Archbishop tells of 'profound sorrow'

 

CHURCH REACTION:THE APOSTOLIC administrator of Cloyne, Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel, has again extended sympathy to abuse victims.

He said it was deeply regrettable that the procedures for handling such cases, as outlined in the framework document of 1996, were not carried out. As a result, further hurt and distress were caused to complainants, and they were also denied the justice they deserved.

“On behalf of the diocese of Cloyne, and on my own behalf, may I express my profound sorrow and once again extend by sincere sympathy to those who have been abused and to their families,’’ Dr Clifford added.

He said he fully accepted the commission’s finding that the analysis of how the Fr Ronat case was handled illustrated the failure to deal properly with child sexual abuse allegations up to 2008.

The priest concerned, he added, was suspended from all ministry in the diocese in November 2005 and had not been allowed to minister to the public since.

Dr Clifford said priests were in a position of special trust and responsibility, particularly where young people were concerned. “To betray that trust by engaging in the heinous crime of child sexual abuse is appalling,’’ he added.

He assured the public, and the people of the diocese of Cloyne, that all the child safeguarding procedures set out by the National Board for Safeguarding Children were being implemented fully.

One in Four, representing abuse victims, said the publication of the full chapter had detailed the many failures of the diocesan and civil authorities to protect children and to vindicate the rights of the people who were so grievously harmed by sexual abuse.

Instead, it added, Fr Ronat was protected and supported over many years, allowed to retain his good name and clerical status while continuing to pose a risk to children.

Executive director Maeve Lewis said the Catholic Church’s failures had now been well documented and, while there was no reason to become complacent, the recent audits of current practice in dioceses gave some cause for hope.

It was perhaps time, she added, to admit that the criminal justice system was not fit for purpose in regard to sexual crimes, as it consistently failed victims.

“While the right to a fair trial must remain a cornerstone of Irish law, the low reporting rates, high attrition rates and the retraumatisation of the very small number of victims whose cases go to trial have to be addressed,’’ she said.

Chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop questioned whether the victims of clerical sex abuse in the diocese needed the report in Christmas week.

It was “insensitive, to put it at its mildest’’ to publish it this week, she said.