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Sunday 21 January 2018

Vicar-General regrets role in failing children


Majella O'Sullivan and Ralph Riegel

ONE of the most senior Diocese of Cloyne clerics at the centre of the child-protection storm opted to stay away from his former parish in Cork yesterday.

Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan (80) -- a theological scholar, author, newspaper columnist and radio station founder -- told the Irish Independent from his holiday home in Co Kerry that the Cloyne Report had been "a very painful experience for everyone".

The retired parish priest and Vicar-General of the Diocese of Cloyne spent yesterday at his property in Waterville as reporters called throughout the day to his home in Mallow.

A statement was released on his behalf by a public-relations firm, in which he accepted "my primary role in this failure of implementation".

It continued: "As described in the report, I was never fully supportive of the church procedures, published by the bishops in 1996, as a guide for responding to allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy.

"I was not convinced that the procedures facilitated the pastoral response, either for complainants or those priests accused.

"It is important for me to state that I was personally appalled by the abuse that had occurred. To be confronted with the reality of knowing that some of my colleagues abused children is dreadful."

Speaking in Waterville yesterday, Mgr O'Callaghan said he deeply regretted what had happened.

"It's been a very painful experience for everyone, particularly those who have been abused back over many years.

"It's still very distressing and the last thing you'd want -- I hope I haven't done it and I may have -- would be to increase that distress, either by something I did or omitted to do. That really is on my mind."

Mgr O'Callaghan said he was pleased that the Cloyne Report had now been published.

He commented: "I was in the media and I appreciate what the media did in bringing all this to the fore."

He declined to comment on his former boss Dr John Magee.

"I know him very well and I don't think I'd like to say anything about him. He and I have been very good friends.

"He's done mighty work in the diocese. He's a deeply spiritual man and I suppose no one is prepared for this. And that's as much as I want to say."

Mgr O'Callaghan, a native of Meelin in North Cork, often says Mass at St Finian's in Waterville. He said that would not change.

Irish Independent

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