Wednesday 24 January 2018

Priest at centre of Cloyne sex claims faces dismissal

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A CHURCH canonical court has recommended that the cleric at the centre of the Cloyne Report into child abuse allegations be dismissed from the priesthood.

The elderly cleric, only known by the pseudonyms 'Fr Ronat' and 'Fr B', was informed of the decision this week, the Irish Independent has learned.

The priest now has 15 days to appeal the recommendation.

The ruling followed a lengthy inquiry by the Church watchdog body which included a detailed interview session in a north Cork retreat centre last October.

The probe was re-launched two years ago following the publication of Judge Yvonne Murphy's devastating report into how the Cork diocese mishandled clerical child abuse allegations.

The report found that the diocese had ignored the Church's own protection guidelines and had, by its actions, effectively left children at risk.

The Cloyne Report was published in July 2011 but the chapter involving 'Fr Ronat' was withheld from publication for a further six months for legal reasons. Immediately after the final chapter was published, the Church signalled that it was resuming the suspended canonical trial involving 'Fr Ronat'.

The priest, who has never been convicted of any offence, was the focus of 11 separate abuse complaints.

In total, the allegations against him formed the largest single chapter in the hard-hitting Cloyne Report. Chapter Nine ran to a total of 42 pages.

For over a decade 'Fr Ronat' has been forbidden by the Church from saying Mass in public. He is also not allowed to wear priestly clothing in public.

'Fr Ronat' was the focus of a canonical inquiry before Judge Murphy launched her inquiry, but the process was suspended so as not to interfere with her investigation.

It was immediately re-launched following the release of the Cloyne Report's final chapter.

The canonical inquiry is an internal Church investigation in which canon lawyers interviewed all those who lodged complaints of sexual abuse against the cleric. They then heard his version of events.

Several complainants said they were happy to co-operate with the probe and stressed that they wanted the priest to be defrocked.

A total of 18 other priests were the focus of allegations in the Cloyne Report which dealt with a period extending from 1996 to 2009.

Judge Murphy was asked to formally probe how the sprawling Cork diocese handled clerical child abuse allegations following the revelations of the Church's own watchdog body, the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children (NBSC).

The NBSC published its damning report in December 2008 and it prompted then-bishop Dr John Magee to step aside from diocesan duties in January 2009.

For almost four years the sprawling Cork diocese was run by the Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, Dr Dermot Clifford.

Cloyne's new bishop, Dr William Crean, was ordained in January and vowed to do everything possible to help and support abuse victims.

The Diocese of Cloyne had no comment to make last night on the canonical court inquiry.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News