Truth on clerical sex abuse needed - bishop

 

The Bishop of Kerry, Dr Bill Murphy, has said that the full truth regarding the abuse of children by priests must be brought out into the open.

Interviewed in the summer 2002 edition of Lumen, the Kerry diocesan magazine, he said such disclosure would be "painful but purifying".

He continued: "As long as church authorities are suspected of covering up and protecting abusers, the church's credibility and capacity to witness to the Gospel will be undermined."

It was "urgent that this credibility be re-established and this will not happen until the full truth is known", he said. "The care of children is central to the teaching of Jesus Christ, and down through the centuries the church has done a lot of good work in the care and education of children.

"I think it is very important that the church would give an example of best practice in the protection of children which Irish society in general would want to follow, for it is clear from the recent RCSI [Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland\] study that child abuse is a very serious problem in Ireland."

He found child sex abuse by priests "particularly abhorrent because it is a disgraceful abuse of position and betrayal of trust".

He was "shocked, shamed, embarrassed" by the recent BBC programme about the activities of Father Sean Fortune. He had heard of Father Fortune but had "no idea of the extent of his abusive behaviour. Neither was I aware of his shameful abuse of the sacraments for financial gain and for exercising control over parishioners".

His first reaction to the resignation of Bishop Brendan Comiskey was one of sadness. He had known Bishop Comiskey for seven years and had found him "a very intelligent and articulate person".

While "not entirely surprised to learn of his resignation", he had expected "that he would clear up the situation in Ferns before going".

He welcomed the bishops' proposed independent audit of how allegations of clerical child sex abuse had been handled in each diocese.