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RC abuse failures highlighted

14 September 2012

A REPORT on child safety at the hands of prominent religious orders in Ireland and abroad, prepared by the RC National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, and involving four dioceses and three religious congregations, has led to new disclosures of failure to report abuse to the Garda authorities.

The chief executive of the board, Ian Elliott, a Presbyterian, said that the results were "disappointing".

The Bishop of one diocese found to be lacking (Clonfert), Dr John Kirby, who moved two offending priests to other parishes, said that, 20 years ago, he did not know how paedophiles operated. Although he was now aware that his response had been "grossly inadequate", he has not considered resigning.

A review of one order that operates fee-paying schools, the Spiritans (formerly Holy Ghost Fathers), showed that priests who were serial abusers were given "unmonitored access to children from the 1960s to the 1980s". A spokesman for the order apologised, and pledged to implement the review's recommendations in full.

In the case of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC), the review found their child-protection policies "deeply flawed", and accused the order's leaders of maintaining a culture of secrecy. The Provincial, Fr Joseph McGee, issued an unreserved apology.

Also highlighted in the report was the male Dominican Order.

Other dioceses have been praised for swiftly implementing "robust" policies, including Limerick and its former Bishop, the Rt Revd Donal Murray, although he had to resign in 2009 over decisions made when he was a Dublin auxiliary bishop.


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