independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Cardinal Brady ‘truly sorry’ for child abuse

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, has said he is ‘truly sorry’ for the abuse suffered by children in the Catholic Church. The Fourth Tranche of the Reviews of Safeguarding practice across the Catholic Church brings the total authorities reviewed to date to 27.

“In the majority of cases the progress that has been made has been heartening,” said Teresa Devlin, Acting CEO of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI).

“However, this was not universally the case and we have undertaken to work closely with those that have not met the required standards to ensure that children are properly safeguarded.”

She went on to outline how the completion of 27 audit reports meant that a significant portion of the work to be done had now been completed.

“Our next tranche will see that last of the Dioceses being reviewed,”  said Devlin. “And, we will also be dealing with the larger religious Congregations and Missionary Orders during 2014. Thereafter, many of those organisations still to be audited will be small in terms of membership and may have limited involvement with children – so we are expecting such audits to be quite rapid.”

His apology comes as the church watchdog has strongly criticised a lower standard of concern for clerical abuse victims on the missions abroad.

In its review of the Kiltegan Fathers, in the latest tranche of audits published this morning, the NBSCCCI said the identification of abuse of a child on the missions “did not always evoke an empathic response to the experiences of victims.”

Mr Brady has said he accepts the report “in its entirety”  and he undertakes to “act promptly” on its recommendations.

“I know that for you, survivors of abuse and your families, days such as today are especially difficult. You have suffered terribly and I am truly sorry. I pray for you and will work to ensure that you are supported on your journey towards healing and peace.”

 “I accept this Report in its entirety and, with the cooperation of our safeguarding personnel, I undertake to act promptly on its recommendations.”

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church has found that children who were abused by Irish missionaries abroad were not given as much support as children in Ireland.

It warned the Wicklow-based missionary society that it “must ensure into the future that there is no lower standard of safeguarding afforded to children abroad than that which is available to Irish children.”

The audit identified a letter in the Kiltegan Father’s files in which a Leader of the Kiltegan order expressed regret to a member at the fact that he has decided to leave and to seek laicisation.

The priest had suffered with serious mental illness but he was also a self-confessed abuser of young boys while serving on the missions.

One example investigated by the Safeguarding body concerned the behaviour of a priest identified in 1966. Minutes of a 1997 meeting record that in the mid to late 1960s there were several  reports in Kenya of homosexual activity between Fr X and young Goan boys.

This information was never communicated to Central Leadership of the Kiltegan Fathers until specific questions were posed in 1997.

The NBSCCCI found that there were 14 priests or religious in the order against whom allegations of sexual abuse have been made since the January 1975 up to the date of the review.

The total number of allegations was 50, of which 47 were reported to the gardai and HSE.

Several other reports are due to be published by the NBSCCCI this morning.

Meanwhile in Cashel and Emly, the NBSCCCI found that the number of priests or religious iagainst whom allegations of sexual abuse were made since 1975 was 13.

The total number of allegations was 19, all of which were reported to the gardai and 18 to the HSE.

Overall the reviewers felt that all cases were well managed.

The report states that the compassion of the victims towards their abuser was striking in two cases.

However it notes that the same compassion was not shown by one of the respondent priest, who often continued to deny the allegations.

In his statement, Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly re-iterated his “sincere apologies to those who have been harmed in this manner by priests of the diocese.”

He said what happened to them was “an outrageous betrayal of the priests’ calling and deserves our complete condemnation. Their suffering continues and we once again offer them not only our prayers but assistance in any way we can.”

The Fourth Tranche of the Reviews of Safeguarding practice across the Catholic Church brings the total authorities reviewed to date to 27.

“In the majority of cases the progress that has been made has been heartening,” said Teresa Devlin, Acting CEO of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI).

“However, this was not universally the case and we have undertaken to work closely with those that have not met the required standards to ensure that children are properly safeguarded.”

She went on to outline how the completion of 27 audit reports meant that a significant portion of the work to be done had now been completed.

“Our next tranche will see that last of the Dioceses being reviewed,”  said Devlin.

“And, we will also be dealing with the larger religious Congregations and Missionary Orders during 2014. Thereafter, many of those organisations still to be audited will be small in terms of membership and may have limited involvement with children – so we are expecting such audits to be quite rapid.”

Paul Melia

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