it. He left his post immediately.

    The Pope's decision to allow Dr Hegarty to stand down so quickly is thought to be related to his health.

    Two separate audits of the Derry and Raphoe dioceses, carried out into how the church dealt with paedophile priests, have been pencilled in for release early next week, sources told the Irish Independent.

    However, previous releases of the reports carried out by the church-run National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) have been postponed.

    Church insiders say the contents of audits being carried out by the organisation have been seen by retired Bishop Hegarty as well as the current Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce.

    Donegal-born Dr Hegarty served as Bishop of Raphoe from 1982 until 1994 before taking up his position in Derry where he admitted this year that allegations of child sex abuse had been made against 26 priests over the past 50 years.

    Allegations against up to 20 priests have been made in the Raphoe diocese over a similar period. The audits will deal with all allegations made since the mid-1970s until the present day.

    The Raphoe diocese faces questions over its handling of the case of Father Eugene Greene who abused dozens of victims in several Raphoe parishes. Greene was jailed for 12 years in 2000. Dr Hegarty has consistently denied knowing there were sex abuse allegations against Greene.

    Gardai who investigated the case were told there were no records of any allegations against Greene.

    There are also allegations in Derry that the church authorised out-of-court payments to two alleged victims of abuse.


  2. Irish church reports reveal horrific child abuse


    DUBLIN- A new series of reports into Catholic dioceses north and south of the Irish border on Wednesday revealed horrific child sex abuse by priests and mistakes by church authorities in dealing with them.

    Audits of abuse in six dioceses by the Church's own National Board for Safeguarding Children were published by bishops, providing fresh evidence of a widespread cover-up of sexual abuse.

    In Raphoe in the northwest of the Republic, Bishop Philip Boyce said horrific acts of child sex abuse were carried out by priests in his diocese over the last 35 years.

    "We are truly sorry for the terrible deeds that have been inflicted on so many by a small minority of priests," Boyce said in a statement.

    "During the past decades there have been very poor judgements and mistakes made.

    "There were horrific acts of abuse by individual priests, that should never have happened and if suspected should have been dealt with immediately in the appropriate manner," Boyce said.

    The Raphoe report said 52 allegations of abuse by a total of 14 priests were made to police between January 1975 and August 2010.

    "It is clear that significant errors of judgment were made by successive bishops when responding to child abuse allegations that emerged within this diocese," the Raphoe report says.

    "Too much emphasis was placed on the situation of the accused priest and too little on the needs of their complainants.

    "Judgments were clouded, due to the presenting problem being for example, alcohol abuse and an inability to hear the concerns about abuse of children, through that presenting problem.

    "More attention should have been given to ensuring that preventative actions were taken quickly when concerns came to light," the report says.

    A report on the diocese of Derry in Northern Ireland says that 31 allegations of abuse were made against priests. The allegations involved 23 priests.

    "Priests about whom there were clear concerns were not robustly challenged or adequately managed and problems were often 'handled' by moving them to postings elsewhere.

    "There is evidence that abusive behaviour continued to be exhibited by priests who were moved on in this manner," the Derry report says.

    Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, has been rocked by a number of landmark reports on child sex abuse stretching back decades, and on Church leaders' complicity in covering it up.


  3. Pope: sex abuse 'scourge' for all society

    By FRANCES D'EMILIO The Associated Press November 26, 2011

    VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI insisted on Saturday that all of society's institutions and not just the Catholic church must be held to "exacting" standards in their response to sex abuse of children, and defended the church's efforts to confront the problem.

    Benedict acknowledged in remarks to visiting U.S. bishops during an audience at the Vatican that pedophilia was a "scourge" for society, and that decades of scandals over clergy abusing children had left Catholics in the United States bewildered.

    "It is my hope that the Church's conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognize the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society," he said.

    "By the same token, just as the church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards," the pope said.

    An official of a U.S. group advocating for victims of clergy abuse lamented that Benedict, with his remarks, was setting a "terrible example" for bishops.

    "No public figure talks more about child safety but does little to actually make children safer than Pope Benedict," David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told The Associated Press in an emailed statement.

    "The pope would have us believe that this crisis is about sex abuse. It isn't. It is about covering up sex abuse," Clohessy said. "And while child sex crimes happen in every institution, in no institution are they ignored or concealed as consistently as in the Catholic church."

    The pedophile scandal has exploded in recent decades in the United States, but similar clergy sex abuse revelations have tainted the church in many other countries, including Mexico, Ireland, and several other European nations, including Italy. ...

    An advocacy group for those who have been sexually abused cited the Penn State scandal in its scathing criticism of the pope.

    "It takes hubris for Pope Benedict to tell his bishops that the Catholic Church has led in the fight against sexual abuse of children," said Kristine Ward, chair of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition. "Issuing self-satisfied pats on the back while children remain in danger only further diminishes the church's credibility and deepens the laryngitis in its moral voice."

    "The church to this day, while waving a moral flag, hasn't even come close to the Penn State Board of Trustees response — no bishop has been fired," Ward said in a statement.

    Benedict didn't address accusations by many victims and their advocates that church leaders, including at the office in the Vatican that Benedict headed before becoming pontiff, systematically tried to cover up the scandals, and that they have rarely been held accountable for that.

    Investigations, often by civil authorities, revealed that church hierarchy frequently transferred pedophile priests from one parish to another. ...

    read the full article at:


  4. Catholic church knew of abuse for decades, published warnings

    Dutch News - Netherlands November 29, 2011

    The Catholic church was aware of child abuse at orphanages and other institutions throughout the Netherlands as early as 1954, according to documents found by researchers in church archives.

    Senior church officials have consistently claimed they were not aware of the abuse.

    However, television current affairs show Altijd Wat reported on Monday night the church's council for child protection issued warnings about child abuse in church-run homes and boarding schools in 1959 and 1962.


    The warnings were sent to the authorities at 112 homes and residential schools.

    The letters urged institution managers to be aware of the dangers of employing people who are 'unsuitable' to give leadership to children.

    The 1959 circular, for example, says the child protection group was aware of a number of cases, 'with sad and serious outcomes'.


    RTL news has discovered a warning made by a senior cleric in Tilburg in 1954 in which monks in Tilburg were told: 'be careful in how you relate to children and do not make your lives unhappy. Keep your hands to yourself.'

    The documents shed new light on the church's claim not to have known about the widespread abuse of children living in church institutions.

    Lawyer Martin de Witte, who is representing a number of victims, said the letters showed the church could no longer say it was not aware of the abuse and claim that the cases are now too old.


    'They knew exactly what was going on but decided to to nothing about it,' De Witte told the Volkskrant.

    It is almost two years since the scandal broke in the Netherlands with revelations that three Catholic clerics from the Don Rua cloisters in 's Heerenberg, Gelderland, had abused at least three children in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Since then, a government commission has received reports of almost 2,000 cases of abuse within religious institutions. A number of cases will be taken to court


  5. Abuse priest faces 'lengthy jail term'

    UTV News - December 15, 2011

    A former priest found guilty of 19 sex offences against two altar boys and a trainee priest has been warned he faces a jail term "of some length", after he was convicted of four more offences.

    James Martin Donaghy, 53 and from Lady Wallace Drive in Lisburn, has been found to have carried out a string of indecent assaults and attempted sex attacks on three victims over a 17-year period.

    But the jury of nine men and three women acquitted him over a common assault charge and further told trial judge Patrick Lynch QC that they would not be able to reach verdicts on three other sex abuse charges.

    The judge said "it would not be in the interests of anyone" for a further trial, but Donaghy will find out on Friday what the Crown attitude is to any potential retrial.

    As the jury returned their final verdicts - having deliberated for ten-and-a-half hours over the last three days - Donaghy again remained impassive in the dock, while relatives in the gallery wept and shook their heads in disbelief.

    Defence QC Eugene Grant made an impassioned bail application to the judge, pleading for Donaghy to be released to spend Christmas with his family and attend his niece's wedding on New Year's Eve.

    The request was refused by Judge Lynch.

    As the now convicted paedophile was led to the cells in handcuffs, his niece blew him kisses and mouthed the words "I love you" while other family members comforted each other.

    The verdicts come at the end of an almost five-week long hearing, where the judge said jurors had been presented with "difficult and frequently distasteful evidence".

    He excused them from further jury service for 15 years.

    All of the charges against Donaghy related to three victims - including a then altar boy who was abused from the age of about 14 until he was 20.

    The now 29-year-old described how Donaghy told him when he was a teenager that "he loved me and that he had loved me from the first time that he had set eyes on me".

    The priest further told him that his vow of celibacy was "only man-made rules and it's up to your conscience".

    Another victim, Father Patrick McCafferty - who described his abuser as "dominating and controlling" - told the court that he was sexually assaulted the night before Donaghy was ordained as a priest, and also in the parochial house at Corpus Christi, and his own family home in Lisburn.

    A third victim, former altar boy James Doherty (also known as Seamus), testified that Donaghy had tried to have sex with him in the parochial house at St Michael's in Finaghy - as Father Charlie Agnew lay dead in the house - and again five or six weeks after Fr Agnew's death, and then at Corpus Christi where Donaghy had been moved to.

    Judge Lynch told the jury on Thursday that, before he proceeds to handing down the "inevitable" jail term, reports would be compiled on both Donaghy and his victims.

    The case was adjourned until Friday, when it is listed for mention.


  6. Vatican takes steps to prevent sex abuse of children

    The Independent UK March 21, 2012

    A report published by the Vatican yesterday told of its "dismay and betrayal" at the "sinful and criminal acts" committed by some Catholic clergy during decades of child-abuse scandals in Ireland, and recommended that Irish trainee priests should take child-protection classes to try to avoid such abuses in future.

    The Vatican released a summary of findings of its year-long investigation ordered by Pope Benedict XVI after the uproar over widespread child abuse by priests and allegations of cover-ups. It is the first time the Holy See has endorsed the Church's efforts to fight sex abuse by clergy.

    The Vatican said its investigators saw "how much the shortcomings of the past" caused an inadequate reaction "not least on the part of various bishops and religious superiors". It expressed a "great sense of pain and shame" that young people were abused by priests and nuns "while those who should have exercised vigilance often failed to do so effectively".

    The report included a number of recommendations to improve the preparation of priests for a life of celibacy, to overcome a loss of trust by lay people in their pastors, and "to ensure that the tragedy of the abuse of minors would not be repeated". The recommendations include new procedures to vet priests on entrance to seminaries, child-protection classes for all trainee Catholic clergy in Ireland, and an overhaul of the way the nation's dioceses are structured.


  7. Paedophilia in the Catholic Church

    by Angus Stickler BBC Radio 4

    An investigation by the Today Programme has uncovered new evidence that Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales failed to act appropriately when dealing with paedophile priests in his former diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

    The Cardinal is currently the subject of a police inquiry over claims that he covered up the activities of one paedophile priest - Father Michael Hill. Yesterday Hill admitted abusing more children - some of them disabled.

    Steven Williams' family were struggling and turned to the Church for help. Their priest was Father Michael Hill. He soon became a trusted family friend. Peter, Steven's son, was - disabled - just eight years old - and an easy target.

    Steven describes his son's disabilities thus: "He had cerebral palsy and as a child, he was was much more handicapped than you'd ever guess meeting him now - with a very serious limp - one leg considerably shorter than the other, damage to one arm - he was very poorly co-ordinated in one arm, dyslexic - this kind of thing."

    Yesterday Michael Hill, who has already served a five year sentence for abuse, pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault against three children aged between 10 and 14 - one of them in a wheelchair.

    Two years ago we revealed that Michael Hill's Bishop knew he was a paedophile but allowed him to continue working. That Bishop was Cormac Murphy O'Connor, then in charge of Arundel and Brighton, now the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal and Head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

    Documents from that original investigation confirm what the Bishop knew and when. In July 1981 Michael Hill was sent to a therapeutic centre following concerns about his sexual behaviour. In letters, Cormac describes the matter as "very serious". He questions whether Hill should have the pastoral care of a parish.

    Peter and Steven Williams are shocked by this. Because just a few weeks after this date, Hill was allowed to conduct a baptism at a family retreat for disabled children. Cormac, they say, was there.

    After Hill's first trial in the 1990s, the then head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Basil Hume, described the case as "extremely regrettable".

    He said: "Clearly if the local Bishop had known then what is revealed now, a different course would have been taken..." According to the documents we've seen, and the parents we've spoken to, the Bishop did know - he was even warned by health professionals that Hill was a dangerous paedophile.

    Peter believes that, as the Bishop in charge, Cormac's actions condemned him to four years of abuse. "I feel livid towards him. The sweeping under the carpet as it were was his doing. It put me in the danger that I was in for that whole length of time. "

    We've now been told of more allegations relating to eight different priests in Arundel and Brighton - all under the wing of Cormac Murphy O'Connor. Some have been via anonymous letters sent directly to our offices - one via the charity Kidscape.

    But we've also been contacted directly by victims, parents and parishioners. In the four cases we've had time to investigate, the victims and parents say they feel betrayed by the Church and the Bishop.

    One family went to the Bishop in the mid '90s, after the daughter alleged that she'd been sexually assaulted by a priest. During the police investigation, another victim came forward, but, because the girl had health problems, the case was dropped.

    continued in next comment...

  8. continued from previous comment:

    Despite serious concerns about the priest, he returned to his old job. When he left several months later, parishioners were under the impression it was part of a standard diocesan reshuffle. The family were shocked. They say that the Police and Bishop told them that they thought the allegations were true.

    This case is mirrored by one in a different part of the diocese. This time it concerns the alleged abuse of a young man with learning difficulties. He was too vulnerable to give evidence and again the case was dropped. This social worker was stunned when he found out the priest had been reinstated.

    Church records list this priest at four different parishes in the diocese - he is still holding mass. These allegations were made in the mid '90s around the time when the church bought out new guidelines to deal with sex abuse cases.

    Parents, victims and parishioners concede that the church authorities appeared to follow the letter of their law, but not the spirit. Yes - the Police were informed - but despite serious concerns they say the priests were allowed to continue working.

    And in the 1980s this appeared to be Church policy. We were told of another priest who parishioners say moved on because of allegations of abuse. But we've also found that Cormac Murphy O'Connor allowed a paedophile from Scotland to work in his diocese.

    In the early '80s Father Alan Love assaulted two young boys in Glasgow - he was charged with lewd behaviour but the case never went to court. He - like Hill - was sent away for therapy and then on to Chichester in Arundel and Brighton. Even after admitting the assaults he was allowed to stay. A statement issued by the Church said that Father Love "enjoys the full confidence of his bishop." Peter Williams says this beggars belief.

    We could only find one priest in the diocese, other than Michael Hill, who has been removed permanently from parish work - this was Father Christopher Towner who was given a two month suspended sentence for importing child porn in 1988.

    Responding to our original investigation, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor issued a statement apologising to victims. In his defence he said the decisions he made at that time were not irresponsible and that there was a genuine ignorance among bishops, priests, and society at large about the compulsive nature of child abuse.

    Cold comfort for the victims of paedophile priests.


  9. Cardinal who covered up child abuse and got away with it says secularists are immoral

    by National Secular Society May 21, 2012

    In an address at Leicester’s Anglican Cathedral, the former leader of Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, said that “secular values” were behind the violence carried out in totalitarian states and some of the 20th century conflicts that have killed millions.

    “Our danger in Britain today is that so-called western reason claims that it alone has recognised what is right and thus claims totality that is inimical to freedom,” he said. “No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the new secular religion as if it alone were definitive and obligatory for all humankind.”

    He said: “The propaganda of secularism and its high priests want us to believe that religion is dangerous for our health. It suits them to have no opposition to their vision of a brave new world, the world which they see as somehow governed only by people like themselves. They conveniently forget that secularism itself does not guarantee freedom, rationality … or violence. Indeed, in the last century, most violence was perpetrated by secular states on their own people.”

    He said a loss of “reverence” for humanity meant that some of the most vulnerable people in society are now routinely viewed as a “problem” or “threat”.

    Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “Cardinal Murphy O’Connor is simply echoing the Vatican’s familiar and untrue line that ‘secularism’ is the enemy of religion. It is certainly the enemy of power-seeking religion, as with the Vatican’s present version of Catholicism, but it upholds the rights of religious believers to practise their faith freely and without hindrance. His presentation of Christianity as being under attack is a familiar one and still completely unconvincing. It is part of a wider campaign to reassert Catholic influence.”

    Mr Sanderson continued: “Murphy O’Connor says that the ‘high priests’ of secularism can’t guarantee freedom from violence or immorality.

    “But we should never forget that Mr Murphy O’Connor himself was guilty of disgracefully covering up some of the most horrific crimes of a paedophile priest when he was Archbishop of Arundel and Brighton – allowing the perpetrator to continue abusing children in other parishes. Why Murphy O’Connor was never brought to justice over this remains a mystery.”


  10. Pope's envoy apologises to Irish child abuse victims


    DUBLIN - The Papal Legate to an international Catholic festival in Ireland has met victims of child sex abuse by priests and apologised for the "grave sin", the Church said Wednesday.

    Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who is Pope Benedict XVI's personal representative at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, met the victims for two hours to hear about the abuse they suffered and the impact it had on them.

    "The tragedy of the sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by Christians, especially when done so by members of the clergy, is a source of great shame and enormous scandal," Ouellet said, according to a statement.

    Ireland, a predominantly Roman Catholic country, has been rocked in recent years by the findings of a series of unprecedented state inquiries into child abuse by paedophile priests and attempts by church leaders to cover it up.

    The meeting took place during a visit by the cardinal to one of the most arduous locations for religious pilgrimage and penance in the country, St Patrick's Purgatory on an island in Lough Derg in the northwest.

    Ouellet said the pope had asked him to go to Lough Derg "and ask God's forgiveness for the times clerics have sexually abused children not only in Ireland but anywhere in the Church.

    "I come here with the specific intention of seeking forgiveness, from God and from the Victims, for the grave sin of sexual abuse of children by clerics," he said.

    "We have learned over the last decades how much harm and despair such abuse caused to thousands of victims.

    "We learned too that the response of some Church authorities to these crimes was often inadequate and inefficient in stopping the crimes, in spite of clear indications in the code of canon law."

    Abuse victims held demonstrations at the start of the week-long Congress on Sunday.

    The Purgatory got its name from a legend that the country's patron saint, Patrick, endured the temptation of the Devil in a cave on the island. It has been visited by pilgrims for well over 1,000 years.

    Some 10,000 pilgrims from more than 120 countries are attending the Congress, an international Catholic gathering which is held every four years.


  11. Archbishop used immunity in civil suit

    by James Robertson, Sydney Morning Herald July 9, 2012

    THE Vatican's most senior representative in Australia failed to co-operate with a government inquiry into child sexual abuse in Ireland and once invoked diplomatic immunity in a civil suit in which a victim was suing the church.

    Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto assumed the job of apostolic nuncio in 2008, a role equivalent to the Vatican's ambassador.

    He had served in the same role in Ireland but left before the government released an inquiry into sexual abuse in the Dublin archdiocese, the 2009 Murphy Report. The report criticised Archbishop Lazzarotto for not responding to a 2007 request to provide the inquiry with evidence of abuse.

    Colm O'Gorman, a former Irish senator and now the executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland, told the Herald Archbishop Lazzarotto invoked diplomatic immunity, which caused him to drop a lawsuit against the Vatican.

    Mr O'Gorman launched the suit against his local diocese and the Vatican's representatives in Ireland, seeking compensation for being repeatedly raped as a teenager by Father Sean Fortune, Ireland's most notorious paedophile priest.

    He dropped the suit against the Vatican in 2003 after Archbishop Lazzarotto's lawyers obtained a certificate of diplomatic immunity.

    ''I was told in no uncertain terms that having secured diplomatic immunity, the nuncio would assert it in court,'' Mr O'Gorman said. ''His lawyers told me that if I pursued the case, they would use that immunity to have it thrown out and then seek full legal costs from me.''

    Mr O'Gorman received a financial settlement in the case with his local diocese.

    In a written statement, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said the church had offered full co-operation with the Irish government inquiry through the Dublin archdiocese.

    A spokeswoman did not specifically respond to questions about the use of diplomatic immunity: ''Archbishop Lazzarotto, on behalf of the Holy See, accepted the proposal that the case be discontinued by mutual consent.''

    A spokesman for the Apostolic Nunciature in Canberra said the Vatican's representatives had no role in investigating sexual abuse cases.


  12. The Magdalene laundries were used as reformatories where girls were sent without due process. But they were not brutal: anti-Catholics have lied about them

    The laundries were tough places, undoubtedly. But there was no sexual abuse and no physical punishment

    By WILLIAM ODDIE Catholic Herald UK February 25, 2013

    I usually maintain a general scepticism about the BBC’s reporting of stories involving the Catholic Church, but I have to admit that I missed out on this one, maybe because it has to do with Ireland, and because there have been so many true Irish stories one really didn’t want to contemplate. The saga of the Magdalene laundries has been one I just didn’t want to think about; here we go again, I thought: now, it’s Irish nuns. And last week, the BBC reported (as did everyone else) that another enemy of the Church, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has formally apologised on behalf of the state for its role in the story.

    Some 10,000 women and girls, reported the BBC, were made to do unpaid manual labour in laundries run by Catholic nuns in Ireland between 1922 and 1996. More than a quarter of those who spent time in the laundries had been sent there by the Irish state.

    Mr Kenny apologised to all the women affected.

    He said their experiences had cast a “long shadow” over Irish life and that it had been “humbling and inspiring” to meet them. “For 90 years Ireland subjected these women, and their experience, to a profound indifference,” he said. “By any standards it was a cruel and pitiless Ireland, distinctly lacking in mercy”.

    Cruel and pitiless: that was the story; and most cruel and pitiless of all were allegedly the Irish sisters who presided over the women’s incarceration. The popular perception of the story of the Magdalen laundries has been a growing certainty which in the end led, politically, to the Taioseach’s apology (itself an implied attack on the Church) and it has been formed over the past 20 years by a series of plays and movies about what went on in the laundries. None had greater impact than the 2002 film The Magdalene Sisters, which won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. It is about four teenage girls committed to a laundry where they experience or witness routine physical and sexual abuse by nuns and a priest. It depicts the laundries as profitable, money-making rackets, and shows the women subjected to various indignities including head-shaving.

    But how true was all that? According to the Irish Times, a striking feature of the government report by Senator McAleese is the number of women recorded as speaking positively about the sisters, women who absolutely rejected allegations of physical abuse. Most agreed that there was what was termed “psychological abuse”: most “described verbal abuse and being the victim of unkind or hurtful taunting and belittling comments. Even those who said that some Sisters were kind to them reported verbal cruelty as occurring during their time in the Magdalene Laundries”. The real question about these places is whether they should have existed in the first place in the way that they did, and whether the women sent there understood why. Why was their freedom taken from them? Often they were never told, and for that, the State is directly responsible (usually the sisters didn’t know either). But these were not, as is widely believed, brutal institutions.

    continued in next comment...

  13. I quote directly from the government report by Senator Martin McAleese:

    “33. A large majority of the women who shared their stories with the Committee said that they had neither experienced nor seen other girls or women suffer physical abuse in the Magdalene Laundries.

    “34. In this regard, women who had in their earlier lives been in an industrial or reformatory school drew a clear distinction between their experiences there and in the Magdalene Laundries, stating clearly that the widespread brutality which they had witnessed and been subjected to in industrial and reformatory schools was not a feature of the Magdalene Laundries.

    “The following examples and quotations relate to the majority of women who shared their stories with the Committee and who indicated that they had never experienced or seen physical punishment in a Magdalene Laundry:

    “One woman summarised her treatment in a Magdalene Laundry by saying ‘I might have been given out to, but I was never beaten’.

    - Another woman said about the same Magdalene Laundry ‘I was never beaten and I never seen anyone beaten’.

    - Another woman said ‘It has shocked me to read in papers that we were beat and our heads shaved and that we were badly treated by the nuns. As long as I was there, I was not touched myself by any nun and I never saw anyone touched and there was never a finger put on them … Now everything was not rosy in there because we were kept against our will … we worked very hard there … But in saying that we were treated good and well looked after’.”

    Fr Tim Finigan described an article by Brendan O’Neill in the Telegraph, the standfirst of which was “Catholic-bashers have embellished the truth about abuse in Catholic institutions. It’s time to put the record straight” (and which pointed me to much of the above) as being “The kind of article Catholics dare not write”. Well, Brendan O’Neill wasn’t writing as a Catholic (though he may well be one); I, however, unavoidably am. So if Fr Tim is correct, I expect I’ll get it in the neck for this one. I’m not saying that the use by the Irish state of the Magdalene laundries as reformatories to which people could be sent without explanation or due process was in any way defensible. And Irish nuns could undoubtedly be tough in those days (my wife has fond memories from her convent school in Swanage, now a holiday hotel, of being called “a bold girl” and having her hand thwacked with a 12-inch ruler). But, says one woman quoted above, there was in the Magdalene laundries no physical punishment that she saw, and though things were “not rosy”, “we were treated good and well looked after”.

    Needless to say, none of that was reported by the BBC.


  14. Nazareth House, Wynnum: (Or: Nun on the Run)

    by Lewis Blayse, Commentary on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Australia)

    May 29, 2013 http://lewisblayse.net/2013/05/29/nazareth-house-wynnum-or-nun-on-the-run/

    The Poor Sisters of Nazareth ran many Orphanages around the world, all called Nazareth House. Their crimes at their Wynnum facility, at the Brisbane suburb of Wynnum, were reported in the late 1980s by a very brave woman, “Bobby”. [Her last name is not given because of some vicious attacks on her character – see, for example, the ad2000.com ref. below].

    There were the usual terrible incidents of all forms of abuse. There were all of the usual attempts to silence victims, including legal threats. There were the usual apologies to victims for having “unhappy memories” of Nazareth House. There were the usual pathetic payments to victims. There were, however, some new twists in the usual attempts to avoid culpability.

    When the media tried to contact the main perpetrator, Sister Brendan Mary, her order refused to reveal her whereabouts. As the order’s Australian head said, “I just don’t think it’s fair to be telling people where she is at this stage”. Eventually, the Sister was tracked to Wellington in New Zealand by the “60 Minutes” television program last night, but she refused comment. In New Zealand, where she was the local head of the Order, she was involved in negotiations with victims at the Nazareth House there, but her order saw no problem with her involvement

    Sister Brendan Mary is very good at hiding. At one stage, in a Supreme Court disposition relating to her alleged offences, her Order claimed she was deceased. It mentioned “….. due to the death of Sister Bernard Mary”. Sr Clare Breen (pictured above, right), the Order’s Australian head, denied any knowledge of the court document, adding “that’s not something we would do.”

    continued in next comment...

  15. A newspaper claimed that she was not dead, but living in the U.K. where she was working as the overall head of the Order. The victims’ lawyer has claimed that police said it would be too difficult to extradite her back to Australia. When confronted with the reality of Sr. Brendan Mary’s continuing existence, her Order claimed that the fib “would have been a simple mistake. It was most definitely an administrative ….. drafting error ….. a genuine mistake.” Still, they would not reveal the location of her, then, place of existence, other than to say that “she was visiting an ill family member.”

    The Order’s “apology” reads that “It is a matter of great regret that in the course of Nazareth House’s long history, there were some things done that should not have been done and some actions that have caused pain and unhappiness.” They claim this is not an admission of liability or truth of the claims, and that they would “vigorously” defend themselves if ever anyone managed to get a case before a court. As tomorrow’s posting will show, they are safe from court action (though not necessarily from Royal Commission action).

    Much has been written, thanks to Bobby’s activities, about the Nazareth Houses. Bruce Grundy has published a report. Ann Thompson has written an account of the New Zealand facility, called “Say Sorry – A Harrowing Childhood in Catholic Orphanages”. Mrs Reilly has written of the U.K. situation in “Suffer the Little Children” [http://books.google.com.au/books/about/Suffer_the_Little_Children.html?id=pbRoygAACAAJ&redir_esc=y]. They receive a mention in Joanna Penglase’s book, “Orphans of the Living: Growing up in care in Twentieth-century Australia”.

    [Postscript: The Poor Sisters of Nazareth have re-branded by dropping the “poor” part of their title, abandoning the orphanage business and entering the aged-care and HIV-Aids care businesses. They are estimated to be now worth over $300 million.]

    Read more here:








    TOMORROW: Other Nazareth Houses

  16. Other Nazareth Houses (Or: I Was Only Following My Order’s Orders)

    by Lewis Blayse, Commentary on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Australia) May 30, 2013


    Nazareth House Aberdeen “carer”, Sister Alphonso (pictured above) found herself in court, and convicted, of “cruel and unnatural treatment of children” because of a comment she made to a former victim 20 years after the abuse. This was that “I was young at the time and I was just following orders.” This so outraged the victim, she went to police.

    Following the brave efforts of “Bobby” in outing the abuses at the Nazareth House in Wynnum (see yesterday’s posting), cases arose around the world. Nazareth House is the generic name of all orphanages operated by the Sisters of Nazareth Order, from the 1820s until the 1980s.

    In the U.K. alone, complaints have come from victims at the Nazareth Houses in Cardonald, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Plymouth, Swansea, Manchester, Sunderland, Midlothian, Kilmarnock, Middlesbrough, Carlisle, Tyneside and Belfast. The facility at Christchurch in New Zealand is also under the cloud. While sexual abuses occurred, violence was the main complaint. It should be noted, all the same, that violence is often a way sexual abuses can be enabled, and covered up.

    Media reports state that it is believed the Sisters will vigorously defend themselves in any court actions.

    This is a wise strategy for them because the courts have been very kind to the good Sisters, at least in the U.K. They have demanded that victims prove the events were a concerted policy by the Order, and not just the actions of a few “rogue” nuns. Courts found this not to be proven adequately. This is in direct contraindication to the comment by Sister Alphonso, and the sheer number of Nazareth Houses with claims against them. Further, victims have stated that it was essentially ALL nuns who were involved in the abuses.

    When Sister Alphonso had been found guilty of four charges, Sheriff Colin Harris ordered that several other charges be rejected and said that he would only admonish, rather than imprison, her because of her age and health.

    When hundreds of victims launched a class action, the courts invoked the statute of limitations to defend the good Sisters. In 2000, victims had only three years after turning 18 to lodge claims, except under unusual circumstances, such as being forced not to make the claims, or not fully knowing of the abuse and its effects.

    Judge Lord Drummond Young ruled that there were no exceptional circumstances. This was basically because the victims knew of the effects, such as having “nightmares” for a long time. Also, he ruled that no-one had forcibly constrained them from making claims. His view was upheld on appeal, although the victims’ lawyers have indicated that they will take the case to the European Union Human Rights Commission.

    The good Lord Young did make some clarifying comments, for those not yet convinced where his sympathies lay. The judge said it would be “unfair” to make the nuns contest the actions which “could starve other homes for the elderly and AIDS hospices in Africa of much-needed funds.” Consequently, he said that “I will exercise my discretion in favour of the Poor Sisters. I reach this conclusion without hesitation”

    He did (sort of) consider the victims when he intoned that “I cannot think that it is genuinely in the victims’ interests to rake over those memories, especially where the individual nuns that are said to have been responsible are either dead or elderly.” Yet the Order itself continues and prospers.

    [Yesterday’s posting referred to their net worth as being over $300 million. It has since been pointed out that this is, claimed, to be their actual bank balance alone.]

    continued in next comment...

  17. Many reports have indicated strong support for the Sisters from the political and legal leadership in the U.K. For example, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, has publicly claimed that many convictions of people accused of abusing children in institutional care were flawed, and that the law on this was in need of review to better protect the alleged abusers.

    Scotland’s Archbishop, Mario Conti, lent his support to the nay-sayers by stating that the former Nazareth House inmates were seekers, not of justice, but of “pots of gold”. One victim has claimed that he reported his sexual abuse long ago to the (then) Fr. Conti, but he did nothing other than to ask him to “pray for his abuser”. Conti, of course, denies this and claims he has never had a complaint from a victim in his time. To round things off, he accused the victim of being “unreliable”.

    One of the most scandalous arguments accepted by the U.K. courts has been that the treatments of the victims was usual for the times. This does not, naturally, make it right, though. One may equally say that gassing Jews was “normal for the times”, and that the guards at Auschwitz were “only following orders”. The courts accepted the assertion by Sister Alphonso that, while admitting striking and force-feeding children, she did it at a time when corporal punishment of this kind was thought normal. She believed it was the correct way to discipline children. “It was the natural thing to do,” she said.

    Get into the 21st. century, U.K. legal system!

    What WAS normal was the ever-present violence and sexual abuse. As one of the Tyneside victims stated, “The violence in the orphanage didn’t seem exceptional, just part of life”. A Middlesborough victim similarly noted that the nuns “were like prison officers. The atmosphere was one of sheer terror”.

    During her trial, Sister Alphonso really enraged her victims by claiming she loved the children. As one said, “”Looking back, I think they really despised the children. They were always calling us guttersnipes or scavengers and seemed to enjoy humiliating us. There was real hate there.”

    Given what the legal establishment in the U.K. is prepared to accept, the Royal Commission should consider looking at the similar attitudes here, to see if the dice are being loaded against the victims. It should also look at Australian organisations in the context of how they have behaved in other countries.

    The (formerly “Poor”) Sisters of Nazareth provides one of the few cases of child sexual abuse of children by female clergy. The Royal Commission needs to remove the blinkers and consider the possible existence of other cases.

    Some academics have placed the Nazareth House abuses in a feminist context. For example, prominent feminist scholar, Ailbhe Smyth, writes that “Christianity tells us that we have to help the poor, but we don’t have to like them. It is a Christian duty, for your greater glory, not theirs. There is, in this context, an absence of any recognition that tenderness should be the norm in relations between adults and children.”

    Read more here:







    TOMORROW: Why judges should not head abuse enquiries

  18. NOTE: The following article is related to the comment above dated 16 December 2011 15:39


    Paedophile priest who told boy (7) he could get dead grandfather into heaven is given fourth jail term

    Belfast Telegraph JULY 5, 2013

    Paedophile priest James Donaghy - who told a distraught seven-year-old boy that he could get his dead grandfather into heaven if he performed a sex act on him - has been given another jail sentence.

    But although this is the fourth time the 55-year-old sex predator has been found guilty of sex abuse, he wont spend an extra day in prison.

    Donaghy is already serving a ten-year term for the sex abuse of three other victims.

    Belfast Crown Court Judge Kinney told Donaghy, that had these current offences been dealt with when originally sentenced, they would have been taken into consideration.

    In the circumstances, given the "principle of totallity", his sentence will run concurrently with the previous term.

    Judge Kinney said no-one was at fault for the case not being dealt with sooner, in particular there could be no criticism of Donaghy's victim. Sexual abuse, he added, had "devasting consequences and not all victims are ready to voice their complaints at an early stage".

    The court had heard that at the time, Donaghy was a priest in the west Belfast parish of Corpus Christi in Ballymurphy, and was supposed to be instructing his victim in his first confession and communion.

    Instead Donaghy took to abusing the boy.

    On one occasion after the youngster confided in him over his distress his dead grandfather might be in purgatory, Donaghy took advantage of him, telling the child they could help one another.

    Donaghy then promised he could get the grandfather "into heaven if he helped him" and performed a sex act.

    However, the abuse first began when the boy and Donaghy were alone in the school library. Donaghy asked him if he wanted to be good, before exposing himself saying: "this is one way to be good - be nice to the priest" and forced him to touch him inappropriately.

    In all Donaghy, originally from Lady Wallace Drive in Lisburn, pleaded guilty, as his trial was about to begin last month, to four charges of indecently assaulting the boy and one of common assault, between January and May 1989.

    Judge Kinney said while Donaghy's guilty pleas deserved credit, the former priest, who had taken advantage of his victim, claimed that he could not recall the actual abuse, showing elements of denial on his part.

    He added that Donaghy was still considered a dangerous offender and posed a significant risk of serious harm to the public. His callous and abusive treatment, of his victim, has had a lasting affect on him.

    His crimes were all the more pernicious because they had involved a breach of trust of a youngster in a vulnerable position and that there had also been elements of grooming in his offending.

    However, Judge Kinney said there were some indications of remorse and a recognition by Donaghy of his responsibility for what he had done. The judge said that it could only be hoped his guilty pleas would contribute and allow his victim closure to this harrowing part of his life.

    The judge also told Donaghy, who was again put on the Sex Offenders Register for life and put on the barring list and banned from working with children and vulnerable adults, had he contested the charges, he would have been jailed for four years.


  19. Bishop apologises for abuse at Fort Augustus School

    BBC News August 4, 2013

    One of Scotland's most senior Catholics has apologised on behalf of the church for decades of physical and sexual abuse of pupils at a boarding school.

    The Bishop of Aberdeen, Hugh Gilbert, addressed parishioners at Fort Augustus in the Highlands.

    His statement came after the BBC found evidence of physical and sexual abuse by monks at Fort Augustus Abbey School and its prep school in East Lothian.

    The Benedictine order which ran the schools, has already apologised.

    Bishop Gilbert's address is the first time a senior Catholic cleric has spoken publicly about abuse at the abbey schools.

    He told parishoners: "It is a most bitter, shaming and distressing thing that in this former abbey school a small number of baptised, consecrated and ordained Christian men physically or sexually abused those in their care.

    "I know that Abbot Richard Yeo has offered an apology to those who have suffered such abuse and I join him in that.

    "We are anxious that there be a thorough police investigation into all this. And, that all that can be done should be done for the victims. All of us must surely pray for those who have suffered."

    But Christopher Walls, who was physically and sexually abused when he was a pupil at Carlekemp Prep School, in North Berwick, East Lothian, said the apology was "thin" and "had only come because they've got their arms up their back".

    "On a daily basis I've had to swallow anger, fear and regret at my lost childhood.

    "You don't get absolution when you go to confession just for saying sorry. You've got to have a firm purpose of amendment and that involves taking action. And you've got to make good the damage you did. And there's no hint of that," he said.

    BBC Scotland spoke to more than 50 former pupils during its six-month investigation.

    Many said they had nothing but good memories of the schools, but the BBC also heard accounts from old boys of serious physical violence and sexual assault, including rape, by monks over a 30-year period.

    continued below

  20. Two headmasters have also been accused of covering-up the abuse.

    And the documentary contained allegations that the abbey was used as a "dumping ground" for problem clergy who had confessed to abusing children.

    Mark Daly, BBC Scotland's investigations correspondent, who broke the story, said the apology was significant because it was the first time a senior clergyman had addressed the allegations since the programme went out almost a week ago.

    He said: "The allegations centred on monks from the Benedictine congregation, which is essentially an autonomous order within the Catholic Church.

    "The Catholic Church had told us this was not a matter for them, it was a matter for the Benedictines.

    "But the evidence we obtained about offences was that they all happened on Scottish soil, they happened to Scottish Catholics - they're all part of the Catholic flock, as far as the victims are concerned.

    "And from the victims' point of view, they have been waiting for something from the senior clergy in the Church, so today will have been something significant."

    Since the programme was broadcast, the BBC has been contacted by other former pupils with similar claims of abuse, right up until the boarding school closed in the 1990s. Police Scotland have confirmed they are investigating the allegations.

    Dom Richard Yeo, the Abbot President of the Benedictines order which ran the school, apologised on the programme and said mistakes were made.

    "All I can say is that I'm sorry that it happened, it shouldn't have happened," he said.

    The Catholic Church in Scotland has said it would publish details of its annual audits, which deal with abuse allegations dating back to 2006.

    Bishop Gilbert said: "The Catholic Church in Scotland has been addressing this issue increasingly effectively in recent years.

    "We want to work with all public bodies who care for the young and vulnerable adults.

    "We wish to share our experience and share best practice so that lessons can be learned and children can always be fully protected."


  21. Cardinal blocked abuse investigation, says Archbishop of Glasgow

    By STAFF REPORTER, Catholic Herald August 23, 2013

    The former Archbishop of Glasgow has said that Cardinal Keith O’Brien blocked an investigation into the Scottish Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse in 2012.

    In a letter to the Tablet, Archbishop Mario Conti wrote: “It was the intention of all but one member of the bishops’ conference to commission an independent examination of the historical cases we had on file in all of our respective dioceses and publish the results.”

    He continued: “But this was delayed by the objection of the then-President of the Conference; without full participation of all the dioceses the exercise would have been faulty.”

    A statement from the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “Archbishop Conti’s letter refers to a decision taken in 2011 by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland to commission an independent academic analysis of statistics relating to abuse and allegations of abuse over a 60 year period from 1952 to 2012.

    “This project, with the cooperation of each of the eight dioceses in Scotland, started and ran until 2012, at which time, the then President of the Conference, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, withdrew from the project.

    “Without the participation of all the dioceses a ‘National Audit’ was not possible so the analysis was stopped.”


  22. Vatican refuses to give UN panel full details of clerical sex abuse cases

    Holy See angers campaigners by not disclosing information requested by UN committee on the rights of the child

    by Lizzy Davies in Rome, The Guardian December 4, 2013

    The Vatican has refused to give a United Nations panel information it requested on clerical sex abuse, in a move that it said was part of its confidentiality policy but which was criticised as "a slap in the face" for victims.

    In a series of questions asked in the runup to a public hearing scheduled for January, the UN committee on the rights of the child had requested the Holy See provide details of abuse cases and specific information concerning their subsequent investigation and handling.

    But, in its response, the Holy See said that although it had answered the questions in a general way, it was not its practice to disclose information on specific cases unless requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings.

    In the 24-page document, the Holy See said it had been "deeply saddened by the scourge of sexual abuse" and regretted the involvement of some members of the Catholic clergy.

    It added that it had "amended norms" regarding the suitability of candidates for the priesthood, and had taken other steps including the revision of some canon law rules "to ensure that clerics and religious are properly disciplined".

    But it did not give all the details requested by the committee in a lengthy, multi-part question on the "sexual violence against children committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns in numerous countries around the world".

    The Holy See was asked to provide detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse that had been committed by members of the clergy or brought to the attention of the Holy See over a certain period.

    As a whole, the document included responses on issues from child sexual abuse to gender stereotyping in Catholic schoolbooks and the abandonment of infants in church "baby boxes".

    In a cover note, the Holy See said that the committee had in many instances asked it to respond on "concrete situations that fall outside the direct control of the Holy See, since they concern matters for which Catholic persons and institutions present in other countries are responsible".

    The Holy See, which signed the convention on the rights of the child in 1990, argues that while it encourages the rights recognised on a global basis, it can only implement them on the territory of the Vatican city state.

    Campaigners reacted angrily to the response on sexual abuse, with Keith Porteous Wood of the UK's National Secular Society branding it "a brazen failure".

    "Many will be disappointed and surprised by this slap in the face to the tens if not hundreds of thousands of suffering victims and to a United Nations body," he said in a statement.

    "It is both shameless and unacceptable for [the Holy See] to undermine the UN's efforts, made in the interest of protecting past and future victims, by refusing to provide the information that the UN seeks."

    The US-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Survivors' Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the response marked one of the Holy See's "most explicitly disingenuous and misleading positions on the issue to date".

    "The response is vague and general, where the committee sought concrete data and facts," it added in a statement.

    In May, Pope Francis said the Congregation of the Faith – the Vatican department that includes the office of the sex crimes prosecutor – should continue to act decisively on abuse allegations, "promoting, above all, measures to protect minors, help for those who have suffered such violence in the past and the necessary procedures against those who are guilty".


  23. 300 victims of child homes horror to tell their story as abuse inquiry finally opens

    BY JOANNE SWEENEY – Belfast Telegraph JANUARY 13, 2014

    A £19m Government investigation on the abuse of children over a 73-year period in Northern Ireland residential institutions is under way.

    More than 300 men and women will give evidence to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) on the physical and sexual abuse and neglect they suffered from those who should have cared for them.

    The witnesses, now middle-aged and older, will tell their harrowing stories at the inquiry, which will be held in Banbridge Courthouse, Co Down.

    At the end of the 18 months of evidence, involving at least 14 individual institutions, the inquiry will determine whether there were "systemic failings" in preventing such abuse.

    The inquiry will investigate historical institutional abuse – if there were systemic failings by institutions or the State "in the duties towards those children in their care between years of 1922-1995". Abuse will include physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as neglect.

    Coming from all over Northern Ireland, the Republic, Britain and Australia, the witnesses – many of whom will only be identified by a code to protect their anonymity – may finally get recognition of the wrong that was done to them after the inquiry reports to the Executive early in 2016.

    All the witnesses spent time in residential care of the various institutions.

    While some were concerned with juvenile justice, many of the institutions existed to protect and look after the most vulnerable children in our community at that time.

    The first witnesses to give evidence, from January 29, will speak of their experiences at two homes run by the Sisters of Nazareth – St Joseph's Termonbacca and Nazareth House Children's Home, Bishop Street, Londonderry.

    However, today's proceedings start with a short introduction from the inquiry chair, Sir Anthony Hart, followed by the beginning of the opening comments from the inquiry's counsel, Christine Smith QC.

    A media briefing into this major inquiry placed the anticipated cost at between £15m and £19m.

    But the actual costs could end up being higher as "the full scale of the matters which will be investigated... is not yet known". Several prominent, and in some cases infamous, institutions such as Kincora Boys' Home, Ballyhackamore, in east Belfast, will be probed.

    continued below

  24. Complaints of habitual sexual abuse of young boys by three senior members of staff at Kincora rocked Northern Ireland in the early 1980s.

    Two Barnardo's children's homes and three Nazareth Lodge homes in Derry and Belfast are also included in the wide-ranging inquiry.

    By December 18 last year, 263 individuals had met with the acknowledgement forum – inquiry staff members who handle the initial witness complaints – and 427 applications had been received.

    Over half of the applications came from people living in Northern Ireland today.

    Inquiry chairman Sir Anthony – a retired High Court judge with extensive experience of major criminal trials – will be supported by inquiry secretary, the top civil servant Andrew Browne.

    Mr Browne is an experienced former secretary to the Human Organs Inquiry.


    September 29, 2011: Northern Ireland Executive established the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

    May 31, 2012: Structures, terms of reference and key personnel were announced.

    October 18, 2012: Terms of reference amended.

    January 19, 2013: The Inquiry into Historical Abuse Act (NI) became law.

    January 13, 2014: Opens.

    Mid-summer 2015: Completion of inquiry.

    January 18, 2016: Target date for report to be presented.



    Child abuse inquiry hearings begin

    State papers: The perjury that allowed Kincora suspect preacher to walk

    Abuse probe: 150 men in Northern Ireland teen sex inquiries

    Children's homes to be investigated

    MI5 'blocked exposure of Kincora sex scandal'

    Kincora Boy's Home scandal: South African intelligence 'secretly backed loyalist paramilitary group Tara'

  25. Child abuse inquiry: Church-run hell hole homes were like Nazi concentration camps

    BY MICHAEL MCHUGH – Belfast Telegraph JANUARY 28, 2014

    Church-run "hell hole" children's homes in Ireland were like Nazi concentration camps, a former resident claimed.

    He was in a chain gang polishing floors, bathed in detergent as punishment and sexually assaulted by a woman when he was aged five or six, the witness told the UK's largest ever inquiry into child abuse.

    The Sisters of Nazareth order of nuns oversaw St Joseph's Home in Termonbacca in Londonderry and used to bath the children in Jeyes fluid.

    The witness claimed: "It was kind of like a Zyklon B gas chamber."

    The alleged abuse happened in the 1950s and 60s. He was later transferred to a home in Galway in the Irish Republic owned by the Christian Brothers.

    "Essentially a Gulag, a child's prison," he claimed.

    He added: "The comparison was two hell holes. Which is better? It is difficult to describe when things are bad, you are on a race to the bottom. Salthill (Galway) was Auschwitz, Termonbacca was Treblinka."


  26. Pope Francis asks forgiveness for clergy sex abuse scandal

    David Gibson | Religion News Service Apr 11, 2014

    (RNS) In his strongest personal remarks yet on the clergy sex abuse scandal, Pope Francis on Friday (April 11) asked forgiveness “for the damage” that abusive priests have inflicted on children and pledged that the Catholic Church “will not take one step backward” in efforts to address the crisis.

    “I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests — quite a few in number, though not compared to the total number — and to ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done by sexually abusing children,” Francis said.

    “The church is aware of this damage,” he said. “It is personal and moral damage, but carried out by men of the church. And we do not want to take one step backward in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, I believe that we have to be very firm. Because you cannot take chances with children!”

    The pope’s remarks were in an unscripted addition to a speech he was giving to the International Catholic Child Bureau, a French Catholic network that works to promote the rights of children.


    His comments were seen as a further effort to counter the criticism he has received for not addressing the clerical abuse crisis as quickly and aggressively as he has other issues.

    Last December, the Vatican announced that Francis would name a commission to advise him on establishing rules and best practices for dioceses around the world to combat the abuse of children, and in March the pope appointed the first members.

    Half of them are women and one, Marie Collins of Ireland, was sexually abused by a priest as a child. The appointments raised hopes that the commission would for the first time try to tackle the crucial issue of disciplining bishops who do not act to curb suspected abusers.

    Still, many advocates are dismayed that Francis has not met with victims and they are upset with his recent comments to an Italian newspaper that the church has been unfairly singled out for criticism on this issue.

    “This may be the first time a pope has talked of sanctions against complicit bishops. But that is all it is: talk,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a leading victims advocacy group.

    “On church governance, church finances, and simple living, he acts,” Dorris said Friday. “On the rape of children, he talks.”


  27. Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers

    BY TERRENCE MCCOY, The Washington Post June 3, 2014

    In a town in western Ireland, where castle ruins pepper green landscapes, there’s a six-foot stone wall that once surrounded a place called the Home. Between 1925 and 1961, thousands of “fallen women” and their “illegitimate” children passed through the Home, run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam.

    Many of the women, after paying a penance of indentured servitude for their out-of-wedlock pregnancy, left the Home for work and lives in other parts of Ireland and beyond. Some of their children were not so fortunate.

    More than five decades after the Home was closed and destroyed — where a housing development and children’s playground now stands — what happened to nearly 800 of those abandoned children has now emerged: Their bodies were piled into a massive septic tank sitting in the back of the structure and forgotten, with neither gravestones nor coffins.

    “The bones are still there,” local historian Catherine Corless, who uncovered the origins of the mass grave in a batch of never-before-released documents, told The Washington Post in a phone interview. “The children who died in the Home, this was them.”

    The grim findings, which are being investigated by police, provide a glimpse into a particularly dark time for unmarried pregnant women in Ireland, where societal and religious mores stigmatized them. Without means to support themselves, women by the hundreds wound up at the Home. “When daughters became pregnant, they were ostracized completely,” Corless said. “Families would be afraid of neighbors finding out, because to get pregnant out of marriage was the worst thing on Earth. It was the worst crime a woman could commit, even though a lot of the time it had been because of a rape.”

    According to documents Corless provided the Irish Mail on Sunday, malnutrition and neglect killed many of the children, while others died of measles, convulsions, TB, gastroenteritis and pneumonia. Infant mortality at the Home was staggeringly high.

    “If you look at the records, babies were dying two a week, but I’m still trying to figure out how they could [put the bodies in a septic tank],” Corless said.
    “Couldn’t they have afforded baby coffins?”

    continued below

  28. Special kinds of neglect and abuse were reserved for the Home Babies, as locals call them. Many in surrounding communities remember them. They remember how they were segregated to the fringes of classrooms, and how the local nuns accentuated the differences between them and the others. They remember how, as one local told the Irish Central, they were “usually gone by school age — either adopted or dead.”

    According to Irish Central, a 1944 local health board report described the children living at the Home as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” and with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.”

    Corless has a vivid recollection of the Home Babies. “If you acted up in class, some nuns would threaten to seat you next to the Home Babies,” she said. She said she recalled one instance in which an older schoolgirl wrapped a tiny stone in a bright candy wrapper and gave it to a Home Baby as a gift.

    “When the child opened it, she saw she’d been fooled,” Corless told Irish Central. “Of course, I copied her later and I tried to play the joke on another little Home girl. I thought it was funny at the time…. Years after, I asked myself what did I do to that poor little girl that never saw a sweet? That has stuck with me all my life. A part of me wants to make up to them.”

    She said she first started investigating the Home, which most locals wanted to “forget,” when she started working on a local annual historical journal. She heard there was a little graveyard near what had been the Home, and that piqued her curiosity. How many children were there?

    So she requested the records through the local registration house to find out. The attendant “came back a couple of weeks later and said the number was staggering, just hundreds and hundreds, that it was nearly 800 dead children,” Corless said.

    Once, in 1995, Corless said in the phone interview, several boys had stumbled across the mass grave, which lay beneath a cracked piece of concrete: “The boys told me it had been filled to the brim with human skulls and bones. They said even to this day they still have nightmares of finding the bodies.”

    Locals suspect that the number of bodies in the mass grave, which will likely soon be excavated, may be even higher than 800. “God knows who else is in the grave,” one anonymous source told the Daily Mail. “It’s been lying there for years, and no one knows the full extent of the total of bodies down there.”

    View photos and embedded links at:


  29. Facts Are Murky on Location of Dead Babies in Ireland

    By DOUGLAS DALBY, New York Times JUNE 9, 2014

    TUAM, Ireland — That 796 children, mainly babies, died at St. Mary’s Mother and Baby Home between 1925 and its closing in 1961 is not disputed. A local historian, Catherine Corless, says she researched the death certificates. What troubled her was that she could find burial records for only one child and wanted a plaque to commemorate the lives of the others.

    Ms. Corless surmised that the children’s bodies were interred in a septic tank behind the home, and she then met a local man who said he had seen bones there while playing as a child. While even she acknowledges that the conclusion was a circumstantial leap, once it was picked up in the local press, it was sensational enough to rocket around the globe, becoming a story of a disused septic tank brimming with bones.

    Since the news broke last week, however, some of the assumptions that led Ms. Corless to her conclusion have been challenged, not least by the man she cited, Barry Sweeney, now 48, who was questioned by detectives about what he saw when he was 10 years old. “People are making out we saw a mass grave,” he said he had told the detectives. “But we can only say what we seen: maybe 15 to 20 small skeletons.”

    Where and how the bodies of the children were actually disposed of remains a mystery — and a scandal in tiny Tuam, population 8,200, that has for the moment revealed more about the ways local lore and small-town sleuthing can be distorted in the news media juggernaut than about what actually went on decades ago at the state-funded home for unmarried pregnant women run by the Bon Secours Sisters, a Roman Catholic order.

    The claims have provoked calls for a long-overdue independent inquiry — which the government has so far resisted — and revived memories of the many abuses that commonly took place in such homes.

    “I think that the facts should be brought together in a coherent form because some of the headlines that went abroad internationally were quite horrendous and gave a very mistaken impression of what actually happened,” Ireland’s education minister, Ruairi Quinn, said on national radio on Monday.

    Over the years, thousands of children died in the homes from ailments, including typhus, measles and malnutrition. The death certificates Ms. Corless collected list a range of common causes at a time when infant mortality was much higher than today. The death rates at the homes were always well above the national average, according to official figures. In some years, more than 50 percent of infants died, and there is evidence the state knew this; several commentators have called the homes’ problems “a scandal hidden in plain sight.”

    Ms. Corless said on Monday that she remained confident that the babies are buried in the general area of the septic tank, if not all are inside. “If they’re not there, where else would they be?” she said. “That home was surrounded by eight-feet-high walls, and everything seemed to be done inside there.”

    She says that to date she has not been contacted by any government officials or by the police, but she expects that she will. “I have presented a case. My words have been twisted in terms of the terminology: I have never used the word ‘dumped,’ for example,” she said, referring to the way the story has been sensationalized.

    “But I still believe those bodies are there in that general area,” she said. “There were two babies a day dying at some stages; the chances are they were buried somewhere convenient.”

    “It doesn’t matter if there is even one body in that tank,” Ms. Corless said. “That child was buried illegally.”

    continued below

  30. What matters now to her, and to many others here, is that those children’s lives be acknowledged and respected. Local residents are divided about the procession of national and international journalists and camera crews, but many appear to welcome the coverage. Others are hoping that the controversy will provide the chance to open an inquiry independent of the Irish government and the church into the abuses that occurred at the homes for women, which gained notoriety last year with the release of the movie “Philomena.”

    “We didn’t want to bring any attention to those little babies,” said Anne Collins, a member of the committee that has tried to raise money for a plaque at the site. “But if you buried your dog in the back garden, you would want it marked, and that’s all we wanted.”

    Ms. Collins said the news media and “church bashers” had hijacked the situation, and she disagreed with the widespread condemnation of the nuns.

    “All of the locals knew this was a kiddies’ burial ground, but we didn’t realize they weren’t in tiny little graves,” she said. “But people weren’t overly stunned to learn otherwise or even the numbers involved. They knew the poverty; I lost a sister myself when she was just 18 months old. We grew up hungry in Ireland, and we are able to understand.”

    Another committee member, Maura Ryan, who lives opposite the site, said there was little local appetite for a criminal investigation, particularly if it entailed an excavation. “There will be uproar if they take them up,” Ms. Ryan said. “That’s our biggest fear now since all this started. They should be marked and then left to rest in peace.”

    In life, peace was rare for many of the children at such homes, according to numerous accounts from those who survived them.

    Derek Leinster, who spent time at the Church of Ireland Bethany Home in Dublin, wrote graphically about his experiences and is credited with finding the remains of 219 children from that home in unmarked graves.

    “Throughout my childhood, Ireland has always portrayed itself as a very, very religious and God-fearing country,” Mr. Leinster said. “This representation is at odds with the cruelty I experienced during my childhood and the experiences of all those other lost souls and hopeless causes who were raised within the heart of this supposedly Christian country.”

    Ms. Ryan’s husband, Johnny, recalled going to school with the “home babies.” They were segregated in the classrooms and in the schoolyard at break times, he recalled, and they were even dismissed 10 minutes before everyone else so they could walk home separately. “It was just the way it was: They were different, or at least we were told they were,” Mr. Ryan said.

    In a statement, the Bon Secours spokeswoman said the order would cooperate fully with any inquiry. But none of the sisters who worked at the home were alive, the statement said, and the order handed all records over to the county council when the home was closed in 1961.

    The archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, said in a statement that the archdiocese was not involved in the home and, like the Bon Secours Sisters, had no relevant records, a stance that has angered some because clerical power is often accused of creating the climate of stigma in which these homes operated. But one of Ireland’s most senior clerics, the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has called for an independent inquiry into all such homes for mothers and babies.

    “The indications are that if something happened in Tuam, it probably happened in other mother and baby homes around the country,” Archbishop Martin said. “That is why I believe that we need a full-bodied investigation. There is no point in investigating just what happened in Tuam and then next year finding out more.”