Sunday 19 November 2017

Cleric who 'wouldn't report an abuser' is silenced

Ciaran Byrne and John Cooney

A CONTROVERSIAL cleric who provoked public outrage by saying he would not go to the gardai if any paedophile priest confessed to him has been silenced by his ecclesiastical boss.

Monsignor Maurice Dooley, a retired canon lawyer in the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, was summoned to the archbishop's palace in Thurles yesterday for a dressing-down.

In a statement afterwards Archbishop Dermot Clifford said he was given an assurance by Fr Dooley that he would not be speaking publicly on the controversy again.

The controversy centres on whether or not Cardinal Sean Brady should have given gardai information about the abuse of two boys in 1975 by paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth, which he obtained from them under an oath of secrecy while conducting a canonical inquiry for the Bishop of Kilmore.

Archbishop Clifford said that Fr Dooley expressed personal views about "the reporting of safeguarding concerns to the appropriate state authorities".


The archbishop said he regretted the distress, anger, and confusion that Mgr Dooley's remarks had caused.

"I want to state that all concerns that come to light are reported fully and without delay to the state authorities," Archbishop Clifford added.

"I want to give that assurance to all who may have heard Mgr Dooley's remarks.

"Such views do not represent the policy or the practice of the Catholic Church in Ireland today concerning the reporting of allegations of abuse to the civil authorities. . .

"The policy and practice of this diocese, and every diocese, is to report all allegations to the statutory authorities."

The dressing down came as one of Cardinal Brady's most trusted lieutenants again defended the All-Ireland primate yesterday, saying failures by him to act on abuse cases had happened in a different era.

Auxiliary bishop of Armagh Gerard Clifford said Cardinal Brady behaved correctly in 1975.

But furious abuse survivors including Andrew Madden rounded on Bishop Clifford, pointing out it was always open to Fr Brady to go to gardai with concerns about a child being abused.

Bishop Clifford was speaking on RTE's 'Today with Pat Kenny' where he said Cardinal Brady's St Patrick's Day admission of making mistakes was "clear and genuine".

"There are very few times that I have ever heard of anyone saying publicly . . . 'I am ashamed'.

The bishop claimed 30 years ago clergy did not know or would not have thought of going to gardai upon hearing allegations of sexual abuse.

""Now things are very different because of the mandatory reporting introduced since 1996," he added.

Abuse survivor Andrew Madden dismissed Bishop's Clifford's comments. He said he had listened to Dr Brady talk about a "painful experience" from his past.

"I didn't have any impression. . . that this was a painful experience for him, (he did) his job in accordance with the wishes of the bishop and then carried on about his business.

"I take huge issue with this line peddled by the bishops that after 1996 all was well."

Irish Independent

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