Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 7, 2009
Irish commission details Church-police coverup
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
DUBLIN, IRELAND - A report detailing failures of Church leaders' handling of sex abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Dublin has resulted in calls for bishops' resignations and further investigations and prosecution.
"The Dublin Archdiocese's preoccupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid-1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets," said the report by the independent Commission of Investigation, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy.
"All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the state."
The report said Church officials and police colluded in covering up instances of child sexual abuse by clergy.
The commission investigated the period from January 1975 to May 2004, during which time there were four Dublin archbishops: the late John Charles McQuaid, Dermot Ryan and Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Desmond Connell, who retired in 2004 and is now 83.
The report found that Police Commissioner Daniel Costigan was in a "totally inappropriate relationship" with McQuaid; it said Costigan would inform McQuaid of complaints against priests while ensuring that further police investigations were quashed.
The report said that in early 1988, the archdiocese purchased insurance indemnifying it against claims for damages arising from clerical child abuse claims.
"The taking out of insurance was an act proving knowledge of child sexual abuse as a potential major cost to the archdiocese and is inconsistent with the view that archdiocesan officials were still 'on a learning curve' at a much later date or were lacking in an appreciation of the phenomenon of clerical child sex abuse," the report said.
The report said Connell was "slow to recognize the seriousness of the situation when he took over in 1988.
It said Connell's predecessors did not meet with complainants, and while Connell saw "very few . . . some found him sympathetic and kind but with little understanding of the overall plight of victims. Others found him to be remote and aloof."
The report contrasted this with the "active interest" the archbishop showed in civil litigation and how he personally approved the defence strategy used in court cases.
More than two-thirds of the 325 complaints evaluated by the commission were made during the 1990s and 2000s. Connell served as archbishop until 2004.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin had warned that the report would shock Catholics.
"Efforts made to 'protect the Church' and to 'avoid scandal' have had the ironic result of bringing this horrendous scandal on the Church today," he said in a statement released Nov. 26, the day the report was made public.
"The damage done to children abused by priests can never be undone," he said.
"I offer to each and every survivor my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened to them. I am aware, however, that no words of apology will ever be sufficient."
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