Bishop: 95pc of abuse outside Church
A senior bishop has attacked the media for singling out the Catholic Church for covering-up paedophile priests when 95pc of child abuse occurs in families and community life.
Christopher Jones, the Bishop of Elphin and head of the bishops' committee on the family, said in Maynooth last night that he strongly objected to the way the church was being isolated. "Of course we have made mistakes," Dr Jones added.
"But why this huge isolation of the church and this huge focus on cover-up in the church when it has been going on for centuries?
"It is only now for the first time ever that victims have been given their voice." Dr Jones said that it was known that "95pc of abuse out there is in families, communities and other institutions.
"It is all cover-up. No one wants to admit in a family that there is a problem of that nature. I am not justifying it."
In a statement issued at the end of their three-day spring meeting, the Bishops' Conference welcomed as "timely" a statement issued on Tuesday by the Vatican spokesman, Fr Frederico Lombardi SJ, rebutting media claims that Pope Benedict ordered "a wall of silence" in regard to abuse complaints sent under secrecy by bishops to Rome.
The Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey, said it was made clear to the Irish bishops at their summit in Rome last month that the 2001 letter, 'On grave crimes', issued by Pope Benedict when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "in no way precluded church authorities from their civil obligations especially in regard to reporting and co-operating fully with the civil authorities".
The Bishop of Ferns, Denis Brennan, said that in his diocese all complaints were sent both to Rome and to the civil authorities (the HSE and the garda) in Ireland.
The three bishops declined to criticise the unavailability of Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, and Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Mahoney to appear on a BBC 'Newsnight' programme that tracked down notorious ex-priest Bill Carney, who is wanted in Ireland on 32 complaints of having raped children, to the Canary Islands.
Meanwhile, today's 'Irish Catholic' newspaper reports that Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has instructed priests to assemble representatives of each parish in the diocese to a service of reparation in the cathedral on Palm Sunday.
Dr Drennan wants parishioners to place a sprig of palm on the altar at the service "to express the penitential mood of the day" for the cover-ups by bishops of the crimes of paedophile priests against innocent children.