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Cardinal Connell's Statement [re "Cardinal Secrets" programme on RTE]

Irish Times, October 18, 2002

Statement issued by the Dublin Diocese in relation to Prime Time programme of 17th October

Cardinal Connell takes this opportunity to restate some points he made in his letter to the people of the diocese of 5th/6th October last:

"Incalculable harm has been done to those who were abused. Further scandal has undoubtedly been caused by the fact that, having approached the Church in expectation of the best possible care and the most sympathetic response, some people suffered further hurt. We have been slow to understand the depth of their trauma and the nature of their needs."

"To them, above all, I want to apologise again from my heart for the terrible betrayal they have suffered. I do so in my own name, with a keen sense of our failures to deal more adequately with the problem, as well as in the name of all of us who in any way represent the Church."

"I deeply regret the mistakes I have made in seeking to come to grips with the problem. In many instances we did not act with the necessary speed and decisiveness. For these failures we ask for forgiveness."

"Our paramount concern must be the protection of children and the task of ensuring that the Church follows the best possible practice in regard to this vitally important matter. Clearly, we will willingly respond to any recommendations the Hussey Commission may make in that regard, in the same way that we will submit ourselves to its fully informed, properly measured and objective judgment on the matters it has undertaken to examine. I will respond fully to any and every question the Commission may wish to put to me and it will have my complete co-operation."

We would also like to clarify the following points:

Fr Noel Reynolds Having retired from his appointment as parish priest of Glendalough on health grounds, Fr. Noel Reynolds was appointed chaplain to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in 1997. We sincerely regret not informing the hospital authorities about concerns expressed regarding Fr. Reynolds in 1995. These concerns related to his inappropriate behaviour with children.

We fully accept that we should have informed the hospital authorities about the concerns raised at the time of his appointment.

The first complaint of child sexual abuse was made against Fr. Reynolds in 1998. He was then removed from ministry.

Compensation Claims We wish to clarify that the total number of civil claims settled by Dublin Archdiocese in relation to child sexual abuse by priests of the diocese is 26. A further 26 claims are outstanding.

Fr Ivan Payne We wish to clarify that Cardinal Connell did not promote or appoint Fr. Ivan Payne to the appointment of Vice Officialis of the Dublin Regional Marriage Tribunal. This appointment was made in 1985.

Fr Patrick Hughes When Cardinal Connell sent a letter of reference on behalf of Fr. Hughes to the United States in 1988, he had no knowledge whatever of a previous complaint against him dating back to 1974. Neither was there any account of the previous complaint in diocesan files. We fully acknowledge that the failure to have such a record was a serious deficiency.

Fr Tony Walsh Gardai were contacted in March 1992 when Tony Walsh returned from the Gracewell Clinic in England. Monsignor Alex Stenson wrote to the gardai indicating the address at which Tony Walsh was residing. The letter also stated 'in view of Fr.Walsh's behaviour in the past, you might give this information whatever attention you may think it requires'.

Bishop Dermot O'Mahony It has been suggested that gardai had difficulty contacting Auxiliary Bishop Dermot O'Mahony in 1997. At this time, he was in the US convalescing from heart surgery.

Below is a statement issued by Bishop O'Mahony on 28 April 1998 to the Star Newspaper:

'In its report of yesterday the STAR stated that the Gardai made 'at least six attempts' to speak with me in 1997 but that 'I never made any statement to the Gardai at any time'.

However, I wish to state that I was unable to speak to the Gardai during their investigation of the Ivan Payne case because I was convalescing in the USA after a serious illness. The Gardai did make an attempt to contact me on numerous occasions but an equivalent number of unsuccessful attempts at contact was made by my office.

When my secretary finally spoke to Detective Sergeant Sherry, she explained the difficulty of my illness to him. Detective Sergeant Sherry kindly said that he would speak to the DPP and explain my present unavailability. He also said that he would let her know the outcome of this consultation. But there was no further contact from the Gardai'