Time to free church from clammy grip of clericalism
RITE AND REASON: Liberal Catholics have arrived at their views of church teaching on contraception, married and women priests, and homosexuality as a result of honest and honourable reflection
THE PAINTER Tony O’Malley had a custom of creating an artwork every Good Friday. When news broke during Holy Week of the Vatican censure of Fr Tony Flannery and the Redemptorist magazine Reality, I wished I could paint a picture to express my sadness.
Pope Benedict’s address at a Holy Thursday Mass in Rome copperfastened my gloom. Responding to a call to disobedience by Austrian priests and laity on celibacy and women priests he asserted that they had challenged “definite decisions of the church’s magisterium”.
Church leaders often talk of the right of free speech, most recently the Pope himself on his visit to Cuba. The recent Vatican moves are designed to create a climate of fear among liberal clerics. To echo a comment some years ago of the English writer AN Wilson, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has “ways of making you not talk”.
I know Tony Flannery quite well. He has given 40 years of sincere service as a priest, mainly as a preacher of missions throughout Ireland. He is an engaging and empathetic speaker and an innovative liturgist. His columns in Reality, based on his commitment to the ideals of the Second Vatican Council and his vast knowledge of the Irish church, were often thought-provoking.
He is one of the founders of the Association of Catholic Priests, set up in September 2010, and one of its leadership team. The association has provided a forum for debate and an independent voice for Irish priests.
Among its achievements was its intervention in the case of Fr Kevin Reynolds, who was grievously libelled in the Prime Time Investigates programme last May.
I expect that Fr Reynolds would agree that without this help he would still be languishing in a limbo from which he might never have emerged.
Perhaps it is not surprising that the Vatican has moved to censure Fr Flannery. The Second Vatican Council promised an open and dialogical church, willing to engage with the secular world. Since the 1980s there has been in Rome a retreat from its reforms.
Pope Benedict has a jaundiced view of the council’s spirit. Last year he sent a team of apostolic visitors to examine the Irish church in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals. In the summary of their report issued recently, the visitors have a cut at liberal Catholics. They noted that a significant number of Irish Catholics held views at variance with “the teaching of the magisterium”.
They should be accorded full marks for their powers of observation. The many liberal Catholics in Ireland hope for a church that is open to married and women priests, a rethink on the issue of contraception as exhorted by Humanae Vitae, and a reversal of the harsh insensitivity of the teaching on homosexuality.
We have come to these positions as a result of honest and honourable reflection. We are not seeking change for the sake of change. We believe that such reforms would aid the emergence of a church that is more humane, relevant and inspiring, a church released from the clammy grip of clericalism.
Nor are these sincerely held views at variance with the fundamental doctrines of the church as the visitors claimed in their report. These doctrines relate, for example, to the humanity and divinity of Christ, the resurrection and the sacraments.
I am not aware of any priest in Ireland who publicly dissents from these beliefs.
There is a tendency of conservative church commentators to argue that liberal clerics are an ageing, disgruntled minority who have turned their misinterpretations of the Second Vatican Council into a kind of holy writ.
To them we are castaways on a remote island, brazenly holding aloft the tattered banners of the 1960s. They won’t like this but I have to disillusion them.
Anecdotal evidence, coupled with the results of a number of professional surveys, indicate that the majority of Irish Catholics support radical change in the church’s ministry and moral teaching.
To paraphrase Gerry Adams in a different context, we are not going away. The Vatican has been a “cold house” for liberal Catholics in recent years. The least we expect is respect for our freedom of speech and conscience.
A reform of the church which excludes these rights is a form of repression. It seems that Pope Benedict thinks “a creative minority” of Catholic conservatives will transform the church in Europe. To me that sounds like a polite euphemism for an assembly of Rick Santorum lookalikes.
Fr Kevin Hegarty is a priest in the parish of Kilmore-Erris in Co Mayo, and a columnist with the Mayo News.
This is a copy of the Cloyne Report. Seeing the report is so long I will break it down and post it in a couple of postings.
Chapter 1 Overview
1.1 The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation was established in March 2006 to report on the handling by Church and State authorities of a representative sample of allegations and suspicions of child sexual abuse against clerics operating under the aegis of the Archdiocese of Dublin over the period 1975 – 2004. The report of the Commission was published (with some redaction as a result of court orders) in November 2009. Towards the end of its remit, on 31 March 2009, the Government asked the Commission to carry out a similar investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne.
1.2 During the Cloyne investigation the Commission examined all complaints, allegations, concerns and suspicions of child sexual abuse by relevant clerics made to the diocesan and other Catholic Church authorities and public and State authorities in the period 1 January 1996 – 1 February 2009.
1.3 This report deals with the outcome of the Cloyne investigation. In Chapters 2 – 8, the report outlines how the Commission conducted the investigation; the organisational structures of the Diocese of Cloyne and the relevant State authorities, that is, the Gardaí, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the health authorities; and the general background to the handling of complaints including an outline of the canon law and procedures involved and the financing of the costs involved.
1.4 Chapters 9 – 26 describe the cases of 19 clerics about whom therevwere complaints, allegations or concerns in the period 1 January 1996 – 1February 2009. Below the Commission gives an overview of what these cases show.
Context of this report
1.5 The context of this report differs significantly from the context of the Commission’s Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin. It deals withallegations made in the period after 1996, the year in which the Catholic Church in Ireland put in place detailed procedures for dealing with child sexual abuse and two years after the State had been convulsed by the Fr Brendan Smyth case. This meant that the so-called ‘learning curve’ which it was claimed excused very poor handling of complaints in other dioceses in
the past could not have had any basis or relevance in Cloyne. Both Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, the vicar general in the diocese charged with investigating complaints of child sexual abuse against priests, and Mr Diarmaid Ó Catháin the solicitor retained by the diocese to deal with any legal implications arising from cases of child sexual abuse, told the Commission that they had followed what was happening in North America in relation to clerical child sexual abuse. Monsignor O’Callaghan told the Commission: “I suppose we thought that would be out there, you know, that in fact Ireland would be protected from that kind of situation and therefore it
was only I’d say in the 1990s that it dawned on us we better get up to speed on this because also another factor, a lot of the priests who were being accused of sex abuse were Irish. A lot of them had been ordained in Ireland and therefore all you had to do was look over the names on the list anywhere and you got that picture, so I suppose that certainly struck us at that stage, it did.”
Number of complaints
1.6 It is important to emphasise that it was not the function of the Commission to establish whether or not child sexual abuse actually tookvplace but rather to record the manner in which complaints were dealt with by Church and State authorities.
1.7 The Commission received information about complaints, suspicions, concerns or knowledge of child sexual abuse in respect of 32 named clerics and one unnamed cleric. The Commission concluded that 19 of these clerics were within remit, including the unnamed cleric. The others were not in remit either because they were not connected to the Diocese of Cloyne or because the complaints were made outside the period under remit. Of the 163 clerics listed in the Diocese of Cloyne Diocesan Directory for 1996, there have been allegations made or concerns expressed about 12 (7.6%).
1.8 The Commission is aware of some 40 people who may have been affected by clerical child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne. All but two complaints came from people who were adults at the time the complaint was made; these complaints are usually called ‘historical complaints’.
1.9 Of the 19 clerics within remit, there are 12 clerics against whom a single complaint was made. No attempt was made by the Diocese of Cloyne to ascertain if there were others who had complaints to make against these clerics. The Commission itself was able to ascertain that, in the case of Father Rion, (see Chapter 20) at least two complaints of a similar nature had been made against him during his time in Australia.
1.10 Four clerics were dead when the first complaint against them was made. One of the complaints was of abuse which allegedly occurred as far back as the 1930s. There was no attempt made by the Diocese of Cloyne to find out anything about these priests and the complaints were not reported to the civil authorities.
1.11 At least six other clerics were retired or approaching retirement age when the first complaint against them was made. Again, no attempt was made to find out anything further about these clerics and only some of the complaints were reported to the civil authorities. One of these clerics admitted to abusing at least four children during his early years as a priest. No attempt was made by Church authorities or the Gardaí to ascertain if there had been other incidents involving this priest. The Gardaí were not told by
the diocese of all the admissions made by this priest.
1.12 One priest from the Diocese of Cloyne has been convicted of child sexual abuse. The DPP decided to prosecute another priest for child sexual abuse but the priest was successful in the Supreme Court in stopping his trial because of his age, his ill health and the delay.
The priests – where they are now
1.13 As already stated, this report describes the handling of allegations made against 19 clerics. Of these, 15 were or are incardinated1 in the Diocese of Cloyne. One priest was incardinated in the Archdiocese of Brisbane; he is dead. The unknown priest is almost certainly dead – it is not known where he was incardinated but the Commission considers it very likely that he was incardinated in Cloyne. One priest is a member of a religious order; he is living within his religious order with some restrictions on his ministry. Bishop Magee (who is not incardinated in the diocese) is retired.
1.14 Of the 15 priests who were or are incardinated in the Diocese of Cloyne, eight are dead; two are in ministry in the diocese; three are retired (two of these with restrictions on their ministry); one is out of ministry; and one has left the priesthood but does not seem to have been laicised.
Dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse
1.15 The Commission’s main task was to consider whether the response of the Church and State authorities to complaints and allegations of clerical child sexual abuse was “adequate or appropriate” and to establish the response to suspicions and concerns about clerical child sexual abuse. In assessing how the diocesan and other Church authorities dealt with complaints, the Commission has judged them by the standards set in their own documents – the Framework Document and Our Children, Our Church. The Framework Document was issued in 1996. Our Children, Our Church was issued in 2005. It did not significantly change the procedures set out in the Framework Document, in particular, there was no significant change in respect of reporting to the State authorities. Similarly, the Commission has assessed the response of the State authorities by the standards they set for themselves in the 1995 Notification of Suspected Cases of Child Abuse between Health Boards and Gardaí and subsequently in Children First. The Commission acknowledges that the standards which were adopted by the Church are high standards which, if fully implemented, would afford proper protection to children. The standards set by the State are less precise and more difficult to implement. The Commission’s assessment of the health authorities is limited by the fact that, prior to 2008, they were notified of complaints in only two cases – once by the diocese in 1996 and once by the Gardaí in 2005. The Church procedures for dealing with child sexual abuse
1.16 The document entitled Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response, generally known as the Framework Document, was agreed by the Irish Bishops’ Conference in 1996 which was at the start of the period covered by the Cloyne investigation. This document contained a detailed and easy to implement set of procedures for handling allegations, suspicions and concerns about clerical child sexual abuse. Bishop Magee wrote to all the priests in the Diocese of Cloyne in early 1996 informing them that he had
adopted the procedures contained in the Framework Document. He stated: “It is hoped that the enclosed report will serve the purpose of assisting Diocesan and Religious authorities in dealing appropriately with allegations of child sexual abuse which involve Priests or Religious”.
1.17 Despite Bishop Magee’s stated position on the implementation of the Framework Document, the reality is that the guidelines set out in that document were not fully or consistently implemented in the Diocese of Cloyne in the period 1996 to 2009. The primary responsibility for the failure to implement the agreed procedures lies with Bishop Magee. It is a remarkable fact that Bishop Magee took little or no active interest in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the Framework Document was adopted. As a result of this vacuum, the diocese’s functions in the matter of clerical child sexual abuse were, by default, exercised by others. The principal person involved was Monsignor O’Callaghan. He did not approve of the procedures set out in the Framework Document. In particular, he did not approve of the requirement to report to the civil authorities. He was totally familiar with the reporting requirements set out in the document and he implemented them in the Fr Corin case (see Chapter 10). He did not do so in many other cases.
1.18 The reaction of the Vatican to the Framework Document was entirely unhelpful to any bishop who wanted to implement the agreed procedures (see Chapter 4). The Congregation for the Clergy told the bishops of Ireland that the document was “not an official document of the Episcopal Conference but merely a study document”. The Congregation further stated that it contained: “procedures and dispositions which appear contrary to canonical discipline and which, if applied, could invalidate the acts of the same Bishops who are attempting to put a stop to these problems. If such procedures were to be followed by the Bishops and there were cases of eventual hierarchical recourse lodged at the Holy See, the results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same Diocesan authorities. In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature”. This effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures which they had agreed and gave comfort and support to those who, like Monsignor O’Callaghan, dissented from the stated official Irish Church policy. Bishop Magee’s position on the Framework Document
1.19 In evidence to the Commission, Bishop Magee said that he was fully committed to the implementation of the Framework Document and was shocked to discover in 2008 that it was not being implemented. The Commission considers that this response is totally inadequate. It became clear during the course of this investigation that Bishop Magee had, to a certain extent, detached himself from the day to day management of child sexual abuse cases. Bishop Magee was the head of the diocese and cannot avoid his responsibility by blaming subordinates whom he wholly failed to supervise.
1.20 While Bishop Magee must take ultimate responsibility, in practice the implementation of the Framework Document was stymied by Monsignor O’Callaghan. His limited and incomplete compliance with it is described in this report. Implementing the Framework Document in the Diocese of Cloyne
1.21 Contrary to repeated assertions on its part, the Diocese of Cloyne did not implement the procedures set out in the Church protocols for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse. The main failures were:
(a) The failure to report all complaints to the Gardaí;
(b) The failure to report any complaints to the health authorities between
1996 and 2008;
(c) The failure to appoint support people;
(d) The failure to operate an independent advisory panel.
(a) Reporting to the Gardaí
1.22 The greatest failure by the Diocese of Cloyne was its failure to report all complaints to the Gardaí. Between 1996 and 2005, there were 15 complaints which very clearly should have been reported by the diocese to the Gardaí. This figure of 15 does not include concerns and does not include cases where the allegations were already known to the Gardaí (although some of these also ought to have been reported). Of these 15, nine were not reported. The most serious lapse was the failure to report the two cases in which the alleged victims were minors at the time the complaint was made. One of the most unusual and unacceptable aspects of the diocese reporting to the Gardaí was the reporting by Monsignor O’Callaghan of the complainant’s name but not the perpetrator’s name in the Fr Caden case (see Chapter 21). The attempt by Monsignor O’Callaghan to have a particular garda deal with this case was correctly disregarded by the garda superintendent.
1.23 Monsignor O’Callaghan always had reservations about reporting to the civil authorities. In June 2002, in a letter to a canon lawyer, he stated: “On the issue of reporting to civil authorities I have always been of your mind and endorse everything you say. I am convinced that reporting should have been left to the complainants. Our role in the whole process has been compromised by taking on direct reporting as part of our remit. Why should we take it on ourselves to report when the complainant does not want it done? This commitment on our part also seriously compromises our relationship with the priest against whom allegations have been made.” He failed to understand that the requirement to report was for the protection of other children.
1.24 Prior to 2009 the diocese did not report complaints against deceased priests to the Gardaí or the HSE. Monsignor O’Callaghan told the Commission that the practice of notifying the Gardaí of complaints involving deceased priests did not exist until May 2003. The Framework Document requires that all complaints be reported to the Gardaí – it does not specify different arrangements for deceased priests. In any event, Monsignor O’Callaghan, having been informed about best practice, still did not report to the Gardaí or the HSE in cases involving deceased priests after 2003. The Commission considers that reporting in relation to deceased priests is important for a number of reasons but mainly because it may help to validate other complainants.
(b) Failure to report to the health authorities
1.25 In 1996, Monsignor O’Callaghan did report complaints against one priest to the health board. After that, no complaint was reported to the health authorities until 2008. The requirement to report to the health authorities was one which the Church imposed on itself and which the Diocese of Cloyne ought to have implemented in respect of all complaints whether historical or not and whether or not the Church had any confidence that the health authorities would do anything about these complaints. It was the failure to report to the health authorities which set off the sequence of events which led to the Elliott report (see Chapter 6) and ultimately to the establishment of this Commission.
(c) Failure to appoint separate support people
1.26 Given the diocese’s knowledge of clerical child sexual abuse and its effects on complainants it was wrong of the diocese not to put in place a proper support system for complainants independent of the delegate. The Commission accepts that pastoral care was provided for a number of complainants in that counselling was paid for by the diocese. In one case, however, counselling support was withdrawn from a complainant without any notice which only added to the grief of that complainant.
1.27 Monsignor O’Callaghan assumed a number of roles in relation to child sexual abuse in the diocese. At various times he was not only the delegate, but he acted as a support person to some priests and some complainants. This was unsatisfactory and made a number of complainants sceptical about his role within the diocese. A proper system of supports for both complainants and priests, as was mandated by the Framework Document, should have been put in place by Bishop Magee. Monsignor O’Callaghan has acknowledged to the Commission that he: “should have struck a better balance in the ministry of pastoral care. I regret now that I did not intervene to counter the choice of the legal route when just settlements should have been made earlier with survivors. I regret also that I tended to show favour to accused priests vis-à-vis complaints in some cases. I realise now that in some instances I became emotionally drawn to the plight of accused priests and in this way compromised my care of some complainants. I now realise that the ministry of pastoral care best operates where roles are distinct in dealing with complainants and accused.”
(d) The absence of an independent advisory panel
1.28 One of the principal recommendations in the Framework Document was that each diocese should establish an advisory panel or committee which would advise the bishop on what action should be taken when a complaint of child sexual abuse was made.
1.29 The purpose behind the establishment of such panels was that the person investigating the complaint, the delegate, would make a report to this independent group who would then discuss it in the absence of the delegate and make a recommendation for the bishop. Advisory panel, 1995
1.30 Bishop Magee did ask Monsignor O’Callaghan to establish an advisory panel in 1995, before the coming into force of the Framework Document. Monsignor O’Callaghan put together a panel which consisted of himself; the deputy delegate, Archdeacon Chris Twohig; the solicitor who advised the diocese on child sexual abuse claims; a psychologist who occasionally provided professional services to the diocese; and a local solicitor. The psychologist told the Commission that he never sat on the panel and does not recall ever being invited to sit on it. The local solicitor resigned shortly after the formation of the panel. This panel met three times in 1995 and did not meet again after this. Both Monsignor O’Callaghan and Bishop Magee have insisted to the Commission that the panel continued to exist but the evidence shows that it did not function after 1995. If it did function, it can only have involved Monsignor O’Callaghan and Archdeacon Twohig as the only other member, the solicitor who advised the diocese, is clear that it did not meet again after 1995. Archdeacon Twohig died in April 2009. A panel consisting of two senior priests of the diocese is not the sort of independent panel that was envisaged in the Framework Document. The minutes of the three meetings in 1995 are available but there are no subsequent minutes.
1.31 In the Commission’s view, it was inappropriate to have the delegate, the deputy delegate and the advising solicitor as members of the panel as their roles made it virtually impossible for them to give the sort of independent advice which the bishop needed. Inter-diocesan case management advisory committee, 2005
1.32 In 2005 the Diocese of Cloyne established an inter-diocesan case management advisory committee with the Diocese of Limerick. This was meant to be the advisory panel as envisaged in the Framework Document. In principle, it seems to the Commission that it was a good idea to pool resources with a neighbouring diocese in order to provide an independent source of advice. However, this committee was also not appropriately constituted. Both Monsignor O’Callaghan and the Diocese of Limerick delegate were appointed to the committee and, indeed, the Diocese of Limerick delegate was the chairman. Initially the solicitor who advised the Diocese of Cloyne in child abuse cases was not appointed to the committee because it was considered that there would be a conflict of interest since he was the diocese’s legal advisor. However, he was subsequently appointed to it.
1.33 Monsignor O’Callaghan and the solicitor each told the Commission that they saw no conflict of interest in their being members of this committee. The Commission does not share their view. Bishop Magee did stand down the Cloyne membership of that committee when the conflicts were pointed out to him by Mr Elliott in 2008.
1.34 The Commission is satisfied that there is now an independent advisory panel for the diocese. Committee Documentation
1.35 The minutes of the inter-diocesan case management advisory committee meetings were very short and uninformative. There were significant differences between what was recorded in the case management committee minutes and the separate notes kept by Monsignor O’Callaghan about these meetings.
1.36 It does not appear either from the minutes or from Monsignor O’Callaghan’s notes that the committee was given full information on the issues they were discussing. While individual members of the committee told the Commission that issues of child protection were discussed, this does not appear at all in the minutes. In fact, the direct opposite was the case, the concerns about the priest’s future and the impact on the diocese seemed to preoccupy the committee to the exclusion of the effects on the complainant and the more general issues of child protection. One member of the committee told the Commission that the proceedings were dominated by the two priest delegates, Monsignor O’Callaghan, the Cloyne delegate, and the Limerick delegate and the solicitor for those two dioceses. According to the witness the three were very dominant on the committee and in his words “It was not permissible to express a contrary opinion”. Monsignor O’Callaghan insisted to the Commission that the committee was told about all complaints. However, the evidence suggests otherwise. For example, the ongoing concerns about the behaviour and monitoring of Fr Calder (see Chapter 12) were never brought to the attention of the committee. The Commission was informed both by the chairman of the committee and by a lay member that each had only heard about three priests in total and these did not include Fr Calder. One of the most serious failures was the failure to tell the committee of the admissions of abuse made by Fr Caden (see Chapter 21) to the bishop.
The McCoy Report, 2004
1.37 The Diocese of Cloyne was informed in 2004 that it was not implementing the Framework Document properly. The diocese had voluntarily agreed to have its procedures and processes examined by an independent expert, Dr Kevin McCoy, in 2003. Dr McCoy’s report was completed in 2004. It showed that the diocese was not fully implementing all the procedures set out in the Framework Document. While Dr McCoy stated that the diocese had embraced the reporting policies set out in the Framework Document, this was not in fact the case. He examined eight cases. The Commission was not able to establish which eight cases he examined or precisely what documentation he received. The Commission has examined ten cases which were known to the diocese at the time of Dr McCoy’s investigation. The reporting obligations had been fully complied with in only one case.
1.38 Bishop Magee initially told the Commission that he had not seen Dr McCoy’s full report until 2009 but subsequently said that he was mistaken and did see it at the time it was produced. Clearly, he did not read it then or, if he did, he did not take its message on board or he chose to ignore it. In November 2005, Bishop Magee told the Minister for Children that the Framework Document guidelines were “fully in place and are being fully complied with”. If he had read the McCoy report, or if he had checked with Monsignor O’Callaghan about his practices, he would have known that this was not so. Bishop Magee answered the HSE questionnaire (see Chapter 6), less Section 5, on behalf of the Diocese of Cloyne in January 2007. Among other things, he said that the diocese reported allegations of child sexual abuse “to the HSE and/or An Garda Siochana in keeping with Children First”. This was not true.
1.39 Monsignor O’Callaghan has said that he did not see the full McCoy until 2009 and had seen only a summary in 2004. The evidence available to the Commission is that he almost certainly was given a copy of the full report in 2004 (see Chapter 4). He also got an oral briefing on the report in 2004. Even if he did not see the full report, the Commission finds it astonishing that, as the person charged with handling allegations of child sexual abuse, he did not look for and get a copy of the full report. It is equally strange that he could use this report, which he says he had not read, as the basis for defending the diocese’s practices when they came under scrutiny in 2008.
1.40 The failure to read and take heed of this report is quite extraordinary. Bishop Magee and Monsignor O’Callaghan then put out the erroneous view that their procedures had been fully endorsed by a report with which neither of them was familiar or which they chose to ignore.
The pastoral approach
1.41 Monsignor O’Callaghan told the Commission that he considered that the Framework Document did not provide an adequate pastoral response for those affected by child sexual abuse. He preferred a pastoral approach and felt that what he regarded as the “rule-led” procedures of the Framework Document interfered with this approach. In conjunction with the solicitor who advised the diocese on child sexual abuse cases he devised a scheme whereby counselling was provided to the complainants in a manner which it was hoped would not attract any legal liability to the diocese.
1.42 The Commission takes the view that the implementation of Church guidelines does not, in any way, preclude a pastoral response. A pastoral response, while good in itself, should be an adjunct to, not a replacement for, the procedures set out in the Framework Document. The Commission is satisfied that a number of complainants benefited from the counselling put in place for them. However, the pastoral approach espoused by Monsignor O’Callaghan is not a sufficient response to allegations of child sexual abuse It does not provide for a proper investigation of the complaints either by the State or the Church authorities.
1.43 Monsignor O’Callaghan’s problems with the Framework Document applied equally to Our Children, Our Church. In a letter of May 2008 he said that during the discussions prior to its publication, he was: “more than disappointed at the policy of the Irish Bishops as a whole. They were walking away from the strong positive tradition of Christian Pastoral Care as inspired by the words and actions of Jesus himself. They would surrender all pastoral discretion and would hand over to secular agencies overall responsibility for alleged offending priests who had abused their position of trust and given serious scandal. The Bishops rolled over under pressure from the media. And they expected Rome to endorse the new policy!”
1.44 One of the ironies of Monsignor O’Callaghan’s position was that it was clear from his evidence that, in most cases, he believed the complainants which makes his failure to implement his own Church’s policy all the more surprising. He also displayed some inexplicable failures to recognise child sexual abuse.
Implementation of the Framework Document by a religious order
1.45 In contrast to the Diocese of Cloyne, the religious order which received a complaint against one of its members, who was operating under the aegis of the diocese at the time of the alleged abuse, did fully implement the procedures in the Framework Document (see Chapter 17). This order, like other religious orders and societies who were members of the Conference of Religious of Ireland had agreed to implement the document. In this case, the order implemented the procedures correctly. The complaint was reported to both the Gardaí and the health authorities. The order’s advisory committee was fully informed.
Documentation supplied by the Diocese of Cloyne
1.46 The Diocese of Cloyne did not properly record and maintain information about complaints of child sexual abuse up to 2008. There was, in the words of Mr Ian Elliott, an “unacceptable lack of recording”. In some cases, there was no contemporaneous record of a complaint having been made. In one particular case, the written report of a psychologist is on the files but his more nuanced views which he says were expressed orally are not recorded. The Commission received some important documents from priests against whom complaints were made. Copies of these were not always in the diocesan files.
1.47 It appears that Monsignor O’Callaghan kept all the files relating to complaints of child sexual abuse in his house. About 20% of the documents supplied by the diocese to the Commission were undated. Many of the documents were hand written and difficult to read. If typed versions of written documents were also supplied, they sometimes differed in content from the handwritten document. It is clear that copies of a number of documents were not retained on files as the Commission received documents from witnesses that should also have been in the files provided by the diocese but were not.
1.48 Some of these failures to properly record information about complaints of child sexual abuse could be put down to lack of organisation, lack of resources or human error or they could be due to a deliberate policy. The admission by Bishop Magee that he deliberately created two different accounts of the same meeting with Fr Caden (see Chapter 21) raises very serious issues about the diocese’s policy on the creation and retention of documentation. One account of the meeting was created for the diocesan files and the inter-diocesan case management advisory committee while the other was created for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. While Bishop Magee contends that he did not intend to mislead, the fact is that he did mislead the advisory committee and subsequently Mr Ian Elliott.
1.49 The Diocese of Cloyne did not carry out proper canonical investigations. A canonical investigation under canon 1717 was ordered by Bishop Magee in the cases of five of the 15 diocesan priests against whom allegations were made or concerns expressed. Such an investigation should also have been ordered in at least four other cases. The Commission recognises that canonical investigations are not possible in the cases where the priest is dead at the time of the allegation. It also accepts that canonical investigations are not required in all cases of concerns or suspicions.
1.50 In the five cases where an investigation was ordered, an investigation was commenced but was never completed. No final report was compiled. In one case, an investigation was ordered in 1995 and, in spite of a number of subsequent complaints, was not pursued after the initial inquiries were made. In this case, an allegation in respect of a child was made in 1996 and an allegation of solicitation in the confessional was made in 1997 but no further reference was made to the existing order for a canonical investigation. Bishop Magee accepted that a full canonical investigation was not carried out in this case. The Commission cannot understand why he does not seem to have looked for a progress report or a final report.
1.51 There was a haphazard and sometimes sloppy approach to documenting canonical investigations. In one case, a canonical investigation was ordered in 2002 and, presumably because the first one had been forgotten or the documentation misplaced, it was ordered again in 2004. In another case, the order for the investigation seems to have been wrongly dated. In a third case, no canonical investigation was ordered and, indeed, was not warranted but there is documentation which suggests that such an investigation was actually conducted.
1.52 On the basis of its own laws, the diocese should have ordered a canonical investigation into the cases of Fr Corin, Fr Darian, Fr Flan, and Fr Tarin.
1.53 There was inadequate communication between Bishop Magee and Monsignor O’Callaghan. Bishop Magee does not seem to have ever checked that Monsignor O’Callaghan was actually abiding by the requirements of the Framework Document. Sometimes, Monsignor O’Callaghan did not tell Bishop Magee about complaints. There were four complaints about which Bishop Magee was not told at the time the complaint was first made known to the diocese or within a reasonable time thereafter.
1.54 The advisory panel/inter-diocesan case management advisory committee did not deal directly with Bishop Magee. All the dealings were routed through Monsignor O’Callaghan. As a result, Bishop Magee did not know what the committee was being told.
1.55 There was no communication with a neighbouring diocese when a priest who had retired because of complaints went to live there.
1.56 The correspondence between Monsignor O’Callaghan and the Archdiocese of Brisbane in relation to Fr Rion appears to have been drafted to avoid asking the relevant question, that is, were there other complaints against Fr Rion and therefore, allow that question to remain unanswered. The Archdiocese of Brisbane’s explanation for not giving information about previous complaints is particularly legalistic. In essence, the explanation was that they were not asked the direct question.
Reporting to and by priests
1.57 Some priests of the diocese heard about complaints and did not report them to the diocese. There was one priest who tried to report to Bishop Magee but was discouraged. There were five priests to whom complaints were made or concerns expressed who it appears did not report to the diocesan authorities.
Moving of priests
1.58 There was no case in which the Diocese of Cloyne moved priests against whom allegations had been made to another parish or out of the diocese altogether.
1.59 A number of priests against whom allegations were made were ‘retired’. In some cases, their ministry was restricted but this was not known to very many people. Before 2008, such restrictions did not include a requirement to cease wearing clerical dress. The existence of restrictions on ministry was made known to a number of parish priests but was not made known to the laity. In one case, a priest was restricted from ministering to schools but the schools were not told this.
1.60 When a priest was being stood down from ministry, Bishop Magee usually wrote him a letter setting out what the restrictions were. No formal precepts were issued. This allowed a certain ambiguity to arise about exactly what the priest could or could not do. In some cases, the strictures imposed by Bishop Magee were modified or countermanded by Monsignor O’Callaghan.
1.61 One area where the diocese is to be commended is in relation to the effort it has made to train both Church personnel and the laity in the area of child protection. Bishop Magee was responsible for accelerating the training initiative and he and the Child Protection Committee are to be commended for that.
Risk assessment and monitoring
1.62 Bishop Magee and Archbishop Clifford are to be commended for recruiting risk assessment specialists in 2009 to review diocesan files and to arrange risk assessments for a number of priests. The Commission is also satisfied that Archbishop Clifford has put in place a monitoring system for those priests still perceived to be a risk to children. The Commission has already noted in its Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin that monitoring of sex abusers is very difficult and that there is greater monitoring of clerical child sex abusers than any other child sex abusers.
1.63 A number of complainants were highly complimentary about the way in which the Gardaí dealt with their complaints. The Commission considers that most of the Gardaí who were involved in investigating the complaints outlined in this report carried out their tasks well and did so while treating the complainants with compassion and dignity.
1.64 However, the Commission was very concerned about the approach adopted by the Gardaí in three cases. In one case, an investigation clearly was not commenced. The senior garda involved insists that an investigation did commence but the evidence demonstrates otherwise. There are no investigation files in existence. The Commission has not been able to establish why an investigation did not take place in this case but it has no doubt that there was no investigation even though there was a complaint (see Chapter 10).
1.65 In another case, it seems that a statement taken from a young man was put in a drawer by a garda who was soon to retire and then forgotten about. In this case, the statement was found when further searches were conducted as a result of inquiries from this Commission. The Gardaí have given three different explanations for what happened in this case; none of them is convincing (see Chapter 9).
1.66 In a third case, the evidence given by a garda to the Commission differed from the statements he had made in two prior garda investigations (see Chapter 12).
1.67 The Commission was also concerned that there was no documentary evidence that, in two cases (see Chapters 15 and 22), the Gardaí assessed whether priests about whom complaints had been made were an ongoing risk to children. Such an assessment was required under the Children First guidelines in order to establish whether historical abuse cases should be notified to the health authorities. The Gardaí have told the Commission that they did carry out such an assessment in these cases.The Commission is satisfied that it is now the policy and practice of the Gardaí to report all cases to the HSE.
The health authorities
1.68 As already stated, the health authorities were not informed of complaints of clerical child sexual abuse by the Diocese of Cloyne between 1996 and 2008. Concerns about the welfare of particular children became known to the health authorities in 1996 and in 2008. They dealt properly with these concerns by bringing the risks involved to the attention of the children’s parents.
1.69 The Commission considers that the health authorities have limited powers in relation to extra-familial abuse of children. It is clear that there is disagreement between the Office of the Minister for Children and the HSE about the extent of the powers available (see Chapter 6). The Commission recognises that there are difficulties in granting further powers to the HSE but it is concerned that a number of bodies, including the Church, may rely on the HSE to deal with alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse when the HSE, in reality, does not have the power to do so effectively.
1.70 The Commission accepts that in the absence of legislation, such as exists in Northern Ireland, there will continue to be problems with the handling of so called ‘soft information’. The Commission recognises that there are particular difficulties in dealing with soft information and the credence to be given to it. There are issues regarding data protection and the rights of individuals to their good name. Equally, in a number of cases, it was obvious that people had great concern about the priest’s behaviour before any allegation of child sexual abuse was made. If these concerns could be centrally recorded, whilst protecting the rights of the individuals concerned, they might be of considerable assistance in identifying situations which could give rise to concern. The State has made a number of commitments to legislate in this area but so far this legislation has not materialised. The adequacy and appropriateness of the reponse
1.71 The response of the Diocese of Cloyne to complaints and allegations of clerical child sexual abuse in the period 1996 to 2008 was inadequate and inappropriate. In 2008, the diocese started to follow the procedures set out in the Church documents.
1.72 The response of the Gardaí was generally adequate and appropriate with a number of exceptions which have been outlined above. The response of the health authorities was adequate and appropriate given the information that was available to them and the limited powers which they have. However, the Commission recognises that the primary responsibility for the protection of children rests with the State and it is not convinced that the State’s laws and guidelines are sufficiently strong and clear for this task.
1.73 In its Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, the Commission stated that it accepted that the current archdiocesan structures and procedures for dealing with clerical child sexual abuse were working well. However, it went on to say that it was concerned that those structures and procedures were heavily dependent on the commitment and effectiveness of two men – the Archbishop and the Director of Child Protection. The Commission warned that “institutional structures need to be sufficiently embedded to ensure that they survive uncommitted and ineffective personnel”. The Diocese of Cloyne was unfortunate in that the structures were never embedded because it had an uncommitted delegate/director of child protection and an ineffective bishop for the period 1996 – 2008.
1.74 The principal feature of this report can be simply expressed. The Diocese of Cloyne ostensibly accepted the Framework Document and promised to implement it. It did not do so. On the contrary, Bishop Magee appears to have taken little real interest in its implementation for 12 years. He allowed the authority of the diocese in this regard to be exercised for that period by others, in particular Monsignor O’Callaghan. Monsignor O’Callaghan acted in what he perceived to be the best interests of the Church. The Commission accepts that he was personally kind in many respects to some complainants but kindness is not enough when dealing with criminal activity or with people who have been abused.
1.75 He refused to accept the Framework Document as a proper ecclesiastical policy. He preferred a ‘pastoral approach’ and felt that the relatively rigid procedures of the Framework Document interfered with this approach. He did not appear to accept that the Framework Document expressed the standard that the Irish Church had set for itself in relation to child sexual abuse. He frustrated its implementation and was primarily responsible for the limited and incomplete compliance with it described in the report.
1.76 Those who thought like Monsignor O’Callaghan had their positions greatly strengthened by the Vatican’s reaction to the Framework Document. This response, discussed in Chapter 4, can only be described as unsupportive especially in relation to reporting to the civil authorities. The effect was to strengthen the position of those who dissented from the official stated Irish Church policy.
1.77 In the Commission’s view, Bishop Magee was responsible for allowing Monsignor O’Callaghan to be in charge of the diocesan policy on child sexual abuse for many years without supervision. The extent of the inertia of the bishop which made these things possible is remarkable. Furthermore his attitude prevented the proper implementation even of canonical procedures. He told the Minister for Children that the Framework Document guidelines were fully in place and were being fully complied with. This was false. The same must be said of his assurances to the HSE given in 2007.
1.78 Even though the diocese invited an external examination of its procedures in 2004, nothing happened. This, again, was because of the lack of commitment of the delegate and the ineffectiveness of the bishop. Change did not occur until the uninvited external examination conducted by Mr Elliott forced Bishop Magee to face the reality that his diocese was seriously deficient in its dealing with clerical child sexual abuse. It seems to the Commission that continuing external scrutiny is required to ensure that the improvements which the diocese has made and continues to make will remain in place.
Co-operation by all parties
1.79 The Commission wishes to acknowledge the full co-operation it received from all parties involved in the investigation and their legal advisors. It also wishes to acknowledge the very helpful evidence given by the complainants and it hopes that this report will, in some way, be helpful to them by providing additional information and analysis which might not otherwise be available to them.
Vatican approach to child abuse in Ireland absolutely disgraceful, says PM
Enda Kenny says laws being drawn up making it impossible for anyone to avoid obligation to report abuse allegations
Ireland’s prime minister has denounced the Vatican‘s approach to allegations of child abuse in the republic as absolutely disgraceful.
Enda Kenny said new laws are being drawn up that will make it impossible for anyone – even those high up in the Roman Catholic church – to avoid their obligations regarding reports of child abuse.
“The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier, or by collar,” Kenny said.
He added that he hopes the response from the Irish government to the Cloyne report will clarify to everyone that the law of the land applies in situations where appalling actions took place.
Kenny called on the Vatican to repeat its commitment that civil law should always be followed. The Irish Catholic church and the Vatican have faced severe criticism over repeated attempts to deal with incidents of abuse behind closed doors rather than by handing over suspects to the Garda Síochána.
The Irish deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore, met with the Vatican’s ambassador to Ireland to discuss the report’s findings.
“There’s one law in this country. Everybody is going to have to learn to comply with it. The Vatican will have to comply with the laws of this country,” Gilmore said after the meeting.
Gilmore said the report would be debated in the House next Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the availability of ministers and spokespersons.
He said the failure of the church to co-operate with the law was one of the greatest problems and that the coalition government was determined that there would be consequences for any institution which failed to work with the legal authorities of the state when it came to child abuse.
The Socialist party’s Joe Higgins said people were “throwing their hands in the air” at the revelations in the Cloyne report.