Tuesday 21 May 2019

Collusion of Church and State led to huge loss of faith

John Cooney

A SYSTEMIC, calculated perversion of power and trust inflicted on helpless and innocent children.

This is how the Government has described the shocking report of the Commission of Investigation.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has vowed that the offending clerics will continue to be pursued. He has warned them "there is no hiding place" and that "justice -- even where it may have been delayed -- will not be denied."

These stirring words contrast with the long period of cosy Church-State collusion -- and an era of 'kid glove' treatment of the Catholic Church by gardai.

For decades the gardai did not think it their job to interrogate churchmen accused of abusing innocent children and, even worse, Garda Commissioner Daniel Costigan gifted Archbishop John Charles McQuaid with incriminating evidence of a priest's filming of the young Marie Collins in hospital instead of pursuing a prosecution.

If Archbishop McQuaid had defrocked this priest -- and held a canon law trial against her abuser -- hundreds of other children may have avoided molestation by priest paedophiles.

These "disastrous" decisions by Archbishop McQuaid set a pattern for his three successors -- Archbishops Dermot Ryan, Kevin McNamara and Desmond Connell (up until 1995) to follow his bad example of cover-ups and non-referrals to the gardai. Cardinal Connell is credited with the re-introduction of canon law trials which Archbishop McQuaid baulked at and which Archbishops Ryan and McNamara let lapse.

Shocking, too, how assistant bishops like the late James Kavanagh, the retired Dermot O'Mahony and the promoted Donal Murray are found to have dealt particularly badly with complaints on their watch.

Nor does Rome come well out of this tragic saga at all, with the papal nuncio refusing to respond to correspondence from the commission.

The present-day church leadership of Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin have talked of their shame.

Inquiries

But the Government appears to be baulking at having similar Dublin and Ferns inquiries extended to other dioceses, as demanded by the One in Four support group and Survivors of Clerical Abuse.

Most intriguing of all, the commission discovered new information which came its way after its report was written last July and it wants to issue a second report.

Clerical child sex abuse issue is not yet off the political agenda, though the Church more than the State has been getting its act together on implementing effective child protection procedures.

But the priest rapists have not gone away, as shown by the lodging with Archbishop Martin of 131 new complaints since the commission's cut-off point of mid-2004.

Irish Independent

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