Thursday, December 3, 2009

Every auxiliary bishop had some knowledge of crimes

Every auxiliary bishop had some knowledge of crimes

ANALYSIS: It’s not just about Bishop Donal Murray. Many other bishops failed and they should all resign, writes MARY RAFTERY

AS BISHOP Donal Murray thrashes about trying to save his own skin, it is clear he is doing immense damage to his brother bishops, as he divides and sets them against each other. It is not too difficult to find a rationale for his tenacity in the face of such strong public revulsion at his lack of action to protect children from gruesome abuse – he was not the only one (true), and consequently it is unfair that he be singled out to pay for the gross negligence of so many other bishops (also true).

The answer to this is not of course that Donal Murray should remain as bishop of Limerick. It is rather that all the other guilty ones should also resign. The point has been made that some of these are more seriously implicated than others, and all should not be tarred with the same brush.

However, this is to miss the single most crucial aspect underlying all of this – namely that each and every auxiliary bishop in Dublin had some knowledge of heinous crimes against children and did not perform their duty as citizens to report this knowledge of criminal activity to the Garda. This is what at heart defines the cover-up. The reason we know that each of them had such knowledge is that the Dublin report tells us that the auxiliary bishops met regularly, once a month, and that at these meetings they discussed cases of specific priests who were known to have sexually abused children.

Ten of the bishops involved in this cover-up are still alive. Five remain in office and five are retired. The focus quite properly is on those who continue to exercise the functions of bishop, particularly as this involves such an extensive controlling interest in schools.

Three former auxiliaries are now full bishops. First among these is Donal Murray, whose tenure spanned the reigns of three archbishops – Ryan, McNamara and Connell.

The details of Bishop Murray’s callous lack of action in at least three cases of clerical child abusers are by now well known. He has in his own defence chosen to emphasise that he had been a bishop for only 18 months when approached by the two men in Valleymount who voiced complaints about Fr Thomas Naughton being “too close to the altar boys”. His lack of proper action, he claims, was due to his inexperience.

It is of interest to note that Bishop Murray was no obscure curate when elevated to auxiliary bishop in 1982. He was no less than professor of moral theology at Clonliffe College, the capital’s main seminary. Further, he was expert on ethics, in which subject he lectured extensively in UCD.

Next up is Jim Moriarty, bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, who was an auxiliary in Dublin from 1991 to 2002. This is the key period during which there was an explosion in the number of complaints of clerical child sex abuse in Dublin. Consequently, the subject would have arisen repeatedly at the monthly meetings of auxiliaries during this period, adding to the knowledge of crime which each of them was covering up.

We also know he received a very specific complaint about Fr Edmondus, the priest who abused Marie Collins (among others) at Our Lady’s children’s hospital in Crumlin. His response was to pass it up the line to his archbishop and wash his hands of it.

In a statement last Sunday to his parishes in Kildare, he made no reference to this. He, like his fellow bishops, focused on the crimes of the abusing priests while conveniently ignoring their own heartless and cynical betrayal of children through their cover-up.

Then there is Martin Drennan, bishop of Galway. He is barely mentioned in the report. However, as auxiliary bishop in the capital from 1997 to 2005, he must share in the complicity over cover-up. Although he had no responsibility for the earlier periods during the 1980s and 1990s when cover-up was routine and automatic, he nonetheless functioned during a period when the archdiocese considered itself under no obligation to co-operate with Garda investigations and continued to hide information of criminal acts from the civil authorities.

Of those who remain auxiliary bishops in Dublin, the most interesting is Eamonn Walsh. He is tipped as successor to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, and is deeply immersed in the politics of the Dublin archdiocese.

An auxiliary since 1990, he was intimately acquainted with diocesan secrets even before that in his capacity as secretary to the archbishop from 1985. Previously, he had been head of Clonliffe College since 1977.

Given his longevity at the heart of the Dublin archdiocese, Eamonn Walsh perhaps more than most of his fellow bishops faces the charge of cover-up and failure to report his knowledge of crime to the civil authorities.

Finally, there is Raymond Field. An auxiliary since 1997, he is a barrister, having been called to both the Irish and the English bar, and so should have been acutely aware of the overriding duty to report all knowledge of crime to the police. There is no evidence that he did so. Further, he is directly criticised in the Dublin report. With regard to the case of Fr Benito, Bishop Field did not convey complete information to a parish priest with regard to serious concerns around this priest’s relations with certain children. This was as recently as 2003.

The retired bishops who must also stand condemned as central to the cover-up are Cardinal Desmond Connell, bishops Laurence Forristal, Dermot O’Mahony, Brendan Comiskey and Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh.

Worst among these are Connell and O’Mahony, although Comiskey and Forristal are also singled out for stern criticism by the Murphy commission.

Of all 10 of these surviving Dublin bishops, only a single one (Forristal) admitted “unequivocally” to the commission that he had handled complaints badly. This gives some sense of the moral bankruptcy that permeates the ranks of the supposed moral and religious leaders of our society.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They all knew for decades and, sure, wasn't it Ratzo himself who, from his mighty position of cardinal, sent out instructions that the whole 'disease' was to be kept secret.
Our asshole politicians knew but, kept their mouths shut because, rocking the boat might result in some of them losing their nice little earner. Their attitude was the same as the putrid catholic clergy...the children don't matter.
What amazes me the most is that the 'faithful' who still support an organization which has to set up, within itself, another organization to protect children from the main organization, can't see a problem here!
Turning water into wine, apparitions at Knock and other imbecilic stupidity...Ireland is a nation of GALOOTS!