Thursday 17 October 2019

Sex abuse-claim priest worked on for 10 years

Ralph Riegel

AN UNPUBLISHED chapter of the Cloyne Report reveals that a priest at the centre of multiple abuse complaints was effectively left in unrestricted ministry for more than a decade.

Alleged victims of the priest -- known by the pseudonym 'Fr Ronat' -- are not expected to receive the full Cloyne Report and its unpublished chapter until shortly before it is formally released by Justice Minister Alan Shatter on Monday.

The High Court yesterday cleared the way for the suspended chapter of the hard-hitting report into the handling of clerical abuse complaints in the Cork diocese to finally be published.

Chapter nine was redacted or withheld on the order of the High Court on July 19 for legal reasons -- and is the only portion of Judge Yvonne Murphy's report not to have been publicly released.

The Cloyne Report deals with the handling by church and state authorities of child sex abuse allegations in the diocese between January 1 1996, and February 1 2009.

The report consists of a total of 27 chapters and relates to 19 clerics against whom complaints were made.

It sparked outrage on its publication last summer -- and was at the centre of a diplomatic row between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Vatican.

The publication of chapter nine was delayed until Monday because Mr Shatter wanted to ensure proper counselling supports were in place for those impacted by the fresh Cloyne revelations.

Last night, victim support group One In Four welcomed the publication decision -- and said that every effort would be made to support those involved.

"We will be working with the National Counselling Service and Rape Crisis Centre to provide whatever counselling and support is needed," One In Four director Maeve Lewis told the Irish Independent.

'Fr Ronat' is one of 19 clerics at the centre of the report -- but is the only priest about whom full information has not yet been released.


The chapter that deals with how abuse allegations against him were handled by then Bishop John Magee and his child-protection team is the longest in the entire report, at 42 pages.

The Irish Independent understands that the chapter dealing with 'Fr Ronat' found that Cloyne -- despite having signed up to specific child-protection guidelines issued by the church -- was still failing to properly handle such allegations as late as 2008.

It also found that, despite the serious nature of some of the complaints lodged against 'Fr Ronat', several of these were not passed on to gardai for investigation, as required by the guidelines. After he finished his ministry, he continued to wear clerical garb.

The main report found that Dr Magee left the implementation of child protection measures entirely to his vicar-general, Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, and failed to ensure they were properly implemented.

Msgr O'Callaghan -- despite his diocese having signed up to specific child protection guidelines -- did not fully agree with these and attempted, at times, to follow a more pastoral approach.

Both Dr Magee and Msgr O'Callaghan have profusely apologised over their failings, as highlighted in other sections of the Cloyne Report.

Cloyne is in the process of negotiating compensation packages with a number of clerical abuse victims.

Irish Independent

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