A newly released chapter of the Murphy Report into the handling of clergy sex abuse allegations in the Archdiocese of Dublin between 1975 and 2004 shows Cardinal Desmond Connell “begged” Pope John Paul II to dismiss an abusive priest from the priesthood.
Chapter 19 was withheld when the report of Judge Yvonne Murphy’s commission was published in November 2009 because the abuser involved — former priest Tony Walsh — was awaiting trial.
Walsh was sentenced to 16 years in prison for abuse in early December, clearing the way for publication.
Referring to Walsh, the inquiry noted, “his pattern of behaviour is such that it is likely that he has abused hundreds of children.”
The newly published chapter reveals that allegations of abuse made just days after Walsh’s ordination in 1978 were largely ignored by Church authorities and he went on to abuse freely for almost a decade, being moved from parish to parish when fresh allegations emerged.
Connell had been criticized extensively in other parts of the report for not alerting civil authorities to abusive priests.
However, Chapter 19 reported that within months of taking over in Dublin, Connell used canon law to act immediately against Walsh even though he failed to notify civil authorities.
In the chapter, the commission praised Connell for his use of canon law.
The chapter also detailed the prelate’s disappointment after Rome initially rejected his bid to dismiss Walsh from the priesthood.
After a direct appeal to Pope John Paul II, the Vatican eventually backed Connell’s view.