Saturday 23 September 2017

Abuse allegations made against 13 priests in Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

ALLEGATIONS of abuse were made against 13 priests since 1975 in the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, an audit of child protection practices has revealed.

It reveals that 19 separate allegations were made against priests in the area, all of these have been reported to gardai.

The abuse alleged was of both a physical and sexual nature.

The report found that seven priests against whom an allegation was made were still members of the Diocese at the time of the review. Allegations of sexual abuse were made against six of these men with an allegation of physical abuse against one.

Of the seven, only two were removed from ministry after Archbishop Dermot Clifford decided that based on evidence there was “a semblance of truth to the allegations in relation to these two priests”.

After investigations the five remaining priests remained in ministry.

“Having read all files the reviewers support the position of the five living priests who are in ministry and agree that the allegations were not substantiated or based on evidence that there was or is current risk to children, consultation in all cases took place with HSE and An Garda Síochána,” the report added.

A further six priests against whom allegations were made had died prior to the review being carried out.

The report states that the number of allegations is “relatively small” in comparison to other dioceses.

However, it pointed out that in four cases where allegations were brought to the attention of the diocese, there were delays in notifying gardai.

The archdiocese claimed these delays occurred because the complainants did not want gardai informed. In three of these cases the alleged perpetrator was dead and in the fourth case which came to light in 1999, the priest was out of ministry and had no access to children.

While the archdiocese assessed that there was therefore no risk, the review notes that there was a delay in nine years in reporting the case to civil authorities.

However, it stressed that in all other cases gardai were notified either on the same day that the allegation came to light or within acceptable timeframes. It also stated that Archbishop Clifford promptly removed priests from public ministry, usually within days of the allegations being brought to his attention.

The report also found that practice in responding to complainants was inconsistent. While there were some excellent examples of “compassionate caring responses” to complainants, the reviewers also found “notes and letters which were in tone and approach towards victims”.

The archdiocese now has a support person in place to ensure that the needs of the complainant are heard and acted upon by the diocese.

Overall the reviewers felt that all cases were well managed.

It also referenced the ongoing support visits to priests who are now out of ministry.

“Those priests who have been accused of abuse have been offered priest advisors, but not all have

availed of this offer. While the Church does not endorse the behaviours of those who have

harmed children, there is a recognition that to prevent further abuse that there is a need to offer

guidance and support to perpetrators. The Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly have recognised

their responsibilities in this area,” it read.

However, it pointed out that the archdiocese faced challenges in cases where the offending priests do not live locally.

The Archdiocese covers 46 parishes parishes in the Munster region.

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