14Aug Message to the priests of Cloyne from Rory Connor

The media have given very slanted versions of what is a very slanted Report – or just engaged in anti-clerical rants. However have priests in the Cloyne diocese done anything to correct the distortions? FOR EXAMPLE:

At least three allegations were against priests who had died before any accusations were received, so they weren’t given any opportunity of defending themselves – in fact, a fourth such case is almost certainly related to a long-dead priest, the identity of whom remains unknown even now. Yet Judge Murphy criticises the handling of these cases by the Diocese. Suppose the allegations had been reported directly to the Gardai or the HSE. What precisely could they have done that the diocese did not do? The Gardai are supposed to catch criminals, the HSE to protect children. What could either of them have done about decades-old allegations made by adults against deceased priests?

The clergy of the diocese should be making these points to their parishioners. HOWEVER are Cloyne priests even aware of these issues or do they just swallow whatever our anti-clerical journalists choose to feed them?
Rory O’Connor

31 Responses

  1. Fr Gabriel Burke

    We published in our Parish News letter and on my blog the following
    http://frgabrielburke.blogspot.com/2011/07/facts-not-reported-in-cloyne-report.html
    Thanks to Fr. Joe O Leary it appeared on many websites.

    However Judge Murphy criticised the Diocese because the Church Guidelines require that all allegations be reported to The Gardaí and HSE even when the person is dead. In 8.8 of Our Children Our Church it states “Where the person against whom the allegation is being made is deceased, the police authorities should still be informed as there may be implications for the investigation of other cases.”

  2. Rory Connor

    Thanks for publishing this. The most useful information I have come across re the Cloyne Report is contained in several articles on “The Thirsty Gargoyle” [TTG] blog . Please note the following concerning Chapter 26 of the Report which is a key section since it refers to allegations made against Bishop Magee himself:

    TTG points out that the chapter seems to have no relevance to the terms of reference of the Commission since it does NOT relate to child sexual abuse.
    http://thethirstygargoyle.blogspot.com/2011/07/on-wading-through-cloyne-report.html

    “Chapter 26 details how Magee himself is said to have inappropriately hugged a young adult male, but the Report gives no indication of when this happened. More importantly, it is unclear on the youth’s age (C26.4), despite the fact of the Report stating that although he had been accepted for a place in seminary when he was approximately 17½ years old he had to wait until he was 18 before starting his studies (C26.3), and that the youth was first hugged by the bishop at a meeting just before the start of the seminary year when he was due to begin his studies (C26.4). At least on the basis of the Report, he must have been eighteen at the time, but the Report seems unnecessarily vague on the matter. …

    “…. I don’t see that the Magee episode as described in Chapter 26 has any place in the Report at all. I don’t dispute for a moment that it’s troubling, but what’s clear from it is that it concerns the bishop having allegedly hugged an admittedly young adult male, and having kissed him on the forehead. Everybody who considered this matter — the diocesan delegate Father Bermingham, Ian Elliott of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, Archbishop Clifford, and the Gardaí — all took the same view, which was that though Magee’s behaviour was inappropriate, given the actual details revealed and Joseph’s age at the time, the behaviour described did not constitute an allegation of child sexual abuse. Given that the remit of the Report was to report on the handling of allegations and suspicions of child sexual abuse received by the diocese of Cloyne between 1996 and 2009, I really don’t see why this is in the report at all. I’m not saying it’s good; it’s nothing of the sort. I’m just saying it’s not in the remit of the Report.”

  3. andrew Harper

    Thanks for the link Father Burke – I will send this to the catholic newspapers and hope they publish it

  4. Rory Connor

    Fr Burke. Yes I think I originally found The Thirsty Gargoyle articles through Fr Joe O’Leary’s blog also. I disagree with him on most things but it is heartening that liberals and conservatives are prepared to come together on THIS issue. (Incidentally it is also far too late).
    http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/07/whatever-happened-to-the-sacrament-of-penance-confession-reconciliation.html#comments

    The Gargoyle has what amounts to an overview of the entire Report in one of his articles which consists of a series of questions and answers – “How Many Questions on The Cloyne Report?”
    http://thethirstygargoyle.blogspot.com/2011/07/how-many-questions-on-cloyne-report.html

    Three of the “Questions” and replies are as follows:

    8. How many allegations did the diocese receive?
    The Report deals with allegations against nineteen priests, including John Magee himself

    9. John Magee? There were allegations against the Bishop?
    Yes. Well, sort of. There was a troubling incident or series of incidents, but it seems that the matter in question, while inappropriate and unwise, couldn’t possibly be deemed child sexual abuse. It’s difficult to see what the Diocese’ response to an allegation of something that certainly wasn’t child sexual abuse is doing in a report on how the Diocese dealt with allegations of child sexual abuse, but there you have it. The Report’s not perfect.

    10. Right, so it [the Report] deals with allegations against eighteen priests. That’s a lot, isn’t it?
    It is, though it depends on what you mean by a lot. The Devil’s in the details, and when thinking of these eighteen priests, it’s worth keeping mind that the Report notes that 430 priests were incardinated in the Diocese between 1932, the year in which the oldest priest covered in the Report had been ordained, and 2010, and that there has been only one case in Cloyne where a court decreed a priest guilty of any sort of sexual abuse. I think even one is one too many, really.

    “Two of the cases deal not with allegations but mere expressions of concern, one about an isolated episode seventeen years earlier.
    “At least three allegations were against priests who had died before any accusations were received, so they weren’t given any opportunity of defending themselves — indeed, a fourth such case is almost certainly related to a long-dead priest, the identity of whom remains unknown even now — and three complaints were about priests who died soon after allegations were received.
    “In four cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided against pressing charges, and although charges were brought in a fifth case, no criminal prosecution took place.
    “The Director of Public Prosecutions repeatedly decided against pressing charges against yet another priest, identified in the Report as ‘Father Ronat’ and in the Elliott Report as ‘Father B’; however he has since been tried and acquitted.
    “In only one case has a priest of Cloyne diocese been convicted of any crime related to abuse: this priest, the Report’s ‘Father Caden’, pleaded guilty to gross indecency and received an eighteen-month suspended sentence.”

    MY OWN COMMENT: I think it is very important that Catholics in the Cloyne Diocese should be made aware of the above facts by their priests.

  5. Fr. Gabriel Burke

    Rory,
    The links you have provided are already on my blog.

  6. Tim Hazelwood

    As a priest of the diocese of Cloyne I wish to respond to comments made by Rory especially as he tells us how we should have responded after the publication of the report. These views are my own and I do not claim to speak for anybody else.
    The publication of the report led to a mixture of feelings (summed up well in the report on the meeting of priests from Cork elsewhere on this site) As with any strong feelings they need to be absorbed and well thought out before an appropriate response is forthcoming. I like my fellow priests had to discern for ourselves what that response might be. For me this was done keeping three factors in mind. I felt that I had to take into account A) the reality that many victims of sexual abuse are present in any congregation. This has been a very difficult time for them and their families and I in no way wanted to add to their suffering. B) the fact is that major mistakes have been identified in the way allegations have been handled in Cloyne and that fact needed and still needs to be acknowledged. C) an admission that the ordinary everyday faithful Catholic is suffering every bit as much as we priests are and they need to be listend to in a genuine and emphatic way. This for me was the appropriate pastoral response at this time and will be for a long time to come.
    While I acknowledge the validity of what you say concerning the distortions that you mention. The time for me as a priest of the diocese to ‘correct’ them is not oppertune, for the reasons given above. There are many fair minded people who are impartial, like yourself Rory, who can make these observations. As for your final comment about us Rory, Yes I can say we are painfully aware of not only the issues involved, but also many of the people affected and that makes a big difference. Finally Rory I feel that your comment on our ability to discern what journalists write says more about your own relationship with the media than it says about us.

  7. Liam Kelleher

    I am sure that like me, most of my fellow clergy are still in a state of shock since the publicatin of the Cloyne report. The only major source of support and concern for our welfare and feelings, as far as I am concerned has come from the meeting in Ovens last week which was attended by 26 priests from the Diocese of Cork and Cloyne and invited guest Tony Flannery, from the ACP. It was so uplifting and supportive that I left encouraged and upbeat, that at least we had a forum at our disposal to talk openly about our fears, frustrations and feelings since the damming report was issued. I know that there are so many of our clergy who need reassurance. I was surprised that only 3 from the Cloyne diocese in full time ministry and 2 retired were present for this wonderful afternoon. The press which many of us so often complain about, have been very positive in the many reports that have eminated from the meeting. In to-nights Evening Echo Tuesday August 16th a good overall picture of the minutes of the meeting courtesy of Michael Kelleher was published. In my view, it is an answer to those who say the voice of the priests have not been heard and the media are just giving one side of the story. The media in fact, even apart, from to-nights Echo report, have been very balanced about their reporting of the meeting in the past week. A summary can also be found on the ACP websitewesite at http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie. I am also baffled that there is so much appparent apathy towards the ACP in the diocese of Cloyne all the meetings I have attended in Portlaiose, Charleveille and Ovens have been hugey supportive and very positive. I would urge you to give the ACP your support and try and make an effort to attend the AGM in Dublin in October.
    Liam Kelleher

  8. Fr Gabriel Burke

    Liam,
    I for one would not have been comfortable discussing these matters with priests from outside the Diocese. I have great respect for the C&R Clergy, having worked with many over the years but as Tim has pointed out with such raw feelings I would rather, as one of our priests stated, talk to the family first and then to the cousins. Because we are leaderless at the moment that has not happened. I do not accept the reasoning of our Adm for not holding a meeting and I resent learning about forthcoming meetings for the Cloyne Clergy through the media.
    I have been heartened by the support we have received from each other and from our parishioners.

  9. Mary Burke

    Father Gabriel, of course you have every right to hold that view and to express it.
    It strikes me as quite narrow-minded, and if you’ll pardon the pun, parochial.
    The analogy of family breaks down immediately. To look for borders so that you can say ‘This one is in, the other one out.’ is understandable, but counterproductive and actually, unchristian. We are all the family of God. Diocesan boundaries are irrelevant. Someone, like yourself coming to Cloyne from another diocese ought to understand that.
    Would it stick in your craw to acknowledge the positive influence and contribution of the ACP, especially since you avail yourself of its website? The members of the association deserve much thanks and appreciation for the work they do.

  10. Anthony J. Butler

    Gabriel,

    I am indeed happy that you have received such support. I thank Tim for his wise pastoral approach. That nourishment of suppport is so necessary.

    Reading the words of the antropologist Margaret Mead ” We all need someone to worry about us when we don’t come home at night,” that about summs it up for me as a man and as a priest.

    Time to bring parishoners into a place of dialogue ? yes, I think so. it is not far-fetched to speak – further down that long road – about posttraumatic growth. I hear folk saying we must learn from this – it is more than learning, it is all about listening…. listening….

    Thanks Gabriel, Tim, Liam and Rory.

  11. Rory Connor

    I am afraid that the response from priests here tends to confirm my view that the clergy will do nothing and simply allow the media to vent their hatred. The fact that Judge Murphy used a key chapter of her Report to examine an allegation against Bishop Magee that did NOT concern a child and was NOT sex abuse is critical. The media have ignored this key issue and Cloyne priests seem happy to do the same. (I know that the Bishop should be there to put his case, but even that does not excuse your silence.) Do you expect the people of the diocese to wade through the 400 page report and discover that distortion – and many others? Why should they even bother to try? Anti-clerical journalists are ranting, the Government is denouncing the Church and clergy are
    apologising. To the ordinary Catholic everything seems clear – you must be guilty!

    Perhaps I should explain something of my own background. My website http://www.irishsalem.com is about false allegations of child abuse – mainly those directed at the Catholic Church. I concentrate especially on allegations that children were deliberately killed by the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy. These allegations commenced after the broadcast of “Dear Daughter” by RTE in 1996 and escalated after the broadcast of Mary Raftery’s “States of Fear” series in 1999. They largely came to an end about 2004/05 as it became clear that they were nonsense. (Unlike claims of abuse made decades after the alleged events, it IS possible to verify if children were murdered – and many of these claims related to periods when no child died of any cause!)

    I made representations to the Ryan Commission about these allegations – both individually and as a member of the group “Let Our Voices Emerge” that defended falsely accused persons. I pointed out that the claims were made by leading members of FOUR “Victim’s groups (not to mention journalists and broadcasters) and that this reflected on the credibility of those accusers. The Ryan Report makes no mention of the child killing allegations. I originally thought that the Commission just ignored the issue completely. I subsequently discovered that the accusers WERE in
    fact questioned, their claims were found to be without foundation and the Commission simply decided to exclude them from its Report. Therefore the Ryan Report excludes any allegations that are OBVIOUSLY false but accepts as true, any claims that the religious cannot disprove.Thus it grossly biased – just like the Cloyne Report in fact.

    However the main link with Cloyne is the behaviour of the religious/clergy who were demonised. Why did the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy not point out the gross ommissions in the Ryan Report? Presumably for the same reason that the priests of the Cloyne Diocese will not criticise Judge Murphy’s Report. Their silence will not result in healing but will cause their parishioners to regard them as guilty.

    Incidentally my own article on Cloyne is at
    http://irishsalem.com/irish-controversies/cloyne-report-2011/index.php
    It links to two previous false allegations against Bishop Magee in respect of which the UK Guardian had to apologise in 1994 and TV3 in 1997. Strangely, there is no mention of either in Judge Murphy’s report even though they MUST have affected the way the Bishop reacted to similar claims against his priests.

  12. Fr Gabriel Burke

    Rory,
    I find your rant presumptuous. Do you think that the only way we communicate with our parishioners is from the pulpit. This is Cloyne, a rural Diocese, we meet our parishioners everyday in a variety of situations. What do you think we talk about ? the latest Stilettos of Naomi Campbell.
    Give us some intelligence.

  13. Rory Connor

    Father Gabriel
    A couple of years before the Ryan Report was published, I spoke with a leading member of a religious congregation hoping to getting her to make some sort of statement about the evil allegations against one of her colleagues. She said she would only speak AFTER the publication of the Report. Indeed after Ryan was published in May 2009, the leaders of her congregation did speak – to apologise again and to offer further huge sums of “compensation”. I don’t know what they said in PRIVATE but whatever it was, it certainly did not make up for the slanders against their colleague that were caused by the previous apologies made by the same leaders.
    http://irishsalem.com/individuals/accusers/christine-buckley/hotpoker-wasused-11oct97.php

    Similarly I think it impossible to counter the distortions of the Cloyne Report by private discussions with your parishioners. In any case the Church is being attacked nationwide – including by the Taoiseach and other Government Ministers.

  14. Mary Burke

    Father Gabriel, if the tone of your communication from your pulpit to your parishoners resembles in any way the inappropriate tone of your reply to Rory, I’d imagine that communication is scant, terse and one-directional.

    Here are some examples of disrespectful practices:

    Parishes where infirm people sitting at the back of the church are excluded from receiving Holy Communion because a priest will not permit eucharistic ministers to bring communion to them. They would have to come to the ministers.
    Parishes where choir members are excluded from receiving Holy Communion because a priest will not permit eucharistic ministers to bring communion to them either. They too would have to come to the ministers.
    Parishes where people who have made a great contribution to the church are singled out from the sanctuary because a priest doesn’t like them to join in the prayer for peace, which is frequently prayed aloud together by the congregation in other churches.
    Parishes where the parish newsletter, which may have been produced by parishoners for years, is suddenly out of bounds to them because the priest has taken it out of their hands to do it for himself and use it for his own purpose.
    The list could go on.
    Is it any wonder that numbers in these parishes are dropping?

  15. Fr Gabriel Burke

    Mary Burke,
    Have you read comments to me, your description matches all your comments. A case of the kettle calling the pot black
    I don’t know what parishes you are referring. None of the above practices happen in this parishes. I invite anybody to come to this parish on a Sunday, unannounced, and see that you are lying.
    Before you slander a parish or its clergy you should get your facts right. This is not the first time that you have used this site for slander. You accuse me of being unchristian,yet you hide behind the anonymity of the net and slander people.Shame on you.

  16. Malcolm

    Can I just throw in my Catholic layman’s two cents? I’m sick to the back teeth of reports on sex abuse and all the analysis. I’m sick of having my Church kicked to death because of some awful things that happened in the past.

    And guess what? Bad things are still happening to kids and young people across Ireland in families and so on.

    Yes, dreadful things happened in the Catholic community and people were hurt, their lives devastated, but we cannot live in the past. We must all walk towards the light.

    There comes a time when we have to open the shutters and let the grace of God flood into our souls. If we’ve trouble getting the shutters open, we have to beg God to do the necessary and trust that He will do it.

  17. Joe O'Leary

    Fr Hazelwood, when, oh when, will we stop slitting out own throats on the sacrificial altar?

    “I felt that I had to take into account A) the reality that many victims of sexual abuse are present in any congregation. This has been a very difficult time for them and their families and I in no way wanted to add to their suffering.”

    Surely the victims you refer to are not victims of abuse at the hands of priests? You seem to expose the clergy here to vast suspicion that far exceeds the tiny number of alleged victims over the last 80 years mentioned in the Cloyne report.

    ” B) the fact is that major mistakes have been identified in the way allegations have been handled in Cloyne and that fact needed and still needs to be acknowledged.”

    Which major mistakes precisely? Some at least of the mistakes were a matter of being wrong-footed by cruel bureaucratic specifications about mandatory reporting — something that does not exist in Irish law, nor will exist, for all Kenny’s hot air.

    ” C) an admission that the ordinary everyday faithful Catholic is suffering every bit as much as we priests are and they need to be listened to in a genuine and emphatic way. ”

    They might also relish an open and honest dialogue with their priests, whose cagey silence is compounding the malaise.

  18. Fr Gabriel Burke

    Joe,
    welcome back,it has been a while since you posted.
    I suppose on this issue it is damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
    I tried on my own blog to bring some objectivity to the debate. I must admit though that at times I feel all at sea on what should or should not be said.

  19. Rory Connor

    The following story by Eoin English appeared in the Irish Examiner on 20 December 2008 entitled “DPP Was Sent 4 Files on Priests But No Charges Brought” [extracts below plus link to full article]
    http://www.irishexaminer.com/archives/2008/1220/ireland/dpp-was-sent-4-files-on-priests-but-no-charges-brought-80522.html

    “DESPITE extensive Garda probes, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided that two priests in the Cloyne diocese accused of child abuse should not face criminal charges.

    “Gardaí confirmed that “full and thorough” investigations were carried out into each of the allegations levelled against Fr A and Fr B, both priests in the Cloyne diocese. But after examining one substantial Garda file in relation to Fr A and three files in relation to Fr B, the DPP directed that neither priest should face criminal prosecution. The DPP’s decisions were not made public. …….

    “Supt McCarthy said each of the allegations relating to both priests were investigated “fully and thoroughly”. “Substantial and comprehensive Garda files were prepared. We took the investigations as far as possible and all possible evidence was gathered,” he said.

    “A single Garda file in relation to Fr A was forwarded to the DPP in November 2006 but the DPP directed in February 2007 that no prosecution should follow. Three substantial files relating to allegations against Fr B were forwarded to the DPP some time later and in each of the cases, the DPP directed that no prosecution should follow.

    “Supt McCarthy confirmed that there are no current investigations relating to alleged child abuse by priests in the Cloyne diocese.”

    As far as I know Superintendent McCarthy’s comments were NOT reported by either the Irish Independent nor the Irish Times (our so-called “paper of record”). Are the lay Catholics in Cloyne aware that BEFORE this “scandal” blew up the Gardai had no current investigations underway. Are Cloyne priests aware of this?

    What seems to have happened is that the huge publicity encouraged a series of FURTHER allegations against priests and against Bishop Magee himself. As I indicated above, the Bishop had already been the target of false allegations for which the UK Guardian had to apologise in 1994 and TV3 in 1999 and now became the target of a third one which Judge Murphy proceeded to take seriously even though it was outside the remit of her investigation. (The accuser was not a child and the allegation was not of sexual abuse.)

    This may help to explain why the Bishop allowed Monsignor Denis Callaghan to carry the burden of investigating these complaints against priests. After all a senior social worker who had been falsely accused of child abuse, might delegate THAT aspect of his job to a colleague on the grounds that he himself might not be seen as impartial. It might also explain – although not excuse – why Magee feels unable to face the media today, the same media that viciously slandered him in the past.

    In any case, priests should be informing their parishioners of these facts. How many lay people in Cloyne are aware of the previous false accusations against Magee – or the fact that the one detailed in Judge Murphy’s Report is also groundless?

  20. Tim Hazelwood

    Joe, thank you for your observations they are welcome. In reply I need to apologise for being presumptuous as I believed that people now believe what is the accepted fact that the majority of abuse happens within the family and the wider society. My initial point concerning our treatment of abuse victims especially in our congregations is something I feel strongly about. Judith Herman who has written extensively in the area of trauma caused by abuse and its treatment says,” A secure sense of connection with caring people is the foundation of personality development. When this connection is shattered the traumatised person looses his/her sense of self.” Many abused people still come to the Church seeking solace and comfort not to be reinjured.
    Your question to me regarding the major mistakes, well the apologies from Mons O’ Callaghan and Bishop Magee should be indicator enough. But if you require an example then giving one account of a meeting to the Holy See and a different one to the authoritities is pretty major. Deception like that is unacceptable no matter how you try to justify it.
    Your comments concerning dialogue I agree with completely but I would add something. As well as being honest and open it also involves listening, it needs to be in a way that is respectful of the other and their opinions, where people are treated as equals and not spoken down to, where one opinion is not forced on the other, wher one does not insist on getting his own way or passes judgement on the other or their point of view. I know many priests go about their work with their people in that way, they do not court the media or spend much time in front of their computers. A contemplative way of living in a busy world.
    Also Joe you will be glad to know that at our meeting of the ACP in Cork we decided to explore the possibility of having formal gatherings of lay people to be begin an exercise in listening and dialogue.
    Finally Joe, “slitting our own throats on the sacrificial altar.” a bit melodramatic!

  21. Joe O'Leary

    Tim, thanks for your gracious reply.

    A bishop lying? Bad, no doubt, but not as bad as what’s alleged in the hysterical rhetoric about the systematic rape and torture of children. The lie was probably in the tradition of “hushing up” which every family knows.

    Of course mistakes were made, but the reaction was disproportionate.

    “Formal gatherings of lay people to be begin an exercise in listening and dialogue” — it would be interesting if these gave an opportunity for ordinary people to make their thoughts known (as opposed to media folk or bloggologues).

  22. Rory Connor

    Father Hazelwood
    The approach you seem to favour is remain silent about very dubious allegations of child abuse because some REAL victims of abuse may be in your congregation. Few things are more likely to discredit real victims more than false allegations – which can only lead to public cynicism about all abuse claims. I already described how leading members of FOUR “Victims” groups accused Catholic religious of deliberately killing children in their care, how the Ryan Commission investigation these claims, found them to be without foundation and simply ignored them in its final Report. Almost all the people who made such claims are still in situ – and their organisations are being financed by the Government. In what way does this help real victims?

    The Sisters of Mercy seem to specialise in the “See No Evil, Condemn No Evil approach. I have a long article about them but in summary:
    http://www.irishsalem.com/religious-congregations/sisters-of-mercy/index.php

    (A) In 1996 they apoligised after grotesque claims were made against one of their nuns in the “Dear Daughter” documentary broadcast by RTE. UK historian Richard Webster wrote that “although the evidence suggests that the woman’s memory was a delusion, her testimony was widely believed at the time. In the wake of the broadcast, atrocity stories about Goldenbridge and other industrial schools began to proliferate.”

    (B) One of the “atrocity stories” referred to by Webster was a claim that the same nun had been responsible for the death of a child left in her care. (Note the parents only said this after the Congregation made its original apology). So they again apologised to the parents and paid them £20,000. The child’s mother then told the media that the nun had used a hot poker to burn holes in the baby’s legs.
    http://irishsalem.com/individuals/accusers/christine-buckley/hotpoker-wasused-11oct97.php

    (C) Having learned nothing, the Sisters apologised to the accusers of Nora Wall (formerly Sister Dominic) after her June 1999 conviction for raping a girl. When the case against Wall collapsed shortly afterwards, the nuns neither apologised to Wall nor condemned her two false accusers. (Their names were published in The Daily Star and one of their SEVERAL previous victims had recognised the name of his own accuser!)

    (D) In May 2004 the Sisters issued a FOURTH apology – more comprehensive than any that had gone before. This effectively ended the attempts by Church authorities to defend the innocent. A few months previously, the Christian Brothers had issued a strong statement about false allegations, an organization “Let Our Voices Emerge” had been set up to defend the innocent, the allegations of child killing against nuns and Brothers had been largely discredited and articles highlighting the danger of false allegations had appeared in the Irish Times, Sunday Tribune, Sunday Times etc. I was told (on good authority) that one journalist feared that the hysteria about child abuse was on the wane and that he would be blamed as one its its instigators – and that this was the reason he suddenly started to publish stories about falsely accused Christian Brothers. However the Sisters apology in May 2004 put an end to this fear, and so he reverted to his anti-clerical rants.

    (E) The current leaders of the Sisters of Mercy are silent. I understand that they are “deeply depressed” and that they feel “the time is not right to speak out”. In the Irish Times on 14 November 2009, Patsy McGarry quoted Bishop Willie Walsh on the subject “He had been speaking recently to the leadership team of the Mercy congregation’s southern province, “women who have given their lives in the service of the church”, and who were “very broken, very sad”. They felt “let down by us, the bishops”. So that explains why the Sisters allowed their own innocent colleagues to be savaged by the media. It was the Bishops that made them do it!

    So I would say to Fr Hazelwood – the approach you are advocating has already been tried and has turned out to be a catastrophic failure. Far from healing anybody, the passivity of Church authorities in the face of falsehood, simply whips up hatred and contempt – and encourages further false allegations.

    MOREOVER there is a further case to come before the courts in relation to Cloyne. Can you imagine the atmosphere in which this priest will be tried – if the Church makes no attempt to defend itself against the distortions of the Cloyne Report? Nora Wall was convicted in June 1999 in the climate of hysteria that followed the broadcast of Mary Raftery’s “States of Fear” series in April/May of that year. The priests of Cloyne have a duty to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again.
    See Wikipedia article on Nora Wall http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nora_Wall

  23. Tim Hazelwood

    Rory, your input is welcome but I find myself puzzled and indeed curious as to your approach and your motives. The group you defend so rigorously are also the ones that you challenge and are, I sense, people you are angry with. A suggestion, if I may, that you have a conversation with some of the sister, brothers and priests who are working on the ‘frontline’ with whom you seem to have such difficulty with. I also suggest, for the sake of learning that you might allow them do the talking and you do the listening. This exercise could result in you having a better understanding and could lead to a change of focus.

  24. Rory Connor

    Father Hazelwood
    If you can get me another interview with one of the leadership team of the Sisters of Mercy, I would be most interested. The lady I met in 2007, would not speak out about the nun who had been accused of killing a baby, but said she would do so after the publication of the Ryan Report. My understanding was she would then speak in SUPPORT of her slandered colleague – and maybe that’s what she meant at the time as well. What actually happened was that her successor apologised again. I did contact their office about June 2009 to try to make an appointment to see either of them but got no response. So unfortunately I have to put my own interpretation on their behaviour.

    I have spoken to male members of more than one religious congregation. One told me that the nuns were naive and did not understand the effect of “compensation” on the mentality of their former pupils. This may indeed explain their foolish apologies and their current descent into silence and depression. It does not explain why they blame the Bishops for the disaster they themselves created. Blaming other people for one’s own mistakes is a common human characteristic but it is not “naivety”.

    Indeed I am disgusted with the actions of the Sisters of Mercy (and with Bishops like Willie Walsh and Diarmuid Martin who followed the same route). My hope is that the priests of Cloyne will not repeat the same mistakes.

  25. Matthew

    I have only read through this page of postings.

    You are a wise man, Tim Hazelwood (Fr).

    “…..we decided to explore the possibility of having formal gatherings of lay people to begin an exercise in listening and dialogue.”

    I am a victim/survivor of this abuse, and yes, they tried to keep it quiet.

    My faith was stronger though and won out in the end.

    I am trying to reconcile with the Faith of my childhood. There was, is, much truth and beauty in the Catholic Church.

    My faith in God saved my life, literally. A true and beautiful faith passed to me as a very young child.

    I realised in and through all that has happened, that it is faith in God that matters. I put too much faith in those who would rather put themselves on pedestals than wash feet.

    I wanted to be rid of all of it. Would not look at, never mind talk to, any priest for years.

    But I am coming back.

    For the sake of the faith, the truth and beauty handed me as a child by faithful parents, and yes, I have known good, humble, spiritual and faithful priests and religious too, and still do. For them too – for all the people, and for you priests who truly want to serve Christ – through the Body, as we all do. And for those too who have hurt us.

    Been re-establishing friendships with some of those priests/religious and that in itself is a blessing. Everyone is so very lost in all of this. No one knowing where to turn – priest or laiety, and yes – ALL are deeply, deeply hurt by all of it.

    As someone who has seen, known, felt all of this every which way but loose, inside and out, and likely will, to some degree, till the day I die – I’d suggest to you Fr Tim, that you heed those inspirations. Such are indeed from the Holy Spirit as far as I am concerned.

    There are others here I find very disappointing. They perpetuate an ‘us and them’ mentality – to everyone’s loss. You should be wary of this and whom you serve, or wish to with such thinking.

    If you want to keep every victim/survivor as far away as is humanly possible, from you, and maybe the Church because of you, remain blind as you obviously are.

    Dialogue, talk and LISTEN.

    And come back and do the same again – till everyone learns, and that learning bears fruit – for one, for all – and for the Body of Christ – the Church.

    I have been to hell and back. It is a miracle of God that I am still alive. I have known others who did not survive.

    I am thankful to the press for the job they have done.

    Cause I know for a fact that I’d have been buried and forgotten if left to the hierarchy.

    That, my friends, is a fact of life you may or may not choose to accept.

    I believe the Holy Spirit is at work in and through all of this. It is not the ‘devil out to ruin the Catholic Church’ – rather the Holy Spirit working to rebuild.

    There are many people, like me, who will likely never go near the Church again. I understand that perfectly and if that is what they need for healing – so be it. It is so very sad – tragic.

    I found coming back though – to the place where I’d been most hurt, betrayed initially, and when later trying to expose my initial betrayal – wholly betrayed again; that it is the place I find real and true healing, the beginnings of this – in that part of us that is most damaged, fractured to our cores – our spirits.

    Faith makes well.

    Jesus told us this.

    But people need to know what it is they have faith in, and be able to have, above all, TRUST that they place that faith in something, Some One, worthy of it. Jesus.

    I’d happily, these days, sit with any of you over a cup o’ tea or a pint if you preferred that, if it meant that people would come together, instead of going at each others throats. Listen, hear, speak it needed, ask and learn.

    Building rather than siding against and tearing everything and everyone down.

    Jesus said to Francis, “Go, rebuild My House/Church…. ”

    Do what you are thinking to do Tim. Talk with the people, share with them – the laiety; and if there are victims/survivors you know of, who might be open to sharing, speaking, listening and teaching at some of those – then have them there too.

    Cardinal Daly spoke about ‘wounded healers’.

    He got it wrong though when he spoke of himself as the ‘wounded healer’.

    They are, as you said again Tim, sitting in the pews infront of you, each and every one of you – waiting, wanting to be asked – to come forward, to listen, to speak, to share, to teach, show a way forward God willing, for all together.

    In helping truly rebuild those most hurt – you will strengthen the very foundations and ‘rebuild My House/Church’…….

    God bless you all

    May you be enlightened

    And may Mary guide each and all.

    Few in this world would love nothing more than to hand on a faith to all the children in my life like the one handed to me as a child. For myself, I believe it to be the most beautiful gift we can give any soul – a gift of faith – the knowledge that that same soul is so deeply and wholly loved by the One who made it.

    Come together and rebuild.

    Matthew

  26. Soline Humbert

    Thank you very much Matthew for these healing words of faith and hope. I agree with you about your comments about wounded healers
    ( a small detail: it was cardinal Brady, not Daly).You obviously have a story to share, with such a spiritual journey. Blessings of deep peace on you.

  27. martin gordon

    I am disappointed that no priest from the Cloyne diocese has answered my question posed last week as to how much any of them contributed to the purchase of a £28,000 Ford Scorpio car for Magee, some months after his arrival in Cobh? Were any of them ever invited to his frequently-held parties?

  28. Rory Connor

    Martin
    May we take it that this refers to a FOURTH allegation against Bishop Magee i,e. separate from the ones for which the UK Guardian apologised in 1994 and TV3 in 1999 AND from that detailed in Chapter 26 of the Cloyne Report (the one that related neither to sex abuse or to a child, but for some reason Judge Murphy included it anyway.)

    Sunday Independent journalist Sam Smyth wrote a detailed account of the FIRST fake scandal on 10 April 1994 and some of his observations may still be relevant e.g.
    http://www.irishsalem.com/individuals/accused/bishop-john-magee/TheGuardianandBishopMagee.php

    But despite investigations by this journalist and others, both the hotel and King’s Cross stories, were not only without foundation, but could have been manufactured with malice. …..

    The source of the information on which the ‘bishop and paedophile ring’ allegation was made is understood to be a priest.

    According to research, it would not be surprising if there was one homosexual among any 30 men, although there is not one iota of evidence to suggest that there is a gay Irish bishop. But all the rumours circulated to suggest that there is a practicing homosexual among the Irish Catholic hierarchy have proved to be false – and there might well have been malice in the manufacturing of them.

    Of course the silence of Cloyne priests about the distortions in the Report – and the Archbishops silencing of Monsignor O’Callaghan – allows malicious thugs to have a field day. (I believe that the priest who was the source of the initial obscene lie in 1994, is still active.)

  29. Rory Connor

    Meanwhile the Guardian recently published a story about an alleged “paedophile ring” in the diocese of Raphoe in Co. Donegal. There are a number of curious features about the article, among them the fact that the chief accuser says he was abused by a man who is now dead and yet the Guardian does not publish his name. Also the “paedophile ring” claim is sensational but seem to have been largely ignored by the rest of the media. (Are they also part of the decades-long “cover-up” or is there something very dicey about the story?)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/29/catholic-clergy-children-donegal-report

    The Guardian started a wave of hysteria in this country in 1994 by falsely accusing an unnamed Bishop (actually John Magee) of being part of a paedophile ring. Today every teacher, doctor, nurse, social worker etc in Ireland has to take special precautions against being falsely accused by children in their care. The Bishops who originally threatened law suits in defense of the innocent have gone silent, and Archbishop Clifford has actually silenced Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan for speaking in his own defense. The priests of Cloyne seem to believe that the most important thing is not to “cause pain” to alleged victims. Meanwhile there is an outstanding criminal case against one of their colleagues that is due to come before the courts shortly. What conclusions do they think potential jurors are going to draw, from the silence of the clergy in the face of falsehood?

  30. martin gordon

    Rory, Thank you for replying to my request for information regarding the collection for that car. I had personal dealings with the bishop and his late brother, Cahal. These are detailed in my autobigraphy ” NO LOVE HERE- A Priest’s Journey.” to be published mid-October. I am only looking for confirmation for something I already know to be true.

    On a personal note to Fr.Brendan: saddened to learn of the closure of Keohane’s bookshops in Ballina and Sligo.

  31. Rory Connor

    Martin
    I am at a loss as to what you are getting at. Is this a FOURTH allegation against Bishop Magee? From the very limited details you provide, it does not seem to correspondent with any of the other three. Also you obviously did not report it to Judge Murphy, since there seems to be nothing in her Report that corresponds to it. Have you reported it to the Gardai? If so I would have expected to have heard something about it before now. (A Cloyne priest was acquitted a few months ago, but there were lots of media comments BEFORE the actual trial.)

    Are you going to make an allegation to co-incide with the publication of your autobiography – in order to garner publicity for the book? If so there is a kind of precedent – although not an encouraging one i.e. John Cooney’s allegations of paedophilia against John Charles McQuaid, that he made in The Sunday Times in November 1999, to coincide with the publication of his biography of the Archbishop. These were dismissed as nonsense, even by reviewers who praised the remainder of the book!
    http://irishsalem.com/individuals/writers-and-journalists/John-Cooney/index.php


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