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Friday 22 September 2017

Archbishop apologises to priest's sex victim

Fiona Donnelly

AN archbishop last night apologised to a victim of clerical abuse after a priest pleaded guilty to gross indecency while hearing confession.

Archbishop Dermot Clifford -- the administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne -- made the apology after Brendan Wrixon escaped jail when he was given an 18-month suspended sentence for the abuse.

A statement from the victim, which was read out in court, said he felt deeply hurt and let down by the behaviour of Wrixon and the clergy, "especially those in positions of responsibility who were unwilling to understand or listen".

Wrixon (76), with an address in Newmarket, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to an act of gross indecency against a male at the Convent of Mercy in Mallow between October 16, 1982, and February 15, 1983.

Archbishop Clifford said: "I am deeply sorry that the trust of a young person was betrayed by one of our priests and I wish to apologise and express to him and his family my regret.

"Fr Wrixon has not held a diocesan appointment since 2005. He is restricted to the celebration of Holy Mass in private in his home without a congregation and he may not engage in priestly ministry in public. He is also not allowed to wear clerical dress or present himself as a priest."

Archbishop Clifford -- who is in charge of the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emily -- was given the extra responsibility of running the Cork Diocese of Cloyne by the Vatican after the resignation of Bishop John Magee who was found to have not dealt fully with sex abuse complaints.

Detective Garda Coleman Murphy told Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday the charge arose from a garda investigation into a complaint received in 2005.

He said the victim alleged that when he was a fifth year secondary school student he attended a workshop for the diocese of Cloyne in the Convent of Mercy in Mallow.

It was during this workshop that he went to confession in a private classroom with Fr Wrixon who asked him to remove his clothes and touched him.

Incidents

He said that this was the first incident of abuse and that there was about 20 incidents in total.

The victim, who was 16 at the time of the abuse, said in his victim impact statement that he was wronged in a serious way by the priest whose role was to be a guide and a witness to Christian values.

He said he was deeply hurt by the clergy's response which, he claimed, was about protecting the institution rather than the individual. "I believe the Gospel message and its values were ignored. I had to fight for the truth to be heard. The Church that stood for truth didn't help me."

The court heard that Wrixon has left the priesthood since the investigation began and now lives alone.

In sentencing, Judge Sean O Donnabhain told Wrixon that his behaviour violated the laws of this country and his own religious vows.

He imposed an 18-month sentence which he suspended on the condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

Irish Independent

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