Italy President receives request to deny Pope Benedict XVI immunity on Feb 23
Friday, February 15, 2013
An Open Letter and Appeal to Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Republic of Italy from Kevin D. Annett, Secretary of the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State
L.A. Priest Blamed for Legacy of Pain
Ten, including relatives, say the Jesuit molested them. He denies it and has not been charged.
During 16 years at Loyola High School, Father Jerold Lindner was admired as an energetic teacher exceptionally devoted to his students. Superiors lauded him as the model of “a Christian educator.” A colleague in the English department nominated him as “chairman for life.”
Others outside the school say they knew a different Lindner. Ten men and women portray the Jesuit as a molester who haunted their childhoods, abusing them on Sundays after Mass, during holiday gatherings and on Catholic family camping trips — nearly always while wearing his clerical collar.
These encounters allegedly began in the 1950s, continued through the 1970s, when Lindner was entering the priesthood, and persisted into the 1980s, while he was teaching at Loyola High, a private, all-boys prep school west of downtown Los Angeles.
Jesuit leaders say they first learned about Lindner’s past a decade ago, when his brother told them that the priest had sexually abused three nieces, a nephew and a younger sibling. After sending Lindner for a psychiatric evaluation, Jesuit superiors deemed the allegations not credible and put him back in the classroom.
Fresh charges surfaced in 1997, when two brothers asserted in a lawsuit that Lindner sodomized them years earlier during weekend retreats in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Jesuits then removed the priest from Loyola and negotiated a secret $625,000 settlement with the brothers. As before, Lindner’s superiors did not inform law enforcement authorities, parents or teachers about the allegations.
In a sworn deposition, Lindner denied ever abusing anyone. In a statement to The Times, he said: “I have devoted my life to helping people, and I insist that the accusations against me are not true.” He said the Catholic sex-abuse crisis has “created an atmosphere where people like me are presumed guilty until proven innocent.”
Lindner, 58, has never been criminally charged, and Loyola officials say they know of no allegations that he molested students or other members of the high school community. He is under investigation by L.A. County sheriff’s detectives and the district attorney’s office.
The priest’s accusers depict a man who began molesting when he was a child and continued to do so even as he soldiered through the rigorous Jesuit rituals of indoctrination. Family members and victims kept quiet and sometimes defended the priest, a Times investigation found.
Lindner’s superiors, when confronted with explosive accusations, tried to keep them “internal to the Society of Jesus,” as one Loyola administrator put it in a memo.
In interviews and legal documents, the 10 men and women have said they were molested while growing up in Los Angeles County, the San Francisco Bay Area and suburban Phoenix. Eight agreed to be identified by name in this article.
Several said Lindner ordered them to lie still while he sexually abused them. Afterward, they said, he called them “dirty” and threatened to harm them if they told anyone.
Four of Lindner’s accusers said they were so traumatized that they tried to commit suicide as teenagers. Others reported suffering failed marriages, depression, flashbacks and a loss of faith.
Many said they had remained silent until now because of a deep sense of shame and because they feared retaliation by Lindner. The alleged victims said they are angry — at the priest and at the Jesuits.
“We all want him behind bars, where he belongs,” said Tamara Roehm, 35, of Lancaster, one of Lindner’s nieces.
The priest’s mother, 80, said recently that the accounts of victims within her own family had persuaded her that Lindner preyed on young people.
“I know that Jerry needs help, and so do his victims,” Isabelle Lindner said in an interview at her Phoenix-area home. “If he wasn’t a priest and didn’t have the Jesuits standing behind him, I think he would be in jail.”
Lindner now lives in the Bay Area town of Los Gatos at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, a picturesque retreat overlooking the Santa Clara Valley.
The Jesuits say they have barred him from teaching or ministering to the public, but he is free to travel and tutor seminarians and has collected a living allowance from the order.
In preparing this report, The Times reviewed internal Jesuit records, numerous letters Lindner wrote over two decades, and documents related to the lawsuit by the two brothers, including a sworn deposition of Lindner on June 10, 1998.
Loyola High administrators last month informed parents and alumni of the allegations against Lindner for the first time. They took the step after learning The Times was preparing an article on the priest.
In a Nov. 18 letter to parents and alumni, Father Robert T. Walsh, Loyola’s president, said administrators learned of sexual-abuse accusations against Lindner in 1997 and “immediately relieved him of his teaching and school duties.” The letter made no mention of the 1992 allegations. Walsh and other Loyola officials declined to answer questions about Lindner.
A top-ranking Jesuit said no one at the high school noticed any inappropriate behavior by the priest.
“We never had complaints at Loyola High,” said Father Thomas H. Smolich, who as head of the California Province oversees Jesuits in four Western states and Hawaii. “If you look at Jerry’s professional career there, it is very successful.”
Smolich, who began his six-year term as provincial in 1999, acknowledged that the Jesuits did not notify authorities of the accusations against Lindner in 1992 or in 1997. He said that he could provide no explanation and that Jesuit records shed no light on the matter.
“There are things I wish we had done differently,” Smolich said. “If the allegations were reported today, we would contact appropriate law enforcement authorities and respond pastorally to victims.”
Jerold William Lindner was born Nov. 16, 1944, in Columbus, Ohio, into a devout Catholic family. Priests and nuns were frequent visitors to the home.
Before entering elementary school, Jerold announced that he wanted to be a priest, his mother recalled. She said his interest in the clergy never waned.
The family moved to Arizona when Jerold was 6. He served as an altar boy, joined the Boy Scouts and became an avid chess player. A gifted student, he ranked in the top four of his 115-student class during several semesters at Brophy College Preparatory, the all-boys Jesuit high school in Phoenix. Years later, he scored in the “very superior” range on an IQ test.
Members of Lindner’s family said fellow students picked on him. As a freshman, he was forced to kneel on the hot asphalt at school for hours and suffered severe burns. He often came home with stains on his white school shirts, the result of classmates pelting him with oranges.
After graduating from Brophy in June 1962, Lindner applied to become a Jesuit. The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola and is the largest religious order in the Roman Catholic Church, with about 21,000 members worldwide. Candidates undergo years of rigorous training, and members of the society must observe strict vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Lindner’s application was rejected by the order, according to members of his family. They said the Jesuits told him he needed to broaden his life. So he took a job as a courier for a title company, became leader of a Boy Scout troop in Phoenix and dated for the first time.
He reapplied to the Jesuits a year later and was turned down again, this time with the suggestion that he move out of his parents’ home, family members said.
Lindner enrolled at Loyola University in Los Angeles, a Jesuit institution, in the fall of 1963. He was accepted for Jesuit training the following June and sent to the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Los Gatos for two years to study the order’s traditions, rules and expectations.
Early on, Jesuit leaders detected psychological problems.
After Lindner returned to Loyola University in 1968 to earn his bachelor’s degree in English, a routine evaluation found that he “needs emotional and psychological maturing and stabilizing.”
In the early 1970s, he sought therapy for “depression and poor self-image” on the advice of his Jesuit spiritual advisor and suffered “bouts of panic attacks,” say personnel records and psychiatric reports.
Lindner’s aberrant behavior dated to childhood, his mother said. She said she caught her son, at age 10, inappropriately touching his 5-year-old sister in bed. Over the years, she has defended her son and rejected allegations from relatives that he abused them. She now says she has come to believe the accusations.
The sister, Kathy McEntire, also once defended her brother, but now says he sexually abused her for years.
“It started with me,” said McEntire, 53, struggling to fight back tears at her kitchen table in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.
She alleged that Lindner knelt beside her bed at night and molested her, a practice she said continued until she was about 9. “He got bolder and bolder over time, as he figured out what he could get away with,” she said.
Assigned to Teach
In 1969, the Jesuits sent Lindner to earn a master’s degree in English at St. Louis University in Missouri, where he was active in an urban Boy Scout troop. The next year, he was assigned to teach at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco.
He stayed in the Bay Area more than a decade, enrolling at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley in 1973 and being ordained as a priest in 1976. He returned to St. Ignatius and taught English there from 1976 to 1982. He was also Scoutmaster for an Oakland troop and accompanied boys on weekend camping and ski trips.
During these years, Lindner allegedly molested six children, according to sworn testimony and interviews.
One of them was McEntire’s son, Trevor. He said Lindner molested him on about 20 occasions, beginning when he was 5, during family visits to the Jesuit residence in Berkeley and when the priest made holiday trips to Arizona. He said the abuse lasted until he was 9.
“He touched me a lot,” Trevor McEntire, now 32, said of his uncle. “I tolerated it, because I didn’t know any better. I kind of blame myself for not telling anybody.”
Kathy McEntire said her son told her only recently about the abuse. She said it was devastating to learn that the same man she accuses of molesting her more than 40 years ago had allegedly violated her son. “I’m just coming to grips with this,” she said. “I am so sick and disgusted I can’t stand it,” she said.
Lindner met other alleged victims while volunteering as a spiritual advisor for the Christian Family Movement, a worldwide lay organization of Catholic couples. Lindner said Mass in private homes, heard confessions, attended monthly parent meetings and accompanied families on weekend retreats.
The two brothers who sued the Jesuits said Lindner sexually assaulted them during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend camp-outs in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1975, when they were 5 and 7.
The alleged assaults are detailed in reports by Lynn E. Ponton, a professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco and expert in sexual abuse who was retained by the brothers’ lawyer.
Ponton said the brothers told her that Lindner sodomized them and forced them to perform oral sex on four occasions in the woods. In one incident, the priest allegedly abused the two boys in a tent.
One of them, Will Lynch of San Francisco, now 35, said in an interview that Lindner coerced him to enter the tent by threatening to harm his younger brother. “Even at age 7, I knew it was wrong. I didn’t want to be there,” Lynch said. “When he grabbed me, I remember thinking, ‘I’m not getting out of this.’ ”
Lynch’s brother declined to be interviewed.
In the deposition, Lindner confirmed attending weekend camp-outs but said he had no recollection of meeting the brothers.
Will Lynch said the abuse had shattering effects. He had nightmares for years, suffered from depression and alcohol abuse, and twice attempted suicide, he said. “Many times I thought of driving down to L.A. and confronting Father Jerry,” he said. “I wanted to exorcise all of the rage and anger and bitterness he put into me…. You can’t put into words what this guy did to me. He stole my innocence and destroyed my life.”
Two women who accuse Lindner of molesting them when they were girls in the Bay Area also said they have had difficulty recovering. Both described the alleged molestations in sworn depositions as part of the Lynches’ suit and in interviews with The Times.
Krista Nemechek, a 32-year-old special education teacher in the Bay Area, said she was 7 when Lindner grabbed her in a bedroom of an Oakland home during a 1977 social gathering.
“I was wearing a dress,” Nemechek said. “He put me in this almost vise-grip of a hug. He pulled me so I was facing him, then he rubbed his hands up and down me. I remember him kissing me really passionately [and] moaning a little bit…. It just didn’t feel right in any way.”
In his deposition, Lindner said he had no recollection of Nemechek or the alleged incident.
Nemechek said the episode haunted her through adolescence. “I know he hurt a lot of people,” she said. “More than anything that happened to me, the hardest part is realizing that I could have done something.”
Debbie Lukas, 36, recalled meeting Lindner when he said Mass at her parents’ house in Oakland. Then 8, she “lit up” at the attention the priest showered on her, she said.
When she was 10, Lukas said, Lindner began making suggestive remarks and forcing deep, full-mouth kisses on her. One evening after dinner, she said, Lindner caught her alone in the basement of her home. She recalled hearing her mother’s footsteps on the kitchen floor above while the priest sexually assaulted her.
“He pushed me down on the bed. I was struggling to get away from him…. He was a big guy,” Lukas said. “I remember him covering my mouth. I could hardly breathe.”
Asked about Lukas’ allegation, Lindner said in his deposition: “I don’t remember doing this. I don’t think I did it.”
Lukas said she was despondent for years and still feels uncomfortable in her parents’ house. “I’ve had this torture all my life,” said Lukas, who runs an herbal-products business in Oregon. “I don’t trust authority. I don’t believe in God anymore…. It has shaped the foundation of who I am.”
Another of Lindner’s nephews says the priest molested him over several nights at a family reunion in Arizona during the 1979 Christmas season. The boy was 11 years old at the time.
“He was French-kissing me,” said the nephew, who spoke on condition that he not be named. “He was holding me tight, and he fondled me. It happened every night.”
In 1982, after eight years at St. Ignatius High, Lindner transferred to Loyola High and was named chairman of the English department.
Founded in 1865, Loyola is L.A.’s oldest Catholic school, occupying ivy-covered buildings on Venice Boulevard near Koreatown. Among the most competitive prep schools in the area, it has 1,096 students and 84 faculty and staff members.
At Loyola, Lindner expressed a preference for working with younger students. An evaluation stated: “Fr. Lindner was quite honest about his wish to teach frosh rather than seniors.”
In 1983, he wrote an acquaintance: “I am tutoring frosh — I don’t teach them, but I know about 110 of them now. I have a ‘hit’ list with their names and photos (a way to get to know their names). They are fun.”
Lindner organized numerous after-school activities that gradually became known as “Lindner clubs.” They included archery, backgammon, chess, Knights of FRP (a fantasy role-playing group) and remote-control car racing.
Loyola administrators praised his devotion to students. “I want to point out particularly that many of the students in your clubs would have no other avenue into the mainstream of the Loyola community were it not for your energy, ingenuity and organization,” Father Gordon Bennett, then the principal, wrote in October 1984.
Lindner served as an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 1193 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, near the Loyola campus.
And he reached out to a boy and girl he had met years earlier through the Christian Family Movement.
One of them was Debbie Lukas. Lindner sent the teenager romantic letters, calling her “my California beauty” and “the flame tree of my life” and mentioning that the residence hall at Loyola had “a place to put people up … (even you).”
Lindner also contacted Lukas’ mother, Mary Louise Taylor, and suggested that her 12-year-old son spend a weekend with him on the campus.
“I was so shocked,” said Taylor, adding that she declined.
In his deposition, Lindner described the invitation as “a joke.”
Visiting His Brother
Lindner’s move to Loyola made it easier to visit his older brother, Larry, then an LAPD patrol officer who lived in Lancaster with his family. During these visits, Father Lindner allegedly molested three nieces.
“He would hold your face, stare at you and then stick his tongue in your mouth,” said one niece, Susan Edens, now 32, who still lives in Lancaster. “I used to hate him coming over to our house, because I hated that kiss. It was horrid.”
Her sister, Tamara Roehm, said Jerold Lindner did the same thing to her many times.
Larry Lindner’s youngest daughter, Tiffany Swindler, said the priest sodomized her on three occasions when she was between 5 and 7.
“He was meaner the second time,” said Swindler, now 27. “He yelled a lot. He grabbed my hair harder than normal.” Afterward, she said, Father Lindner called her “dirty” and told her: “Bad things happen to little girls who open their mouths.”
Swindler and her father said that the priest molested the girl for the final time around Easter 1984. In separate interviews, they said Larry Lindner walked into the living room to find the priest playing with Tiffany while sexually aroused.
“I threw him out of my house,” Larry Lindner said. He urged his brother to seek treatment but did not report him to authorities.
“I trusted him,” Larry Lindner said. “I told him, ‘I’m not going to ruin your life or ruin your career. Just go get help.’ … I should have had him arrested right there. But he’s still my brother, and I did what I thought a brother should do.”
Larry Lindner said that until recently he was not aware of Swindler’s allegations that the priest had sodomized her.
Swindler said the abuse ceased when she was 8 but never stopped haunting her. She said she became sexually active at 11 and endured three broken marriages. Recently, she began undergoing therapy for depression.
“I hate him,” Swindler said of her uncle. “I hate the way he ruined my life.”
Larry Lindner retired from the LAPD in 1986, and the family moved to Oregon. In January 1992, his wife found Tiffany crying on the floor of their home after suffering flashbacks about the priest.
Larry Lindner said his daughter’s anguish made him so angry that he called Jesuit superiors to report his brother’s history of alleged sexual misconduct. Loyola’s then-principal, Father Eugene Growney, posted a memo on Feb. 3, 1992, informing the high school faculty and staff that Jerold Lindner had been placed on leave “for reasons internal to the Society of Jesus.”
The Jesuits sent Lindner to St. Luke Institute in Maryland, a psychiatric center where Catholic clergymen accused of sexual abuse are evaluated and treated. Before going, Lindner solicited letters of support from family members. His mother and two sisters submitted five letters on his behalf to Jesuit superiors.
Isabelle Linder wrote that Larry Lindner could not be believed. “Father, they are all lies!” she said.
Kathy McEntire also supported Father Lindner. “I have been informed that one of the lies being made against my brother is that he also molested me when I was in fourth or fifth grade,” she wrote. “I can assure you that in no way is this true.”
Both women said in separate interviews that they knowingly provided false information in the letters. The mother said she was trying to help her son. McEntire said she wrote her letters under duress. “Mom said if all of us did not come forward … his career would be destroyed and he would get kicked out of the church,” she said.
A confidential St. Luke report that cleared the way for Lindner to return to teaching made several references to the family letters. The report said an examination of Lindner, who told the St. Luke staff that he had never abused anyone, found no sexual disorders or “significant risk factors.”
“We see no reason why Father Lindner should not return to his usual activities,” the report said. The psychiatrists at St. Luke closed with a recommendation that Lindner go on a low-fat diet.
Richard Sipe — a former Benedictine monk and expert on sexuality in the clergy who has served as a St. Luke board member — reviewed the eight-page report at The Times’ request. He described it as “deficient and biased,” and said: “They did not provide any kind of sexual history. They did not do any investigation. They simply took his word.”
The president of St. Luke, Father Stephen J. Rossetti, said he could not comment on Lindner’s case but that in general it is difficult to determine through psychological evaluation if someone is a molester. “We are doing a clinical evaluation based on the information we have, and it’s not easy work,” he said.
Lindner returned to Loyola High in fall 1992. He said in his deposition that Jesuit superiors and Loyola administrators never discussed his brother’s accusations with him. He resumed his teaching duties and continued to receive plaudits.
“I cannot begin to thank you enough for your phenomenal generosity and commitment,” Father Walsh wrote on Nov. 8, 1992, weeks after Lindner’s return.
Students dedicated the 1993 yearbook to Lindner, lauding him as “one of the most active and popular teachers at Loyola.”
From 1992 through 1995, he escorted Loyola students on three summer trips to Europe. In late 1996, he boasted in letters to friends that 33 Loyola students had signed up for the 1997 European tour, making it the largest ever.
Lindner later wrote to say that “an unspecified illness” forced him to miss the 1997 trip because foreign travel was “not medically recommended.” In fact, he was barred from the trip because new allegations of sexual abuse had surfaced.
The Lynch brothers, breaking their silence after two decades, filed their suit against the Society of Jesus in April 1997.
Their lawyer, Michael D. Meadows, said he had to pressure the Jesuits to remove Lindner from the classroom. “There was still the same reflexive response of circle the wagons, protect the priest and the institution, and ignore the interests of the kids,” he said.
Lindner was relieved of his teaching duties in late May 1997 and sent back to St. Luke that September. He spent nearly nine months there, receiving medical and psychological treatment for depression and low self-esteem brought on by “the trauma of these allegations,” a Jesuit superior said in a deposition.
In May 1998, Lindner returned to the Jesuit residence at Loyola on condition that he no longer teach.
In the deposition, he said he agreed to the restriction to spare the school a controversy. “It could possibly put the school in a bad light with publicity if this went public,” he said.
Lindner continued to serve with the Boy Scouts at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, near Loyola, records show. Father Dennis P. O’Neil, then pastor of the church, said he was never told about Lindner’s past. “I never heard a thing,” said O’Neil, now auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of San Bernardino.
In October 1998, the Society of Jesus reached a confidential settlement with the Lynch brothers. Documents show that the Jesuits paid $625,000. Among the conditions was a prohibition against publicizing the allegations. “There was no admission to anything, no attempt to apologize,” Will Lynch said. “The Jesuits’ attitude was, ‘Let’s settle this out.’ The only issue was how much.”
At Christmas 1999, Lindner visited his family in Arizona. His younger sister, McEntire, said she confronted him about the pain he had inflicted on his victims, herself included.
According to McEntire, Lindner acknowledged that he “may have crossed the line” in his conduct with one niece and with one nephew. He expressed no regret and offered no apologies, she said.
Freedom to Travel
Since he stopped teaching at Loyola, Lindner has enjoyed the freedom to travel and work as a language tutor with few restrictions. He earned a master’s degree in linguistics at San Jose State and spent several months in Paris immersing himself in French culture. He moved to the Jesuit residence in Culver City last year, teaching English to seminarians from developing countries.
In the fall of 2001, Lindner began teaching English as a second language at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The director of the program, Tony Costanzo, said the Jesuits never informed him of Lindner’s background. “Had I known that, I definitely would not have hired him,” he said.
Lindner was transferred to Sacred Heart in Los Gatos this August. At least five registered sex offenders have resided at the Jesuit center in recent years, including a priest and brother who were recently convicted of sexually abusing two mentally retarded men. In September, the Jesuits agreed to a settlement that will pay the two victims $7.5 million each.
The center is within walking distance of downtown Los Gatos, an upscale village in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Last month, anonymously posted fliers bearing a photo of Lindner appeared in the shopping district. “Warning,” they said. “Pedophile in our community.
Lindner is living under a set of written restrictions laid down by the order, said Smolich, the Jesuit provincial superior. He said Lindner is barred from teaching or ministering to children and cannot say Mass or hear confession in church.
“The world has changed in the last nine months,” Smolich said. “For Jerry’s sake and the public’s sake, we can’t be too careful.”
Ex-Kansas priest found guilty of plotting death of accuser
Prospective victim was man who had accused him of sexual
abuse. He could face life in prison.
DALLAS — A former Roman Catholic priest with ties to the Kansas City area was found guilty Thursday of plotting the death of a man who accused him of sexual abuse.
The Dallas County jury returned its verdict on John M. Fiala after a few hours’ deliberation.
After the verdict, testimony began in the penalty phase. Fiala could be sentenced to up to life in prison for solicitation of capital murder.
Prosecutors alleged that Fiala tried to hire a neighbor’s brother to kill the man who accused the priest of abusing him in 2008. That’s when the man was 16 and Fiala was the priest at a rural West Texas parish.
Defense attorney Rex Gunter told the jury that Fiala had no true intentions of having his accuser killed.
Fiala testified earlier Thursday that he was told by his neighbor, Scottie Fisher, that the neighbor’s brother would likely turn on him if he wasn’t convinced that the hit was on.
“I knew that if I didn’t do this, I’d be the one on the list, marked to be killed, according to what Scottie said,” Fiala said.
But the man Fiala met with in November 2010 and instructed to kill his accuser for $5,000 was actually an undercover police officer. Their entire conversation was recorded on video and played for the jury on Wednesday.
During closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors urged jurors not to believe Fiala’s claims that his actions were motivated only by fear that his own life was in danger.
“John Fiala is not a puppet,” said prosecutor Brandon Birmingham. “He is a puppeteer.”
Fiala was arrested September 2010 in Lawrence, Kan., and extradited to Edwards County, Texas, on four counts of sex crimes against children. The indictment in Edwards County is still pending.
From August 1998 until mid-2001, Fiala served as spiritual director to the SOLT (Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) community, which maintains a religious house in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He did not have a parish assignment in the diocese.
Fiala was an associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee from Aug. 31, 2001, to January 2002. He helped at a parish in Holton, Kan., from January to April 2002, according to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
No sexual abuse charges have been filed against Fiala in Kansas or Missouri.
When Fiala was charged with plotting a murder in the fall of 2010, Catholic officials on both sides of the state line said they received no complaints about Fiala when he was in the area.
Fellow priests support Galway Redemptorist silenced over stance on sex abuse scandal
April 12, 2012 – 7:00am
Fellow members of the Association of Catholic Priests have voiced their solidarity with the Galway priest who has been silenced by the Vatican over his backing for the Taoiseach’s condemnation of the Church’s response to clerical sex abuse in Ireland.
Fr Tony Flannery, who is based in the Redemptorist Monastery in Esker, was silenced following his public support of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s attack on the Vatican’s handling child sex abuse allegations. An Taoiseach, speaking in the Dáil earlier this year, called on the Catholic Church to apologise.
Fr Flannery who was also one of the founders of the Association of Catholic Priests, visited Rome two months ago to argue his case after he was censured by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which ordered that he stop writing in the Redemptorist Order’s own magazine, Reality or on the Association’s website.
The Association has issued a statement saying how disturbed they are at their member being silenced.
“We believe that such an approach, in its individual focus on Fr Flannery and inevitably by implication on the members of the Association, is an extremely ill-advised intervention in the present pastoral context in Ireland. We affirm in the strongest possible terms our confidence in and solidarity with Fr Flannery and we wish to make clear our profound view that this intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise.
Victim Advocates Question Security Around Defrocked Jesuit Brethren
Head of Jesuit order says men are under strict supervision at center in Los Gatos.
By Sheila Sanchez January 10, 2011
The Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. One of its defrocked priests was beaten in May 2010. The alleged attacker appeared in court in December and will face a judge on Feb. 7 for a preliminary hearing in a case that will probably go to trial.
Santa Clara County prosecutors are accusing 44-year-old William Lynch of mauling Jesuit priest Jerold Lindner with his fists, said Lynch’s attorney Pat Harris. Lynch has said Lindner sodomized and raped him and his brother as young boys.
Lynch’s supporters, who include members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), plan a news conference after the hearing at the Santa Clara County Superior Court building on Hedding Street in San Jose and a march in Los Gatos, according to Harris.
The supporters are taking this opportunity to complain about the security measures at the center, which houses Lindner, 65, and five other retired priests or brethren who have faced charges of sexual abuse. They claim the men can leave the compound at any time and that the supervision plans aren’t strict enough.
The two, along with three other men, whom the order will not identify, live in the large Jesuit compound at 300 College Ave. The center includes a retirement home, an assisted-living facility and a skilled nursing infirmary. Here, 75 elderly priests live out the rest of their lives after serving in the elite order of priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Rev. John P. McGarry, the provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, said the concerns about the five men who live at the center are exaggerated.
McGarry is head supervisor at the center and leader of the 375 Jesuit priests who work in California.
He said none of the men is under investigation right now.
Connor is housed in the center’s skilled nursing facility, is confined to a wheelchair and has severe dementia, McGarry said. “He’s totally incapacitated,” he said. “Better that we take care of them there than having them be out on their own in the community.”
Lindner, said McGarry, is under a strict security plan that prevents him from leaving the center unsupervised.
“He didn’t drive himself to the hospital,” he said, referring to newspaper reports that said he had done so, which triggered victims’ protests.
He explained that nursing staff at the center attended to him, and that either one of the Jesuits in the community or one of the nurses on duty drove him to the hospital. “He wouldn’t have been able to drive … He was badly beaten up. His head was bleeding,” McGarry said.
Dan McNevin, a San Francisco SNAP volunteer, is skeptical and upset the Catholic Church hasn’t found another location to house clergy charged, accused or investigated of abuse. “Why are they living there and not in a more secure location?” said McNevin.
The deep distrust against the order, McNevin said, is caused by numerous incidents that indicate that the Jesuit hierarchy has covered up incidents to protect the order’s reputation.
“A priest who has abused should be behind bars and not living in a retreat center,” said McNevin.
McGarry has an answer to that. “If I had any concern that the men living here, who have allegations against them and who are on safety plans, were a risk to the larger community or a risk for reoffending, I would not have them living here,” he said.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office handled the Lynch incident in May because of jurisdiction issues regarding where the center is located. If something were to happen in the center’s parking lot, however, the Los Gatos Monte Sereno police department would step in, said police spokesman Sgt. Kerry Harris. But he said the center has never given the town any problems.
“We’ve never had any issues with them,” Harris said.
For those looking for assurances, McGarry points to the fact that the center has been accredited by the Austin-based Praesidium risk management group, which has established criteria regarding the prevention of and response to sexual abuse of minors by Jesuit authorities. He added that Praesidium had renewed the center’s certification in July 2010.
The five men who live at the center have served at one time or another in Jesuit schools such as Bellarmine College Preparatory, Sacred Heart Nativity School and Most Holy Trinity Parish in San Jose and Santa Clara University in Santa Clara.
McGarry said the order’s policy continues to be to turn over to criminal and civil authorities allegations of priestly misconduct with minors. The province provides pastoral care and counseling to any person that comes forward and makes an allegation of sexual abuse, he said. He said he’s met often with people who have made allegations.
Joey Piscitelli, Northern California director for the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests, isn’t buying it. “They have aided, abetted, shuffled, protected and promoted known child rapists for decades, and that’s criminal behavior,” he said.
Piscitelli, who says he was molested by a Salesian priest, won a $5 million settlement award against the order after a jury trial in 2006.
Piscitelli has protested outside the center several times, along with John Chevedden, whose brother, Jesuit priest James Chevedden, killed himself when he jumped from the sixth floor of the Santa Clara County Courthouse’s parking garage in 2005.
Chevedden accused the Jesuits of negligence in his brother’s death and in 2007 and settled with the order for $1.6 million.
He said the Lynch case is another example of how victims of abuse suffer for a long time. “It’s disturbing to see how long-lasting and traumatic the abuse is to the victims … that after 35 years it still has a strong impact,” Chevedden said.
What I also found interesting was one of the comments posted under this article:
Fr. Thomas Smolich, promoted to be the # 1 Jesuit in the USA, said a Jesuit priest and resident at the Los Gatos Center, Fr. James Chevedden committed suicide. The Jesuit Order even issued a news release claiming Fr. Chevedden’s suspicious death was a suicide. Fr. Smolich also told Fr. Chevedden’s family that the Jesuit Order would keep Fr. Chevedden’s body.
Fr. Chevedden had earlier reported to Fr. Smolich that he was the victim of Jesuit sex abuse at Los Gatos by a Jesuit Religious Brother, Br. Charles Connor. Br. Connor and Fr. Jerold Lindner were friends. Lindner helped Br. Connor with computers and both sat at the same small meal table.
Ironically or worse, the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive was Fr. Lindner, with $2 million paid out in sex abuse settlements. The Jesuit Order did not tell the police that Fr. Lindner was the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive. Fr. Lindner was scheduled to testify about his being the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Fr. Chevedden’s Dad. The Jesuit Order paid $1.6 million to settle the lawsuit. Thus Fr. Lindner avoided explaining his being last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive.
Man abused by priest found dead in Ohio home
April 7, 2012 12:00 am
/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The plaintiff in a landmark priest-abuse lawsuit against the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese has been found dead at his Ohio home at age 44.
Attorney Richard Serbin told the Altoona Mirror that his former client, Michael Hutchison, was found dead in Akron on Wednesday.
Gary Gunther, chief investigator for the Summit County medical examiner’s office, said the cause and manner of death is pending toxicology results, which will take at least three weeks.
“There are no signs of foul play,” Mr. Gunther said. “It’s probably going to be either a natural or an accident. There is no indication of suicide — there was no suicide note and no one we spoke with mentioned him being suicidal.”
Mr. Hutchison’s mother, Mary, sued the diocese in 1987 alleging church officials covered up the abuse of her son by a since-defrocked priest, Francis Luddy, who was also a family friend.
A Blair County jury awarded Mr. Hutchison more than $1 million after a 1994 trial, but that ballooned to $2.7 million by 2008 including interest and delayed damages due to numerous appeals.
Mr. Hutchison spoke out against abuse, and Mr. Serbin said Mr. Hutchison “suffered from age 10 on.”
A Catholic’s Easter lament: Dogmatic, tone-deaf bishops
By JOEL CONNELLY, SEATTLEPI.COM
Published 04:00 p.m., Saturday, April 7, 2012
A painful truism of this Holy Week, Christianity’s most important days of the year: Moral leadership in America’s Catholic Church is starting to flow from lay persons in pews and priests who deal with human problems, not prelates on thrones wearing white, red and purple hats.
Just look around to events from Rome to Berlin, and from Worcester, Mass., to Seattle.
In the Archdiocese of Seattle, our bishops issued a letter saying parishes will become signature-gathering centers for Referendum 74, a ballot measure designed to roll back same-sex marriage. But the state’s marriage equality law was sponsored by a Catholic state senator and signed into law by a Catholic governor.
Archbishop Sartain and Bishop Elizondo talk about treating all persons with “respect, sensitivity and love,” but then urge support for a campaign put together by the National Organization for Marriage — an outfit that wants to “drive a wedge” between blacks and gays, “sideswipe” President Obama and make opposition to marriage equality “an identity marker” for young Latinos.
A Q-and-A, just put out by the Washington State Catholic Conference, tells the faithful: “The Catechism of the Catholic Church does teach that homosexual ACTS are intrinsically disordered, not persons.”
A question to Archbishop Sartain, who does not seem to want to take questions: How do I, as a layperson, treat my friends who are gay and lesbian?
When with a telltale, sheepish grin a friend says he/she is seriously in love, my standard refrain is along the lines, “Why you lucky dog! Have you kids set a date?” Friends take pleasure in other friends’ happiness.
What’s, then, the approved party line for gay friends in love? a) Sorry, the church says what you are doing is “disordered,” or b) I love you as a sinner but I hate your sins, or c) My bishops have written: “For all unmarried persons, chastity means that they refrain from sexual relations.”
Do purple skullcaps dull the mind? The Jesus of the Gospels preaches human decency, not dogma. Life experience teaches us that the essence of marriage is the same whether people are straight or gay. Two people affirm their love and make a commitment to each other. Lots of gay and lesbian couples are raising children: Should they be denied the right to raise those children as legally married couples?
Catholic governors in Washington, Maryland, New York and California have not submitted to church dogma, or the hierarchy’s convoluted reasoning. And a vast majority of young people — including Catholic young people — want the happiness of friends whatever their age or race or sexual preference.
The hierarchy is tone deaf in many ways and places, be it in heavy-handed attacks on contraception coverage in health insurance or cruel treatment of Catholics who are not docile and do not submit to discipline.
A small Catholic college in Massachusetts was forced during Holy Week to rescind its invitation to Vicki Kennedy, widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy, to be this year’s graduation speaker. She was to speak as co-founder and president of the group Common Sense About Kids and Guns.
The order came from Worcester Bishop Robert McManus, whose spokesman told National Catholic Reporter that McManus acted because of Kennedy’s “positions on pro-choice versus pro-life and the sanctity of marriage.”
What a cruel, vindictive action, and what a reflection on the kind of men running the church.
“I am a lifelong Catholic and my faith is very important to me,” Kennedy said. “I am not a public official. I hold no public office, nor am I a candidate for public office. I have not met Bishop McManus nor has he been willing to meet with me to discuss his objections. He has not consulted with my pastor to learn more about me or my faith.”
The bishops don’t learn. They may think of themselves a shepherds, but America’s Catholics are not sheep. They may not consult people in the pews — or meet with those, like Kennedy, that they are judging — but laypersons (and many priests) are consulting their consciences.
A key lesson: Moral authority is earned. It is not simply acquired when a bishop/cardinal/Pope is installed. The American (and Irish, and Dutch, and Belgian , etc.) hierarchy has forfeited a lot of that authority through its handling of the priest sex-abuse scandal.
The despair is mitigated by the good works and wise words from those in the pews.
As Pope Benedict XVI used a Holy Thursday sermon to tell priests to obey orders, Medina, Wash., lay Catholic Melinda Gates was speaking from conscience about contraception at a conference in Berlin.
Contraceptives are not a code for abortion, she said, nor an invitation to promiscuous sex. “We are talking about giving women the power to save their own lives and their children’s lives — and to give their families the best possible future,” said Gates, talking of the need for birth control in the developing world.
Gates discussed the instruction in faith she received from sisters in a Catholic high school: “In the tradition of great Catholic scholars, the nuns also taught us to question received teachings. One of the teachings most of my classmates and I questioned was the one saying birth control was a sin.”
She didn’t question lessons on service, and giving back, and social justice, worthy grounding for the future co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The bishops will just have to deal with conscience-driven Catholics. In fact, they could listen and learn.
Griffin: An amazing journey of forgiveness
Michael Mack is a man of many credits as a writer and theatrical performer. Now age 55, he has also accomplished two things in the spiritual realm that rank as unique in my experience.
First, despite suffering sexual abuse as a boy at the hands of a Catholic priest, he is now an active member of the church and values its spirituality. All the other victims of clergy abuse I have known have distanced themselves from this faith community, most with continuing and understandable anger.
Michael’s second achievement strikes me as even more remarkable. He has forgiven the priest who violated him.
In a long interview with Michael, I found his account of both events fascinating. The violation took place when he was 11 years old, the forgiveness when he had reached middle age.
Incidentally, the reason for our being in touch was a scheduled performance of Michael’s one-person play “Conversations with My Molester – a Journey of Faith.” It was to be staged at the playwright’s parish, St.Paul’s in Cambridge.
Just before sending this column off, I actually saw the play along with an unexpectedly large audience. We found it spellbinding. Adding to the meaning of the occasion, an official of the Archdiocese of Boston responsible for overseeing child protection, Barbara Thorp, was present and took part in the discussion at the end.
The sexual violation of the boy Michael took place in Brevard, North Carolina, a small town in the western part of the state. Because their mother was ill, he and his siblings spent a year living with their aunt and her family there, rather than back home in Washington D.C.
The boy loved his parish church in North Carolina and envisioned himself becoming a priest someday. He soon became close to the pastor, the person who took Michael to his first basketball game, and acted toward him like a “surrogate dad.”
One day, the boy wandered into the church basement and sat down to play the piano. Then the priest appeared and invited Michael to come to the rectory. Once in this house, the priest brought the boy into a room, closed the door, and took advantage of the child’s innocence.
Days later, the priest left the parish and Michael, too, moved from Brevard soon afterward. “I left that day confused,” he recalls. “I felt that something big had just happened — something not right.”
Later, as a teenager, he was to experience something much worse, what he calls “self-loathing.”
As to the priest who assaulted him sexually, Michael lost complete contact with him for decades. But when he moved to Boston some 10 years ago, Michael made an astounding discovery.
The priest was also living in Massachusetts, not too far away in the orbit of Worcester. Though not defrocked, he was no long performing priestly ministry.
Michael’s repeated efforts to reach the priest were ultimately connected with a spiritual change in Michael’s heart. He had been moved to forgive the priest for what he had done.
As I listened to Michael’s story, I felt moved by his sincerity and his spiritual courage. He had managed to offer forgiveness to someone who, behind the full force of priestly status, had done him terrible harm.
Michael tells of going to the priest’s funeral. It was his first time in many years back in a Catholic church. There the man who had violated him and others was extolled as a good priest. Despite his forgiveness, Michael found it bizarre to hear his molester praised.
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.