Wednesday 15 August 2018

Abuse survivors not surprised by Church 'bid to bury records'

Mary McAleese revealed the alleged attempted cover-up
Mary McAleese revealed the alleged attempted cover-up
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Survivors of clerical sex abuse have said they are not surprised at allegations that the Vatican had tried to secure a cover-up of Church records.

Former President Mary McAleese says she received a request in 2003 from a senior Vatican official that Church documents should be protected and the State have no access to them.

At the time there were two inquiries into child abuse involving the Church in Ireland - the Ryan Commission and the Ferns Inquiry.

Ms McAleese said she immediately told the official - the Vatican's then secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano - the conversation had to stop.

She told 'The Irish Times' the incident was "one of the most devastating moments in my presidency".

Last night, clerical sex abuse survivor Marie Collins told the Irish Independent the alleged Vatican request "doesn't come as any surprise". She added it was an attempt to cover up the Church's "secrecy and lack of co-operation".

A stage is constructed around the Papal cross in the Phoenix Park for the Papal visit. Photo: Damien Eagers
A stage is constructed around the Papal cross in the Phoenix Park for the Papal visit. Photo: Damien Eagers

Another survivor, Amnesty Ireland boss Colm O'Gorman, said: "I'm not shocked or surprised by what Mary McAleese has revealed."

Mr O'Gorman said that the Vatican has always acted to try to protect its power and authority.

He added that Ms McAleese's account of her conversation with the cardinal was "entirely consistent with everything the Church and the Vatican were doing at the time" and the alleged deal was an attempt to "bury these records".

Mr O'Gorman, who founded survivor support charity One In Four, was abused as a teenager by Fr Seán Fortune in the 1980s.

The Vatican press office did not respond to requests for comment last night. Pope Francis visits Ireland later this month for the World Meeting of Families.

Ms McAleese's conversation with Mr Sodano occurred in the time of Pope John Paul II.

Pope Francis. Photo: REUTERS
Pope Francis. Photo: REUTERS

She said: "What he was asking for was an agreement between the Holy See and the Irish government under which Church documents would be protected by the Church and the State would, clearly, have no access to it."

She added she was "gratified to say it was never pursued".

Irish Independent

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