Monday, August 29, 2011

Cloyne cleric's comments are hurting victims - Archbishop

A leading archbishop has urged one of the senior clerics criticised in the Cloyne Report to make no further comment on the controversy as it would cause distress to clerical sexual abuse victims.

Archbishop Dermot Clifford, the Cloyne administrator, made his comments after Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan wrote a letter to the 'Irish Catholic' newspaper in which he accepted he should have resigned his post as the diocesan child-protection delegate earlier.

Monsignor O'Callaghan, with former Bishop Dr John Magee, was criticised in the Cloyne Report for failing to fully implement child-protection guidelines.

In his letter, Monsignor O'Callaghan said that, in hindsight, he should have resigned rather than implement policies he did not fully agree with.

Last Wednesday night, Dr Clifford -- who has been running the Cork diocese for almost three years -- said it was imperative that the victims' welfare be foremost in everyone's minds. 

He urged the former Mallow parish priest to make no further public comment on the matter.

"I would re-emphasise that our first priority at all times must be the protection of children," he said.

"I would kindly request Monsignor O'Callaghan, now retired, to refrain from any further public comment on this controversy as it will only cause further distress and hurt to survivors of child sexual abuse and their families," Dr Clifford said.

In a blunt message to the former Maynooth theology professor, the archbishop agreed he should have resigned from his Cloyne child-protection post.

"I agree that he should have resigned at that time, once he came to the conclusion that he could not implement the 1996 framework document from the Catholic bishops on safeguarding of children.

"The pastoral approach espoused by Monsignor O'Callaghan is not a sufficient response to allegations of child sexual abuse," Dr Clifford said.

Monsignor O'Callaghan said the pastoral care of all involved was always his concern as child-protection delegate.

"(It was for) everyone suffering the consequences of sex abuse, primarily the victim but also the transgressor," he said.

"Judge Yvonne Murphy was made aware of the Cloyne commitment to pastoral care but the commission focussed on its remit of reporting on whether or not procedures were fulfilled," he added.

One victim said she was "shocked and appalled" by the letter and interpreted it as a clear attempt to justify what had happened.

"This is absolutely typical of how we have been treated over the years," she said.

Monsignor O'Callaghan has apologised to victims and Dr Magee said he was "horrified and ashamed" by what had happened under his watch.