Victims abused at the hands of Fr Malachy Finnegan should "not suffer in silence", Denis Nulty, Catholic bishop of Kildare and Leighlin has said.
Shortly after he was ordained Fr Finnegan served in the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, at Rosenallis near Mountmellick, Co Laois, from 1953 to 1956.
Speaking at a St Patrick’s Day mass in Saint Brigid’s Church, Rosenallis, Bishop Nulty said “we have checked our records in the diocese, and are not aware of any complaint against Father Malachy Finegan here.”
But the bishop told parishioners he was concerned “that someone may be suffering in silence.”
“I have no wish to cause anyone to relive trauma that they may have suffered many years ago, but I would urge anyone who may have been harmed by Father Finegan to contact the gardaí or the Child and Family Agency to report what happened” he said.
“I am very aware that the evil that abusers do lives on, long after they themselves have died,” Bishop Nulty said, adding he was “deeply ashamed” that a priest would “inflict such evil and criminal abuse” on a child.
Fr Finnegan, went on serve as a priest in the Dromore diocese in Northern Ireland, at St Colman's College in Newry, Co Down, from 1967 to 1971, and was a teacher there from 1973 to 1976.
He was president at the college from 1976 to 1987, after which he was parish priest at Clonduff near Newry until 1995. He died in 2002. Between 1994 and 2016, 12 allegations of child sexual abuse were made against him.
Former president Mary McAleese called for an independent inquiry into physical and sexual abuse at St Colman’s College, Newry, Co Down.
On RTÉ Radio 1's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme last Monday, McAleese became upset as she recalled how her youngest brother, Clement Leneghan (49), had been "seriously, physically, sadistically" abused by Finnegan while a pupil at St Colman's in the 1980s.
Ms McAleese said there were many people who knew what was going on and could have done something, but did not do so.
John McAreavey recently resigned as Catholic Bishop of Dromore, following controversy over his decision to officiate the funeral mass in 2002 of Fr Finnegan, who was known to the diocese as a child abuser.