Chapter 20 of Murphy report distils horror of world that had lost its moral compass
Analysis: amoral institutions protected before the welfare of children
In 1988 Dublin’s Catholic bishops, and Archbishop-elect Desmond Connell, decided to unleash known paedophile Patrick McCabe on an unsuspecting California. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
You could say that chapter 20 is a 62-page distillation of all the horrors revealed in the Murphy report, in general.
It illustrates vividly a world which had lost its moral compass but not least where the welfare of children was concerned.
The appalling carelessness of three Catholic archbishops and their senior church colleagues when it came to children is equalled only by the pathetic obsequiousness of some senior gardaí determined, seemingly, to remain “in” with their would-be clerical betters. That mindset of another day.
Not of a distant time
However this was not in some distant time when illiteracy and poverty ruled the majority on our island. We are talking of a quarter of a century ago.
As chapter 20 puts it: “The bishops decided to let him [Patrick McCabe] go to the USA. They, in effect, set him loose on the unsuspecting population of Stockton, California. There is no record that they notified the bishop of Stockton of his arrival.”
Indeed, when the diocese of Sacramento there discovered that McCabe was back in their bailiwick once again, it never occurred to them that this was with Dublin’s full knowledge and full consent.
In their naivete they “assumed, wrongly of course, that the Dublin archdiocese might not have been aware of his presence in Stockton”, as chapter 20 put it.
They decided to help by informing Stockton of the child predator in their midst.
As for Archbishop Dermot Ryan, chapter 20 says he “protected Fr McCabe to an extraordinary extent; he ensured, as far as he could, that very few people knew about his activities; it seems that the welfare of children simply did not play any part in his decisions.”
Not just that, but when, in 1981, McCabe was sent away for treatment, the archdiocese told people he was being treated for throat cancer and sought their prayers. When he was again away for treatment in 1982, they told people he was studying in the US. What is truth? What is the stars, Jockser?
Then, when McCabe returned to Ireland in 1986, on Archbishop McNamara’s watch, he wandered unhindered where he would abuse and, inevitably did abuse again.
Then there are the gardaí, who had no record of McCabe’s interview following that 1986 incident and whose files on it went “missing”.
There’s the Garda sergeant friend who accompanied McCabe to the station on that occasion and the truly extraordinary Chief Supt Joe McGovern, in one of whose houses McCabe was staying at the time and to whom McCabe made “certain admissions.”
These the chief super decided were for the parish priest’s ears only.
There is all that subsequent “shocking . . . connivance”, as chapter 20 puts it and explains which meant, simply, that a serial paedophile was allowed to evade justice because he was a priest.
Were this fiction, with its hint of Gubu and stereotypes, it would be laughed at. It is not.
It is our recent disgusting history where the welfare of amoral institutions was put before the innocence of children.