How the story of abuse emerged

How the story of abuse in Catholic Church institutions emerged

How the story of abuse in Catholic Church institutions emerged

Ireland Timeline

1987– Insurance taken out by dioceses around the country to cover them against allegations of clerical child sex abuse.

1987– The Irish state publishes its first set of guidelines on child abuse.

1988– Desmond Connell appointed Archbishop of Dublin.

1990– Irish Catholic Church establishes internal committee (chaired by Bishop of Ossory Laurence Forristal) to assess legal implications for Irish priests of child abuse revelations in the future. No Irish case has yet been made public.

June 1994– The scandal breaks – Fr Brendan Smith is sentenced to 4 years in prison for abuse of children in Northern Ireland.

October 1994– Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference refuses to comment on reports that two Kerry priests were removed from their duties on foot of allegations of child sexual abuse.

November 1994– Government falls over divisions between coalition partners Fianna Fail and Labour over Attorney General's handling of extradition requests for Fr Brendan Smith to Northern Ireland.

April 1995– Andrew Madden is the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public. The Irish Pressreports that he has received a compensation payment in respect of his abuse as a child.

May 1995– Archbishop Desmond Connell announces that the archdiocese has never paid compensation to any victim of clerical child abuse. He later explains that the money used to compensate Andrew Madden was a "loan" from the archdiocese to Ivan Payne.

June 1995– a Dublin priest receives 12-month sentence for child sex abuse; Belfast priest Daniel Curran sentenced to seven years for child sex abuse. A number of other priests charged with abuse during following months.

September– RTÉ Prime Timeprogramme names Ivan Payne as abuser of Andrew Madden. Archbishop Connell threatens to sue over suggestions that he facilitated the compensation payment to Andrew. No case is ever taken.

October 1995The Irish Timesreports that another Dublin priest paid £50,000 compensation to a man he abused as a child.

November 1995– Bishops issue fullest apology to date.

November 1995– Wexford priest Fr Sean Fortune charged with child sex abuse.

January 1996– Bishops publish new guidelines on child sex abuse cases – The Framework Document,otherwise known as 'the green book'.

June 1997– A Dublin priest received an 18-month jail sentence for sexually abusing a young girl during the 1970s.

July 1997– Fr Brendan Smyth jailed in Dublin for 12 years for abusing children south of the border.

February 1998– Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announces that mandatory reporting of child sex abuse will be introduced within lifetime of current government. (To date, this has still not happened.)

June 1998– Irish priest Fr Patrick Maguire (Columban) jailed in London for child abuse (18 months).

June 1998– Fr Ivan Payne jailed for sexual abuse of eight young boys. His two-year sentence is criticised for being too light.

July 1998– Fr Gus Griffin (Holy Ghost Fathers) sentenced to seven years for abusing young boys.

July 1998– Fr Thomas Naughton sentenced to three years for abusing four young altar boys.

March 1999– Fr Sean Fortune commits suicide on the eve of his trial on multiple charges of child abuse.

June 1999– Pope John Paul II rejects any linkage between child sexual abuse and priestly celibacy.

September 2001
– retired judge Gillian Hussey appointed by hierarchy to chair Church's Child Protection Committee. Audit of all dioceses announced.

March 2002– BBC television broadcasts Suing the Popeon the abuse of boys in the Ferns diocese by Fr Sean Fortune.

April 2002– Bishop of Ferns Brendan Comiskey resigns in response to evidence that he covered up child sex abuse in his diocese.

April 2002– Government announces establishment of independent inquiry into child abuse in the Ferns diocese.

June 2002
– Maynooth trustees announce inquiry into allegations of improper behaviour by its former vice-president, Monsignor Micheál Ledwith.

October 2002– RTÉ's Prime Timebroadcasts Cardinal Secretson the handling by a number of bishops of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the archdiocese of Dublin.

November 2002– Government pledges to establish full independent judicial inquiry into Dublin archdiocese's handling of abuse allegations.

December 2002– Hierarchy disbands its own national audit committee.

January 2003– Mervyn Rundle, abused by Fr Thomas Naughton, receives one of largest settlements to date, reported to be over €300,000.

May 2003– Diarmuid Martin named as successor to Desmond Connell as Archbishop of Dublin.

April 2004– Cardinal Desmond Connell steps down as Archbishop of Dublin.


October 2005– Ferns Report is published, detailing extensive child abuse and cover-up.

November 2005– Judge Yvonne Murphy appointed to head up Commission of Investigation into the Dublin archdiocese.

January 2008– Cardinal Connell seeks to refuse access by the Commission of Investigation to over 5,000 documents which he claims are confidential. He eventually drops his challenge.

March 2009– Bishop Magee of Cloyne steps aside from his duties after it is revealed he did not follow proper child protection guidelines. Government extends remit of Dublin Commission of Investigation to examine the diocese of Cloyne.

May 2009– publication of Ryan Report on widespread abuse of children in Ireland's institution.

International Timeline

1984– The first case of clerical child sex abuse to go public – Fr Gilbert Gauthé in Louisiana , USA, is revealed as a serial paedophile.

1985– Fr Tom Doyle, a US canon law expert, warns of dire consequences if scandal is not dealt with openly and effectively. He is ignored and removed from his position in the Vatican embassy in Washington.

1993– Pope writes to US bishops – "I share your sadness and disappointment" – but points out that the child sex abuse problem concerns only a small group of priests. His spokesman, Dr Navarro-Valls, sums up the Vatican attitude: "One would have to ask if the real culprit is not a society that is irresponsibly permissive, hyperinflated with sexuality and capable of creating circumstances that induce even people who have received a sound moral formation to commit grave immoral acts."

1993– Canadian bishop Hubert O'Connor resigns after being convicted of molesting teenagers at a boarding school.

1995– Austrian Cardinal Hans Herman Groer resigns as head of the Austrian Catholic Church amidst allegations that he sexually abused boys. He remains on as Archbishop of Vienna.

1995– Two German Catholic bishops investigated for covering up clerical child abuse

1997– Australian bishop Ronald Mulkearns resigns after failing to act against a priest later convicted of child abuse.

1997– Catholic diocese of Dallas, Texas, ordered to pay $118 million to victims of Fr Rudy Kos. It is the largest ever child sex abuse settlement. The diocese was held to have covered up Kos's abuse.

2000– UK Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor rejects calls for his resignation over his handling of Fr Michael Hill, who received a five-year jail sentence for child sex abuse.

2001– French bishop Pierre Pican on trial for failure to report his knowledge of sex abuse crimes by a priest against children. He receives a three-month suspended sentence.

2001– Reports made to Vatican of widespread sexual abuse of nuns by priests throughout Africa. No response from Vatican.

2001- Archbishop of Cardiff, Dr John Aloysius Ward, resigns in midst of controversy over his handling of paedophile priests.

January-February 2002– Clerical child sexual abuse scandal explodes in US with release of thousands of documents implicating Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston in a major cover-up.

March 2002- Archbishop Juliusz Paetz resigns over allegations of improper behaviour with trainee priests.

April 2002– US cardinals summoned to Rome by Pope as their child sex abuse crisis spreads nationwide.

June 2002– Third US bishop resigns over abuse allegations. Bishop of Lexington Kentucky Kendrick Williams joins Bishops Anthony O'Connell (an Irishman) and Bishop Rembert Weakland, both forced to resign earlier in 2002.

October 2002- Archbishop Edgardo Storni of Argentina resigns amidst allegations that he sexually abused seminarians.

December 2002– Boston Cardinal Bernard Law resigns over evidence of cover-up.

June 2003– ex-Governor of Oklahoma Frank Keating resigns as head of US Catholic Church sex abuse oversight panel after comparing some bishops to the mafia.

February 2004– report finds 10,600 children abused by US priests since 1950.

July 2004– Diocese of Portland is first in world to sue for bankruptcy in the face of compensation claims from clerical child abuse victims.

April 2005– Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger becomes new Pope (Benedict XVI), following the death of John Paul II

July 2008
– Pope apologises for clerical child sex abuse scandal in Australia.

September 2009– Canadian bishop Raymond Lahey resigns after his arrest for distributing and selling child pornography.