Thursday, November 26, 2009

How the archbishops dealt with allegations

How the archbishops dealt with allegations

ELAINE EDWARDS
The following are the main findings of the Murphy commission on the handling of abuse allegations by four archbishops and their auxiliary bishops in the Dublin Archdiocese

• Archbishop John Charles McQuaid (1940-1972): Was “familiar with the requirements of canon law but did not apply them fully”. “It is clear that his dealings with Fr Edmondus [not his real name] in 1960 were aimed at the avoidance of scandal and showed no concern for the welfare of children.”

• Archbishop Dermot Ryan (1972-1984): “Archbishop Ryan failed to properly investigate complaints, among others, against Fr McNamee, Fr Maguire, Fr Ioannes [not his real name], Fr Septimus [not his real name] and Fr Carney. He also ignored the advice given by a psychiatrist in the case of Fr Moore that he should not be placed in a parish setting. Fr Moore was subsequently convicted of a serious sexual assault on a young teenager while working as a parish curate. As problems emerged, Archbishop Ryan got different people to deal with them. This seems to have been a deliberate policy to ensure that knowledge of the problems was as restricted as possible. This resulted in a disastrous lack of co-ordination in responding to problems."

• Archbishop Kevin McNamara (1985-1987): He restored priestly duties to Fr Carney despite his having pleaded guilty to charges of child sexual abuse in 1983, and despite the fact that there were suspicions about him in relation to numerous other children. He saw the need for insurance cover [for the archdiocese against the possibility of claims against it] and started the process of getting it.

• Archbishop [now Cardinal] Desmond Connell (1988-2004): He was an academic with “virtually no experience of parish work or of management of an organisation”. The commission has “no doubt that he was stunned not only by the fact, but by the extent of the clerical child sexual abuse with which he had to deal”.

“Bishop O’Mahony told the commission that, of the three Archbishops he served as an auxiliary bishop, it seemed to him that Archbishop Connell was ‘the most deeply affected by the harm of clerical sex abuse. He was also the most proactive in seeking improvement in the church management of the issue.’”

The commission considers that Archbishop Connell was “slow to recognise the seriousness of the situation when he took over in 1988”. In spit of his knowledge of the recidivist nature of certain abusers, he allowed Fr Ivan Payne to continue in ministry when the complaint against him became known in 1981.

The commission “recognises that the current structures and procedures were put in place by Archbishop Connell”.

• The auxiliary bishops who dealt “particularly badly” with complaints were bishops Dermot O’Mahony and James Kavanagh . Bishop Donal Murray also dealt “badly” with a number of complaints.

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