Enniscorthy Guardian

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Monsignor Ledwith dismissed from priesthood by the Pope

MONSIGNOR Micheal Ledwith, a native of Taghmon and former president of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, has been dismissed from the clerical state by the Pope.

Sources in Wexford and Dublin said the 'defrocking' had taken against the Monsignor in the past two weeks

While it does not spell out the specific Church action taken Ledwith, the Ferns Report says 'his position as a priest of the Diocese of Ferns was not resolved until September, 2005'.

The Inquiry makes the point that Monsignor Ledwith has at all times asserted his innocence of all allegations made against him.

It says it spoke with a group of six former seminarians, a former student, and Fr. Gerard McGinnity, formerly Senior Dean at Maynooth, in relation to complaints made against Monsignor Ledwith to various bishops in 1983 and 1984.

The group of former seminarians maintain that they voiced concerns over their seminary training, Monsignor Ledwith's allegedly extravagant lifestyle and his alleged sexual orientation and propensity.

Contrary to media reports, no specific allegations were made against Monsignor Ledwith, but rather a concern was expressed in a general sense.

After meeting with v various bishops, including Bishop Comiskey, the group was dissatisfied with the response received and reported the matter to Fr. Gerard McGinnity, in his capacity as senior dean. Fr. McGinnity spoke to three bishops and expressed his concerns in a confidential document returned to him by the Papal Nuncio. Bishop Casey, says the Report, became aware of communication between Fr. McGinnity and three bishops, and at a subsequent meeting with Fr. McGinnity called on him to produce a victim of sexual abuse by Monsignor Ledwith. Fr. McGinnity, who did not know of such a victim and couldn't produce one.

His purpose had been to relate concerns as to the appropriateness of his relationship with some students and he never had any specific allegations to report.

On the basis that a senior dean could not continue in the college after making such serious allegations against a vice principal of the college, Fr. McGinnity was required to remove himself on a year's sabbatical. Ten months later, Monsignor Ledwith was appointed president of the college.

The Report says that by any standard the concerns as communicated by the seminarians and expressed by Fr. McGinnity were inadequately investigated.

It says it fully understands Fr. McGinnity's feeling that he was victimised and that punitive actions, such as that taken against him, could only deter bona fide complaints to church authorities.

In detailing an allegation made against Monsignor Ledwith in 1984, the Report says a man it calls Raymond alleged he was abused by the monsignor in the early 1980s when he was 13 years of age, until after his 15th birthday.

'The exact age when this abuse is alleged to have been commenced is in dispute as Monsignor Ledwith states that he only become acquainted with this family after Raymond was 15 years old.

As a result of speaking to his parents about the abuse he went to meet Bishop Newman, Bishop of Limerick, who dismissed him abruptly.

Subsequently Bishop Comiskey informed the Inquiry that he meet Raymond and as a result was more decisive in taking action against Monsignor Ledwith, setting up a canonical investigation and and seeking to have the monsignor's priestly faculties removed.

Monsignor Ledwith reached a financial settlement with Raymond which did not involve the Diocese of Ferns, without any admission of liability. The settlement contained a 'confidentiality clause'.

The Inquiry also detailed another allegation against the Monsignor by a seminarian at Maynooth, with was withdrawn.

Monsignor Ledwith told the Inquiry the allegation was without foundation and made by a person whom he stated he didn't know and was alleged to have occurred when he was not in Ireland.