Bishop Magee Pledges to Co-Operate Fully with Cloyne Abuse Inquiry

Irish Times
March 8, 2009

Bishop John Magee of Cloyne has pledged to co-operate fully with an inquiry into child protection policies in the diocese following yesterday's announcement that he had been relieved of his diocesan duties over his handling of child abuse allegations.

In an address at evening mass in St Colman's Cathedral last night, Bishop Magee said he had requested an apostolic administrator to be appointed to the diocese so he could dedicate himself to the Government Commission of Inquiry into child protection practices and procedures in the diocese.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr Dermot Clifford, would assume the powers and duties of the Bishop of Cloyne. However, Bishop Magee will still retain the title of Bishop of Cloyne.

The Bishop had faced several calls to resign after a report, published late last year, found his diocese had responded inappropriately to sex abuse allegations and had put children at risk of harm.

In January, the Government asked the Commission of Investigation into the Dublin Archdiocese to examine the operation of child protection practices in Cloyne.

"Since that time, significant developments have taken place. A number of meetings have been held involving the Diocese, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, the Gardaí, and the Health Service Executive to review both current allegations and general communications between all of these agencies," Bishop Magee told his parishioners last night.

He said: "Training for child protection representatives in each parish of the Diocese is ongoing. We are also revising our procedures and structures to make sure they are in line with the new national guidelines published during this past week."

"I am conscious of the fact that, as I have to give so much of my time and energy to the task ahead, conducting the normal administration of the diocese, in all its aspects, would prove to be very difficult," he said.

Yesterday The Catholic Primate, Cardinal Seán Brady said the decision by Pope Benedict to appoint an administrator to Cloyne was "an indication of the importance which the Church gives to safeguarding children and caring for the needs of victims."

A separate statement from the Cloyne Diocese today said the appointment of Archbishop Clifford would "enable Bishop Magee to devote the necessary time and energy to cooperating fully with the Government Commission of Inquiry into child protection practices and procedures in the Diocese of Cloyne, as he has already committed himself to do."

Bishop Clifford he was looking forward to serving the people and priests of Cloyne and to giving them pastoral leadership.

"Coming from a neighbouring diocese, I know them to be a people with a proud tradition of faith. I will give every possible cooperation to the Commission of Inquiry into the Diocese of Cloyne", he said.

He also said he intended to meet with the College of Consultors, the Council of Priests, and the diocesan Child Protection Delegate as soon as possible.

Bishop had been under pressure since the Catholic Church's National Board for Safeguarding Children published the Cloyne Report on December 19th last.

It found that child protection practices in Cloyne were "inadequate and in some respects dangerous".

Last week, Bishop Magee wrote to priests in the diocese revealing he would not carry out confirmations on primary school children this year, blaming the amount of paperwork he faces from the inquiry whose audit is expected in July.

It is understood at least five parents' groups asked the Bishop not to confirm their children in coming weeks.

Bishop Magee (72) from Newry, Co Down has served as private secretary to popes Paul VI, Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II and in 1982 he was appointed Master of Pontifical Ceremonies.


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