Monday, November 30, 2009

Priest claims bishop 'never acknowledged' child abuse allegation

A priest has told how a clerical abuse allegation he passed on to gardai just last year was "never acknowledged" to him by the relevant bishop.

Augustinian priest Fr Iggy O'Donovan said while the complaint was fully investigated, the bishop in question did not respond to him when he was sent a copy of his garda statement.

Drogheda-based Fr O'Donovan was recalling the case as the full truth of the cover-up of decades of child clerical abuse in the Dublin diocese was revealed in the Murphy Report.

"I reported the complaint to the gardai and it was thoroughly acted on," Fr O'Donovan told the Herald.

"I sent a copy of my statement to the bishop and he never acknowledged it. He may well be co-operating fully with the gardai but he didn't say anything to me. Whatever the bishop did or didn't do, he didn't acknowledge my message. Not that he had to. I just thought it was a matter of courtesy more than anything else."

Fr O'Donovan stressed that the victim in question was happy with the progress being made on his case.

He said it was a difficult week to be a priest anywhere in the country. He was angry at the report's revelations and that anyone implicated in the cover-up should leave office.

"We shouldn't need guidelines to say abusing little children is wrong", he said. "It was always wrong, and it went on at a time when the most rigidly repressive sexual morality was being imposed on the people.

"It's a question of zero tolerance. When it comes to the clergy, the bar has to be very, very high. Everybody who admits to conniving in this cover-up should go, anybody who is seen to be compromised at all by mishandling cases.

"Nobody who was implicated can hold a position of authority over people's lives or the protection of children, it would be like letting an alcoholic loose in a brewery.

"The whole thing stinks. It goes right to the top, the culture of nod and wink and misplaced loyalty. It goes right to Rome. It's not right when an institution becomes an end in itself, when it is protected at all costs, even when you are protecting scoundrels."

Fr O'Donovan said he welcomed the fact that the "old clerically dominated" church would not survive the scandals and would be replaced by a better church.

The report revealed a systematic and calculated abuse of power and trust inflicted on helpless children in the archdiocese over 29 years.

It confirmed that the church and State had colluded in a conspiracy against innocent children in their care, covering up generations of abuse.

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