October 27, 2005

Viewpoint: A catalogue of abuse and neglect

Belfast Telegraph

FERNS REPORT: Church must ensure there is no repetition
27 October 2005
The scandal of child sex abuse by priests in the Ferns diocese, in Co Wexford, has been known about for a long time, but it has taken a government inquiry to expose the full, horrific facts. There is nowhere in the world where Catholic children were more at risk from the priests who ministered to them over a 36-year period, 1966-2002.

Everyone is now aware of how some priests can betray their position of trust, and the Church - from parish to Vatican - is properly repentant. The only excuse is that, until comparatively recently, there was little understanding of paedophilia and its effect on a closed, celibate community, with special access to children.

Nevertheless, the report's findings on the totally inadequate response to complaints against 21 priests, involved in more than 100 allegations of child abuse, will come as a shock to believers and unbelievers alike. Ferns may have been particularly vulnerable, but few doubt that every diocese in Ireland, and possibly the world, has its history of sex offences.

During the period in question, it was the misfortune of Ferns to have two negligent bishops - one of whom, Brendan Comiskey, resigned in 2002 after confessing that he was unable to control the main offender. Sean Fortune, who committed suicide after a lifetime of child abuse, had been ordained by the previous bishop, despite a psychiatrist's warning that he was "unfit" for the priesthood.

Posted by kshaw at October 27, 2005 09:09 AM