Church set for showdown over Cloyne sexual
Bishop and child protection director at odds over allegations
By Justine McCarthy
April 20, 2008
THE Catholic church's new director of child protection and the Bishop
of Cloyne are at serious odds over the handling of child sex abuse
allegations against priests in the diocese, the Sunday Tribune has
The Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, a former private secretary to
three popes, and Ian Elliott, the inaugural chief executive of the
church's National Child Protection Office (NCPO) in Maynooth, are
in dispute over a number of complaints involving two priests in
the east and north Co Cork diocese.
Elliott, a Dublin-born Presbyterian whose appointment was trumpeted
by the church last July, is "frustrated" with the level
of cooperation he is getting from Cloyne, according to sources.
His first report on the country's 26 dioceses and 166 religious
orders is due to be published next month. It is expected to be highly
critical of the Cloyne diocese.
The Sunday Tribune has learned that two separate complaints about
Cloyne have been made to health minister Mary Harney. Under the
terms of reference of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation,
chaired by Judge Yvonne Murphy, the minister has the power to request
it to examine other dioceses where it is suspected that church officials
have not responded appropriately to complaints of child sex abuse.
High-level negotiations are ongoing in the matter, which is set
to erupt into another major controversy about clerical paedophilia.
At least three civil actions have been initiated in relation to
alleged child sex abuse by priests in the Cloyne diocese.
In a case concerning one of the priests, complaints by three females
of sexual abuse and rape while they were schoolgirls in the late
1970s and mid-1980s were investigated by gardai. The DPP decided
against a prosecution on each of the three files. One of the girls,
accompanied by her parents, personally informed Bishop Magee of
her complaint in 1995 but gardai were only notified, by another
source, 10 years later in 2005.
The priest was placed on "restrictive ministry", a term
without definition in canon law but which appears to mean that,
while he had no parish, he was free to officiate at church services
A spokesman for the bishop has confirmed that Dr Magee is "aware
that an allegation of child sex abuse against one priest of the
diocese of Cloyne has been passed on to the Minister for Health
with the possibility of having it examined by the Dublin Archdiocese
Commission of Investigation."