Clerical immunity must end - US lawyer


THE “ERA of clerical immunity” has to end in Ireland, the Humbert School was told at the weekend.

US lawyer and former Benedictine monk Patrick Wall acknowledged the special position of the Catholic Church had been removed from the Irish Constitution in 1973, but “it has not been removed from the soul of Ireland”.

A lawyer based in California with Manly Stewart, which has handled many hundreds of abuse cases on behalf of victims, he said clergy, including bishops, who hid details of clerical sexual abuse of children “should do jail time”.

Those who did so prior to 1997 should be prosecuted under the then misprision of felony legislation, which made it a crime to withhold details of a crime. “The protection of children is the most profound civil rights issue in the 21st century. Children are not chattels,” he said. He recommended throwing out all church procedures on safeguarding children and replacing them with three words – “Call the Garda”.

All documentation about abuse should be secured from religious authorities, he said, as “the past is prologue. If we are to learn from the crimes against children, public access to all church records on predator priests is necessary.”

He advised: “Follow the money. It’s what they care about the most.” Priests and religious “have left a permanent scar on the soul of Ireland at incredible cost. Seek reparations. The pope has to pay. He took your money through the past few centuries,” he said.

The Irish Government should take legal action against the Holy See in an international court, possibly the International Criminal Court, he suggested, with notice served on the papal nuncio in Dublin. “Follow the money. It will lead to the whole story,” he said.