Southern Religion

Irish Catholic Church/police coverup of child sex abuse

Sexual abuse of children by Irish Catholic priests in Dublin was covered up on a huge scale, for decades by church and police, reveals a long-awaited, 720-page report released overnight.

The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation report should not be confused with the Ryan Report, which was issued in May. The Ryan Report was written by The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and while similarly damning was not tightly focused on church abuse.

The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation Report
shows that church leadership was aware of the problem, despite claims to the contrary, and put concealment of abuse and purchase of insurance against future claims ahead of concern for the victims. Specifically, the report said:

The taking out of insurance was an act proving knowledge of child sexual abuse as a potential major cost to the Archdiocese and is inconsistent with the view that Archdiocesan officials were still ‘on a learning curve’ at a much later date, or were lacking in an appreciation of the phenomenon of clerical child sex abuse.

The report took three years to prepare. It focused on the handling of complaints about abuse by priests, using a sample of 46 cases of priests against which scores of complaints had been filed between 1975 to 2004, involving some 320 children.

The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation report’s overarching conclusion

The Commission has no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities over much of the period covered by the Commission‟s remit [January 1975 to May 2004]. The structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated that cover-up. The State authorities facilitated the cover up by not fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that the law was applied equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes. The welfare of children, which should have been the first priority, was not even a factor to be considered in the early stages. Instead the focus was on the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of the good name, status and assets of the institution and of what the institution regarded as its most important members – the priests. In the mid 1990s, a light began to be shone on the scandal and the cover up. Gradually, the story has unfolded. It is the responsibility of the State to ensure that no similar institutional immunity is ever allowed to occur again. This can be ensured only if all institutions are open to scrutiny and not accorded an exempted status by any organs of the State.

Irish Minister of Justice Dermont Ahern said:

I read the report as Justice Minister.

But on a human level – as a father and as a member of this community – I felt a growing sense of revulsion and anger. Revulsion at the horrible evil acts committed against children. Anger at how those children were then dealt with and how often abusers were left free to abuse.

But the white heat of our anger should not for one moment deflect us from what needs to be done.

The persons who committed these dreadful crimes – no matter when they happened – will continue to be pursued. They must come to know that there is no hiding place. That justice – even where it may have been delayed – will not be denied.

November 27, 2009 - Posted by | Catholic, Crime | , ,


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