Magee criticised over Cloyne


Former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee has been accused of not taking responsibility for the sexual abuse that occurred in the diocese during his tenure as bishop.

Victims support group One in Four said Dr Magee did not understand the gravity of his failure to protect children and investigate paedophile priests in the Cork diocese.

“It’s as if Bishop Magee is a victim of a type of distorted thinking which is just as harmful to child protection as more active sex offending,” One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis said.

Dr Magee yesterday issued a statement apologising “unreservedly” to victims of clerical abuse and said he would be willing to meet them and their families privately. His comments came almost six weeks after the publication of the Cloyne Report.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms Lewis said Dr Magee still had many questions to answer but that further attempts to question him could be seen as a witch-hunt.

“It is very clear from what the bishop had to say yesterday evening that he doesn’t really understand the dynamics of abuse, the abuse of power that’s involved and the enormous impact that sexual abuse in childhood has on a person’s life,” she said.

“I don’t think he understands the gravity of his failures in the diocese and that comes through in the interview…Asking now to be left in peace and so on - there is no peace for those victims, and I think he really doesn’t seem to understand that.”

A member of the Association of Catholic Priests said it believed the language and manner Dr Magee used to respond to the Cloyne report was inadequate as it did not convey that he understood the serious nature of the problem.

“A five-minute doorstep interview after a month of silence is not at all adequate for the extent of the difficulties around the Cloyne report,” Fr Tony Flannery said: “He needs to do much more than that.”

Abuse campaigner Andrew Madden said Dr Magee still had questions to answer over some of the assurances he offered to review teams, the Health Service Executive and the then government.

“It is hard to imagine such empty words being of any comfort or assistance to anyone,” Mr Madden said. “The fact that Bishop Magee failed to account in any way for what was revealed in the Cloyne report does not come as any surprise.

“Catholic bishops, in this country and elsewhere, have a track record of not wanting in any way to be held accountable for their actions and inactions as revealed in the various reports.”

A spokesman for the Irish Catholic bishops welcomed Dr Magee’s invitation to meet victims. “We welcome the fact that he spoke publicly, and especially his sentiment to meet the survivors of abuse,” he said.

But he would not be drawn on the ex-bishop’s comments that he had not been aware of the full extent of the failure to protect children until the Cloyne report was published.

“He’s speaking on a personal capacity,” the spokesman added. “I’m not commenting on his comments on the report. He spoke on a personal capacity and what he said is a matter for himself.”

Additional reporting - PA