Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Priests say inquiry procedures flawed

 Diarmuid Martin: Think of victims.The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has said children who were abused by priests must be remembered during any criticisms of the Murphy report.

A review of the inquiry has claimed individual priests and bishops would not have been “under investigation” and named and shamed if the Murphy Commission had stayed true to its terms of reference.

The new study, commissioned by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), also accused the inquiry’s practices and procedures of falling short of the requirements of natural and constitutional justice.

However, Archbishop Martin said one should never overlook the context which gave rise to the establishment of the Murphy report, which rocked the Catholic Church in 2009 when it revealed decades of abuse were ignored because clerics were effectively granted garda immunity.

“A strikingly large number of children were sexually abused by priests within the Church in Jesus Christ,” he said.

“Anyone who loves the Church must be truly saddened by this fact.

“The children who were abused and their families and dear ones must be uppermost in our minds.”

The ACP said some priests of Dublin Archdiocese requested a study of Judge Yvonne Murphy’s Investigation of Clerical Child Abuse in the Archdiocese about 18 months ago.

The 42-page review by barrister Fergal Sweeney was presented to ACP members at their AGM in Athlone yesterday.

ACP spokesman outspoken cleric Fr Tony Flannery said priests discussed the report and would not justify any abuse that took place, but believe the procedures used were legally flawed.

“They were faulty in particular under the terms of reference in naming and shaming individual priests and bishops,” he said.

“These individuals were not given the basic human right that every citizen is entitled to — to defend their good name.”

Fr Flannery said that under the terms of reference Judge Murphy was investigating institutions and not individuals.

Mr Sweeney said the State was entirely justified in deciding to investigate historical child abuse, but found the report dismissed out of hand any reasons, explanations or mitigating circumstances put forward by those clerics whom it names and shames.

“Individual clerics of the Dublin Archdiocese should not have been ‘under investigation’ if the Murphy Commission had stayed true to its terms of reference,” he said.

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