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Report: Police and clergy protected pedophile priests

A New report on clerical abuse from 1975 to 2004 details the cover-up of abuse allegations.

The commission concluded that Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, who ruled the Dublin archdiocese from 1940 to 1972, did not apply canon law where such allegations were concerned. His dealings with a Father Edmondus in 1960 “were aimed at the avoidance of scandal and showed no concern for the welfare of children.”

Archbishop Dermot Ryan, who served from 1972 to 1984, “failed to properly investigate complaints” against six priests and ignored the warning of a psychiatrist in the case of another priest who subsequently seriously assaulted a young teenager.

Archbishop Kevin McNamara, who served from 1984 to 1987, restored to the ministry a priest, Father Bill Carney, who had pleaded guilty to charges of child sex abuse.

Cardinal Desmond Connell, who held office from 1988 to 2004, while “appalled” was slow to realize that it could not be dealt with “by keeping it secret and protecting priests from normal civil processes.”

Ireland’s most senior police officer, Commissioner Fachtna Murphy apologized for the acts of officials who regarded priests as above the law. He said he was “deeply sorry” that children who sought assistance did not always receive the response or protection to which they were entitled.

The report was also critical of three auxiliary bishops of Dublin, Dermot O’Mahony, James Kavanagh and Donal Murray for dealing “badly” with complaints. Bishop Murray, now Bishop of Limerick, said last night he would not resign. His failure to reinvestigate earlier suspicions against an offending priest was described as “inexcusable.”

The traditional deference to the clergy in Ireland that facilitated the cover-up has diminished after a series of scandals over clerical abuse in recent years in an increasingly secular Ireland. This was illustrated at Bishop Martin’s press conference when writer Nell McCafferty asked angrily why people should still call bishops “Your grace” and priests “Father.” 

The director of Amnesty Ireland, Colm O’Gorman, who once sued the Catholic Church for abuses he said he suffered as a teenager, said the report revealed that “bishops in Dublin colluded with child abusers, protecting them and hiding them, enabling them to prey on the innocent (who) were deliberately sacrificed to protect the Church."