The fact that a dozen paedophile priests were active in Dublin in the 1970s has been described by the city’s Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin as a tragedy.
child sex abuse took place to such an extent within the Church as it
did historically was inexcusable, he said.
But while immense progress is
being made in Ireland to deal with the issues, Archbishop Martin said
there was a very strange situation in which people did not seem to
realise the dangers of allowing abusers move around.
“The statistics will tell us that the number of paedophiles in society
always remains the same,” Archbishop Martin told RTÉ radio’s This Week
“The more you make certain areas no-go zones for paedophiles, then they
appear somewhere else and they could appear somewhere else in the
Church as well.
“For me, the big tragedy is: Why was it that, in the 1970s, there were
12 serial paedophiles active in the Dublin diocese at the same time.
Something happened in those years, I don’t know, we haven’t got the
analysis of it.”
Archbishop Martin said the recent European Court of Human Rights
judgment in the case of Louise O’Keeffe, abused as a child in 1973 by
her primary school principal, stated that the prosecution of child sex
abusers waned a little after the 1960s.
He agreed abusers had been moved because people believed it was right
to protect the Church rather than the child, but added that it was
sometimes to protect the offender.
“In one of my files that I went through, there’s a letter from the
Department of Education asking a parish priest to appoint a teacher to
his school after he being convicted in the courts of child abuse, saying
he needs just one and a half years to get his pension,” said Archbishop
He said he has removed two priests from ministry who were abusing during
his time as archbishop, a role he took up a decade ago, and the
problems were discovered by the Church’s current systems.
He said all cases brought to Church authorities are reported to gardaí
and the HSE, and reports are only sent to the Vatican after Garda
Archbishop Martin added that the pace at which Catholic primary schools
are being handed over to alternative patrons is too slow, and it could
be another decade before the process is complete.