Friday, June 29, 2007

Sotto Voce...Innocent Priest...Imprisoned Accuser

An historic milestone was reached in the Irish courts on Wednesday 27th June 2007 when a man who had falsely accused was sentenced for making an untrue and vindictive claim against a priest.

Paul Anderson had claimed that he was abused by a priest who he claimed he had been sent to for First Holy Communion preparation in 1981 but when the records and claims were investigated, the allegations were proven unfounded.

The priest at the centre of the allegations despite being in a somewhat forgiving manner, still stated “I would have honestly preferred had the perpetrator shot me through the head rather than have put me and my family through the pangs of anxiety and the profound sufferings we endured over the past four years."

When the Garda investigation revealed that Anderson's claims were all untrue, the priest was reinstated to his pastoral ministry at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 2003 and received a standing ovation from the congregation.

At present, clergy in Ireland and indeed in many other countries who are accused of CSA are stepped down from ministry pending investigation, which does cast undue pressure and none moreso evident than in this case.

I said many years ago that there was a lack of overall support from the higher echelons of the hierarchy, then many false allegations could be made and this has unfortunately been the case.

I feel that sometimes if they had challenged these false accusations more vehemently than the genuine ones, then indeed we would all have moved on in a more practical and humane way a long time ago.

Let us hope that we as foot soldiers will now have more support from those in higher office henceforth.

As for Mr Anderson and others like him who wish to lodge false claims, think and think carefully because 4 years behind bars will certainly teach you if nothing else will!!!

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Sotto Voce

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