FORMER Bishop of Ferns, Brendan Comiskey, has broken his silence for the first time about the clerical sex abuse scandal that forced his dramatic resignation 12 years ago.
The 79-year-old, who retreated into hiding from public life following revelations that he failed to protect children from paedophile priests in his Wexford diocese, told the Irish Independent: “I did my best and it wasn’t good enough and that’s it.”
Our video footage shows the disgraced bishop answer a series of questions about the clerical sex abuse scandal and why he kept silent on the issue since 2002.
But Bishop Comiskey, a reformed alcoholic who retains the honorary title of Bishop Emeritus, claimed that an “extraordinary amount” of revelations concerning child abuse in the wider Irish society are yet to be exposed.
Comiskey resigned in 2002 after the ground – breaking BBC TV documentary, ‘Suing the Pope’, revealed how he had failed to take action to protect children from serial paedophile priest Sean Fortune.
Fortune killed himself in 1999 while awaiting trial on 66 charges of sexual abuse against 29 boys.
Three years after his resignation, Bishop Comiskey was severely criticised in the government-appointed Ferns Report on clerical abuse in his diocese. The report found Comiskey’s investigation into the rape of children by his clergy was "an inappropriate and inadequate response". It concluded that he had "failed to recognise the paramount need to protect children, as a matter of urgency, from potential abusers".
When asked how he now feels about the scandal which ended what had been seen as a promising career, Bishop Comiskey replied: “I feel exactly the same way I felt the day I resigned, deeply sorry for everything that happened. It [the Ferns situation] was a mess, there is a new fellow [Bishop Brennan] there and they have an excellent structure in place to care for victims.”
The elderly cleric, who now hosts religious retreats around the country, said that his problem with alcohol “was not an excuse” for his failure to protect children from up to ten paedophile priests in the Diocese of Ferns.
He also revealed that he had read the Ferns Report “several times” but did not want to “start going over it again now” and declined a request for a more comprehensive interview for the benefit of the Fern’s victims and his wider flock.
“I am not hiding; I am living like an ordinary Irish citizen. I am retired, retired people don’t talk to the public in any other profession,” he said.
Read the full story in today’s Irish Independent