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Bishop denies he knew priest continued to abuse children


A BISHOP has rejected allegations that a paedophile priest confessed to him in jail to the continued abuse of children after a parish transfer.

Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby was forced to issue the denial following reports that he moved a known abuser from one parish to another in 1990 and that the convicted cleric went on to attack.

"I am not aware of an acknowledgement by 'Priest A' that he abused any child subsequent to October 1990, the date when I first learned of his sexual abuse of a child," Bishop Kirby said.

The long-serving senior cleric, heavily criticised by the Catholic Church's own watchdog for mishandling allegations in his diocese, insisted last month that he did not know if the priest went on to abuse after a parish transfer.

Amid reports that the priest confessed in jail, the bishop said he had not received the information.

"Again, contrary to what is claimed, I am not in receipt of any complaint and I have neither knowledge nor suspicion that 'Priest A' abused a child in either of the parishes of Kiltormer or Creagh subsequent to October 1990," Bishop Kirby said.

"In seeking to correct the public record on this matter, I regret that this again could serve to exacerbate the hurt which my earlier widely publicised remarks have caused to victims of child sexual abuse and to their families."

Priest A was jailed in 1994 for 10 years for abusing a child in Galway.

The bishop denied that he was told by the priest during a visit to Arbour Hill Prison that he had abused 17 children.

Bishop Kirby's decision to transfer the priest, and a second cleric, was detailed in an audit of the Clonfert Diocese by the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church.

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Its report on September 5 revealed that the bishop dealt inappropriately with allegations against priests.

He admitted moving two priests to new parishes after complaints were made and went on to claim that he thought at the time that paedophilia in the priesthood was a friendship "gone too far".

Bishop Kirby apologised for transferring the priest and later for his attempted explanation.

"I have accepted any criticisms of my past actions and omissions and have apologised for them. I do so again today," he said.

This is the second time the bishop has rejected claims that he was aware either of the priests went on to abuse. In a letter to parishes across the diocese in the middle of September he insisted he was not aware of allegations from the parishes the priests moved to.

One report today claimed the priest in question disclosed to the bishop information on 17 children during a prison visit. The bishop allegedly visited the prison after being approached by the mother who wanted to know if her son had been abused. A subsequent list of victims did not include her son.