Bishop ‘must go’ after 'friendship' comments on paedophile priests

Clodagh Sheehy

PRESSURE was today mounting for the resignation of Bishop John Kirby after he revealed that he once believed that paedophilia was a "friendship" gone astray.

Abuse survivor and campaigner Christine Buckley has called for both Bishop Kirby and Cardinal Sean Brady to step down in the wake of the latest report.

“In his study of theology, Bishop Kirby obviously missed out on the area of consensual sex between two adults.

“He should have known about paedophilia since it was first documented in the 5th- century”.

“Of course, Bishop Kirby and Cardinal Brady should both step down” she added, saying that all of the current church leaders in Ireland should be “flushed out” to give the church a chance of renewal.

Ian Elliott, the head of the National Board for Safeguarding Children – which has produced the latest report – has also called into question the competency of Dr Kirby.


“Care needs to be taken when appointing a bishop that you do not appoint a bishop with these attitudes,” he said.

“These are basic competencies that everyone should have in authority.”

Support group One in Four said they were “shocked and alarmed by revelations

of appalling practice where

the pain and suffering of victims could have been prevented.”

The revelations in the latest report on diocesan child sex abuse have been branded by Children’s Minister Francis Fitzgerald as “horrific”.

She said that the extent of the cover-up was shocking.

“In the case of at least one order, we see that it continued up to as recently as last year to fail to report past admission of abuse to gardai,” she added.

The audit revealed that Bishop Kirby had transferred two abusive priests from one parish to another in 1990 and 1994 although the abuse was reported to the civil authorities.

On a radio interview, the cleric said that he had once believed that ’90s clerical child abuse was nothing more than “a friendship that had gone astray, and was wrong”.

The church’s protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, has detailed a litany of child protection failures in its audits of four dioceses and three religious congregations.

The key findings include allegations against 146 clerics relating to 378 complaints of abuse. Twelve convictions were secured.

One congregation with serial abusers failed to report any abuse until 1994 and the Sacred Heart audit had to be suspended the day after it began when Mr Elliott found that complaints had not been passed to the gardai.

Dr Kirby has defended his own actions by explaining that at the time, “I was unaware of the recidivist nature or the compulsive nature of sexual abuse and I felt that it was friendship that had gone astray and was wrong.

“I now know how bad that was. It was a grave mistake”.

But rights campaigner Andrew Madden, himself a survivor of abuse, said: “I have no confidence in Bishop Kirby’s management of child protection in the Diocese of Clonfert”. Cardinal Sean Brady, meanwhile, has refused to comment on the latest report saying comment rested with those at the centre of the audits.

These include the diocese of Clonfert, Limerick, Cork and Ross and Kildare and Leighlin, along with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Irish Province of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit and the Dominican Friars.