Bishop Apologises to Abuse Victims

RTE News

December 19, 2008

Bishop of Cloyne John Magee has apologised to the victims of clerical sexual abuse and said there was no place in the Catholic Church for the perpetrators of such vile acts.

'The safety of children is the priority for me and for the Diocese of Cloyne,' he said.

'Supporting those individuals who suffered clerical child sexual abuse is an integral part of my ministry and that of the diocese. I apologise to victims of clerical sexual abuse.

'There can be no place in the Church, or in wider society, for those who have perpetrated such vile acts and who have betrayed the sacred trust placed in them.'

Bishop John Magee

The Bishop said he co-operated with the review by the Church's National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC), which is independent of the Diocese, accepts its recommendations, and is implementing them.

He encouraged anyone concerned about child protection regarding any diocesan personnel to contact the authorities.

'Whilst the allegations referred to in this report are not proven and this report makes no determination as to that veracity, nevertheless my intention is to alleviate those who have suffered in any way that I can, and this sentiment underpins my actions,' he said.

The Bishop also published a progress report from the NBSC outlining steps the diocese has taken to implement the recommendations.

Watchdog critical of Diocese of Cloyne

The review of mishandled child sex abuse inquiries found that Bishop Magee broke Catholic Church rules on reporting allegations.

The Church watchdog revealed minutes of a meeting from 2006, signed by the Bishop, which showed the cleric completely at odds with official regulations.

The minutes had been produced by the Bishop himself.

According to the report on the Diocese of Cloyne, Bishop Magee said gardai would never be given names of alleged child abusers in the church ranks.

'The failure to name the alleged perpetrator to the gardai was not exceptional,' the report stated.

'Indeed, it is described as 'normal practice' by the Bishop in a signed minute of a meeting which took place on 25 May 2006 involving the Bishop, XY (the unnamed victim) and his parents.'

The NBSC report also revealed that delays in reporting abuse allegations had been blamed on the victims.

'The delay in reporting was supposedly justified in the view of the Diocese, by the unwillingness of the complainant to talk to the gardai,' it found.

'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 practice dictates.'

In a damning conclusion, the report stated: 'Put simply, the responses of the Diocese could be described as ill-advised, and too little, too late.'

In 2005, the Church unveiled its child protection policy, Our Children, Our Church, which stated that allegations should be handled by a professionally qualified person with experience in the field rather than a bishop or religious superior.

After the series of sex and abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church in the 1980s and 1990s, the NBSC was set up in 2006 to advise and monitor the safeguarding of children.

The fully independent body is based at St Patrick's College in Maynooth.


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