Ten abuse allegations made against six Glenstal monks

Four no longer there, one falsely accused, one under supervision, one dead, watchdog says

In general the Benedictine Community in Glenstal Abbey has managed the concerns that have arisen well, the review found. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

In general the Benedictine Community in Glenstal Abbey has managed the concerns that have arisen well, the review found. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

 

Ten allegations of child abuse have been made against six Benedictine monks at Glenstal Abbey in Co Limerick since January 1st, 1975.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) review said that the Benedictine community at Glenstal Abbey “is made up of 27 priests, 10 professed brothers (all of whom have taken solemn vows), and one brother who has taken temporary vows. All of these men irrespective of age or status are referred to as ‘monks’.”

It noted that of the six accused monks “two are deceased”, one of whom had admitted the abuse and was sent for treatment. He was removed from monastic life/the clerical state by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 2007. The allegation against the second monk was received long after his death and its veracity could not be established.

Of the remaining four accused monks, two had left the Benedictines and Glenstal. One eventually admitted abusing a student at the school there 14 years previously. He too had been removed from monastic life/the clerical state by the CDF.

In his case the Abbot had informed the Garda and HSE “in timely fashion” but “there was a delay in the Abbot informing the Board of Management of the Glenstal Abbey School of the allegation received about the monk who had been a member of staff of the school.”

It was alleged the second of these two monks, who has also left Glenstal, “abused an adolescent boy during a work trip abroad”. He has been since granted leave from his vows by Rome and his whereabouts are not known. He is not in Ireland.

The remaining two cases involved monks still at Glenstal. The NBSC review found that “in the case of one of these, the allegations made by a third party have been found to have no basis in fact and appear to have been completely malicious. No complainant has been identified”.

The review continued “it has been an event of great consequence for this monk to have been the victim of a malicious allegation and the reviewers believe that he has suffered a grave injustice as a result of the actions of the third party reporter”.

It said “the sixth monk about whom child safeguarding concerns arose is retired. The matters complained of happened in another jurisdiction almost 45 years ago and have been fully investigated by the civil authorities there and full information has been shared with the An Garda Síochána and HSE in Ireland.” He “is subject to a supervision contract which restricts his movements and activities,” the review found.

In all instances appropriate outreach was made to those making the allegations where that was possible and relevant.

“In general”, the review said, “the Benedictine Community in Glenstal Abbey has managed the concerns that have arisen well and there is no evidence that any child was placed at risk due to any inaction on the part of the various abbots involved”.

It pointed out that the Benedictines had given “particular attention to making their Glenstal Abbey School a safe place for the children and young people.” It described the Safeguarding Team at Glenstal Abbey, comprised of the abbot, the prior, the school headmaster and the designated person, as “an active and effective group that had responsibility for developing and publishing the excellent Glenstal Abbey Safeguarding Children Policies & Procedures 2013 document.”