Archbishop's Letter to the People of Cloyne

"The Process of Improving Child Safeguarding Procedures in the Diocese Is Ongoing"

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CLOYNE, Ireland, JULY 16, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a letter from Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly, who is also apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne, to the faithful of the Cloyne Diocese, in response to the latest report on sexual abuse by clergy in Ireland.

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My dear people,

You will be aware by now that most of the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the handling of clerical sex abuse in the diocese of Cloyne was published during the week, and you will also know from media reports what the main findings were.

I am sure you will be experiencing many different emotions, including shock, anger, disappointment and sadness at what is in this report.

First I wish to reiterate the apology which I made on the day to the many who have suffered horrendous acts of abuse perpetrated by some priests of the Cloyne Diocese. The sexual abuse of children, particularly when carried out by those in positions of trust and responsibility for the welfare of children, is always a criminal as well as a sinful act. It deserves our utter condemnation.

I also apologise again for the consistent failure to report allegations to the civil authorities and for the mistakes and omissions which were made over a number of years in the Diocese. The people of Cloyne were entitled to expect that all such complaints would be handled according to the official Church guidelines. This was not the case, and for this I am truly sorry.

Since my appointment as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne in March 2009 it has been part of my role to ensure that proper procedures are being followed in each and every case of allegations of child sexual abuse. Working on many of the genuine improvements put in place in the months prior to my appointment,a large number of positive actions have taken place in the Diocese for more than two years now.

A comprehensive list of these safeguarding reforms is posted on the diocesan website, or may be obtained from the priests of your parish. It is not an exhaustive list but I feel it gives a good indication of the real improvements that have been put in place to ensure that the children and vulnerable adults who come into contact with the diocese ofCloyne are protected now and in the future. Not least of these is the fact that every parish now has one or more child safeguarding representatives in place, and that every priest in ministry in the diocese has been vetted by the Gardaí.

Everything possible is being done to ensure that the Diocese of Cloyne is as safe an environment for children and vulnerable adults. The process of improving child safeguarding procedures in the Diocese is ongoing. I have consistently encouraged and facilitated the promotion of safeguarding of children in the Diocese of Cloyne since I was appointed here.

Last Wednesday was a very sad day indeed for all of us. However, since I took up my present position I have met many of you on different occasions, such as the Chrism Mass, the Confirmations in Cobh, the jubilees of various churches, the blessing and opening of school extensions, as well as at funerals, sporting and community events. I know from personal experience that you, the people of Cloyne, have a strong faith and a deep love for God which will help you in these difficult times. I have also met your priests on numerous occasions. I know that the vast majority of them are good and holy men whose main interest is to serve God and you, His people. I know you realise that they too share your hurt, anger and sadness at the contents of this report.

Let us continue to pray for all who have been abused in any way, and especially for those abused by priests, that the Lord may assist them, and all of us, in the journey towards reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

+Dermot Clifford