Irish Catholic Church ‘trying to dump’ sex abuse priests on State

Church should use wealth to keep abusers away from public – child protection advocate

Two of America’s leading Catholic child protection advocates have strongly opposed suggestions by the church that care of laicised priests convicted of child abuse ought, in certain circumstances, to be a State responsibility.

It follows an interview in which Teresa Devlin, chief executive of the Irish Catholic Church's child protection watchdog – its National Board for Safeguarding Children – said "once you know he is guilty, then you do have to cut the ties, you cannot continue to pay for someone, and at some stage the State has to take over with pensions.

“We are still talking about those people in their 60s because most of this abuse did happen around the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, so we’re talking older people,” she said.

Last month new child protection guidance standards were published by the board where it stated: “If the respondent is not the responsibility of the church authority, the church authority must inform the statutory authorities, and the process of involvement (by the church) in relation to safeguarding ends.”


‘Heinous crimes’

US lawyer and former Benedictine monk

Patrick Wall

said his take on it “is that they are looking to dump all their criminals on the public”.

He said that the church “selected, hired, trained, supervised and turned these perpetrators loose where they committed heinous crimes against children leaving permanent scars that continue to impact survivors and their families. The church ought to reap what they sowed”.

What should happen “is that the church use their land, tax-exempt status, wealth and personnel to isolate the perpetrators away from the public,” he said.

Dominican priest Canon Tom Doyle said: "The bishops want to rid themselves of perpetrators so as to avoid having to share the responsibility of their own negligence."

He added: “I have found that, with very, very few exceptions, any solutions the bishops promote to anything related to clergy sex abuse usually is fundamentally for their benefit, while often covered over with pietistic and honest- sounding bullshit.”

Meanwhile, president of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors Cardinal Seán O’Malley has encouraged bishops, priests and religious superiors to be in contact with sex abuse victims “so that they will understand the impact and be more vigilant”.

Such meetings had been "transformative for me and that's why one of the first things we did as a commission was to set up meetings with the Holy Father with victims". For Pope Francis it was "a very, very important experience," the cardinal told RTÉ Radio One's This Week programme.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times