'No appetite in church to question priests over allegations'
Published 20/12/2010 | 05:00
A PRIEST who formerly served in the same parish where paedophile Tony Walsh served says there was "no appetite" in the church to question senior priests about child abuse.
Fr Joseph Doran, who is attached to the Kilmacud Parish in Dublin, yesterday spoke out about the difficulties he encountered in his two years as a curate in Ballyfermot from 1994 to 1996 -- where ex-cleric Walsh had previously served.
Fr Doran said he was disturbed as a young 25-year-old newly ordained priest to witness clergy going on camping weekends with young people from the parish.
"I regarded it at the time as inappropriate and didn't receive a kind reaction," he told the Irish Independent.
During his seven years in clerical college the issue of child sexual abuse had not been broached.
Fr Doran said that he introduced a requirement that anyone involved in parish youth work would have to undergo garda vetting.
"That was not received well," he remarked.
Fr Doran said he was "moved overnight" after he raised his concerns but he had stressed he wanted to stay in the parish.
At Mass yesterday he addressed parishioners on the abuse scandals. He said he had decided to do so because many people would have been aware that he had served for short periods in parishes and may have been wondering the reason for this.
The priest went on to praise the bravery of the people of Ballyfermot.
He was not aware "first hand of any instances of child abuse". From his first year there until 1995, the archbishop's house had not shared "knowledge of pastoral importance to priests" with those in the parish.
"I wasn't aware of it in any first-hand way in Ballyfermot, the culture of the diocese at the time is that junior people were not listened to and people were not listened to," he said.
"Among the world of the clergy I was regarded as disruptive and awkward to be asking questions," he said, which meant he served short periods in parishes.
He claimed there was no appetite to question senior priests and the "secrecy culture" was also a contributory factor in the length abuse went on without being challenged.
Fr Doran said the current Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, must be supported and listened to if there is to be any future for the priesthood.