Sunday, November 29, 2009

They knew so much but said so little

A NUMBER of auxiliary bishops in the Dublin Archdiocese were made aware of complaints of child sexual abuse by priests.

However, of the 13 auxiliary bishops named in the Murphy report, a number were found to have handled the complaints "particularly badly".

In some cases it was found that they appointed priests to particular parishes but did make any reference to child sexual abuse issues.

Just one bishop admitted to the commission that he handled the complaints badly.

His handling of complaints and suspicions were found by the commission to be "particularly bad".

He was aware of 13 priests from the representative sample -- as well as others -- against whom there had been allegations or suspicions by 1995.

A former chancellor, he failed to tell Archbishop Dermot Ryan about a number of complaints as well as failing to tell the National Rehab Hospital about complaints against their chaplain, Fr Noel Reynolds.

The bishop said in a statement that he had given his evidence to the commission and that he had nothing further to add.

Currently Bishop of Limerick, he was found to have handled a number of complaints and suspicions "badly".

For example, he did not deal properly with the suspicions and concerns that were expressed to him in relation to Fr Thomas Naughton.

When, a short time later, factual evidence of Fr Naughton's abusing emerged in another parish, Bishop Murray's failure to re-investigate the earlier suspicions was "inexcusable".

Bishop Murray did, however, accept in 2002 that he had not dealt well with the situation.

Yesterday when asked was his position tenable, he said he believed it was, adding that it was up to the people and priests of Limerick.

In response to criticism from the Commission of Investigation, Bishop Murray said in none of the cases referred to him in the report did he receive an allegation of sexual abuse.

He said he was "not involved in covering up".

He was the only bishop to unequivocally admit in evidence to the commission that he may not have handled matters satisfactorily.

He went on to become Bishop of Ossory and retired in 2007.

Last night his spokesman said Bishop Forristal was in his late 70s and "no longer gives interviews".

"He has nothing to add to the evidence which he gave to the inquiry and which he feels was accurately recorded in the report," the spokesman said.

Currently Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Bishop Moriarty does not come in for specific criticism in the report.

However, it was found that he was told in 1993 about alleged abuses carried out by Fr Edmondus (pseudonym) and he did not check files to determine if any other complaints had been made.

The priest would take pictures of young children when they were changing in his house -- the children stopped going his house only when the bishop asked him to stop.

Yesterday he released a detailed statement, which will be read at all Masses in the diocese tomorrow.

He did not refer to his time in the Dublin diocese but reassured parishioners that "as Pope Benedict has urged, we are taking all necessary steps to ensure that nothing of this kind ever happens again".

Although he doesn't come in for heavy criticism, the commission was not happy with his handling of four complaints against Fr Dante (pseudonym).

Fr Dante denied that, among other allegations, that he spanked boys on their bare bottoms and made them shower with the door open.

Bishop Walsh concluded that the alleged incidents could be viewed in the nature of strict discipline or containing some sort of gratification. It was seen as inappropriate behaviour rather than child sex abuse.

Yesterday Bishop Walsh said he did not believe the Murphy inquiry into child abuse should be extended to the rest of the State.

He said the pattern of abuse was the same as in Ferns and said it would be "far better using our time, energy and money in consolidating our Church-protection services, our school-protection services and all of the legislation that will enable it".

Bishop Walsh said the culture of "don't ask, don't tell" and fear of scandal having primacy over the rights of children within the Catholic Church was "dead and gone. . . and if it is not, that person should be".

During his short time as auxiliary bishop, he became aware of allegations of sex abuse against some priests.

Bishop Comiskey was appointed bishop of Ferns in April 1984 and resigned from that position in April 2002.

He was forced to resign over claims he had failed to deal adequately with a host of allegations that Fr Sean Fortune and other clerics were abusing children in the diocese.

He has since moved to Dublin but could not be located yesterday.

Currently Bishop of Galway, he was aware of allegations against Fr Guido (pseudonym). Bishop Drennan recommended that he attend at the Granada Institute for treatment, but Fr Guido resisted going there.

Fr Guido later admitted he was gay and as recently as 2003 he was found at a Dublin pilgrimage to have spent "an inordinate amount of time taking photographs of the boys and arranging to meet them at night".

However, the commission found the archdiocese "acted correctly" in this case and did everything possible to help Fr Guido address his problems.

The bishop is away this weekend on pre-planned business but he had issued a statement saying he was sorry for all the distress the abusers suffered.

He said he hoped that we would learn why the Church authorities failed the victims and their families.

A spokesman said the fact he wasn't interviewed by the commission "speaks for itself".

He does not come in for personal criticism but was involved in cases in which priests were accused of abuse, including Fr Sergius and Fr Benito (pseudonyms).

Bishop Field told the commission that he was aware that Fr Sergius, although retired from the Dublin Archdiocese, helped out in another diocese from time to time. He is on protracted sick leave and is not in a position to respond to queries.

The bishop was involved in the Fr Sergius case but did not know the extent of the abuses.

He advised Fr Sergius to get help for his alcohol problem and offered to put him in touch with professionals.

The bishop did not return calls for comment last night.

Bishops Joseph Carroll, Patrick Dunne, James Kavanagh and Desmond Williams are also named in the report but are deceased.

* dates refer to when they served as auxiliary bishops in the Dublin Diocese

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