Bishop apologises to priest's abuse victims

 

The Acting Bishop of Ferns, Dr Eamonn Walsh, yesterday apologised to the sex abuse victims of the late Father Jim Grennan in Monageer, Co Wexford, and also acknowledged the hurt of the people who stood by the priest believing he had done no wrong.

Father Grennan was accused in 1988 of sexually assaulting 10 young girls preparing for confirmation. The case was investigated by the Garda and by the South Eastern Health Board which validated the allegations of abuse.

No charges were brought against Father Grennan and the Garda file on the case later went missing. Father Grennan died in 1994, leaving a parish divided between those who believed the victims and those who didn't.

In a few cases the victims' parents did not believe their children's claims.

Yesterday Bishop Walsh, who was appointed apostolic administrator of Ferns following Bishop Comiskey's resignation, celebrated Mass in Monageer church.

In a carefully worded homily he said people had suffered greatly for doing what they believed was right. "In some cases it caused division amongst families, division between neighbours and a split in the parish and wider community.

"Young children, now young adults, and their families spoke up when it would have been easier to keep quiet and let things carry on. They did the right thing and not without considerable cost to themselves. You will never know how many people have been helped by your witness. I wish to publicly acknowledge your hurt which was compounded by the way the case was handled," he said.

Bishop Walsh said some people in Monageer had suffered greatly because they stood by their priest with a good conscience. Some still felt this hurt. "All of this resulted in good people trying to do what they believed to be right, ending up on different sides and suffering for their courage, sincerity and goodness."

Bishop Walsh said the diocese had contributed to the pain of Monageer parish instead of easing it.

"I apologise to anyone who was ever abused by Father Grennan. I realise it is late in the day for apologies. I will continue to co-operate fully with all who are committed to bringing healing and closure for those who have been hurt in any way," he said.