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Bishop: Withholding of Alleged Sex Abuser’s Name ‘Normal Policy’

Irish Examiner, December 20, 2008 by Stephen Rogers

THE Bishop of Cloyne has described his decision not to give the name of an alleged child abuser to gardaí as "normal practice", according to a report on alleged child abuse in his diocese.

The report by Ian Elliott, chief executive of the Catholic church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC), details the alleged abuse by two priests, Father A and Father B. According to the report, a young priest, named as XY, first reported that he had been abused as a child by Father A in December 2004. On that occasion he spoke to the bishop, but did not reveal who his alleged abuser was. He did not do so until May 2005.

Four months later the bishop met with Father A, and as a result of that meeting Father A resigned.

In November 2005, the bishop’s delegate, Monsignor O’Callaghan, sent a letter to gardaí informing them a complaint had been received against a priest in the diocese.

It named the alleged victim but not the perpetrator, only saying he was another priest in the diocese.

The diocese blamed the delay in reporting the abuse to gardaí on the ‘unwillingness’ of the complainant to talk to gardaí.

"In short, the attitude of the complainant was seen as the determining factor as to whether a complaint was reported or not. This is an obvious and concerning misunderstanding of what good child protection practices dictate," said Mr Elliott.

Furthermore, the decision by the bishop not to name the alleged perpetrator to gardaí was not considered exceptional. "Indeed, it is described as ‘their normal practice’ by the bishop in a signed minute of a meeting which took place on May 25, 2006, involving the bishop, XY and his parents. The minute was produced by the bishop himself," said Mr Elliott.

NBSC said throughout the case papers for Father A, references were made to the pastoral care policy of the diocese and the need for reconciliation.

"What are glaringly absent are any references to the need to protect vulnerable young people and to act in a timely and effective way to achieve this end.

"This is illustrated by the minutes of the Case Management Committee that met on September 21, 2005, to discuss the A case. Current risk to young people is not referred to at all. The suggestion is noted that the option of retirement to the accused might be offered if appropriate.

"This is, in fact, what happened when the bishop met the accused later in the month, when he decided to offer to retire from his post."

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Saturday, December 20, 2008