Saturday 20 January 2018

Catalogue of failure revealed as 'hidden' chapter published

'FATHER RONAT'

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE newly released chapter of the Cloyne Report details a catalogue of shocking errors and delays in handling abuse complaints levelled against a priest dubbed 'Fr Ronat'.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that Chapter 9 -- the longest chapter in the entire report by Judge Yvonne Murphy -- had left her "deeply disturbed".

Victim support group One In Four said it was clear that the diocese had tried to protect and support priests, including Fr Ronat.

The 42-page chapter found that:

• On one occasion there wasn't "any evidence of a genuine investigation" into an abuse complaint.

• On another occasion, diocesan officials waited six months to put an abuse allegation to Fr Ronat.

• Fr Ronat at one point threatened to sue Bishop John Magee for defamation if he was not made a parish priest. This was described by one diocesan official as "self-evidently a bluff" by the priest.

• One complainant said that another diocesan official adopted "a deplorable" attitude toward her in hearing her complaint. "He could just barely tolerate me being there."

• When discussing whether to promote Fr Ronat, the diocese was "more concerned about causing scandal than protecting children".

• Fr Ronat was offered promotion as parish priest to two parishes before 1999 -- knowing he would refuse both appointments.

• Despite a diocesan committee recommending restricted ministry for Fr Ronat, "there is no evidence of any restriction being placed on him at this time".

• The report found that one complainant made a statement to gardai in 2003 -- but that there was no proper investigation until 2009. The statement was then found in a filing cabinet.

• Despite restrictions placed on Fr Ronat to stop his involvement in school activities, he "acted as the master of ceremonies at Confirmation ceremonies". This was known to diocesan authorities.

• When Fr Ronat was finally stood down from ministry, he was not stopped from wearing priestly garb.

• The perception amongst some was that Fr Ronat had health problems and that he was a priest in good standing.

Irish Independent

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