RTÉ - Raidió Teilifís Éireann [Dublin, Ireland]
February 8, 2024
By Ailbhe Conneely
The Jesuit Order in Ireland has received 93 complaints of sexual, physical and emotional abuse of boys by the former priest and teacher Joseph Marmion, who it named as a child abuser two years ago.
In March 2021, the Society of Jesus asked victims of Marmion to engage with the Order and a restorative justice programme was established.
A report published by the Society of Jesus, which is a narrative record of Joseph Marmion’s abuse, says 45 of the 93 complaints received from 1977 related to child sexual abuse.
Marmion spent most of his time teaching at Belvedere College but also at two other schools: Clongowes Wood College in Co Kildare and Crescent College in Limerick.
Of the 93 complaints of abuse received against him, 14 relate to Crescent College, 14 to Clongowes Wood College and 65 to Belvedere College.
Excluding Marmion, there were 34 complaints of sexual abuse received against 19 other Jesuits at these three schools.
These complaints were received by the Society between 1965 and 2023 and were reported to have occurred between 1940 and 1991.
Despite naming Marmion in 2021, the report notes that the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus does not normally publish identities of Jesuits who become “the subject of complaints”.
However, it has named another priest against whom a complaint was made, and the first Jesuit made aware of Marmion’s crimes in the 1970s.
The report says a complaint of sexual abuse was made in 1991 against Fr Paul Andrews, who had been Rector of Belvedere for a time and is now deceased.
The abuse is understood to have occurred in 1985 in a non-school setting.
When the complaint was made twice again in 1994, it was reported by the Society to gardaí in 1995.
It is understood that this was the first notification of a complaint received against a Jesuit to An Garda Síochána.
‘Serious error of judgement’
At the conclusion of its investigation, gardaí prepared a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions which, in February 1997, directed that there be no prosecution.
Following the DPP’s decision, Andrews was permitted to resume ministry without restriction until 2002 when a newly formed Child Protection Committee was asked to review the Andrews case.
It advised that the DPP’s decision was neither a declaration of innocence or guilt and that he should not be permitted to exercise any form of ministry with minors.
Andrews was formally requested to withdraw from ministry with minors from June 2002 onwards.
The narrative report published by the Jesuits today has acknowledged that the decision to permit Andrews to resume his professional work in the counselling and assessment of minors after the decision of the DPP in 1997 was “a serious error of judgement”.
It has also acknowledged that Andrews’ case was badly managed on many fronts, not least, including the care given to the complainant and family, the fact that the case was not reported to the Health Board until 2010, and in his being permitted to return to work with minors in 1997.
The report points out that Andrews was the first Jesuit recipient of a complaint of child sexual abuse against Joseph Marmion in 1977, when he was the Rector of Belvedere College.
It was agreed between Andrews and two other priests – who were aware of the complaint against Marmion – that the need to safeguard the Society’s reputation and the avoidance of public scandal was central.
The report concludes that this undoubtedly provides “some part of the explanation” why Marmion was not reported to An Garda Síochána.
It states that it cannot be known if the complaint against Andrews influenced his decision to keep the knowledge of Marmion’s history of child sexual abuse secret.
The Jesuits have also pointed out that Andrews was Director of St Declan’s Special School from 1977 until the end of 1994.
It now says another deceased Jesuit, Fr Dermot Casey SJ, who was Andrews’ predecessor as Director at the school (1958 -1977), has been the subject of 17 complaints of child sexual abuse.
These complaints were received during the period 1975 to 2023 and relate to events dating from the 1950s through to 1977.
The first complaint of child sexual abuse against Casey, of which the Jesuit Order is aware, relates to St Declan’s school and was received in 1975 by Paul Andrews, who was then working in Loyola House.
“Insofar as we are aware, Fr Andrews did not inform his Provincial of this information at that time. In November 1994 he informed the then Provincial of what he had learned in 1975.
“This information is being provided now because of its importance to the present-day St Declan’s school community, to past pupils and their parents, and to many others with long connection to St Declan’s”, it said.
The Society said it is considering “how the learnings from naming Fr Marmion acquired between 2019 and 2023 could be applied to other cases” with the primary objective of making sure that “the interests of those who were abused are paramount”.
The Jesuit Order has said that its intention is to place the information – relevant to receipt of complaints against Andrews – in the public domain.
The Irish Jesuit Order has welcomed the publication of the narrative record of the abuse perpetrated by Joseph Marmion on students in Jesuit schools.
Irish Jesuit Provincial Shane Daly SJ expressed his gratitude to the Past Pupils Steering Committee for making this possible.
Fr Daly acknowledged that holding the Order to account for its many failures regarding the pupils who were abused by Marmion was a crucial part of the narrative.
“As Jesuits we are ashamed of our own failures – failure to allow the truth to be told, failure to admit to the wrong that had occurred, and failure to create earlier opportunities for you to receive the vindication you sought, deserved and needed, as a result of your experiences of Fr Marmion SJ.
“I apologise for our delay in creating a context in which you could receive the acknowledgement that was justly yours, and the care to which we, as a Christian community aspire in our lives and mission.”
The Jesuits has noted that compensation or redress is often important to people and the Jesuits have sought to make this process as least cumbersome as possible.
Fr Daly has invited “any person who was harmed by any Jesuit to consider speaking with us. We really want to hear from you.”
Anyone who has any concerns or who has suffered abuse at the hands of any Jesuit are asked to contact the Order’s Safeguarding Office by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or by phoning the Jesuit Safeguarding Helpline on 00 353 830874254 (Monday-Friday 8 am to 8pm; Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 10am to 2pm).
If anyone affected does not want to contact the Order directly, they can contact Tusla and/or An Garda Síochána.