Bishop apologises over Cloyne


Bishop John Magee has said he “unreservedly” apologises to victims of child sexual abuse in his former diocese of Cloyne and he said he would be willing to meet them and their families privately if they so wished.

In a statement issued through a public relations company, the retired bishop referred to his earlier comments on the day the Cloyne report was published, in which he accepted “full responsibility for the failure of the Diocese to effectively manage allegations on child sexual abuse”.

The Cloyne report published last month found Bishop Magee misled the minister for children by claiming the church’s guidelines for handling abuse cases were being fully complied with. It also found he falsely told the Health Service Executive allegations of abuse were being reported to the Garda.

“I also apologised to victims of abuse in this statement and I unreservedly apologise to these victims again today. I publicly apologised to victims of abuse in the Diocese, in Cobh Cathedral, on Christmas Eve 2008,” the bishop said.

Quoting from his July statement, he said: “Given my position of responsibility, I am particularly saddened when I read the accounts of the complainants describing the effects of the abuse, knowing that I contributed to their distress.”

Bishop Magee said he had met some of the complainants personally and heard their stories.

“The people, who were so terribly abused by priests, found the courage to come forward to talk to me, or to my delegate, Msgr [Denis] O’Callaghan who was representing me, and in many cases, we failed them.

“I am sorry that this happened and I unreservedly apologise to all those who suffered additional hurt because of the flawed implementation of the Church procedures, for which I take full responsibility.”

He said he wished to stress this particular part of the July statement again today.

“I also want to say that I feel there is nothing I can say now, which will ease the pain and distress for victims.

“I fully understand why they are angry - I let them down, by not fully implementing the guidelines which were available to me.

“I deeply, deeply regret not ensuring that the guidelines, which were my responsibility to implement, were not complied with and I ask for forgiveness for the way in which I have carried out this critically important aspect of my work.”

Bishop Magee said he would be “very willing” to meet with victims and their families privately, if they so wish and if they felt this could help in any way.

This could be arranged through the diocesan office.