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Priests treated like imbeciles during Vatican probe into clerical child abuse – claims

PRIESTS in Ireland were treated like imbeciles during a Vatican probe into the clerical child abuse crisis that rocked the country, it has been claimed.

Father Sean McDonagh criticised the investigation and maintained processes used by Rome when examining complaints about clergy were appalling.

The Columban Father, a founding member of the liberal Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), described the publishing of a seven-page summary of a report from the unprecedented Vatican probe - known as an apostolic visitation - as incompetent.

Four senior churchmen, cardinals and archbishops from England, America and Canada, were sent by Pope Benedict to examine child protection measures in archdiocese, seminaries and religious institutes across Ireland in response to the catalogue of abuse outlined in the shocking Murphy and Ryan reports.

Fr McDonagh revealed he asked one cardinal's aide if she would attend meetings with no agenda, where you were not sure what would happen to what was being said, and where there was no promise a report would be published.

"She said no," said Fr McDonagh.

"I said that's exactly where we are at. We are being treated like imbeciles, like children."

He maintained no organisation would tolerate how the report was not made available.

"It's incompetent and it makes us look ridiculous," he said.

The former missionary raised serious questions about the Pontiff going to Cuba and stating it would be good if there was more dialogue.

"What about the mirror and looking in your own," he added.

Fr McDonagh also hit out at the silencing of another ACP founding member, Fr Tony Flannery, after a complaint made its way to the "Vatican civil service" about his views on the Church's ban on artificial birth control and support for the ordination of women.

"One of the sad things about it is here is the Church of Jesus Christ that talks about freedom and dialogue and sharing and we still have at the centre of the Church processes which are appalling to say the least," he said.