NEWTON, Mass., July 13, 2011 – Clearly Catholic bishops still do not understand how their actions put children at risk, said Dan Bartley, president of the worldwide Catholic Church reform group Voice of the Faithful, as Ireland’s government today released the Cloyne Report on Catholic clergy sexual abuse.
The report details Cloyne diocesan clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up as recently as 2009. “This is not a report about some terrible wrong that was done long ago,” began Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter at the news conference releasing the report. “Instead the report looks at how complaints of sexual abuse were handled in the diocese of Cloyne from 1996 through early 2009... The report’s findings could not be starker or more disturbing.” The report began with 1996 because that is when Ireland’s Catholic Church began to put in place detailed guidelines for dioceses to handle cases of sexual abuse against children.
In part, the Cloyne Report shows that:
- Cloyne diocesan officials between 1996 and 2005 failed to report nine out of 15 credible complaints of sexual abuse against priests;
- Even though the Cloyne diocese claimed to support child protection procedures, they repeatedly ignored them, even as recently as 2009;
- The diocese put “far too much emphasis on the concerns of the alleged offenders”;
- In most cases the Irish state police, the gardai, were not informed about clergy child abuse allegations;
- Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, who was in charge of enforcing child protection guidelines in Cloyne, “stymied” their implementation; and
- Ireland’s papal nuncio told investigators he was “unable to assist you in this matter.”
“It is truly scandalous that people who presented a public face of concern continued to maintain a private agenda of concealment and evasion,” Shatter said. “It’s really difficult to understand the mindset of those who knew they were repeating the failures of the past and were seemingly oblivious to the extent to which their failure placed children at continuing risk.”
Even while Dublin victims in 2009 were telling their stories to the Murphy Commission, Shatter said, church officials in Cloyne continued to ignore sexual abuse allegations. The Murphy Report led VOTF to mount a communications campaign aimed at bishops and the pope, according to Bartley. That report revealed how thousands of children were abused sexually, physically and psychologically, while the abuse was covered up through five decades, well into the 1990s. “Our pleas for reform apparently fell on deaf ears,” Bartley said.
"Nothing seems to make a dent in the bishops’ clerical armor in favor of ultimate protection of children,” Bartley said. “The U.S. bishops claim their 2002 Dallas Charter has made children safer, but a Philadelphia grand jury this past February and allegations in Kansas City last month show how fallacious that claim is. We’ve sent letters to bishops and the pope, issued statements, met with the U.S. bishops’ child protection leaders, called attention to the abuses and cover-ups—so far to no apparent avail.”
Here in the United States, Bartley said, clear and strong disciplinary action against those who violate the Charter, including bishops, must be put in place. “There must be consequences for failing to protect children, or we will never be able to stop this scandal and heal our Church,” he said.
Voice of the Faithful
Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and shape structural change within the Church. More information is at http://www.votf.org.
To comment on this issue, visit VOTF's Child Protection & Survivor Support Forum for Victims/Survivors, Friends, and Supporters.
Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360, 617-291-3495 Cell