Monday, November 30, 2009

Conspiracy of silence shames Catholic Church

Conspiracy of silence shames Catholic Church

By Laurence White
Monday, 30 November 2009

At the church I attended yesterday the priest spoke of his sorrow, his embarrassment, his dismay and his anger following the publication of the report into how the Dublin Archdiocese mishandled the abuse of children by paedophile priests.

Those are emotions which are shared by many fellow Catholics.

There is sorrow that so many children were so vilely abused for so long without anyone in authority, either in the Church or in civil society, lifting a hand to help them.

Indeed, how many children were not even believed by their own parents when they complained of abuse by priests.

In the 50s, 60s and even 70s the power of the Catholic Church on civil society in the Republic was enormous.

The archbishop only had to lift the telephone and make a complaint and everyone from heads of the Garda to broadcasting chiefs quaked.

At parish level priests wielded tremendous influence.

Compared to many parishioners they were well educated men and were shown a level of deference which is almost impossible to comprehend nowadays.

It was the same in Northern Ireland.

While the Catholic Church, of course, had relatively little influence in state matters — that rested more with the Orange Order — it ruled its parishes with an iron rod.

One of the great ironies of those days was that the sins of the laity — especially if those lay people were poor — were seized upon by the clergy.

Woe betide the poor girl who got herself pregnant as she was banished to one of the Church-run institutions.

Funnily enough, the feckless fathers were allowed to continue with their lives as if nothing had happened. But all the while there were priests committing sins of far greater magnitude than those they preached to.

The Dublin report contains |details of one priest who abused children on a fortnightly basis for 25 years and details of another who could not remember how many children he had abused.

It is right and proper that |those priests should be pursued relentlessly, no matter what their age, and made to pay for their sins.

These were not the actions of men making a momentary lapse — but of ruthless predators who completely abused their positions of trust.

But the hierarchy must also be brought to book.

The bishops, archbishops, cardinals and the Vatican officials who knew what was going on and colluded in a conspiracy of silence to protect the reputation of the Church rather than vulnerable children.

Those men had done even more harm to the reputation of the church than the paedophile priests.

They have destroyed the moral authority of the church and they have left the clergy, nuns and religious orders at the mercy of everyone who wants to taunt the Church.

The majority of priests and religious folk are men and women following a difficult path with great piety and resolution.

They are as appalled at the actions of their fellow clergy and of their Church leaders as anyone else.

After his sermon yesterday I watched the priest walk across the altar and thought how desperately lonely he looked.

Like every priest after recent scandals, he must wonder just what dark thoughts his flock sometimes harbour about him.

He, too, has been let down by the very Church he serves.

International help needed to speed Church clean-up

International help needed to speed Church clean-up

Monday November 30 2009

THANK God for Diarmuid Martin; thank God for the courage and persistence of the victims of clerical child abuse who have been vindicated; thanks too for Judge Yvonne Murphy and her team for drawing back the veil and shining a light into the darkest passages of church administration.

Without minimising in any way the suffering of victims or the criminal culpability of the abuser, the public sense of outrage attaches mostly to the cover-up by diocesan authorities over many years. Indeed, for many victims, their treatment by church authorities added not only insult, but additional pain and suffering to the original injury.

The diocesan authorities were proved to be just as insensitive, just as callous, and, in their own way, just as abusive as the original offenders. The fact that there was an abuse of power and office by those who put the defence of an institution above the protection of children made it, if anything, even more offensive.

Northern Ireland has had its own public debate on some of these issues 20 years ago in the wake of the Kincora scandal. That, it should be remembered, involved a home run by a local authority, later a health board, who showed no less anxiety to protect their organisation from the shame of disclosure, and no less willingness to protect staff rather than listen to the children.

Indeed, their attitude contrasted with that of the Catholic Bishop William Philbin in a similar case at the time involving a Catholic home.

Kincora involved abuse in residential homes rather than clerical paedophiles. Nevertheless it resulted, in the North, in the development of rules and methodologies for screening staff in contact with children, keeping registers of offenders, and imposing a duty of informing the civil authorities on employers and others.

It seems odd that none of this seems to have informed attitudes across the border, the more so since some dioceses spanned both jurisdictions, that the cardinals resided in the North, and indeed that some of the most notorious clerical abusers had worked there, had been transferred there, perhaps, to keep them ahead of the posse.

But what now? The Ferns, Ryan and now Murphy reports have turned up the edge of the carpet. It would defy logic to argue that the position was essentially different in other dioceses, and there will be calls to extend the work of the tribunal to the rest.

What Judge Murphy has disclosed is systemic failure, and another two dozen inquiries are unlikely to change the picture. There is little to be gained but voyeuristic satisfaction while the real work of safeguarding children and prosecuting offenders is delayed.

A better option would be to direct the gardai, when a priest has been convicted of abuse, to then turn their attention to the way the complaint was handled by the church authorities, and to bring charges where they find evidence of cover-up, collusion, failure of the duty to care for children, negligence or simple ineptitude.

To the extent that it is legally possible to do so, the same approach should be taken to those authorities named as delinquent by Judge Murphy.

For this task, it would be sensible for the gardai to draw in help from other forces that have had experience of investigating and prosecuting clerical child abuse, and from countries where there is not the same culture of deference to the Church.

Archbishop Martin, and more recently Bishop Noel Treanor in Belfast, have brought a breath of fresh air to the Irish Church, in their commitment to openness and their refusal to defend the indefensible.

It is no accident that they have both spent some years in an international arena. It is no accident either that the midwife who blew the whistle in the Drogheda hospital scandal was trained in another professional culture.

Given the hitherto closed nature of large sections of Irish society there is a lot to be said for frequent infusions of fresh thinking from outside the system into the gardai and the public service. The so-called 'National' Board for the Protection of Children should be clearly separated from the Catholic Church, put on a statutory basis, funded by the State and given powers akin to the Police Ombudsman Commission.

Without doubting the credibility and professional integrity of the people involved, the public will not have confidence in the Church being policed by a body it has itself set up and which depends on the Church for resources.

Apart from the victims, the main loser in all this has been the Church, and the main casualties the thousands of dedicated priests and religious who gave their lives to the service of the community.

Many years ago, a cynical but saintly old priest told me that the surest argument for divine foundation was that the Church had survived the best efforts of bishops and popes for 2,000 years. Given Christ's unequivocal anathema of those who scandalised little children, if Ireland really was a Republic of Conscience any canny clerical outfitter with an eye to business should be clearing the shelves of Roman collars and stocking up on millstones.

The bigger and weightier, the better.

- Maurice Hayes

Irish Independent

Connell must come clean without any 'reservation'

Connell must come clean without any 'reservation'

Monday November 30 2009

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Cardinal Desmond Connell have been in direct personal contact since last Thursday when the explosive Commission Report into the Archdiocese of Dublin's cover-ups of clerical child sex abuse ignited the biggest challenge ever to the moral authority and credibility of both the Vatican and the Irish hierarchy.

Naturally enough, a talking point between the retired Prince of the Roman Church and his successor as head of Ireland's Dublin archdiocese, was the fate of former Dublin auxiliary, Bishop Donal Murray.

In a Church system which has practised the cult of secrecy to near perfection and has upgraded this anti-democratic practise to the status of an eleventh commandment on top of the original 10 scripturally decreed by God, it was only by chance I found out that the two leading churchmen have been talking in recent days.

I discovered this while pressing Archbishop Martin yesterday on his personal opinion as to whether the embattled Bishop Murray, now head of the diocese of Limerick, should resign from office. This took place in the sacristy of St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, as the archbishop was vesting to celebrate Mass for the disbandment of the archdiocese's Colleges Volunteer Corps established by the 'beloved' Archbishop John Charles McQuaid in 1961 as his youth guard at church ceremonies and on diocesan pilgrimages to Lourdes.

As Dr Martin was swinging his decorous chasuble over his shoulders, I remarked that Cardinal Connell had said publicly some years ago that Bishop Murray was the most brilliant student he had taught in his 35 years teaching metaphysics and philosophy at University College Dublin.

"That is exactly what the cardinal told me the other day," Archbishop Martin said, moving off to lead the all-male entry procession of celebrants into the college chapel.

The cardinal's concern for his former pupil will have been deflected by critical comments said yesterday by his own successor as Archbishop of Dublin.

The cardinal must have reacted less than admiringly to Archbishop Martin's candid radio criticisms to the resort to "mental reservation" used by His Eminence in evidence to the commission. The theological term "mental reservation" permits a churchman knowingly to convey a misleading impression to another person without being guilty of lying.

In 1997, Cardinal Connell said in a statement issued by his press office that he had co-operated with gardai in the case of victim Marie Collins' complaint of abuse. When she knew this was untrue, she had the statement checked out, and an archdiocese spokesman said: "We never said we co-operated fully."

Asked by RTE journalist Richard Crowley if this was "mental reservation", Archbishop Martin said it was not. It was being scarce with the truth. Refusing to call this a lie, Archbishop Martin pointed out that it was said by someone else on behalf of the cardinal.

Crowley quoted the cardinal's evidence to the commission of telling victim Andrew Madden that "diocesan funds ARE not used for such a purpose, and that he had not said that diocesan funds WERE not used for such a purpose." He asked Archbishop Martin if this was a deliberate intent to hide the truth by the cardinal.

Archbishop Martin replied that if there was a deliberate attempt not to tell the truth, it was not right. But Archbishop Martin quickly qualified this by adding that he could not judge this. It would be unfair to say so, as he did not know the man's state of mind.

Has the archbishop not availed of his access to "this man" to ask the cardinal what was in his mind?

The question surely also arises as to whether Archbishop Martin was resorting to "mental reservation" in his reply. Scarcity with the truth is a serious charge. If even Archbishop Martin is unsure of the cardinal's state of mind -- and of the cardinal's jumps from "mental reservation" to being economical with the truth -- it is imperative the cardinal clarifies this.

No wonder commentators Mary Raftery, victim Colm O'Gorman, lay radical Sean O'Connail and American canon lawyer Fr Tom Doyle all expressed dismay at Archbishop Martin's interview. Fr Doyle went as far as to call Dr Martin's interview "mumbo jumbo".

Clearly, Archbishop Martin is limited in what he can say publicly about comments of others, but his semi-criticism, semi-defence of Cardinal Connell -- and his refusal to speak his own mind as to the resignation of Bishop Murray is putting at risk the public's appreciation of his colossal work of disclosure to the commission.

Last year, when the two Church leaders clashed publicly over the cardinal's High Court action to have some 5,000 documents handed over by the archbishop to the Murphy Commission declared confidential and privileged to him alone, it was the cardinal, not the archbishop, who blinked first.

Now that the commission report is published with its highly critical but mixed verdict on the cardinal's handling of abuse cases, such equivocal answers from Archbishop Martin is placing him in danger of being bracketed with evasions by other bishops.

Cardinal Connell owes it to Archbishop Martin to make a press statement, or better still a press conference to save his successor from "mental reservation."


Irish Independent

Bishop fights mounting calls to quit over scandal

Bishop fights mounting calls to quit over scandal
Gardai probe paedophile ring as prelate hangs on

Monday November 30 2009

THE Bishop of Limerick was under mounting pressure last night to resign over his handling of child sexual abuse complaints while he worked in Dublin.

But despite demands from abuse survivors, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has refused to call for Dr Donal Murray to quit -- after damning criticisms of him in the Murphy report into child abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin.

Archbishop Martin was, however, sharply critical of Cardinal Desmond Connell, his predecessor as archbishop of Dublin, who he said had been "scarce with the truth" in comments about the use of church funds to compensate victims.

And speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Dr Martin confirmed that gardai were still investigating whether a paedophile ring of priests operated in Dublin.

Bishop Murray said yesterday he would "be guided by the priests and people" of his diocese as to whether he would resign.

But Dr John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore, Co Down, said: "Any bishop today around whom there are serious questions in relation to the care and protection of children has serious questions to answer.

"I know that (Bishop Murray) has taken the view that he should remain, but I think he will be thinking very seriously about that."

The report described Bishop Murray's failure to investigate one allegation as inexcusable.

He said: "As far as I am concerned the question of whether I should resign is a question of whether my presence here is a help or a hindrance."

Two of the most prominent survivors of child abuse, Andrew Madden and Marie Collins, yesterday both said they were disappointed in Dr Martin for not issuing "a clear statement" on whether he thinks Bishop Murray should resign.

Archbishop Martin told the Irish Independent he believed that "resignations are, by their very nature, personal decisions".

"If they do not come from the heart, they are meaningless," he said. "At this moment, I still believe that decisions should be personal and I have not indicated my own views beyond indicating that the best interests of children should be a principal priority in the decision-making process," he added.

The Government has also stopped short of expressly spelling out whether Bishop Murray should resign.

Defence Minister Willie O'Dea said he knew Bishop Murray personally, adding: "I am sure Donal Murray, who is a person who would think deeply about these things, is examining his situation . . . and he will make the appropriate decision."

Speaking at 10am Mass in St Joesph's Church, Limerick city yesterday morning, Dr Murray said: "If there are cases where the abuse of children might have been prevented had I acted differently, I offer to them my sincerest apology.

"I can honestly say that, in the one such case that I can think of, my inability to get to the full truth was not the result of any lack of effort . . . but a lack of skill and experience."


In a statement read out at Masses in his diocese, Dr Willie Walsh, Bishop of Killaloe expressed "deep sadness and shame at the revelations contained in the Dublin report".

Bishop of Kerry, Dr Bill Murphy, urged all those in the diocese who were sexually abused by clergy to come forward.

Archbishop Martin, meanwhile, said an investigation into whether a paedophile ring existed was ongoing.

"When I was collecting documents (for the commission from the archdiocese's secret files) . . . I discovered that one person was abused by two separate priests," Dr Martin said.

"As soon as I read this, I told Phil Garland, then the head of the diocesan child protection office, to ask the gardai explicitly to investigate this matter. The investigation (by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation) is still going on and is mentioned in the report."

The report, by Judge Yvonne Murphy, found "no direct evidence" of a paedophile ring but found "worrying connections" between a number of priests among 46 listed in its findings.

In an open letter to parishioners, read at Masses in Dublin yesterday, Dr Martin again apologised for the abuse.

"To each and every survivor, I express my own personal apology, my sorrow and my shame for what has happened to them. I am aware, however, that no word of apology will ever be sufficient," the letter said.

Criticising Cardinal Connell's previous use of the term, Dr Martin said: "Mental reservation is where you make a declaration and it is not untrue, but you don't necessarily tell the entire truth."

In 1995, Cardinal Connell loaned the notorious Fr Ivan Payne money from church funds to deal with a case taken by victim Andrew Madden.

In an interview with RTE, the cardinal denied he used church funds to compensate victims.

But, by using the present tense, he did not exclude that the funds might have been used in that way in the past.

"I saw that, and that isn't mental reservation -- that is being scarce with the truth," said Dr Martin.

- Shane Hickey, John Cooney and Barry Duggan

Irish Independent

Mounting calls for Irish bishop’s resignation following abuse report

Mounting calls for Irish bishop’s resignation following abuse report
November 30, 2009

A government inquiry into clerical abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin has strongly criticized Bishop Donal Murray for his handling of abuse allegations. The 69-year-old prelate, who served as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin from 1982 to 1996 and is now Bishop of Limerick, is facing mounting calls to submit his resignation.

Bishop Murray “handled a number of complaints and suspicions badly,” the report concluded. “For example, he did not deal properly with the suspicions and concerns that were expressed to him in relation to Fr Naughton. When, a short time later, factual evidence of Fr Naughton’s abusing emerged in another parish Bishop Murray’s failure to reinvestigate the earlier suspicions was inexcusable. Bishop Murray did, however, accept in 2002 that he had not dealt well with the situation.”

“If there were cases where the abuse of children might have been prevented had I acted differently, I offer those people my sincerest apology,” Bishop Murray said at Mass on November 29. “I can honestly say that in one such case that I can think of, my inability to get the full truth was not the result of any lack of effort on my part but perhaps of a lack of skill, of experience.”

“That’s no consolation to the children who were abused-- that I was lacking in experience-- and I’ll remain eternally sorry and apologetic to anyone whose suffering I might possibly have prevented.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We can't shut the Church down, so what do we do?

We can't shut the Church down, so what do we do?
For the good of the Catholic faith and all its heartbroken followers, change must be imposed from the outside, says Brendan O'Connor

Sunday November 29 2009

IF the Catholic Church in Ireland were any other institution it would now be outlawed, if it hadn't been already. But the Catholic Church in Ireland is not just any other institution. It occupies a special place in our hearts and in our society. Not the kind of special place it did occupy, where its members were seen by society, including the Garda, as being beyond the law, but a special place none the less.

The majority of people in this country are still Catholics. Over a certain age, the vast majority of people in this country are practising Catholics. They are heartbroken by the recent revelations about their Church and their priests and bishops, but they have chosen to stick with their Church and their God. Possibly because it is the only Church they have. The Catholic Church is their conduit to their faith and their God, a faith and a God they have invested a lifetime of spirit in, and which they are not going to turn their back on now. In short, we need a functioning Catholic Church in this country. Most of its members are innocent people who have done nothing wrong. Most of them are good Christians. We cannot take away their Church.

So what to do? Well, we need to take action now. We need to take action beyond more retrospective wailing and gnashing of teeth, more toothless truth commissions, more national days of shock as we discover the nitty-gritty of what we all half knew but didn't want to believe.

Even the Church itself now recognises that more apologies and expressions of regret and begging for forgiveness are no longer enough. Diarmuid Martin apologised again last week. He also became the first senior Irish Churchman to speak like a trenchant critic of the Church rather then someone trying to excuse it. In an extraordinary Prime Time on Thursday night he seemed at times almost unable to speak. There even seemed to be some confusion when Mary Raftery and others, who were clearly expecting some class of an argument with Martin, discovered that he was agreeing with them about everything. He sat there enumerating, in a shocked manner, the crimes of the Church. You could argue that it was hypocritical of him to sit there giving out about the Church when he is part of it and rose up through its ranks, but it was a very human response and it also signalled that the Church, or at least some significant players in the Church, accept that there is no argument to be had about what happened. In short, Diarmuid Martin seems as sickened as the rest of us, and that seems like a start.

So, again, now that we are all agreed on this, what to do next? We are in the unprecedented position of having an institution whose tentacles are everywhere -- in education, health and every community in the country -- that is rotten and that has facilitated the worst kind of evil. The Catholic Church is still at the heart of Irish life. It is the centre of social life in many parishes for many people. It counts among its members the vast majority of our politicians, our lawmakers and our law-keepers. Most of its members act, literally, in good faith. Shutting it down is not an option.

But neither can the Catholic Church be allowed to continue without a complete overhaul. What has become clear in the last week is that this is not just a tragic story of some men who went deviant because of the celibacy imposed on them by the Catholic Church. Neither is this a story of some sad, sick men who happened to be priests. It is now clear that one of the functions served by the Catholic Church in Ireland was that of a club. It was a national club for paedophiles. Clearly, for decades in Ireland, those in the know were aware that if you had certain sick inclinations, the Catholic Church was the place for you. Not only would it offer you access to little boys and girls, not only would it put you in a position of trust with gullible families, but you would also be protected if anything went wrong. So you had the physical access. And you also had reasonable cover because of the special status innocent parents and God-fearing children afforded you. This meant you were unlikely to be questioned or complained about.

But on top of all that you had a whole structure in place that would protect you at all costs, that would move you out of any situation that became dangerous for you or where anything threatened your ability to access children. You would be sent to fresh hunting grounds if there was any hint of trouble or if word got around that people should keep their kids away from you. And the icing on the cake was that this structure, this hierarchy that would protect you above all other considerations, inspired fear and awe among everyone from gardai to government. So your habit was fed and you were untouchable.

What wouldn't a paedophile pay for a lifetime subscription to this club? No wonder the Church was a magnet for sickos. And you were surrounded by patsies in the form of good priests and good Catholics who gave your whole game a gilt-edged reputation.

We don't need to go into the details again right now. But it is the little details that can sometimes break your heart. Andrew Madden was part of Newstalk's excellent coverage of this on Friday morning. At one point, he told Claire Byrne and Ivan Yates, matter of factly, that he eventually got away from his abuser because he told his abuser he couldn't call down to his house any more because he had to study for his Inter Cert. Besides, he observed, at 14 he would have been getting too old for his abuser. So the big hope of some abused children was clearly that they would eventually become less childlike and then they would be left alone, that they would no longer be to their abuser's taste.

So what to do with this institution, riddled with evil but the focus of so much that is good in the lives of so many good people? First, we should acknowledge how difficult it is to change the culture in any organisation. Many great minds have spent lifetimes thinking about the challenges of changing the focus in the simplest of manufacturers or service companies. Imagine, then, how mammoth a task it would be to change an organisation as arcane and complex and ideological and wide-ranging and labyrinthine as the Catholic Church. And take into account that this is an organisation that has fiercely resisted change for hundreds of years. In recent years it has fought change tooth and nail and has conceded nothing about any wrongdoing until it has been exposed, having fought to the death those who tried to expose it. And even when it has been exposed it has not undergone fundamental change.

No, for the good of the Church and for all of us, change now needs to be imposed from outside. And the problems in the Church, both historical and current, need to be dealt with as what they are -- problems caused by a massive organised crime ring.

We need to take that law and order imperative and we need to put it together with the change imperative. Now, as anyone in business will tell you, an organisation will generally find it very difficult to change itself. Often what is required is some form of consultant to come in with a cold eye and diagnose and manage the process of change.

So it seems clear that this is what needs to happen in the Church: a special unit of the Garda Siochana needs to be set up. This unit needs to be financed, in so far as is possible, by money taken from the Church. It could also work in conjunction with some international experts in things like canon law, ecclesiastical matters, childcare, treatment of sex offenders and whatever other specialist skills are required. Then this organisation, which could be temporary and perhaps set up by special statute, needs to do a root and branch investigation of every priest and every parish in Ireland. The Church should cooperate and actively assist in this if it really wants us to believe it is sorry and wants to change. There needs to be thorough examination of the whole organisation as a matter of urgency and criminal proceedings and defrockings need to be pursued in an urgent and transparent manner.

This might all sound unlikely but then again, 20 years ago it would have seemed highly unlikely that the Church in Ireland would turn out to harbour such evil. The imperative now must be to root out any further abuse, to punish by law those involved and to try and save the Irish Catholic Church for the millions of good people for whom it is a central part of their daily and spiritual lives.

The Church has demonstrated it cannot do this on its own. It needs our help and even in these straitened times this is a job worth doing, to try and show the children of the past that we have heard their pain and that we take it seriously, to protect the children of the present, and to give the believers of the present and the children of the future a functioning Catholic Church in this country, one that will not destroy their lives.

- Brendan O'Connor

Sunday Independent

Worrying links existed between serial abusers

Worrying links existed between serial abusers
Archbishop Martin asked gardai to probe the possibility that there was a paedophile ring within Church, writes Maeve Sheehan

Sunday November 29 2009

WHEN Archbishop Diarmuid Martin reached into the vaults of the Dublin Archdiocese to review the files on the hundreds of children abused by its priests, he was worried enough by the connections between paedophile priests that he asked gardai to investigate the possibility that a paedophile ring existed in the Church. There was no direct evidence to convince Judge Yvonne Murphy's inquiry when it reported last week. But there were enough worrying connections between some of the 46 priests investigated.

Among the many vile horrors exposed in the Murphy report, one of the most sinister was the litany of unspoken connections that existed between a handful of priests. The stories of their perversion hint at an appalling vista of paedophile clerics who hunted children in groups under the cloak of the Church, fuelling each other's aberrant desires, sharing the names of children they groomed for depraved acts, and passing their victims from one to the other.

The evil union between Fr Francis McCarthy and Fr Bill Carney began when they were seminarians at Clonliffe College. The priests, both born in 1950, were ordained in 1974. They were still students when they plotted their evil course. During their final years at Clonliffe College they stalked the residential homes where orphaned or troubled children were housed in punishment or poverty. They targeted St Joseph's in Dun Laoghaire, the Grange in south Dublin, St Vincent's in Drogheda and Lakelands in Sandymount, and abused children in each.

A nun recalled how they knocked on the door of St Joseph's in 1973, offering to do activities with the children and help with homework. The nuns were delighted -- the young priests were final-year students from the "highly respected" Clonliffe College and could help the children with sport, art and drama.

One man who gave a statement to gardai years later recalled three priests visiting him as a boy at St Joseph's and they all seemed to know each other. The one who was there most was Fr McCarthy. McCarthy used to come in and tell them stories at night but he often told the stories from beside the boy's bed. While telling the story out loud he would feel the boy's penis and his testicles.

The children were allowed to visit the priest's home and to go on holidays. During one holiday with a group of children in 1973, Carney told another priest: "You have to sleep with them because they are insecure."

In 1974, Carney and McCarthy were ordained together. McCarthy was appointed curate to Dunlavin parish, as his superiors deemed him unsuitable for a teaching post; Carney, who was found to be eminently suited, was assigned to Ballyfermot Vocational School. He was "very interested in childcare" and was "best with the unintelligent", his superior reported to the then Archbishop Dermot Ryan.

The priests continued their predatory association. Carney visited McCarthy at weekends in Dunlavin. Within months of arriving, McCarthy had already plucked an unsuspecting victim from the children in his parish. A man recalled how, as a 10-year-old, McCarthy took him to the sitting room of his parish house one day and asked him to sit on his knee. "He sat on his knee and he remembered the priest kissing him and putting his tongue in his mouth. He brought him up to his bedroom and he remembered the priest performing oral sex on him on this occasion," the report said.

After that gruesome initiation, the boy was sexually abused for about 20 minutes on the Friday and Sunday of every week until 1977. He recalled how Carney, a regular visitor at weekends, once took him to his own parish in Ballyfermot for a weekend, along with another child. He had to sleep in Carney's bed and recalled how he tried to penetrate him anally. The priests took him on a 10-day holiday in Kerry, along with a group of other boys, where Carney fondled him.

Carney brazenly flaunted his interest in children. In 1977 he began petitioning his superiors about fostering a child. No one raised an eyebrow. He claimed that he had lunched with Fianna Fail TD Michael Woods, who was then Minister for Health. He claimed that Woods had assured him that "as far as he knew there would be no difficulty from the Eastern Health Board". Woods couldn't recall the meeting.

Children came and went from his parish house in Ayrfield, in north Dublin, where he was posted in 1977. Many of them were from the residential homes that were his regular hunting ground, often with the blithe approval of the religious orders who ran them.

During this time, Carney began to associate with another paedophile priest, Fr Patrick Maguire. Maguire, who was 14 years older than Carney, was not long back in Ireland having left a devastating trail of abuse behind him in Japan. He was sent there after he was ordained in 1960, and remained there until 1974 when a nun complained that he had a problem with young male children.

The day before Maguire's departure, the Columbans wrote to the order in Ireland: "Bishop Hirata was most understanding but said it would be best that Maguire slip out of Japan quietly. There is always a danger that the weekly magazines would latch on to a thing like that and blow it up out of all proportion. The good name of the Church would suffer, not to mention Pat's [Fr Maguire's]."

Back in Ireland, Maguire admitted the incidents to a psychiatrist, who said he was lonely and isolated. Nevertheless, he was posted to Donegal. Bishop McFeely soon wanted rid of him "as quickly and quietly as possible": "Fr Maguire had these boys in his room all night and would seem to have interfered with them sexually. He told the parents of one of the boys that he had an abnormality of the testicles," he wrote to the Columbans.

After a stint touring parishes promoting the missions and an office job, he inexplicably ended up working in the archdiocese in Balcurris parish in Ballymun, north Dublin in 1983. He came "highly recommended" by his order, even though a mother complained that she found him in bed with her two sons. By then, it appears that Maguire had caught up with his fellow paedophile Carney. How this happened is not known. But in 1983 they were well-enough acquainted to collude in the abuse of children.

The association emerged that year after the parents of two altar boys went to the gardai with complaints that the priest had abused them. Two months later, there were unrelated complaints to the archdiocese by two sets of parents that their boys had been abused by Carney in a swimming pool. Archbishop Dermot Ryan initiated a Church investigation. Carney denied the allegations. Maguire could vouch for him, he suggested, as he was one of two adults who usually accompanied him on these swimming excursions.

The mention of Maguire was not followed up. The investigators were unaware of his past and did not take up Carney's suggestion that they talk to him. Nor did Maguire confess to his association with Carney when he confessed his paedophilia in graphic and unremitting terms to therapists years later. But Maguire did describe to one how swimming with children was a ploy he used to sexually abuse them.

"I thought of ways of meeting boys, engaging in conversation, ways of seeing them with their family and seeing how they related with their parents. I planned ways of seeing them with other boys, and eventually ways of being alone with them in places where they felt safe. I planned ways of getting them alone where no one else could observe and where undressing would not be thought out of place, like bathing together, changing at the pool, showering after a swim, and eventually ways of getting them to spend the night, to sleep with me in bed."

Two other paedophile priests, Fr John Boland and Fr Ioannes, also appeared to have had an extraordinary coincidence of independently sexually abusing the same boy within weeks of each other.

It happened in 1973, when Ioannes took an 11-year-old boy to the cinema. Afterwards he brought him back to his room, where he sexually abused him and took photographs of the child. The boy told his parents who wrote a letter of complaint to a local priest.

The boy's mother later told the commission: "It would have been better not to go to the guards because we never heard anything like that before, neither of us, and we thought we were the only ones."

Shortly after they reported Fr Ioannes, another priest, Fr John Boland, called to their home. The boy's parents thought he was sent by the archdiocese in response to their complaint. They left their son and Boland alone in a room together for a short while, when the priest opportunistically sexually abused the boy. The boy came out of the room and told his parents. His parents had to lodge another complaint in Clonliffe College.

Boland, a Capuchin priest, worked in the north city and was apparently unknown to the boy or his family. When the abused boy eventually reported both Ioannes and Boland to gardai as an adult, he did not even know Boland's name. He could only identify him by his brown robe and a distinguishing physical characteristic.

The commission could shed no light on how Fr Boland came to knock on the door of Fr Ioannes' victim. There appeared to be no outward link between Boland and Fr Ioannes. But a witness told the commission Fr Ioannes used to recruit altar boys for the Pro-Cathedral in the parish of North William Street and its surrounding area.

Only after gardai began investigating Fr Boland, who was not prosecuted for the crime because of a lack of evidence, did his order send him for treatment. His order only saw fit to remove him from ministry when a third complaint emerged. In treatment, he confessed to fantasising about children all his adult life; that the 11- and 12-year-old boys he targeted enjoyed his sexual advances; that he lured his child prey in with medals and pictures; befriended their parents; and manipulated situations in which he was alone with the child. Boland was convicted in 2001.

A fourth worrying paedophile link noted in the Murphy report involved Fr Horatio. He was a marriage counsellor, taught adults and had an informal role counselling homosexuals. He had been accused in 1980 of abusing a 15-year-old boy in a gay nightclub. The boy's parents complained to the diocese but Fr Horatio claimed he thought the boy was over 18 and that he had touched him first. Bishop O'Mahony saw no reason to move him from his teaching post and he continued from there to become a parish priest.

In 1989, Fr Horatio confided in Bishop Donal Murray that he was in an emotional relationship with a girl and wanted to be laicised. He apparently didn't disclose the girl's age, according to Bishop Murray, nor did he say it was sexual. The bishop told him to think about it and meanwhile moved him to another parish.

In 2005, that woman wrote to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin about repeated and wanton acts of sexual abuse perpetrated on her as a young girl by Fr Horatio. She was aged 16 when the relationship started and it continued for three years, in various locations, including a holiday home, the key for which was given to Fr Sean Fortune, the notorious Wexford child molester. Fr Horatio later said the only link between himself and Fr Sean Fortune was that they both lived in the same area at the time.

Only when Archbishop Martin asked the priest to step down and began an investigation in 2005 did Fr Horatio confess that he had also abused a boy of 15 in the mid-1980s. He never disclosed it to anyone, even his psychiatrist, thinking that he was in enough trouble as it was.

Fr Horatio is now retired from ministry and living under the supervision of the archdiocese.

Fr Carney was convicted of indecent assault in 1983, despite the efforts of the late auxiliary bishop, James Kavanagh, to influence the outcome of the investigation through his inappropriate contact with the local chief superintendent Maurice O'Connor. He failed because of the efforts of Garda Finbar Garland, then 23, who was in his first year in the job and unfamiliar with child abuse. He heard how Carney had the two altar boys to stay in his house, made them sleep in his bed and fondled them.

Garland took statements, contacted the parents of other boys and filed his report which was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions in August 1983. Unknown to Garland, Maurice O'Connor, told Bishop Kavanagh that Carney was under investigation, although by then, the file had already gone to the DPP. The chief superintendent later told the commission he felt it was his duty to do so.

The bishop lived up the road from his office in Whitehall and called in to him once or twice a month for what he called an ordinary conversation. They were not particularly friendly, he said, nor did they discuss anything in particular, which the commission found strange. After one such meeting, Bishop Kavanagh made a note that Supt O'Connor told him it would be unlikely Carney would face charges. The commission also discovered that the archdiocese had a copy of the garda file on Carney. No one seemed to know how it got there.

Carney pleaded guilty and got the Probation Act. After a period of treatment, he continued his rampage of abuse, drinking heavily and provoking a litany of complaints over his foul-mouthed and belligerent personality. Parents of abused children complained that he was still at large, free and unbridled and still swimming with children. He continued to spend weekends with his accomplice, Francis McCarthy, and was astonishingly given a parish in Clogher Road, where former residents of children's homes stayed with him. Long overdue, a Church tribunal found him guilty of child sexual abuse in 1991, despite his trenchant denials. He refused to leave the diocesan house until 1994, when he secured £30,000 from the archdiocese. Afterwards, he drove a taxi, eventually moved to Scotland for a time and, according to the commission, his current whereabouts are unknown.

Carney's friend, Frank McCarthy, triggered his own unmasking in 1993, when he contacted the boy he abused in his Dunlavin parish and shared with Carney all those years before. The man eventually reported McCarthy to gardai. McCarthy confessed to this and other abuse. Twenty-four hours later he told the archdiocese and took a leave of absence. He pleaded guilty to the offences in 1997. His victim asked that he not be sent to jail. He was laicised in 2005. In 1997, Maguire admitted to abusing young boys in several countries as well as at least one young girl, and received several convictions. He was suspended in 2000 and lives under the supervision of his order.

Sunday Independent

A medieval tactic kept clerical consciences clear while covering up years of child abuse

Gene Kerrigan: Half-truth that gave lie to protector role
A medieval tactic kept clerical consciences clear while covering up years of child abuse, says Gene Kerrigan

Sunday November 29 2009

When Cardinal Desmond Connell lied to RTE, he did so carefully. He used a 17th-century variation on a 13th-century philosophical technique employed by the heavies from the Catholic Church elite. This enabled him to deceive RTE and the public while keeping a clear conscience. What a clever, learned man. How adeptly he used this ancient manoeuvre to protect his standing and power.

And how recognisable the technique is, to those of us familiar with the skills of modern politicians.

The Murphy report -- mercifully -- doesn't go into the relentless detail that was appropriately used when the Ryan report described the frightful abuse heaped on children. Some detail is unavoidable, but by now we are all so sickened by this squalid affair that a simple statement that abuse took place is usually sufficient to convey the dreadfulness.

Instead, the Murphy report emphasises the abuse of language, logic and conscience, by bishops, senior policemen and others, as they protected the abusers and thereby allowed the abuse to continue for years after it might have been stopped.

Each report serves us well. Ryan described the horror of what was done, how widespread it was and how it went on and on and on. Murphy describes the techniques of self-defence employed by powerful individuals, and a dominant institution, to try to protect and preserve that power and dominance.

And Murphy shows the role played by obsequious cheerleaders and facilitators -- and by a deferential Catholic laity. There is evidence of others for whom the law and the protection of children was paramount. Garda Finbarr Garland was less than a year on the force in 1983. By his own standards, he didn't do anything extraordinary. He simply did his job, thoroughly, when two boys complained of abuse by a priest. His immediate superiors, a sergeant and inspector, backed him without fuss.

It was the higher-ups who saw the law and the protection of children as a lesser cause than the protection of a powerful Church. The logic behind the cover-up was that the souls of the ignorant laity, and the proper direction of Irish society, were best left in the hands of a powerful, paternal Church. Anything that might reduce that power was bad. And if protecting the Church meant covering up widespread child abuse, so be it. And if that meant that abusers had to be moved on to fresh fields of abuse, so indeed be it.

In 1995, Cardinal Connell was in a dilemma -- young Andrew Madden was pursuing his abuser, Fr Ivan Payne, through the courts. Payne needed money to try to kill the case, so Connell gave it to him, from church funds. Questioned by Joe Little of RTE, Connell denied church funds were used for that purpose.

Happily, Cardinal Connell was familiar with the doctrine of "strict mental reservation". This allowed him to say one thing and mean another. Because God knew what was in his mind.

The report describes how Cardinal Connell told Andrew Madden "that when he was asked by journalists about the use of diocesan funds for the compensation of complainants of child sexual abuse, he. . . had responded that diocesan funds are not used for such a purpose; that he had not said that diocesan funds were not used for such a purpose. By using the present tense, he had not excluded the possibility that diocesan funds had been used for such purpose in the past." Who's a clever boy?

Even by the lights of his own theology, Connell was lying.

The classic example of the doctrine of 'mental reservation' is this -- suppose a man is being hunted and you help conceal him but those eager to kill him demand that you tell them where he is. You may say, "He didn't come through here", thereby misleading them. But (and I bet Cardinal Connell gets a kick out of this), as you say this you covertly point your finger up your sleeve.

By "through here" the hunters think you mean the building or area. But God sees your pointing finger and your mental reservation, so you mislead the hunters by literally saying the guy didn't go through your sleeve. And you keep a clean soul by not literally telling a lie. Lord, they must have had a barrel of laughs back in those late medieval days. ("So, I stuck the oul' finger up me sleeve and, says I to him. . .")

Taking the most tolerant interpretation of this carry-on, the doctrine of mental reservation was supposed to allow priests to maintain the secrecy of the confessional, or to protect the innocent in peril. To claim it includes concealing the Payne cover-up and preserving Cardinal Connell's standing is just silly.

In politics, simple truth and transparency are abominations. Back in the early Nineties, at the Beef Tribunal, Fianna Fail's Ray Burke explained that if the opposition "don't ask the right questions they don't get the right answers". In 1995, Fine Gael's John Bruton said the Dail wasn't given certain information because "the right question" wasn't asked.

Remember how Fianna Fail stated categorically that they would not bring in benefit cuts after the 2002 election? They couldn't have been more explicit. But they had a mental reservation. And immediately after they won the election they explained that they hadn't had an intention of bringing in cuts, but they had intended to make "adjustments".

Back in the Eighties, Charles Haughey, in opposition, denounced the fact that: "Health Cuts Hurt the Old, the Sick and the Handicapped." He won the election and imposed deeper health cuts -- his mental reservation allowed him to denounce cuts as long as he didn't deny that he would impose even worse cuts himself. All for the greater good.

The Catholic bishops had four conditions that allowed them to stand back as children were abused: 1) They believed they were serving a higher purpose, the protection of God's Church and their power in the land. 2) Powerful people in their own ranks, and within the police, supported their position. In return for power, the Church looked after unwanted children, provided health and education services -- not in addition to state services, but as a substitute. Grateful politicians deferred to whatever the clergy thought best. 3) The media was submissive -- in those days, when journalists met bishops they literally kissed their rings.

And 4), and probably most important, the Catholic laity were obedient. Murphy tells of parents who knew their child had been abused and complained to the Church. For this they were ostracised by their devout neighbours -- to the extent that they later wouldn't complain to the police. For the laity, accepting that the allegations were true would undermine basic beliefs.

We can see a parallel in today's politics. Huge decisions are being made that will have long-term consequences for our children and theirs.

The reasoning behind the decisions is Jesuitical, and some of the alleged truths on which those decisions are supposedly made ("credit will flow") are transparently false. But people who should know better are compliant -- because confronting the reality of what's happening is too daunting.

Certain circumstances raise fundamental questions about power. Too often we avoid confronting the appalling vista. While it's undeniable that churchmen such as Diarmuid Martin are genuine in their regret and in their concern for children, as an institution, the Catholic Church's abhorrent record has broken its power in this country.

There's a new power in the land -- in the banks and in corporate Ireland. Which is why so many of the previously submissive, among politicians and laity, feel free to kick the old power, now that it's on its knees.

Sunday Independent

'It's hard to know if Church can survive'

'It's hard to know if Church can survive'
RTE's Religion Correspondent Joe Little speaking on the news after the report's release

Sunday November 29 2009

There's a point that was made by Dermot Ahern when he was launching the report, in a paragraph which I'm not actually sure he delivered but it's in his script, "that the report isn't about the abuse that was perpetrated but it's about the cover-ups". I think that is going to disturb a lot of people who have very little involvement or no involvement in the Catholic Church and devout Catholics as well, because I think people will wonder if an institution as central to the people of Ireland was acting in this corrupt way, in relation to the most vulnerable citizens in the country, what else was done?

How many other children are there who can't be discovered by a commission of inquiry; how many other children suffered; how much of the psychiatric distress in the country may be traceable to the failure of a revered institution to give good example to help the weak, to help the distressed when they brought their claims forward and looked for a sympathetic ear? We heard in Paul Reynolds' report about the praise that was heaped on gardai, both on the ground and on senior ranks, who resisted the pressure from bishops who otherwise had very good reputations.

Bishop James Kavanagh was known as the "working man's bishop" in this city and yet it took very spunky gardai to actually stand up to the pressures that they were put under; I think that this is a very telling insight into the failure of civic Ireland to stand up against a royalty, the princes of the Church who had ancient rights over the lives of people and who wouldn't allow the advance of much secularised criticism of a civil state. To work with a civil law was not permitted by many elements in the Catholic Church, by the ruling elements, by the largest diocese where most ordained people, where most nuns, where many lay people wished to serve the Church because this was the prestige diocese and now this shame is over it.

It's hard to know if the Catholic Church in Ireland can survive. The only glimmer of hope is the sheer perseverance of many Catholics like Marie Collins, like Andrew Madden and many others, the school teachers who supported people like that, who insisted that these cases be brought centre stage in these diocese and who suffered for doing it. The ray of hope is that such people had such resolve to make sure that justice would eventually be done, and it must be a cause of great celebration tonight that justice has been done in their lifetimes, particularly in the case of Marie Collins and Andrew Madden. And there are many like them.

Sunday Independent

Masonic-style secrecy involved in covering up

So, this was not a paedophile ring?
There was Masonic-style secrecy involved in covering up the shocking abuse in this country over the years, writes Liam Collins

Sunday November 29 2009

So where were the dirty deals done? It is impossible to believe that covering up for deviant priests was organised in casual conversation between the aristocrats of the Church, the senior policemen and the civil servants who colluded in hiding the scandal of clerical sex abuse from the public.

Of course, these people were meeting on State occasions, they mixed socially and on sporting occasions. But there was nothing casual about this cover-up. This was highly organised.

It is clear from the Murphy report that the cardinals, archbishops and the top echelons of the Catholic Church had access to the best legal, medical and financial advice when it came to dealing with a tsunami of deviants and paedophiles who were using the Church as a cloak for their horrible activities.

Their advisers took on the Church & General Insurance company from 1987 and ran rings around them. For a premium of about €50,000 a year they got about €50m to compensate the victims. You don't do that without corporate planning, and that corporate planning was done on a 'need to know' basis by churchmen and their friends in high places.

But it went deeper that that. There were 'connections' -- funny handshakes, meetings in dark corners. The tentacles of the Catholic Church reached far beyond the dark aisles of the archbishop's palace and into the corridors of power.

If this weren't Ireland we could say there was a Masonic-style ring operating at the highest echelons in the Church and the State. But there was serious planning involved in covering up the scandal, in moving deviant priests from one parish to the next, in sending them abroad, in organising secret compensation for their victims. And it is this cover-up that needs further investigation.

Many ordinary priests were themselves unaware of what was going at the highest level in the Church they worked for.

"We were told 'we have heard what you are saying and we will deal with it'," says Fr Brian D'Arcy, "that was shorthand for saying we will do nothing and it will all blow over."

But Fr D'Arcy was going to get the truth. The whole culture and structure of the Church was to protect its reputation, its majesty and its pomp.

The cynical leaders of the Catholic Church took a decision that how they were seen in the eyes of the faithful was more important than the innocence of children.

Priests were told not to ask the names of abusers when mothers came to complain; the priest offenders 'disappeared' on the orders of Church leaders, to new parishes where the abuse would start all over again. And they also used Jesuitical phrases and political answers to protect themselves, fooling themselves into thinking that they were telling the truth when they knew that it wasn't the 'real' truth.

"What I think is that the powers that be convinced themselves that the children would get over it and that by hiding this they were protecting the Church and the faithful from scandal -- they were protecting the image of the priesthood," says Fr D'Arcy.

"Some priests even believed that by going to confession they could change everything -- it might have changed things for the priest, but it does not change the damage done to the children or the abuse."

We now have all the evidence we need of a cover-up among senior churchmen and among senior figures in the State. The Church is not the only institution that should bear the brunt of public anger and revulsion: those who allowed it to continue are equally to blame.

Sunday Independent

Archbishop of Dublin: Is there a paedophile ring?

Martin: Is there a paedophile ring?
Disturbing connections between abusing priests prompts Archbishop's request to gardai for further investigation

Sunday November 29 2009

THE ARCHBISHOP of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, asked the gardai to investigate whether a clerical paedophile ring was operating in the archdiocese.

Dr Diarmuid Martin made the request to the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations after he examined files on paedophile priests in recent years. He was disturbed by close connections between a number of clerics who were later convicted of child abuse, according to sources, and asked gardai to investigate.

The priests included Fr Bill Carney and Fr Francis McCarthy, neither of whom are any longer in the priesthood, and Fr Patrick Maguire, a Columban priest, who is living under the strict supervision of his order. The three are among 46 priests named in the damning report by Judge Yvonne Murphy which found "no direct evidence" of a paedophile ring but found "worrying connections" between a number of priests.

Fr Carney and Fr McCarthy worked together to prey on vulnerable children, visiting them in children's homes and, in at least one instance, abused the same child. Fr Carney and Fr Maguire brought children on swimming excursions together. Fr Carney also claimed that Fr Maguire could vouch for him when he was under investigation for abusing some of those children.

Fr Dominic Savio Boland, whose real name is John Boland, called to the home of a child who had been abused by another priest, Fr Ioannes, and proceeded to abuse the child himself.

"There is nothing in the evidence available to the commission to show how Fr Boland became aware of this young boy," the report said.

Another priest, Fr Horatio, was given the use of a holiday home by Fr Sean Fortune, a notorious child abuser in the Wexford diocese.

The report says that "Archbishop Martin has referred some of these matters to the gardai in recent times". Sources close to the archbishop said he was concerned at the connections between the priests and asked the gardai to investigate whether a paedophile ring was operating in the clergy. A Garda spokesman declined to comment on a paedophile ring, but sources said all links between these priests and others in the archdiocese would be investigated.

The findings of the commission on child sex abuse in the archdiocese have had profound ramifications with mounting calls for the immediate resignations of serving bishops who are criticised in the report and a high-level Garda review of the report's findings on collusion and cover-up.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday stopped short of repeating Fine Gael calls for the resignations of serving members of the hierarchy. In a statement yesterday, he said it was up to religious organisations to determine the "appropriateness" of individuals to hold ecclesiastical office. Catholic bishops are expected to issue a statement on the report today.

In another development Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin is considering calling the Papal Nuncio to account for ignoring requests for information from Judge Yvonne Murphy.

A source close to the minister said that he is considering the unprecedented diplomatic move on foot of the Murphy report's revelation that the Nuncio, the Pope's ambassador in Ireland, ignored a request to disclose files to the Commission. A second request to the Vatican for files passed to it by the Dublin office was also ignored. A Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, was quoted as saying that the commission did not go through the proper diplomatic channels.

Colm O'Gorman, the veteran campaigner against clerical sex abuse and director of Amnesty said: "I would expect the Minister for Foreign Affairs to summon the Papal Nuncio to Iveagh House to explain why his State failed to comply with the statutory inquiry and on what basis they felt it was appropriate to ignore the request. He is a diplomat; the minister should have him explain himself."

John O'Mahony, an assistant Garda commissioner appointed to review the Murphy report on Friday, is to meet officers from the Garda sexual assault unit this week. The failings of some gardai were amongst the most surprising findings of the Murphy report, with former Garda commissioner Daniel Costigan among those criticised for passing a complaint about a priest to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid.

The relationship between several senior gardai and priests and bishops was inappropriate. However, several gardai were praised, one of them Finbar Garland, now a sergeant, who successfully prosecuted Fr Bill Carney for indecent assault. The report found that Bishop James Kavanagh attempted to influence the investigation through his contact with a chief superintendent.

Sgt Garland, who now heads the stolen car unit, told the Sunday Independent that there was never a suggestion to him at the time that the investigation should be blocked. "I was less than a year in the job. When you see two young boys of eight or nine years of age, holding their dads' hands, and they are looking up at you and they are actually frightened and in fear, because they think they had done something wrong, that annoyed me more than anything else," he said. "I was disgusted that anyone could do that to a child."

Of the 46 priests in the report, 14 are dead and a number are believed to be unsupervised and living freely in the community either in Ireland or abroad. The Murphy report listed the whereabouts of three convicted paedophiles -- Fr John Kinsella, Fr Ivan Payne and Fr Bill Carney -- as being unknown. Nine of the 46 are laicised. They include Fr Francis McCarthy, who abused children in collusion with Fr Carney. Another priest, known as Fr Donato, is now married and has a child.

Another 126 priests suspected of child abuse were not investigated by the commission.


Sunday Independent
Parishes told of abuse 'distress'

A letter reflecting on the abuse report was read to congregations
A reading expressing distress at clerical child abuse in Dublin is being read at masses in Down and Connor, Northern Ireland's largest diocese.

It was prepared on behalf of Bishop Noel Treanor and his priests.

They said the heinous crimes against children described in the Murphy report were "appalling and distressing".

Meanwhile, Limerick Bishop Donal Murray has reiterated he did not fail to act on an abuse allegation he received while an auxiliary bishop of Dublin.

In a letter read on Saturday night at masses, Bishop Murray apologised to all children who had been abused and said he deeply regretted if "any action or omission of his had contributed to their suffering".

The prominent campaigner and victim of clerical abuse, Andrew Madden, has criticised Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen for not telling those criticised in the Murphy report to resign as patrons of state-funded schools.

The Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin covered a period from 1975 to 2004.

It investigated how Church and state authorities handled allegations of child abuse against 46 priests made by 320 children. Eleven priests were convicted of sexual assaults on children.

Some offending priests were shifted from parish to parish, leaving them free to abuse again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pressure mounts on bishops named in abuse report to resign

Pressure mounts on bishops named in abuse report to resign
PRESSURE ON the five bishops who still hold office and whose handling of clerical child sex abuse was addressed by the Dublin diocesan report increased throughout yesterday.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said all bishops implicated in the report should resign immediately. He said those who were in positions of authority in Dublin archdiocese, and who knew what was going on, should no longer continue in such positions.
“This is another appalling litany of shame. Apologies here are not good enough,” he said.
Former Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte said that any bishop “directly implicated” in the Dublin report “should have no role as a school patron”.
Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has ordered Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney to commence an investigation into the findings of the report.
The relevant bishops are the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray, whose handling of a particular allegation was described as “inexcusable” in the report; Bishop Jim Moriarty of Kildare Leighlin diocese; Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway diocese; and the two Dublin auxiliary bishops, Bishop Ray Field and Bishop √Čamonn Walsh.
Speaking at foundation day ceremonies at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin yesterday, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said the story of how the sexual abuse of children was managed in the archdiocese, as shown in the report, “was inexcusable”.
He noted that “regrettably this hospital was also the scene of abuse by at least two chaplains, who exploited their role of representing the care of Jesus for the children at their most vulnerable. Information about that abuse was inexcusably not shared with the hospital authorities, even though the archbishop of the time was also the chairman of the board.”
He pointed out that the Dublin report “drew attention to the need “to clarify exactly what is the role of the HSE in relation to non-familial abusers”.
Yet, he continued, “in the official Government statement yesterday [Thursday] the only reply to such a vital question, some four years after the Ferns report, was to say that it requires ‘further consultation’.”
Responding to the Dublin diocesan report, the Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary said that “everyone is deeply disgusted and disillusioned by the awfulness of the abuse, the vulnerability of the victims and the betrayal of the sacred trust placed in those who carried out this abuse”.

Church relationship with Irish society has itself been abusive

Church relationship with Irish society has itself been abusive
OPINION: The Roman Catholic Church’s great achievement in Ireland has been to so disable our capacity to think about right and wrong that parents of abused children apologised for the abusing priest
IN HIS pastoral letter of February 1979, Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Ryan drew attention to the “corruption of the young”. And he was quite specific about the forces that were responsible for it. He attacked “the modern era of enlightenment and permissiveness”, and stated that “the new frankness and openness in regard to sexual matters had not made people more healthy in mind and body, but less healthy”.
The corollary of Archbishop Ryan’s complaint was, of course, that a lack of frankness and openness in sexual matters would make for a healthier society, and would protect the young from corruption. Like the three other holders of the office scrutinised in the Murphy report, Ryan certainly practised the first part of what he preached. He was a great enemy of openness and frankness, and a great practitioner of the arts of evasion and cover-up. It was the second part of the formula – the protection of the young – that gave him trouble.
In 1981, for example, Ryan sent a Father X as curate to Clogher Road church in the Dublin Corporation housing estate of Crumlin. He knew that this man was a dangerous and manipulative paedophile who was set on attacking children, as Ryan himself noted, “from six to 16”. He knew that X cultivated parents who involved themselves in school or parish activities so as to gain access to their children.
He knew that in one previous case, “Having got access to the home through this acquaintanceship, Father X abused a young son of six years of age.”
Yet not alone did Ryan send X to Crumlin to continue his assaults on children, but he colluded with the activities of his auxiliary bishop, James Kavanagh, in interfering in a criminal investigation into X’s behaviour, persuading one set of parents not to press charges against the priest.
As the commission concludes, Ryan took a “close personal interest” in the case of Fr X: “He protected Fr X to an extraordinary extent; he ensured, as far as he could, that very few people knew about his activities; it seems that the welfare of children simply did not play any part in his decisions.”
In attempting to come to terms with the institutionalised depravity of the Roman Catholic Church’s systematic collaboration with child abusers, it is useful to start by considering the contradiction between Ryan’s preaching about the “corruption of the young” and his role as a facilitator of sexual assaults on children.
Is there, indeed, a contradiction at all? Or are we not, rather, dealing with two sides of the same debased coin?
The arrogance and obscurantism of a church leadership that could rail against openness and frankness is in fact completely consistent with the same hierarchy’s consistent preference for secrecy over truth and for self-interest over the interests of children and families.
When all the numbing details of the report are absorbed, we have to reassemble the big picture of the institutional church’s relationship with Irish society. And we have to say that that relationship itself has been an abusive one. The church leadership behaved towards society with the same callousness, the same deviousness, the same exploitative mentality, and the same blindly egotistical pursuit of its own desires that an abuser shows towards his victim.
It is important to say that this is not a comment on the Catholic faith. “The Church,” as the report puts it, “is not only a religious organisation but also a human/civil instrument of control and power”. It is this second aspect – the instrument of control and power – that we have to understand.
We know that all institutions and subcultures have the capacity to create systems of denial and self-protection – think, for example, of the toleration of paedophiles within Irish swimming, or the support of artists and intellectuals for the child rapist Roman Polanski.
But in the case of the institutional Catholic Church we have an organisation with an unusually powerful mechanism of self-protection: the capacity to convince the society it is abusing to take part in the cover-up. The damage the church has done to Irish society lies in the ways it has involved that society in the maintenance of an abusive instrument of control and power.
It is easy to miss a central aspect of this whole scandal. The report is concerned with the actions of the church authorities and describes in damning detail their sense of being above the law of the land. (Cardinal Desmond Connell, for example, told the commission that “the greatest crisis in my position as Archbishop” was not, as might be imagined, his discovery of appalling criminality among his clergy, or even his own disingenuous public claims that “I have compensated nobody”, but the decision to allow garda√≠ access to diocesan files.) But it is striking that parents, teachers and wider communities seldom went to the police either.
This was not a matter of ignorance. It is clear that some of the paedophiles were not secretive and cunning, but reckless and flagrant. In the early 1970s, for example, Fr James McNamee, who had built a swimming pool in his house into which only young boys were allowed, was so notorious among the children in his Crumlin parish that “whenever the older boys in the area saw Fr McNamee, they either ran away or started throwing things and shouting insults at Fr McNamee. Apparently he was known as ‘Father smack my gee’.” If children were shouting abuse at a priest in 1970s Ireland, adults undoubtedly noticed. They must have known why.
Similarly, the appalling Patrick Maguire, who may have abused hundreds of children in Ireland, the UK and Japan, became, as the report notes, “astonishingly brazen”. He actually told the parents of a child he had just abused that the boy had a problem with his testicles. “Not surprisingly, the parents wondered how he had discovered that.”
Yet in most cases, parents who knew their children had been abused went to the bishop, not to the Garda. There may have been a mistrust of the Garda (sometimes well founded), or a fear of exposure in the courts. But, in Archbishop Ryan’s internal notes on the Father X case there is a more extraordinary explanation: “The parents involved have, for the most part, reacted with what can only be described as incredible charity. In several cases, they were quite apologetic about having to discuss the matter and were as much concerned for the priest’s welfare as for their child and other children.”
This was the church’s great achievement in Ireland. It had so successfully disabled a society’s capacity to think for itself about right and wrong that it was the parents of an abused child, not the bishop who enabled that abuse, who were “quite apologetic”.
It had managed to create a flock who, in the face of an outrageous violation of trust, would be more concerned about the abuser than about those he had abused and might abuse in the future. It had inserted its own “instrument of control and power” so deeply into the minds of the faithful that they could scarcely even feel angry about the perpetration of disgusting crimes on their own children.
This is, of course, precisely what paedophiles do to the children they abuse. They convince them that they are the guilty ones. The well-meaning local priest to whom Marie Collins – who has been a key figure in bringing this scandal to light – disclosed the fact that she had been abused as a child in Crumlin children’s hospital, told her “not to feel any guilt about what had happened”. He then, however, told her that “if she had guilt I could give her absolution”.
The suggestion that the victim should be absolved of sin speaks for itself. And it had its effect – Marie Collins did not disclose the abuse again for a number of years.
This ultimate triumph of making the victims guilty and their parents apologetic produced both an underlying contempt for the laity (especially in the working-class parishes where abusers were generally sent) and a sense of belonging to an untouchable elite.
The religious superior of the serial abuser Patrick Maguire captured both when he advised him not to pay too much attention to the views of the therapist he was attending: “You are a priest and you should not allow any person other than yourself to conclude that you ought not remain in ministry, albeit a limited one. I am distrustful of the capacity of any layman or woman to know what it means to be a priest.”
What it meant to be a priest was that, in the eyes of the church authorities, you were held to a different standard than the mere layman or woman. It was not just that you were not subject to the law, but that you were not really subject to Catholic teaching either.
All the episcopal fulminations about sexual sin were for the benefit of the ordinary punters. For the priests, there was a much more tolerant attitude. While bleating about the permissive society, the archbishops were often flippant about the sexual crimes of the clergy. Cardinal Connell, for example, told Marie Collins that the action of an abuser in taking pictures of the genitalia of young girls in the hospital “was not serious as it only involved the taking of photographs”.
All of this did immense harm to the victims and to the church itself. But it also harmed Ireland as a whole. The abusive relationship between church and society in which people were induced to collude in the maintenance of a corrupt and cynical system of power and control screwed up the Irish relationship with authority.
It deeply damaged the democratic and republican notion that power comes from the people, by creating a culture of shame, of weakness and of collusion. It taught us to live with, and believe that we loved, an arrogant and unaccountable kind of authority.
If we are ever to awaken once and for all from the nightmare described by the commission, we have to unlearn that lesson and create forms of collective authority that are open, accountable, lawful and genuinely democratic.

Only victims' voices ring true on their day of vindication

Only victims' voices ring true on their day of vindication

Friday November 27 2009

THERE'S a line in St Mark's gospel in which Jesus rebukes his disciples for turning away a group of children.

"Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven".

At some point, a large fraternity of monstrous men of God took the biblical phrase "suffer little children" and twisted it into an evil carte blanche to do precisely that.

But after being dragged kicking and screaming from behind the once-omnipotent protection of the cloth, the Catholic Church is now reaping the whirlwind.

Yesterday the air was alive with the sound of 'mea culpa' as the Church, the Government and the gardai all gave their reactions to the publication of the Murphy report into clerical child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese between 1975 and 2004 -- a damning three-volume litany of cover-ups of what amounts to systemic brutal abuse and rape.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern held a press conference in Government Buildings.

But instead of holding the briefing in the usual venue of the press centre, he conducted it outside in the biting cold.

Dermot may have looked impressively leader-like against the grand backdrop of soaring pillars, but it gave the event an ad-hoc feel.

Just before the conference began, Brian Cowen's car pulled into the courtyard of Government Buildings, bearing the Taoiseach fresh from his tour of the waterlogged midlands.

Brian thought it prudent to nip in a side-door before the pesky reporters spotted him -- with the arrival of Dermot and Children's Minister Barry Andrews onto the steps acting as a timely diversion.

The Justice Minister described his reaction upon reading the report, during the summer.

"On a human level, as a father and as a member of this community, I felt a growing sense of revulsion and anger.

"Revulsion at the horrible evil acts committed against children. Anger at how those young children were then dealt with and how often abusers were left free to abuse."

And he stressed that justice would be meted out, regardless of the abusers' status.

And then, right at the end of his speech, Dermot had a bit of a Tony Blair 'Now is not the time for soundbites; I can feel the hand of history on my shoulder' moment.

Departing from his script, Dermot paused and made sure everyone was still paying attention, and pronounced: "The bottom-line is, a collar will protect no criminal" -- as the headline-writers got to work.

Less than an hour later, three members from abuse survivors' group One in Four, plus a sizeable mob of media, crammed into a tiny room in Buswell's Hotel. Survivors Marie Collins and Andrew Madden, and the group's executive director Maeve Lewis gave their reactions. They were calm and considered.

Marie, who was abused by a priest in the 1960s when she was 13 years old, was a study in quiet, articulate dignity.

"I think this report has vindicated us, and shown that everything we said about the cover-up was true. I think from a personal point of view, it's the end of a long road," she said.

"What this tells us is it wasn't individual men going their own way. It was a policy, it was a system, it was throughout the Church. It's not just rogue elements -- this was a system of cover-up".

If, as the saying goes, that all is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, then one of the few members of the hierarchy to emerge as one of the good guys is the current Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

Yesterday evening, he held his own press conference -- making his most public act of contrition yet.

At one point, words failed him. He faltered and tears fell as he tried to convey his remorse. But although he may be a member of a badly damaged band of brothers, the brotherhood still remains.

While answering questions, Dr Martin time and again refused to directly call for resignations, including that of retired Cardinal Desmond Connell -- who refused to pass information to the police, or other bishops who were similarly implicated by the report.

"I've always expressed the position that every bishop should evaluate their ministry in terms of the commitment they make in reality to the protection of children," he prevaricated.

St Mark's gospel has ideas about that too, and suggests: "If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck".

Not a bad idea at all.

Irish Independent

Abuse leaves indelible stain worse than the Inquisition

Abuse leaves indelible stain worse than the Inquisition

Friday November 27 2009

The Church put its own self-interest before the interests of others. There is no better way to negate Christianity than that

The Dublin report describes how Church authorities, prior to the late 1990s, insisted they had been on a 'learning curve' with regard to abuse of children by clergy. This, they said, was why they did not deal with child abuse allegations in the proper way.

The Commission of Investigation does not accept this defence. The commission is right, but if anything it is being a bit kind because Church authorities were on a learning curve, but of a different and much worse sort than the one imagined by the commission.

They did not have to learn about the fact of child abuse by clergy. They knew all about this going back decades. So with regard to the existence of abuse, there was no learning curve.

What Church authorities mean by a 'learning curve' is that it took them a long time to appreciate just how terrible and awful a thing child abuse is, that it must be dealt with ruthlessly, and that the Church must put the victim first, and not itself and the priest.

This is the learning curve the Church took so long to climb and it is one it should never have had to climb, because, as the report makes clear, Canon law, quite apart from the moral law, was clear on how child abusers should be dealt with.

Had Canon law been properly implemented, many children would have been spared the horror of sex abuse. Of the four archbishops named in the report, only Cardinal Connell came close to implementing Canon law properly, in that he had two offenders 'defrocked', or laicised, using Canon law.

In fact, with regard to Canon law, the report has something very interesting to say. It states that from the middle of the 20th Century, "Canon law appears to have fallen into disuse or disrespect".

Reformers suggested that Canon law was too legalistic and against the spirit of the Gospel.

But the irony is that if Canon law had not fallen into a state of disrepair then the abuse cases would have been much better dealt with than they were, and in a spirit much closer to that of the Gospel, which is concerned with justice as well as with mercy and forgiveness. Sometimes the best way to capture the spirit of the law is to follow the letter, it turns out.

Nor did Canon law directly interfere with civil law. When a crime has been committed, the two should complement one another. The offender should be punished under both civil law and Canon law.

In the past, as in the distant past, what often happened is that the Church would defrock a priest guilty of sex abuse, hand him over to the civil authorities, which would deal with him according to civil law. That often meant execution.

In fact, if the Catholic Church had been more Catholic, more genuinely Catholic, if it had adhered much more closely to its own teachings, the abuse scandals would have been much less severe than they were.

But the Church did what no Christian organisation is ever supposed to do, that is, it put its own narrow self-interest before the legitimate interests of others. There is no better way to negate Christianity than that. Indeed, when you think of it, Ireland is currently blighted by one major institution after another putting its own interest ahead of the public interest.

What now? It is vital that the Church, the State, and every other organisation responsible for the care of children have proper child protection systems in place that are properly enforced. Just this week, a former boxing coach has admitted sexually abusing five boys over a 13-year period ending in 2002. There have been similar scandals in swimming clubs.

As for the State, the indefatigable Alan Shatter has yet again lambasted it, and the Government, over their repeated child protection failures.

The Church, for its part, now has an excellent person in charge of its national child protection office, Ian Elliot, a Presbyterian. He earned his spurs last year by forcing the Cloyne diocese to properly deal with allegations made against two of its clergy, with the result that John Magee stood aside as bishop of his diocese.

The Dublin diocesan child protection office has been headed by the excellent Phil Garland, and of course Archbishop Diarmuid Martin represents a very clear and clean break with the past.

The additional pay-outs by the religious orders that ran the various children's institutions should also be mentioned. The Christian Brothers' pay-out, for example, is very substantial in terms of the overall assets of the order.

Is the Church now in a position to move on and leave these scandals behind it? No. They leave an indelible stain worse even than the Inquisition.

The best we can say is that with this report the Church may at last have hit rock bottom.

- David Quinn

Irish Independent

New light on dark history reveals church's false gods

Medb Ruane: New light on dark history reveals church's false gods

Friday November 27 2009

DES Connell taught me. Ivan Payne once sat across a table and stared with those flat, dead eyes. This is what being a Dubliner means. You get to know some of the people and places Judge Yvonne Murphy mentions in her weighty report on child abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.

Reading this story of your city is like being forced to sift garbage by hand in a dank lane with a bad smell. You want air. The place names may be where you played, worked, fell in love, or wheeled a buggy with your baby chuckling inside. Meanwhile, Catholic children were crushed because Catholic archbishops offered them as sacrifices to the false god called protecting the Dublin Archdiocese's reputation.

Judge Murphy's is a city without birdsong, joy or laughter. It's a dark alternative lying under Dublin's 1000th celebrations, its pride as European Cultural Capital and then as a sleek metropolis with a contemporary pace.

This tale of two cities was built on dust until Archbishop Desmond Connell eventually realised (after some seven years) that he could no longer conceal his priests' crimes against children, although he resisted releasing files until he had to. His predecessor Dermot Ryan inherited the secret files about child abuse, but chose not to report to gardai.

Ryan's predecessor Archbishop McNamara kept the same files closed, all maintaining Archbishop McQuaid's policy of moving abusive priests from parish to parish so their crimes wouldn't catch up with them. Nuns in our school celebrated his appointment because he was a Sister's big brother. The eight of us in the plain chant group had to sing to the Lord on McNamara's elevation. We should've croaked.

The gift of the present is to shine some truth into grim chambers where the masquerade of holiness became a balaclava hiding child abuse. But the victims began to speak years ago. Many families and their children tried to talk to parish priests, Catholic school managers and gardai.

Civil and legal authorities were often dismissive, Murphy reports -- as if the State accepted tacitly that the Church was a (higher) law unto itself and making trouble would be the worse for them. Anyway, the complaints were about children who had and have no legal weight at all.

This unspoken collusion is partly about the unhealthy blend of Church and State, which persists, though worse in earlier decades.

As Professor Tom Inglis wrote, the Church insisted on its moral monopoly. No contraception! No living in sin! Even (in Connell's reign) no more secular music or dancing at weddings and other communal events.

Canon law can't justify the cover-ups these grand archbishops perpetrated but no civil authority should sleep easy at night knowing they took the bully's way out by seeing the abused as troublemakers and the perpetrators as maligned. Their careers might have been at stake, of course. The Dublin Catholic archbishops controlled board and senior appointments in hospitals, universities and some NGOs. Outright.

Their backroom influence was often exercised. Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern prevented his then-partner Celia Larkin from receiving Desmond Connell at Dublin Castle when it was 'let known' that Connell was not pleased. That was showing who was boss. It was also another case of cap-doffing to unelected 'eminences' whose support could prove politically useful to Fianna Fail.

Murphy can't fully resolve the question about why some abusive priests were sent for treatment and then allowed back into ministry. Some commentators give the archdiocese the benefit of the doubt and suggest that specialist psychiatrists and experts on paedophilia disagreed about whether or not you could 'cure' a paedophile.

A cautious response would indicate not taking any risks where children were concerned, which isn't what happened. The men were put out of the public eye but sometimes into hospitals, where children were and are even more vulnerable because they are so ill and so out of the way.

A wider analysis, outside our scope now, would realise that one of the world's biggest archives of deviant sexual fantasies and acts is held by the Vatican, under lock and key.

The curators know how beyond imagining human behaviour can extend.

It is stretching credibility to suggest that senior Catholic leaders hadn't heard of the recidivist character of predatory sexual behaviour against children, even if they were not experts in the field. They chose to believe, perhaps, what they wished to believe. What suited them.

Dublin 2010 may be better for these findings, however limited, however few alleged perpetrators were prosecuted successfully. The archdiocese must owe the abused money as well as apologies.

Perhaps her Excellency the Lord Mayor will host a welcome for Dublin's children who never got or had to wait too long for justice.

Let's finally reclaim the streets.

- Medb Ruane

Irish Independent

Abuse report ignores failure of State to stop the horrors

Abuse report ignores failure of State to stop the horrors

Saturday November 28 2009

The main axis of public concern is missing from the report of the Murphy Commission. This is the tie-up between Church abnegation of responsibility for abuse in the Dublin diocese and the State's awareness and response to this.

The State at the highest level, meaning government and ministerial involvement as well as that of the Dail and Seanad, is simply not in the report. Generous investigation and coverage is given to the legal provisions that were in existence and were so callously and dishonestly ignored by the Church.

And this led to serious and endemic criminal acts of which clerics from the hierarchy down were guilty. But there is no such attention given to the State's equally reprehensible collusion in this.

As with the parallel investigation, by Justices Laffoy and Ryan, into widespread, endemic and horrifying sexual abuse in the child prisons masquerading as industrial schools, the failure was to fix responsibility for criminal neglect on the State. The State in the end was responsible. Unfortunately, the Murphy report does the same.

The State knew; but the State bowed the head in response to the Church's obsession with scandal and secrecy and did nothing. Leaders of this country, in successive governments over more than half a century -- the period covered by the Murphy report's 'time-line', (as opposed to its investigative remit) -- were simply governed and controlled by the Church in sexual matters, including widespread abuse. They have central responsibility for allowing that widespread abuse. There is no examination of this in the report.

The terms of reference stop short at "public and State authorities" over the period January 1975 and May 2004 and are confined to "a representative sample of complaints or allegations of child sexual abuse" in the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin. This is a narrow focus. The report asks "whether there is any evidence of attempts on the part of those authorities to obstruct, prevent or interfere with the proper investigation of such complaints".

The Murphy Commission followed its remit. This was to "establish the levels of communication that prevailed between the archdiocesan and other Catholic Church authorities and public and state authorities". But the public and state authorities are defined in the terms of reference, and so understood by the commission in its own interpretation of them, as "the relevant state authorities, that is, the gardai, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the health authorities".

These are not the ultimate authorities in state policy and its implementation. They are instruments of such policy, interpreting the law and carrying it out in precise ways -- or not, as the case may be.

It is clear from the Murphy report findings that they need further investigation. However, it should have been much higher than the level of Garda Commissioner or past occupants of the role of DPP, as well as health boards. What is missing from the report is that higher authority.

Who failed to shape and periodically reform the fetid relationship between Church and State? Those responsible are left out of investigation and consideration and it is a serious omission on which the report is silent. Exactly the same charge may be made about the reports by Justices Laffoy and Ryan.

Clearly the Murphy Commission does not go far enough. What did the State do about the abuse of the law? What did it do about knowledge of what was going on? How did it deal with senior police officers blocking investigation and colluding with the Church? Why were politicians like Alan Shatter and Joan Burton blocked in their efforts at reform?

The truth is that the relationship has never been reformed. As recently as the summer, the coalition blocked the perfectly sensible and satisfactory Labour Party bill on rectifying criminal guilt affecting thousands of victims of the industrial schools. It was blocked by the Cowen-led government. Virtually all such previous political initiatives have been blocked.

It would be an indulgence in superfluous rhetoric simply to explore this further. A much larger problem derives from it.

This is the dangerous global demand for some kind of legal package protective of children, including an amendment to the Constitution.

It is not necessary. The package is already there in the law of the land. This was criminally abused by clerics from the highest in the Dublin archdiocese, serially acting in the same way to protect men guilty of indictable offences.

As to the Constitution, it is difficult to see how any amendment would help in the circumstances outlined above.

This points to present and future gaps that the Murphy report fails to address, because its terms of reference did not cover them and also because it was precluded from making recommendations, for which, as the report states, "the Commission has no specific remit". It has merely "given its views on a range of matters which it considers significant at various stages in the report".

The Ryan Commission made recommendations but they

were of a puerile kind, by-passing the victims of past abuse.

The two ministers, Dermot Ahern and Barry Andrews, were not reassuring about the State's intentions. I do not think Dermot Ahern is any more committed than his predecessors with his glib "a collar will protect no criminal".

Let us wait and see which clerics are arraigned.

Barry Andrews talked about "comprehensive child protection laws" and the need to put them in place. We should be precisely careful of overkill. We do not need a "package" -- we need good laws, well-written, debated fully, and then enacted.

There have been admirable exceptions to the predictable platitudes and statements of horror. Diarmuid Martin is the first Archbishop of Dublin who has declared himself on the side of the law.

Fergus Finlay and Justine McCarthy have been firm about the limitations in the Murphy report, particularly its terms of reference and absence of recommendations.

It is a time for cool judgment. We knew already the horror children face.


Irish Independent