Bishop Responds to Abuse Query Claims

Irish Times Apr 21, 2008 by Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent
The Bishop of Cloyne, Dr John Magee, has expressed surprise at newspaper reports that the Catholic Church's National Child Protection Office felt frustration at a lack of co-operation from the diocese in its investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by priests.
Last night the Diocese of Cloyne issued a statement in response to a story in yesterday's Sunday Tribune which said the chief executive of the church's child protection office Ian Elliott was "frustrated" at the slowness of the diocese in responding to queries about a number of complaints.
Mr Elliott was quoted in the Sunday Tribune as saying: "The national board for the safeguarding of children in the Catholic Church has been made aware of issues surrounding the handling of allegations of abuse within the Diocese of Cloyne.
"The board has not received the full information and documentation requested of the diocese. We are trying hard to resolve these difficulties and have sought an urgent meeting with the diocese to progress these matters further."
Last night in its statement, the Diocese of Cloyne said that Bishop Magee and other representatives had met Mr Elliot on two occasions. "These meetings were cordial and productive," said the statement, adding that Bishop Magee later wrote to Mr Elliott offering to meet him on either April 4th, 7th, 14th or 21st as well as promising to co-operate fully and provide him with access to all relevant files. Mr Elliott wrote back on April 14th, indicating that he was unable to fix a date for a meeting until after April 17th, and that he would be in contact to discuss other possible dates.
The Diocese statement said his comments were therefore "surprising". It added a meeting has now been scheduled for today.

Bishop in Meeting to Defuse Row Over Sex Abuse Clergy

Irish Independent, April 21 2008 by Ralph Riegel and John Cooney
ONE of Ireland's highest profile bishops will hold talks with the head of the Catholic Church's child protection office to defuse a potential Church-State row over paedophile clergy.
The Bishop of Cloyne, Dr John Magee has arranged the crucial meeting to stave off a possible Government probe into his handling of alleged child rapes by priests in his diocese.
He said he had been surprised by the comments attributed to Ian Elliott of the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) which suggested that the diocese had not been cooperative.
Today's urgent meeting between Cloyne officials and the NBSC was confirmed last night -- just days after Pope Benedict made the issue of clerical child abuse one of the themes of his visit to the US.
The talks centre on an allegation of child abuse against a priest, which has been sent to the Children's Minister Brendan Smith, and is now being examined by the HSE.
The minister has the power to refer the case for full investigation by the Government-appointed Commission of Investigation under Judge Yvonne Murphy.
Today's meeting between Bishop Magee and Mr Elliott has been organised ahead of the pending publication of the Church's first national audit of the country's 26 dioceses and 166 religious orders into the exact scale of clerical sex abuse.
Mr Elliot confirmed in one newspaper over the weekend that the NBSC has been made aware of concerns surrounding issues of abuse in the diocese of Cloyne -- and the manner in which these allegations were initially handled. But it was claimed that the diocese of Cloyne had not given all the details that the NBSC had requested.
Last night, Dr Magee expressed surprise at the claims and defended the actions of his diocese.
The southern bishop revealed that his diocesan officials had already met with the NBSC twice -- and a third meeting was not arranged only because of availability issues with the NBSC.
In a statement to the Irish Independent, Dr Magee said his diocese had always offered the fullest cooperation to the NBSC.
"Bishop Magee and other representatives of the diocese have met with Ian Elliott, director of the NBSC on two occasions to discuss the matter of child protection in the diocese," a spokesman said.
"A letter from Bishop Magee, dated March 24, to Mr Elliott offered him a further meeting on either April 4, 7, 14 or 21. In this letter and at previous meetings Mr Elliot was offered full cooperation and access to all relevant files. This is still very much the position," he added.