3rd report on clerical sex abuse published

After the Ryan Report and the Murphy Report,both published in 2009, this afternoon has seen the publication of a third report into the handling of clerical sex abuse in Ireland.

This latest one has looked at the Cloyne Diocese in Co Cork. The BBC has reported that:

“The Commission of Investigation into the Diocese of Cloyne investigated how allegations against 19 priests were dealt with between 1996 and 2009. The report said between 1995 and 2005 there were 15 complaints against clergy in the diocese which very clearly should have been 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.”

The report is also critical of the Vatican as the Catholic Herald explains:

“The commission accuses the Vatican of being ‘entirely unhelpful’ to bishops who wanted to fully implement the agreed guidelines. In particular, the report referred to a letter from the apostolic nuncio to Ireland a year after the 1996 guidelines were introduced in which he informed bishops that the Holy See was refusing to grant the document Vatican approval. The Congregation for Clergy, the letter noted, insisted that the guidelines were not in conformity with canon law.”

In his booklet The Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis by Dr Pravin Thevathasan, this letter is explained thus:

“In 1997, Archbishop Luciano Storeo, then Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, wrote a letter which summarised the concerns of the Congregation for the Clergy in the Vatican with regard to proposed Irish norms for dealing with the sex abuse crisis. There were specific concerns that some of these proposals might be contrary to canon law and would have led either to innocent priests being wrongly convicted or to guilty priests escaping punishment because the law was not followed.
The letter was not an ultimatum. It was an advisory statement cautioning the Irish bishops to follow canon law. The Irish norms would have included reporting a priest to the police if he was ‘suspected’ of sexual abuse.

The Vatican was concerned that there were no means in the proposal of distinguishing between suspicions that are credible from those that are not. The Irish proposal further stated that where the suspicion results from the complaint of an adult of abuse during his or her childhood, this should also be reported to the civil authorities. But what if the adult wished to speak to his bishop in confidence and did not want any police intervention?

It ended with a statement that undertakings of absolute confidentiality should not be given. The proposal and the Vatican response were presented by the media as proof that the Vatican wanted to cover up cases of sexual abuse. However, nowhere in the Nuncio’s letter is there any suggestion that bishops should protect predator priests. What is stated is that canon law must be followed precisely in order to ensure that a guilty priest is brought to justice.”

We will have to see how the debate continues over the next few days and see if the accusations against the Vatican stand up to closer scrutiny.

The Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis is available from the CTS priced £2.50


Of related interest:

Norms Concerning the Most Serious Crimes – The Norms of Canon Law dealing with crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy have been published here in a comprehensive and updated form, in a document.
Safeguarding with Confidence – The Cumberlege Commission believes that much progress has been made since Lord Nolan reported, and that the Church is now a safer place; however, it states that there remains room for improvement, and this report makes a number of recommendations
Priesthood Today – Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue takes the opportunity of this ‘Year for Priests’ to re-examine the role of the priesthood today.


Of related interest:

Do839 Norms Concerning the Most Serious Crimes – The Norms of Canon Law dealing with crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy have been published here in a comprehensive and updated form, in a document.
DO768 Safeguarding with Confidence – The Cumberlege Commission believes that much progress has been made since Lord Nolan reported, and that the Church is now a safer place; however, it states that there remains room for improvement, and this report makes a number of recommendations
DO821 Priesthood Today – Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue takes the opportunity of this ‘Year for Priests’ to re-examine the role of the priesthood today.

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