Irish Report: Cover-up of Sexual Abuse by Priests Ongoing

Reports of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests have led to a worldwide scandal that has caused millions to leave the Church and shaken the institution to its foundations. The Vatican’s begrudging response even to acknowledge the extent of the abuse has been woefully inadequate. According to a 431 page report issued yesterday by the Irish government, the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was still covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as two years ago.

The report found that the Diocese of Cloyne, a rural part of County Cork, did not act on complaints of sexual abuse of children against 19 priests from 1996 to 2009. The report, which was drafted by an independent investigative committee headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, found that while two allegations were reported to the police, there was no follow-up investigation. As the New York Times says, the report provides stark evidence that the Church’s earlier promises to report all abuse cases since 1995 to civil authorities were just so much talk.

Quite contrary to its message of helping the vulnerable and weak, the Church has systematically covered up crimes and sought to protect priests, not children.

Too often, the Church has been allowed to handle complaints of abuse against its priests internally. But on Wednesday, bishops in Germany — where record numbers left the Church last year — said that outside investigators would be allowed to look for abuse cases in diocesan personnel records dating back at least 10 years, and even all the way to 1945. However, as the New York Times comments, there are “indications that some crucial records may have already been destroyed.”

In 1996, the Church in Ireland issued child protection guidelines. But not only did civil authorities still fail to investigate allegations of sexual abuse, the Church seems to have felt that it did not need to follow the guidelines. A senior Vatican official in Ireland even suggested that these policies, put in place to protect children following horrifying reports of abuse for decades, were in violation of the Church’s canon law.

Most damaging, the report said that the Congregation for the Clergy, an arm of the Vatican that oversees the priesthood, had not recognized the 1996 guidelines. That “effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures” and “gave comfort and support” to priests who “dissented from the stated Irish church policy,” the report said.

The report gave details of a confidential letter sent in 1997 by the Vatican’s nuncio, or ambassador, in Ireland to Irish bishops, warning them that their child-protection policies violated canon law, which states that priests accused of abuse should be able to appeal their cases to the Vatican. The nuncio also dismissed the Irish guidelines as “a study document.”

Included in the Cloyne report are allegations that John Magee, the bishop of Cloyne since 1987 and the private secretary to three popes — he was “the first Vatican official on the scene when John Paul I was found dead in his quarters,” states the Guardian — not only took “little or no active interest in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008,” but had himself been accused of improper behavior with a young seminarian. Cardinal Sean Brady, the senior bishop in Ireland, defended Magee, says the Cloyne report.

Bishop Accountability, which has documented the seeming flood of cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, said that the Cloyne Report was “eerily similar” to a 120- page report by the district attorney of Philadelphia. This report, issued in February, said that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had  failed to stop the sexual abuse of children, more than five years after a report documenting abuse by more than 50 priests had made the extent of the problem more than clear.

As was recently noted:

“And like most scandals this wasn’t about the scandal itself and the underlying conduct, this was about the attempts to cover it up. When people cover up things, they are not fit and proper to run something.”

These words were said yesterday by Mark Lewis, the lawyer for the family of Milly Dowler, the 13-year-old British school girl whose voice mail was hacked and messages deleted by the British tabloid News of the World in 2002. The deleted messages — which could have provided vital evidence for police — led Dowler’s family to think she might still be alive. Last week, News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch said News of the World would be shut down in the wake of the hacking scandal which has grown into a full-scale Parliamentary investigation, with Murdoch, his son James and chief executive of News International Rebekah Brooks all required to testify.

Unethical wrongdoing, cover-up, scandal, investigation, more cover-up: This same pattern is apparent in what seems to be the Catholic Church’s attempts to cover up the extent of the scandal of abuse of children by priests. Too often, the Church protected abusive priests by moving them to different parishes without informing people about their past crimes and certainly not informing law enforcement — and thereby tacitly letting more abuse, more crimes, more pain and suffering occur. How much longer can the Vatican deny the depth of the problem that is staring them in the face, and undoing the Church more each day?

Related Care2 Coverage

Vatican Announces Symposium & Online Database to Prevent Sex Abuse By Priests

Bishops’ Report on Priest Sexual Abuse Scandal Puts the Blame on Woodstock

Priest Scandal Engulfs Philadelphia; Monsignor Among Those Charged

Photo by ximenacab


Stephan B.
Stephan B6 years ago

I hope Jesus do not come back as a 10 year old in a catholic family. we will never get to the acts of Revelations because the law suits will be in eternal continuances.

Perhaps if their uniforms were upgraded from loose robes to tight tennis shorts we could preemptively know their intentions. No more pocket pool during a kids confession.

Kim Benoit
Kim Benoit6 years ago

And Jesus said Bring the children to me... NOT Bring them to me so I can fool them!!!!!!
These so called "Men of Cloth" should be tried and jailed like our neighbours would if they committed such terrible crimes. Why would they be any different? They are misrepresenting the Church, for one, and are on the alter under false pretenses. They are preaching "Do onto others", well, that's where they should be jailed and have their fellow inmates "Do onto others, as they have done"...
I was born and raised Catholic, and attended Mass, ceremonies for years and did the same with my children. Now, as an even more grown up adult, am questioning the church, their beliefs and their system even more than ever. I do not believe one has to attend church to be a Christian, as they have certainly proved that wrong...

More shame comes when the Vatican, and Bishops, etc. turn a blind eye. How sad that a child cannot rely on the eyes of the church, so called trusted adults to protect them. I believe if a teacher sees or suspects abuse (in any form) on a child in her classroom, they have to report what they see, heard or suspect FOR THE HELP OF THE CHILD!!!! Wouldn't we all do that????

Well, I suppose evil lurks everywhere, obviously, and YES YES YES, the Church IS responsible for bringing these so called priests to justice and uncover the rug. MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, if they knew they would be exposed and their names and photos smeared around the country (like most pedifiles), the

Danny Haszard
Danny Haszard6 years ago

Not to diminish the high crimes of the RCC but please examine the Jehovah's Witnesses who go door to door and come on our property.

Jehovah's Witnesses pedophiles.

Many court documents and news events prove that Jehovah's Witnesses require two witnesses when a child comes forward with allegations of molestation within the congregation. Such allegations have customarily been treated as sins instead of crimes and are only reported to authorities when it is required to do so by law, (which varies by state). It has also been shown that child molesters within the organization usually have not been identified to the congregation members or the public at large.
These people engage in a door to door ministry, possibly exposing children to pedophiles.

Although the Watchtower Bible Tract Society claims that known pedophiles are accompanied by a non-pedophile in such work, there is no law stating that such a practice must be followed.

The Watchtower corporation has paid out millions in settlement money already.
Danny Haszard abuse victim

Ainsley Chalmers
Ainsley Chalmers6 years ago

It is strange that the press likes to air the problems of pedophile priests but never talks about those priests/clergy who are working their guts off to do good. sure these pedophiles need a good long stint in jail and they cannot be called Christians behaving in this horrendous manner. the bishops who try to cover up are equally as liable and need to be in court for these crimes. but let us not forget those many thousands of christians who are doing good things everyday like the mother Theresa's nuns, Vinnes and salvos just to mention a few. the corrupted clergy may fool us but one day they, like all of us, will come before the judgement seat of God. At that time one can only say God help them.

Lorna M.
Lorna M6 years ago

I have my beliefs and I don't see how for the life of me it makes any sense to be a 'man of God' and then rob the innocence of a child. I believe that this is one of the worst things you could do in the eyes of God. But then I don't understand confessing your sins to another man or priests not being able to take a wife. Wouldn't it be better to let them get married? It may not get rid of the abuse completely, but I'm willing to bet it would make a huge difference. Shame on the Vatican for not doing anything about this! That's exactly why Sinead O'Connor tore up a picture of the Pope on SNL and people were just quick to condemn her rather than learn why she did it.

leanne mcivor
leanne Torio6 years ago

Boycott the Catholic Church - there are alot of other churches people can go to - don't have anything to do with those scum of the earth and certainly do not give them your money!

Kaitlin Carney
Kaitlin Carney6 years ago

It's interesting that the Catholic Church claims homosexuals to be abominations, yet they continue to cover up these sex scandals. Which seems immoral, two people of the same sex who love each other and become partners, or a guy who says hes a man of the lord, yet touches small children, both boys and girls? The church obviously need a new perspective on many of their policies regarding sexuality in general.

Sherri Strong
Sherri Strong6 years ago

As an organization the catholic church should not be charged; but definately all individuals involved should be charged as persons-like the watergate scandal-right to the top of the chain. I hope the Irish government and British government choose to hold their constituents responsible/accountable no matter who they claim to be! As a christian I believe the bible says that the church will be the first to be judged on 'the judgement day'. Personally I think this abnormal behavior in the priesthood is mostly derived from the archane catholic law that states only celibate men are the ones anointed by God for priesthood; married men (and women) should always have been acceptable in the priesthood!

Christine S.

I am speechless that the cover-ups continue...

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

Welcome to the Catholic Cult- check brains at cathedral door please.