Cardinal Brady: Cloyne Report Marks "Another Dark Day"

Murphy Commission Finds Diocese Failed to Report Abuse Allegations

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CLOYNE, Ireland, JULY 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The same Murphy Commission of Investigation that revealed the extent of sexual abuse in Ireland with three earlier reports, has released a fourth report, this time on the mishandling of sex abuse allegations by the Diocese of Cloyne.

In the report published Wednesday, Bishop John Magee of Coyne, who resigned in 2010, was found to have ignored the 1996 child protection guidelines set down by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference when he failed to report to the police at least nine of 15 sexual abuse allegations as recently as three years ago.

The 400-page report by Judge Yvonne Murphy, which investigated allegations against 19 priests, was completed at the end of last year. The report covers the years 1996 and 2009.

It revealed that the bishop delegated all abuse cases to Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, who kept all files of the abuse cases "in his home." The monsignor willingly admitted that he was more concerned with the pastoral care of the priests than of the victims.

"I accept in its entirety the commission's view that the primary responsibility for the failure to fully implement church procedures in the diocese lay with me," Bishop Magee told the press on Wednesday.

In 2010, Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop Magee from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Cloyne. Since 2009, the bishop had been involved in the investigation for the cover-up of abuse cases.

Archbishop Dermot Clifford of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly was named administrator of the diocese.

Serious failures

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said in a statement released by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference that the Cloyne Report "represents another dark day in the history of the response of Church leaders to the cry of children abused by Church personnel."

"The findings of this report confirm that grave errors of judgment were made and serious failures of leadership occurred," he said. "This is deplorable and totally unacceptable."

Cardinal Brady, who is also the president of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, said the "serious failures" of the Cloyne Diocese were investigated first in 2008 by the Church's National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

"I commend the National Board for its determination to fulfill the mandate given to it of devising and overseeing the implementation of best practice in safeguarding children throughout the Church," he said. "One positive aspect to come out of Judge Murphy's Report is the confirmation that the Church-established structures of review and accountability have been proven to work effectively."

The cardinal reiterated that the bishops' conference has worked to create an "environment for children is a totally different one to that of the past." He noted that the standard practice is that all allegations of abuse be reported to the authorities, and that "safeguarding personnel" be trained and present "in each of the 1,386 parishes on the island."

The Cloyne Report, added Cardinal Brady, "highlights again the necessity for continuing vigilance and full cooperation with the civil authorities, and the National Board, in the critical area of safeguarding children."

The cardinal also stated his support for legislation that would make it mandatory to report allegations of sexual abuse of children to the authorities.

The cardinal asked for prayers for "all those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, as a result of abuse," and recalled the work of the Church to provide support for victims through the newly launched initiative Towards Healing.

Towards Healing provides telephone counseling and a counseling and psychotherapy referral service for people who have suffered physical, emotional or sexual abuse when they were children by persons working for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Apology

Archbishop Clifford, the apostolic administrator of Cloyne, accepted the findings of the report, and he thanked the commission for their "very thorough investigation."

"This is the first time that the survivors of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne have had an opportunity to have their stories heard publicly," he said.

"I humbly apologize on my own behalf as Administrator of the Diocese, and on behalf of its clergy, to all who suffered and their families," the archbishop stated. "I am appalled by the depth of damage and suffering caused by a minority of clergy in the diocese, as outlined in this report.

"Great pain was also caused to the families of those abused, whose strong relationship with the Catholic Church was, in a number of cases, damaged or destroyed."

The archbishop lamented the fact that "the procedures set out in the Church protocols for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse" were not followed. "This means that the Church authorities in Cloyne failed some of those who were abused by not adhering to their commitments when dealing with complaints," he said.

"Since my appointment as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne in March 2009," the archbishop added, "it has been part of my role to ensure that proper procedures are being followed in each and every complaint of child sexual abuse."

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On the Net:

Full report: www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Cloyne_Rpt