Church Watchdog To Quiz Martin on Claims
Irish Examiner, Tuesday, May 18, 2010 By Caroline O’Doherty
THE Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog is to meet Archbishop Diarmuid Martin this week over his claims that strong forces within the Church were still trying to hide the truth about paedophile priests.
The cardinal has also decided to appoint a full-time child protection and safeguard official to his diocese.
Ian Elliot, chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC), said he wanted to see the evidence behind the comments Archbishop Diarmuid Martin made in an address to the Knights of Columbanus.
This comes as Catholic bishops prepare to sign off on the Church’s first full audit of child sex abuse allegations and how they were handled. They are due to agree next month a plan for the NBSCCC to begin probing diocesan files before moving on to the 160 religious orders.
The audit should shine light on goings-on in dioceses like Raphoe where there is disquiet over the handling of serial paedophile Fr Eugene Greene, but Archbishop Martin’s comments have thrown doubt over the Church’s co-operation.
Mr Elliot said he wanted to know on what basis the archbishop said child protection regulations were "not being followed with the rigour required".
"We don’t have evidence of widespread non-compliance. In fact, we have increasing evidence of commitment to change. But if [non-compliance] were to occur, that would be addressed," he said.
However, the board’s annual report published yesterday says the attitude of some in the Church remains problematic.
In his contribution, board chairman John Morgan says: "Clearly a cultural correction is required in the Irish Church to deal with the problem of abuse."
Mr Elliot himself criticises the instinct for self-protection when allegations arise.
"This has led to a reliance on a defensive legal response when complaints emerge, rather than a focus on safeguarding concerns and the elimination of risk to other vulnerable young people."
The report also shows that three dioceses have no trained child protection volunteers, despite orders dating to February 2009.
Clonfert, Ossory and Killala stand in contrast to all the other dioceses which now have at least one trained volunteer in at least 95% of their parishes.
Abuse survivor Andrew Madden said the report and Archbishop Martin’s comments highlighted again the need for the state to make legally binding the Children First guidelines and to set a date for the referendum on children’s rights.
"I repeat my call for the Government to advance this work as a matter of urgency – its continued failure to do so to date is an absolute disgrace."
The report also reveals almost 200 new allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by priests and other religious were reported in the last year by adults only now feeling able to recount childhood suffering.
This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Tuesday, May 18, 2010