Thursday, December 16, 2010

Murphy Report
Uncomfortable for Dublin and Vatican

Thu, Dec 16, 2010

ANALYSIS: THE PSEUDONYM chosen for Tony Walsh in chapter 19 of the Murphy report was “Fr Jovito”. So said Justice Paul Gilligan in the High Court yesterday.

The name’s alliterative associations with things jovial or joyful make it seem singularly inappropriate for this hip-swinging, Elvis-impersonating, frequently brutal child abuser.

Apparently, however, in line with all other pseudonyms in the Murphy report, it was chosen at random.

Like previously published chapters, chapter 19 will make for deeply uncomfortable reading for senior Catholic Church figures in Dublin who held high office at the time.

A very basic question will be posed: how could they have allowed a man they knew to have a track record as a child abuser, from his days as a seminarian at Clonliffe College in Dublin during the 1970s, go forward for ordination as a priest?

And, having done so, how could they then have allowed such a man be appointed a curate in Ballyfermot, a parish with probably the largest group of altar boys in Ireland?

How could they then too have allowed him responsibility for children’s Masses there?

Church authorities at Clonliffe and in Archbishop’s House at the time are not the only ones likely to experience acute discomfort next week as they head into Christmas.

The Vatican will hardly welcome seven paragraphs in chapter 4 of the Murphy report which deal with the canon law trial of Walsh in Dublin and his laicisation in 1992.

Four of those paragraphs deal with his appeal to Rome where his “sentence” was commuted to a decade in a monastery. During this lengthy appeal process, Walsh abused the child who would lead to his first conviction in the civil courts.

That prompted a rushed visit by the then Catholic archbishop of Dublin Desmond Connell to Rome where he insisted Walsh be laicised.

News yesterday that those parts of the Murphy report concerning Walsh were to be published was widely welcomed.

Maeve Lewis of One in Four said it would “undoubtedly provide further evidence of the culture of secrecy and cover-up which existed in the Dublin archdiocese prior to the appointment of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin”.

Ellen O’Malley Dunlop of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre was “pleased” but also aware, as was Lewis, of “the reminder” it would be for victims of clerical sexual abuse.

Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan said publication was “the next vital step in exposing the institutional abuse of children by the Catholic Church”.

© 2010 The Irish Times

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