October 25, 2005

Irish bishops attacked over clerical sex abuse scandal

The Independent

By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent
Published: 26 October 2005
A horrific saga of clerical sexual abuse stretching back four decades has been exposed in damning detail in an official report published in Dublin.

The report, the work of a former Supreme Court judge, strongly criticised two Catholic bishops as well as the Irish police for inadequately investigating complaints of abuse. It chronicled more than 100 allegations against 21 priests stretching back to 1966 in a single diocese, Ferns, centred on the east-coast town of Wexford.

The lengthy report details cases where a bishop sent two accused priests to the diocese of Westminster but later reinstated them in Ferns. Neither received any treatment, and one went on to become a swimming coach and college principal.

In another case, detailed complaints were made against a priest who was said to have assaulted 10 girls. The inquiry found that a senior police officer had instructed the investigating officer to hand over all notes, and to keep no copies. The file was quietly buried and no action was taken.

Although the report concerns a single diocese, it censured higher church authorities, including the Vatican. It said that any organisation aware of a serious problem within its structure with criminal and child protection implications had a duty to act on it.

The report said: "From the documents furnished to this inquiry by the diocese of Ferns there is no evidence that the growing awareness of this problem was communicated to church authorities in the diocese.

Posted by kshaw at October 25, 2005 06:20 PM