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Monday 19 November 2018

All Irish clergy convicted of child sex abuse named on list

Group highlights offenders as it urges Pope to reveal those disciplined by the Church

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Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A list of all Irish clergy convicted of child sexual abuse is to be published for the first time as pressure mounts on the Vatican to release all documents relating to clerical abuse.

International organisation BishopAccountability.org - which has published similar lists of those accused of abuse in the US and South America - will publish the database today.

It includes names of priests and brothers who have been convicted or named in State enquiries and will contain more than 70 names, according to the group.

The organisation is calling on Pope Francis to release the names of all priests - including Irish ones - who have been disciplined by the Church for child sexual abuse.

The Pontiff will visit Ireland this weekend amid a deepening international scandal around its handling of child sexual abuse by clergy members.

The group will ask Ireland's Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, to endorse this idea to Pope Francis.

"An institution with a long and troubled history of concealing child sex abuse has two moral imperatives: to protect children and to help survivors heal," said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the group.

"Disclosing the names of the credibly accused is a powerful way for the Catholic Church to achieve both these goals."

Irish survivor Mark Vincent Healy will also publish a body of work that he has derived from audits published by the National Board of Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church of Ireland (NBSCCCI).

It points to a low conviction rate for clergy members accused of abuse - in a number of dioceses no convictions were secured against those who were accused of sexual abuse.

Mr Healy said he believed with the focus on the papal visit it was a prime time for Ireland to take a fresh look at the scale of abuse carried out here by clergy members.

He fears people have become "desensitised to what has been the most appalling attack on the youth of Ireland who have had to live with this trauma".

He said he would like to see Pope Francis, whom he met previously, hand over the Vatican's files on child sexual abuse to an "independent truth and conciliatory body" which could examine them on a global scale.

He said the 'name and shame' approach advocated by BishopAccountability would need to include strict controls to ensure there is zero room for false allegations. Meanwhile, the mandatory reporting approach advocated in Ireland falls short as there is no provision for mandatory care for those who come forward, he said.

Separately, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has backed calls for the release of Church files to State bodies. Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, when asked if he believed the Church should hand over relevant files, he said: "What we need, I believe, is truth, justice and healing for the victims. And, yes, that does involve making available any information that the State authorities ask for."

The Fine Gael leader has said he believes the Pope should address the issue of child sexual abuse when he visits, but said ultimately it was a decision for him to make.

The Archdiocese of Dublin and the Vatican did not respond to requests for comment last night.

Irish Independent

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