Saturday 23 September 2017

Gardai seek O'Mahony contact

Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Gardai are seeking the assistance of the retired Bishop of Dublin, Dermot O'Mahony, after discovering in their investigations into a case involving the alleged rape of boys by a priest that the boys were interviewed by the canonical "enquiries" system. Dr O'Mahony is not suspected of any offence.

The gardai want to know if there are any documents relevant to their investigations held by the Dublin diocese.

Bishop O'Mahony was criticised in last year's Murphy Report on the Dublin diocese for his handling of abuse cases. He subsequently called on priests to question the report's findings of cover-ups. He said they should "challenge the acceptance by media and current diocesan policy that a cover-up took place" and had a public row with Archbishop Martin over his calls for senior clergy criticised in the report to resign.

However, it was learned last week that detectives investigating complaints of rape and sexual abuse against a Dublin priest, now retired, have twice tried to contact the retired bishop without success, so far. On both occasions they received communications from solicitors but no documents or comment from Dr O'Mahony.

It is understood a number of the victims said they were interviewed by clergy after making complaints about the sexual abuse in the 1970s. The gardai now want to see those internal documents.

There was no response from the Catholic Information Office to an inquiry about the position of the retired bishop in relation to the case.

In respect of Bishop O'Mahony, the Murphy Report found the ex-bishop "dealt particularly badly with complaints" saying he was aware of complaints involving 13 of the priests in the representative sample in Dublin studied by Judge Yvonne Murphy.

Judge Murphy found that Dr O'Mahony failed to tell Archbishop Dermot Ryan about a number of complaints. He gave one priest, referred to as "Fr Vidal", a reference to the diocese of Sacramento in California without explaining that the priest had had a "relationship" with a 13-year-old girl, and that he shredded documents relating to this affair in 2001.

He was also found to have allowed a psychiatric report on clerical abuser, Ivan Payne, to be relied on by Archbishop Dermot Ryan and Archbishop Desmond Connell even though it was clearly based on inaccurate information.

In January Dr O'Mahony circulated correspondence between himself and Archbishop Martin in which the Archbishop accused him of "underestimating the degree of dismay and anger that people feel about the commission's references to you". The Archbishop added that Dr O'Mahony showed neither remorse nor apology for the mishandling of clerical child abuse complaints. He ordered Dr O'Mahony to refrain from administering the sacrament of confirmation and cease his association with the Irish Pilgrimage Trust which takes children with special needs to Lourdes.

Dr O'Mahony said Archbishop Martin's letter was the "harshest communication I have ever received from anyone during my 34 years as a bishop and almost 50 years as a priest."

Also last week the Catholic hierarchy moved to silence the retired canonical lawyer, Monsignor Maurice Dooley after he made a series of high-profile media appearances claiming that Cardinal Daly was correct not to report the rape and sexual abuse in 1975 and that this situation held today under canon law.

Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly, where Mons Dooley is based, issued a statement saying: "As his bishop and on behalf of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, I want to state that all concerns that come to light are reported fully and without delay to the State authorities.

"I want to give that assurance to all who may have heard Monsignor Dooley's remarks. Such views do not represent the policy or the practice of the Catholic Church in Ireland today concerning the reporting of allegations of abuse to the civil authorities, North and South.

"The policy and practice of this diocese, and every diocese, is to report all allegations to the statutory authorities. As a consequence, I have spoken to Monsignor Dooley today and he assures me that he will not be speaking again in this controversy. I regret the distress, anger, and confusion that Mgr Dooley's remarks have caused in recent days to all concerned."

Sunday Independent

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