Cloyne parishes to hold meetings over abuse report
SPECIAL parish meetings are to be staged in the Diocese of Cloyne in a bid to address public shock and anger over the mishandling of clerical child abuse complaints.
The meetings were proposed at a gathering of clerics organised last week by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) as several clerics in the Cork diocese urged former bishop Dr John Magee to return and publicly answer questions arising from the Cloyne Report.
The ACP meeting took place in Ovens and was attended by 25 clerics from both the dioceses of Cloyne and Cork and Ross.
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It took place just 48 hours after one Cloyne priest, Fr Joseph McGuane, had said there was "a culture of fear" within the diocese and that clerics needed to speak out.
Fr McGuane -- who is a chaplain in St Raphael's Centre in Youghal, Co Cork -- said that the hierarchy had sailed the church into "a perfect storm".
Now, individual parish priests will be asked to consider staging special meetings at which people will have the opportunity to raise their concerns and anger over the Cloyne Report revelations.
Barryroe parish priest Fr Eoin Whooley, spokesman for the ACP clerics, said they were as upset as ordinary parishioners over the report's findings.
"There was a strong sense of being let down by people who should know better," he explained.
"There was a sense of disappointment that the (childcare) guidelines were not followed -- we thought we had moved on. There was also anger," he added.
Fr Whooley said it was now proposed to provide a forum whereby ordinary mass-goers would have a chance to "talk about their opinions and their fears".
These would be staged in parish halls and would be organised if the local clergy felt that to do so would be useful.
Another cleric, Fr Michael Kelleher, former parish priest of Mahon, said it clearly highlighted weaknesses in the church's internal structures, in terms of how it deals with such issues.
A key issue that emerged from the ACP meeting was that morale amongst clerics has taken a major hit because of the report and its shock findings.
The administrator of Cloyne, Archbishop Dr Dermot Clifford, also acknowledged that the report had had a devastating impact on clerical morale.
It was highly critical of Dr Magee and his vicar-general, Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, over the manner in which they mishandled complaints of clerical child abuse.
Dr Magee -- a private secretary to three popes -- left Ireland before the Cloyne Report was published. His whereabouts remain unknown.
Monsignor O'Callaghan has apologised for his role in the controversy.