Mixed reaction from Cloyne victims to meeting proposal

Wed, Dec 21, 2011, 00:00

THOSE WHO made complaints of sexual abuse against a Cloyne priest yesterday expressed mixed views on a suggestion by Archbishop Dermot Clifford that they might be given the opportunity to meet Bishop John Magee and Msgr Denis O’Callaghan.

Archbishop Clifford suggested it would be possible for those who had made complaints against a priest given the pseudonym “Fr Ronat” to meet Bishop Magee and Msgr O’Callaghan as part of a counselling programme due to start in Cloyne next year.

The Commission of Investigation into the Diocese of Cloyne was highly critical of failings by both Bishop Magee, who resigned as bishop of Cloyne last year, and Msgr O’Callaghan to properly investigate and report complaints.

Archbishop Clifford, the apostolic administrator of Cloyne, said the diocese planned to establish a special healing programme for victims early next year.

As part of the programme, abuse survivors would be able to meet Bishop Magee and Msgr O’Callaghan. He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that similar programmes established in the US had had positive outcomes.

Yesterday, the father of one complainant, “Ailis”, said he would welcome the opportunity to meet Bishop Magee and Msgr O’Callaghan. “I would welcome the opportunity to discuss how they handled our case and give them a chance to explain why they did what they did, and then I would like the chance to tell them directly what I think of what they did, and what I think of them.”

He said: “I expect we will get the usual pious platitudes because they still have this same mindset – what really angers me is the fact that once it became known among the clergy that my daughter had made a complaint, not one of them offered us support – they just blanked us.”

Another woman, “Donelle”, said she had very mixed feelings about the proposal. “Half of me wants nothing to do with them. I don’t even want to breathe the same air as them, but then part of me wants to just tell them what I think of them and their whole handling of the case, and I think that might be of benefit of me – to actually voice my anger at them.

“Part of me wants to confront them and tell them what I really feel – I read chapter nine again last night and what really freaks me out about them is that there is no sense of shock or horror or disgust on their part when they heard what Fr Ronat was doing.

“There was this sort of matter-of-fact acceptance – any normal person would have been outraged to learn that a priest was abusing children, but they just seemed to take it all in their stride – there was no sense of outrage that this was unacceptable, and that angers me still.” Another woman, “Keita”, said she did not see any point in meeting Bishop Magee or Msgr O’Callaghan as she never made any complaint to them, so strictly speaking they had not failed to deal with her case.