Sunday 17 December 2017

Court lifts the lid on priest's sexual abuse

John Cooney Religion Correspondent

HORRIFIC details of how jailed paedophile ex-cleric Tony Walsh was allowed to abuse young boys for years will be published next week by the Government.

Publication of the previously censored Chapter 19 of the Murphy report will show how Walsh, while appealing to the Vatican against his defrocking, sexually assaulted the 11-year-old grandson of a man whose funeral he attended dressed as a priest.

Last night, victims' support groups warned Walsh's vile sexual abuse of children will further damage church authorities and expose their failures.

Yesterday, a High Court order lifted the ban on a shocking section which for the first time will reveal details of a secret canonical trial convened in 1992 by then Archbishop Desmond Connell. It will show how a judgment by a church tribunal for Walsh's laicisation was thwarted for at least three years by the Vatican.

This will put the spotlight on two of the three canon lawyers who became bishops -- the retired Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh, and the Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey.

None of the three reported Walsh to the gardai. Bishop McAreavey will only comment once the section is published.


Previously, Bishop Willie Walsh said he understood at the time that the archdiocese had told gardai about the tribunal findings, but it had not.

In 1994, Tony Walsh stalled by appealing to Rome against his laicisation, and it was then that he raped the boy at his grandfather's funeral. The boy's parents contacted gardai and this led to Walsh being sentenced to a year in jail in 1995.

By then Rome had ruled that Walsh would remain a priest but spend time in a monastery. After the conviction, Archbishop Connell flew to Rome and secured Walsh's defrocking.

Maeve Lewis, of the One in Four victims' group, welcomed publication of the evidence presented to the commission that "will highlight even more how the archdiocese failed to protect children".

The way for publication of the chapter was paved with the conviction and jailing of Walsh last week for 16 years, with four suspended, on 17 counts of sexual abuse against three boys.

Irish Independent

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