Review of orders’ practices on child protection published

Inconsistencies revealed in support for those alleging clerical child sex abuse

 

Support for people making allegations of clerical child sexual abuse continues to be inconsistent in some Catholic Church religious congregations, a review published today has found.

“Contact in many instances was not made directlyby the congregation and the opportunity for pastoral support was missed,” it said .

The observation was made by Teresa Devlin, chief executive of the Church’s child protection watchdog, its National Board for Safeguarding Children.

Today it has published 18 reviews of child safeguarding practices involving five five male and 13 female religious congregations. Eight are standard reviews of safeguarding practices against the seven established standards that the Catholic Church in Ireland has agreed to meet.

The congregations fully reviewed included the Vincentian Fathers, the Redemptorists, Sisters of St Louis, Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the Pallottines, St Joseph’s Missionary Society (Mill Hill), The Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), the Presentation Sisters.

However, because 10 of the congregations are so small and have very limited contact with children, also due to the advanced age of their members and the fact that they face no allegations of sexual abuse in Ireland, these were assessed against a revised framework. “The 10 Congregations demonstrated a strong sense of commitment to working positively with the National Board, in spite of their limited ministries”, Ms Devlin said.

The 10 congregations referred to were the sisters of the Notre Dame des Missions, the Medical Missionaries of Mary, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa, the Faithful Companions of Jesus, the Missionary Sisters of St Columban, the Adoration Sisters, the Ursulines of Jesus, the Sisters of Charity of Jesus & Mary, the Sisters of Marie Reparatrice, and the Daughters of theHeart of Mary.

She continued that “the findings for the eight full reviews show that the timeframes for reporting to the civil authorities in relation to allegations against priests/brothers/sisters up until 2009 is variablebut has improved considerably.”

The reviews found that a number of the priests were in ministry abroad and allegations were made from both children in Ireland and in the missionary countries. The management of these cases varied, but in most instances were now dealt with by returning the accused priest to Ireland where he is placed under restrictions.

They also found that where allegations of abuse were made abroad “it is rare for the complainant to pursue any action in relation to criminal or civil investigations. In these instances the Church inquiries are critical in establishing if there is a semblance of truth to the allegation and in the management of risk.”

“Management plans relating to accused priests and brothers and sisters have improved significantly over time, though there is still room for improvement, in terms of clarity of roles, review of restrictions, and sharing of information,” Ms Devlin said.

MILL HILL FATHERS

This congregation has has 40 resident priest members in Ireland and 20 priests working outside Ireland. Their average age is 73. Total abuse allegations received and managed by it since 1975 was 13 involving eight priests, of whom two are now deceased. Two have left ministry. Of the four remaining, two have been withdrawn from public ministry and are subject of restrictions and are under supervision.

Five allegations, involving three priests, refer to events when they were ministering outside Ireland. In a further case the abuse of children in another country came to light as a result of the priests’ own self-disclosure and the victims have not been traced (although efforts were made to identify them). In the remaining eight instances the abuse was alleged to have involved four priests and to have occurred in Ireland.

Two of the safeguarding cases managed by the society were the subject of RTE ’s Prime Time Mission to Prey programme in 2011. Despite media coverage in Ireland andAfrica no new allegations emerged.

All of the cases were referred to the Garda Síochána but delay was evident in five of these as was delay in notifying the HSE. One case was not referred to the HSE. There have been no criminal convictions of any priest from the Irish region of the society, either in Ireland or abroad.

Historically practice was inconsistent in relation to basic safeguarding processes however the revied noted it was evident that a change in safeguarding practice occurred in the middle of the first decade of this century.

WHITE FATHERS

The Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) have 25 members in Ireland and in different countries of Africa At present nine members reside in Ireland and their main role today is to receive the members of the society who come home on leave. None of the Irish based members have any ministry with children

A total of 10 allegations of suspected child sex abuse received by them since January ist 1975. The 10 allegations involved two members of the society and one unidentified male religious who may or may not be a member of the society. The time period covered by these allegations runs from 1962 to 1996.The majority of identified allegations relate to abuse in Ireland.

Two members have been convicted of crimes of a sexual nature. Both are

out of ministry and reside at the society’s main house in Dublin.

The allegation in respect of B? was received by the society’s Generalate (Headquarters) in Rome in 2006. They took immediate action and B was removed from Africa to the USA for risk assessment and subsequent treatment.

B returned to the Irish Region in 2010 and prompt notifications were made to the statutory authorities and Church authorities. Subsequently B was found guilty of indecent assault of a minor on in September 2011 and sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years on condition he remained in treatment. He was also placed on the sex offenders register for five years.

Member C was subsequently convicted in 2010 of sexual offences and was sentenced to four years in prison. He was put on the sex offenders register for an indefinite length of time after he was released, this followed an appeal on his part to the court.

He has consistently denied the allegations made against him and is appealing his conviction. The society has sought to initiate canonical action in respect of member C but this has been set aside pending the outcome of the civil proceedings and member C’s appeals against his convictions.

PALLOTINES

The Pallottines Fathers run two parishes in Dublin and five members work in them with two members work in diocesan parishes, one in the Archdiocese of Dublin and one in the Diocese of Ossory

The Irish Province was constituted with the houses in England, Argentina, New York, and Ireland and also included the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, Rome. The Provincial House was initially in Argentina, it was moved to London in 1928 and from there to Dublin in 1978.

Where a member has been accused in another country, the practice is that all legal and Church investigations are completed in the country the alleged incident occurred. If safeguarding concerns remain, consideration is given to bringing that member to Ireland for monitoring purposes upon completion of civil investigations, or if there is a need to investigate any allegations which have emerged from Ireland or another country.

All case files relating to allegations of abuse are stored in the Provincial House in Dublin and were reviewed by the reviewers.

The Pallottines have received 19 allegations against nine identifiable priests or brothers since 1975. There are also two allegations received against unidentified priests/or members. Of the nine identified priests or brothers, two are deceased, two are out of ministry, three are in ministry, one left the Pallottines and is deceased, and one brother left the Pallottines and is presumed alive.

All of the allegations were formally received by the Pallottines between 1993 and 2013 and refer to alleged incidents of abusive behaviour between approximately 1960 and 2000.

There have been no criminal convictions related to the allegations of any priest or brother from the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers (Irish Province).

Of the 19 allegations, 11 incidents occurred outside of Ireland, seven in Ireland, and one location is unknown due to the lack of detail provided. Of the two men out of ministry, Fr A has nine allegations against him, while Fr B has three allegations against him.

It is evident from the files that there were delays in reporting information to An Garda Síochána and the Health Services Executive.

Fr A admitted to sexual abuse of nine children over approximately 30 years. His first known incident of abusive behaviour, involving two survivors, occurred when he ministered outside of Ireland. The allegation was reported to the local diocese but not shared with police from that jurisdiction.

Instead Fr A was moved and he went on to sexually abuse four other children. He was removed from ministry and has been ever since under strict supervision. Since his removal from ministry, three allegations have been made against Fr A.

The canonical process has not been initiated and the reviewers questioned the hesitation in doing so. It is recognised within the Pallottine safeguarding personnel that Fr A poses an active risk to children and the reviewers are satisfied that all reasonable steps have been taken to minimise Fr A’s level of risk

In relation to Fr. B, the Pallottines received three allegations against him over 19 years. All of the allegations were notified to the statutory authorities.

Upon receipt of the third allegation against Fr B, the Pallottines have begun a canonical investigation. There are clear restrictions in place with regard to this priest’s ministry and access to children.

REDEMPTORISTS

The Redemptorists have ministries in both the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland involving 107 men with four currently abroad. Between 30 and 40 Irish men are members of other Redemptorist units abroad. Approximately 100 members of the Dublin Province are ordained priests, with the remainder being religious brothers.

The Redemptorists run parishes in Dundalk, Dublin and Belfast, while the Marianella Community in Rathgar accommodates the Provincial Offices of the congregation.

They organise large nine-day Solemn Novenas, such as those in Limerick, Dundalk, Belfast and Galway, as well as parish based Missions, and work in Mission Churches.The Redemptorists are involved with Youth Ministries at Clonard in Belfast, Esker in Athenry,Co. Galway and Scala in Cork .

Thirteen Redemptorists (seven priests and six religious brothers) were named as men about whom a child safeguarding concern arose. It was alleged that a further five had been abusive, but the complainants were not able to identify the person whom they alleged had abused them. A total of 24 people came forward in the 39-year period covered by this review to make a complaint or raise a concern.

The Redemptorists have received no information suggesting that any of theirmembers has been involved in a child safeguarding incident in the last 19 years.

Of the 13 Redemptorists identified by complainants, four were already dead at the time of the complaint. A further two members were alleged to have abused someone outside the island of Ireland. In these six cases, the timing of reporting to the relevant police force and statutory child protection social service was affected by these circumstances.

Looking at the 15 complaints received about the other seven congregational members, nine were reported to the statutory authorities in a timely manner and all complaints were made in the period 2010 to 2014. In the case of six complaints, there was an unacceptable delay in reporting these complaints to the relevant police force

Over time the Redemptorist Congregation has significantly improved its performance in making appropriate and timely reports to the statutory authorities.

The reviewers are of the opinion that the handling of cases involving four congregational members was not sufficiently robust and effective. These four men account for seven complaints.

Included were delays in reporting to statutory authorities,information available on file not being utilised effectively, or insufficient information

The three surviving men whose cases could have been better managed are now all subject to supervised living regimes in which they do not have any access to children.

The reviewers would also wish to record that the majority of the cases reviewed have been well managed by the Redemptorist Congregation and evidence of very good practice is acknowledged.

During the period under review, three Redemptorist priests about whom a child safeguarding concern had arisen chose to leave the Congregation.

No Redemptorist has been charged with or convicted of an offence against a child

VINCENTIANS

The Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians as they are commonly known, are involved with St Vincent’s College, Castleknock, St. Paul’s College, Sybil Hill, and St. Patrick’s College, Armagh. They have also been involved at third level, at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and All Hallows College, Dublin

There are approximately 50 confreres now, with roughly 15 members in Ireland are in active ministry. The average age of the community is 73 years, with one man studying to enter the Vincentians.

The Congregation administers two parishes,St Peter’s in Phibsboro, Dublin and St. Vincent’s in Sunday’s Well, Cork. The Vincentians in Ireland are accommodated in six community houses in Dublin, Cork and Belfast.

In total, 42 allegations have been made against 13 priests since 1975. A total of 25 allegations are related to one priest Fr ‘A’, who was named in the November

2009 Murphy Report . It concerned itself with 16 allegations relating to Fr. ‘A’ known at the time of that report which was very critical of the Vincentian Congregation and their handling of allegations of child safeguarding concerns.

Fr. ‘A’ died suddenly in 1994. A further nine allegations against Fr ‘A’ have been received by the congregation since 2004, which was the cut off for cases dealt with by the Murphy Commission.

In the vast majority of cases concerning allegations relating to other priests, these became known to the congregation after the priests’ deaths and in some cases, a great many years following a particular priest dying

The reviewers noted two current situations in which the Leadership Team was required to take positive and definite action to manage such risk. In the first case the situation was extremely well managed by the Vincentians. In the second case the allegation received in 2013 refers to alleged historical sexual assault. The provincial is aware That this case needs to be referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.