Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bishop of Limerick urged to resign as victim's family speaks out on abuse

THERE CAN be no doubt that of the five bishops still in office and who were dealt with in the Dublin diocesan report, the most vulnerable is the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray.

This vulnerability was added to last night when the family of a man who alleged abuse, and who died tragically in 2006 following a meeting with representatives of Limerick's Catholic diocese, called for his resignation.

Peter McCloskey (37) was found dead on April 1st, 2006, two days after mediation talks with diocesan representatives. His brother Joseph said he had been "devastated" by the mediation process with the diocese.

The late Mr McCloskey alleged he had been abused in 1980/81 by Fr Denis Daly, a priest ordained for Sydney who served in Limerick from 1978 until his death aged 61 in 1987.

Last night, Peter McCloskey's father Aidan said of his deceased son's experience that "a criminal would have been treated better by the bishop".

The deceased man's mother Mary repeated to The Irish Times last night the call she had made for Bishop Murray's resignation on Peter's death. "I am very, very disappointed with my church. I wonder how long I can stay with it," she said.

Joseph McCloskey last night accused the bishop of having treated his brother "disgracefully" and of not following through on promises he made to the family on Peter's death. He supported his parents' call for the bishop's resignation.

In its report, the Dublin commission found that Bishop Murray's dealings with one particular abuse allegation while an auxiliary bishop in Dublin was "inexcusable". It said he had "handled a number of complaints and suspicions badly".

It continued that when "actual evidence of Fr [ Thomas] Naughton's abusing emerged in another parish, Bishop Murray's failure to investigate the earlier suspicions was inexcusable. Bishop Murray did, however, accept in 2002 that he had not dealt well with the situation."

The current Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, Jim Moriarty, also features in the report.

An auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1991 to 2002, in 1993 he received a complaint about Fr Edmondus concerning the priest's contact with young children. This was the priest who had abused Marie Collins in 1960 when she was a patient at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

Bishop Moriarty discussed the complaint with local priests and then Archbishop Desmond Connell.

"No attempt was made by archdiocesan authorities to check the archives or other files relating to Fr Edmondus when these complaints were received," the commission report said.

It continued that "Bishop Moriarty pointed out to the commission that he did not have access to the archives but he could have asked the archbishop to conduct a search."

This failure to check about other complaints "meant that the concerns were not taken as seriously as they should have been. There was no proper investigation of these concerns. For example, the youth workers who first raised them were not even interviewed at the time," the commission report said.

The Bishop of Galway, Martin Drennan, auxiliary bishop of Dublin from 1997 to 2005, heard reports of inappropriate behaviour involving Fr Guido involving male teenagers. This was in 2002 and 2003.

In the commission's view "the archdiocese acted correctly in immediately addressing concerns and suspicions in this case."

Allegations against Fr Horatio and with which Bishop Ray Field, auxiliary bishop of Dublin since 1997, had been involved in 2005 were found by the commission to have been dealt with appropriately by the archdiocese.

Where Fr Sergius was concerned, Bishop Field told the commission he believed he was dealing with a priest who had an alcohol problem and was not aware of abuse complaints against him.

The commission found that information given by Bishop Field to priests in the parish to which Fr Benito was assigned in December 2003 "was certainly not complete or sufficiently specific".

The commission was also concerned "about the failure to inform Bishop Field about the advisory panel's perception that he had delayed in reporting a complaint of child sex abuse".

Allegations about Fr Dante in 1997, which were also dealt with by Bishop Eamonn Walsh, auxiliary bishop of Dublin since 1990, were found by the commission to have been dealt with appropriately.

Concerning Fr Noel Reynolds, the commission report records that Bishop Walsh had been informed by a social worker that a client of hers had alleged she had been abused by Fr Reynolds.

Bishop Walsh "advised her to write to the chancellor". The commission, which felt the archdiocese dealt "extremely badly" with allegations against Fr Reynolds, makes no specific observation on Bishop Walsh's involvement.

Bishop Walsh was apostolic administrator in Ferns diocese following the resignation of Bishop Brendan Comiskey in 2002. He co-operated with the subsequent Ferns inquiry, which published its report in October 2005.

The inquiry came close to collapse in September 2005 when it realised that documents concerning allegations of abuse against 10 priests in Ferns diocesan files had not been made available to it.

The inquiry team decided the omission of these documents "was due to a regrettable error on the part of the diocese and did not constitute the withholding of co-operation on its part".

A summary of cases concerning five of the priests which were deemed relevant to the inquiry were set out in an appendix to the Ferns report.

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