12Feb Child abuse scandal ‘almost fatally destroyed’ Catholic Church

Updated

Link to statement from The Truth Justice and Healing Council, the body set up by the Catholic Church in Australia to coordinate the Catholic Church’s response to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with a commitment to justice and compassion for survivors.

 

Link to opening statement by Senior Counsel at the Royal Commission’s 50th public hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

 

https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2017/0208/851235-church-clerical-abuse/

Joe Little: Priest says abuse scandal ‘almost fatally destroyed’ Catholic Church

By Joe Little

RTE Religious & Social Affairs Correspondent

 

The Catholic Church in Ireland has been “almost fatally destroyed” by the clerical child sexual abuse scandal, according to a former Provincial of the Jesuit Order here.

Fr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ told an Australian inquiry into abuse that the loss of the church’s moral authority here once the scandal was publicly exposed was what he called the “crucial” factor.

He said the Irish hierarchy was forced in the 1990s, “not least due to media intervention and the intervention of public opinion to be more proactive” about the crisis. He said the bishops here owe a lot to survivors and victims who have spoken out on the issue.

But he added that “Rome didn’t seem to quite get it” probably well into the current millennium and that the Catholic Church was poorly prepared to examine abuse complaints because the priest was perceived “as in some sense superior”.

He made his remarks by video-link from Dublin to Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which is sitting in Sydney.

For four years now, a six-member Royal Commission has been investigating how institutions of all sorts with a responsibility for children managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.

Appearing early this morning, Fr Gerry O’Hanlon spoke about his church’s experience of the unfolding scandal here.

He told Gail Furness, counsel for the Commission, he thought the issue of child sexual abuse by clergy and religious probably first came to his attention in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and later during the six years after 1998 when, as Provincial of the Irish Jesuits, it was “a very important part of (his) responsibility”.

He agreed with counsel that it was part of his job to deal with claims and allegations in relation to the Jesuits.

He recounted setting up a small committee, comprising “a psychologist, a legal person – a judge – and a Jesuit” and said they advised him throughout his six years as Provincial on the various issues which came up.

He continued: “We tried, in addressing those issues, to combine what we called a pastoral approach with a legal approach. So on different occasions I met a number of the people who had been abused, and I think that was probably the best learning experience for me. I had read literature, I had attended conferences, but I think that the most relevant learning occurred when I sat down, sometimes for long periods, with people who had been abused and who told me their story.”

He said that among the things he had learned was “the devastation (the abuse) had wreaked on their lives, not just with regard to their own life, but the lives their families.

“I recall in particular one person talking to me about the impact it had had on his own family life and his difficulty, for example, in touching his own children and expressing intimacy in a physical kind of way, and the great relief that came to him when he found that he was able to do that with his grandchildren.

“But I was so struck by the fact that for most of his adult life, he had been imprisoned, if you like, in that inability to express himself in a most normal way with his own children. It struck me what an awful effect that had had on his life, and obviously he was one of many.”

Asked by counsel whether speaking to survivors like that man had affected the way that he approached claims that were made to him, Fr O’Hanlon said his committee was advising him, and very often I wasn’t in the frontline.

“But, yes, it did. We were already committed at that point to very strongly doing what we could to redress the terrible damage that had been done. But certainly from my own point of view, it added to my determination to do the very best that we could do to right the terrible wrong that had been done to these people by Jesuits.”

Asked about the government-established Murphy Report which was published in 2009, Fr O’Hanlon said it made him reflect more intensely on how the church was organised.

He said that despite the reforms proposed by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) it had retained a “very much … top-down model of authority”.

“That was particularly emphasised during the pontificate of John Paul II, who did marvellous things, added extra if you like, with regard to the church, particularly with regard to relations with communism and (the) Solidarity (Movement)…. in Poland, but internally was very firm about the strong monarchical model of papacy and centralisation.”

He said he believed this centralised model of authority was unhealthy and “a contributing factor to the delay and the poor response of the Catholic Church to the emergence of the clerical child sexual abuse scandal”.

Citing the Dominican theologian Yves Congar’s reference to “a creeping infallibility” in the church, he said “everything that came from Rome was taken as gospel, and local bishops didn’t take their own responsibility seriously enough; they looked over their shoulder all the time to Rome. This constant recourse to Rome and the fact that the organisation was very top-down and tightly controlled served the church poorly when the issue of child sexual abuse emerged, because what happened there was that at the very top, certainly at the level of priests, a grievous injury was being inflicted on the church, and the church was poorly prepared to examine the complaints that were coming in because it was used to seeing the priest as in some way, if you like, above reproach and perceived within the church, not just by priests but also by laypeople, as in some sense superior.

“So, in that sense, there weren’t other voices being introduced. And I think allied to that – and it ties in with the business of a tightly controlled organisation – there was a real lack of freedom of speech and public opinion within the church. So when people wanted to speak – and I’m not just talking about clerical child sexual abuse but about other issues in the church that might have been considered to be controversial – if they weren’t following what was perceived as orthodoxy, often defined in the very narrow  sense, then they were liable to censure of one sort or another. That was particularly so in the area of sexuality and gender. So there was a particularly tight rein, if you like, kept on opinion in those areas.

“When priests or laypeople were accused of stepping out of line (regarding child sexual abuse), the procedures for redress were not robust. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has a number of procedures which they have outlined in an instruction, which was updated in the late 1970s, with regard to a just way of proceeding with regard to complaints, but in fact most canon lawyers looking at that would say that they fail to meet the standard of ordinary secular justice and they don’t give a good hearing to people.

“So there was an overall culture within the church of lack of freedom of speech, deference to priesthood, bishops, if you like, almost a sense that they were right, and that was a very unhealthy situation, which Ladislas Orsy, the American canon lawyer, has referred to as a lack of a vigorous immune system within the church, ” Fr O’Hanlon said.

Counsel asked if he had understood that there were any particular instructions, not necessarily of a formal type, from Rome as to how the Irish church authorities should deal with clerical child sexual abuse.

He replied: “Yes, there is some evidence during the 1990s of toing-and-froing between Rome – and qualifying what I said about the bishops not taking up their own responsibility, I think they were forced in the 1990s, not least due to media intervention and the intervention of public opinion – the bishops were forced to be more proactive about the whole situation.

“They did engage with the situation, and at a certain point, it would seem, in the toing-and-froing between them and Rome that Rome was certainly learning rather than the bishops learning. In other words, at some point during that period – and I would say lasting until the end of the 1990s and probably well into the 2000s – Rome didn’t seem to quite get it. They were very reluctant, for example, to approve the proper reporting to civil authorities and there is evidence that a number of Irish bishops were very unhappy with that, and the Irish bishops went ahead, anyway…..”

The Commission’s Chair, Justice Peter McClellan asked Fr O’Hanlon if the church would have brought down the wrath of the society on itself if it had identified abuse early on in the scandal as a crime and taken it to the civil authorities. He responded that that would not have been the crucial thing.

“I think the loss of moral authority in Ireland, which had already happened once this scandal came out into the open, was altogether the crucial thing. I think where it might be argued along the lines you are suggesting is that for them to admit it was a crime, and in that sense go legal, they would incur all kinds of financial liabilities and so on, and I think there’s certainly some possibility that that was a factor. But I’ve no hesitation in saying there was an institutional defensiveness around reputation. I think it pertained as much to the moral arena as the legal arena.

“I think it’s a defensiveness that you will find in many other organisations. We are finding it, for example, in England at the moment with regard to as different a field as professional football, soccer. We find it in different organisations. But of course it was all the more egregious coming from an organisation which, if you like, in a good sense, prided itself on doing what was good and what was right and favouring the weakest. For an organisation like that to have been shown to be so at fault and so in error, I think the reputational damage was enormous, and that was so whether it was simply a moral issue or had also criminal ramifications, which it clearly had.”

Fr O’Hanlon agreed that secrecy, deference to priests and, in turn, deference of the bishops to the Pope clearly effected the institutional response of the church to allegations. But he added that he thought, over the long run, what had happened was that the Catholic Church, “certainly in Ireland – I can only speak for Ireland, but I also see signs of it happening in Rome as well” – had “come up with a very vigorous response to child sexual abuse, and their guidelines are recognised to be very progressive, and the resources that they have put in in terms of pastoral, psychological, legal, monetary, have been considerable.”

Turning to the legal aspect of the scandal, Fr O’Hanlon said that if the church had been left to its own devices, they probably would not have reported to the civil authorities.

“I think they owe a lot to the voices of the survivors, the voices of those who still describe themselves as victims, and the media for putting the kind of pressure on that allowed the church, in the end, to do the right thing and to understand – in a way that formally they may have done so, but operatively they hadn’t done so – the intrinsic and legal implications of what was involved. Certainly in Ireland, it’s no longer an issue. Things are reported to the legal authorities very, very quickly.”

 

 

11 Responses

  1. Padraig McCarthy

    ‘The Catholic Church in Ireland has been “almost fatally destroyed” by the clerical child sexual abuse scandal’: I’m presuming that Joe Little quotes Gerry accurately.
    This reminds me of the tricky question we had as children: “Would you prefer to be nearly drowned or nearly saved?” A little reflection leads to the conclusion that it’s better to be nearly drowned! So “almost fatally destroyed”, paradoxically, can be taken as good news – not actually fatally destroyed!

    However, Joe Little reports: “For four years now, a six-member Royal Commission has been investigating how institutions of all sorts with a responsibility for children managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.” It seems this is not the case. The Royal Commission could have investigated all institutions, but, according to one report, did not investigate the State schools which are attended by over 65% of all pupils.
    See https://www.mercatornet.com/above/view/australias-royal-commission-should-investigate-government-schools/19345.
    By a selective investigation, perhaps the Royal Commission has fallen into the same trap as inquiries in Ireland.

    It seems also that the Sydney Morning Herald misreported statistics: https://www.mercatornet.com/above/view/clerical-sex-abuse-in-australia-can-you-believe-the-statistics/19332.

    Joe Little quotes Gerry as saying: “When priests or laypeople were accused of stepping out of line (regarding child sexual abuse), the procedures for redress were not robust.” Certainly church procedures were seriously deficient; but so also were procedures of the State. Most important, however, is to keep firmly in mind that allegations are not convictions, as our Minister for Justice reminded us in relation to the Commissioner of the Gardaí. We must not act on an allegation as if it were a conviction. Redress comes into play when the allegation is verified.

    The question of “the proper reporting to civil authorities” is one that needs to be examined carefully. In the 1990s there was debate among social workers whether mandatory reporting would effectively deter people from reporting allegations to the church, because they might not want the civil authorities to be involved. We have at present a situation in relation to a Garda whistle-blower, where reporting an erroneous allegation of child sexual abuse to the Gardaí would appear to have possibly resulted in serious injustice.

  2. Paddy Ferry

    Mgr. Stephen Rossetti ,( you may disagree, Padraig –in fact, you probably will–but I think he is a believable voice in this debate), has said that 95% of accusations of clerical sex abuse of children have been found to have been well-founded. Padraig, I immediately thought about you when I read Gerry’s contributions and I wondered how you would react. I hoped it would not be like this. Great man though you are , you do have a serious blind spot when it comes to this issue.

  3. Mattie Long

    To provide more information from an Australian viewpoint the main article has been updated with two links;

    Link to statement from The Truth Justice and Healing Council, the body set up by the Catholic Church in Australia to coordinate the Catholic Church’s response to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with a commitment to justice and compassion for survivors.

    Link to opening statement by Senior Counsel at the Royal Commission’s 50th public hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

    Thanks to Fr Gerry Heffernan for providing these links.

  4. Sean O'Conaill

    Is there such a thing as non-fatal destruction? Presumably Gerry O’Hanlon was searching for a form of words that would do justice to the scale of devastation caused in Ireland by the mishandling of the clerical child sex abuse issue – without implying that the destruction was total.

    The pity is that the Irish hierarchy’s refusal to sponsor professional research on that impact, as on other issues, leaves us all dependent upon personal perception and experience, as relayed to us by acquaintances. This research-aversion maintains the leadership shortfall and the general despondency over this, when in fact there may well have been positive developments as a result of the ‘catastrophe’.

    A far more mature attitude towards clergy is very likely to have been one of these, and the progression of many from ‘faith in an institution’ to ‘deeper faith in the institution’s founder’.

    ‘Faith’ is another of those unresearched aspects of Irish Catholicism, especially the degree to which Catholic schools both form, but also (it seems) fail to form faith. This necessarily also deprives us of the necessary information needed to guide adult faith formation, in the wake of ‘Share the Good News’, the bishops’ catechetical plan launched in 2011.

    I cannot understand why the rest of the Irish Catholic educational establishment has not made more noise about this research deficit, which speaks not of a determination to study and understand ‘where we are’ but of a continuing fear of complete transparency. How can the Irish church plan for the future if it is so paralysed by fear of the present that it shies away from discovering the full scale and scope of the impact of events 1992-2009?

  5. Padraig McCarthy

    Paddy @2:
    No, Paddy. I don not have a blind spot. I have never denied the reality of abuse.

    You write: “Mgr. Stephen Rossetti has said that 95% of accusations of clerical sex abuse of children have been found to have been well-founded.” If we take that as accurate, it means that 5% of accusations are not well-founded. We need to have robust procedures to deal with both those which are verified, and with those which are not. Otherwise we inflict injustice on those 5%. I know there is no perfect system of justice, but we must retain an objective approach. The sense of horror at child abuse must not cloud our clear reasoning.

    I speak with awareness of a friend of mine who was wrongly accused, and whose life went on hold for a year or more, and who went through hell until it was eventually established that there was not, nor could there have been, any truth in it. The person who made the allegation received a prison sentence.

    I also remember a friend of mine, now deceased, who used to run a B&B. She told me that back around the time when the redress scheme was running for those abused in institutions here, she heard two guests discussing the reason for their coming, and it was quite clear that they were knowingly making a false claim for compensation by exploiting the system.

    The statement from the Truth Justice and Healing Council to the Royal Commission, speaking of the data on abuse in Catholic institutions, also makes the observation:
    “In the interests of a broader understanding of the extent of child sexual abuse across the community it would also be helpful if this data could be seen alongside similar data from other institutions, particularly government institutions, where abuse also took place at disturbing levels.”

    We must remember the context of the wider picture of abuse in society at large. This is not to deny or minimise abuse in the Catholic church, but to recognise that to have too exclusive a focus on abuse in the church will mean neglecting others who were also abused.

  6. Kevin Walters

    “Turning to the legal aspect of the scandal, Fr O’Hanlon said that if the church had been left to its own devices, they probably would not have reported to the civil authorities”—————————————————————————————————————————————–

    So procedures are now in place due to the efforts of the abused and their families but how does one restore the moral authority of the Church which forms the basis for trust and belief in these procedures, every major corporation caught out are eventually pressured to say and do the same but usually with some symbolic resignations, often many years later it is shown to be no more than a PR exercise as self-interest often undermines their original perceived good intentions. At this moment in time does the Church have more credibility than many major worldly Corporations?
    The answer sadly has to be no it has less, as it has betrayed its core values (Teachings) before God and mankind, how could one trust a given trust that has been shown to be so untrustworthy, can trust be restored?
    We have been taught to serve the Truth but our teachers did not do the same, many reasons have been given for this scandal but it comes down to dishonesty and the root of this dishonesty has been revealed by God to the Church in a way that cannot be misunderstood as it can be seen by all
    honest hearts in an IDOL created by the elite within the church who in arrogance have breached our most fundamental sacred belief that God’s Word (Will) is Inviolate, by distorting His Will in creating and serving an IDOL manifest by a Self-serving image of Worldly Goodness that was presented in a jamboree to the laity before all of mankind, for it to be venerated within God’s house on earth, after such an act compounded with the abuse scandal, how can our leaders (Shepherds) regain moral authority and lead once again?
    God’s Word (Will) is Inviolate and is the catalyst within Sacraments and found at the base of all the Church’s moral teaching.
    Can the leaders of the Church regenerate spiritual growth within themselves and lead in humility by destroying this IDIOL in an act of abasement before God and mankind and replace it with the True Image of Broken man if this were to happen a new dawn would occur (Awaken) within the church to one based on honesty, good will would ensue leading to a healing process for many of the abused and their families. This act of humility would go a long way to restore the moral authority of our Shepherds that will enable them to teach (Lead) from the true base of the pyramid a place of humility.
    From this base the teaching of Humanae Vitae can be reasserted by means of the Image of Broken Man not in a draconian way rather one based on humility that encourages spiritual growth to the Married who practice contraception, the Sacrament of Confession would then be seen to be more in keeping with the general atmosphere of this honest approach to the reception of Holy Communion then once again the outward signs of inward grace would be manifest through these sacraments for the benefit of all.
    I am uneducated many of my points (Posts) made on the site come from my reflection on the Gospels which bear witness to the Inviolate Word (Will) of God and my remembrance of the Penny Catechism learnt by rote at school I am sure many like myself with a very basic education will remember the answers to such question as what is a sacrament? We would reply in unity “A sacrament is an outward sign of inward grace”
    It is only now at this late stage in my life that I am starting to see the full beauty of the sacraments and understand the clarity of teaching in these simple responses.
    Many priests will be deflated by the constant accusations in regards to the child abuse scandal and I personally have been scathing in regards to the culture of cover up within the Church but I know and I am sure many of the laity in Ireland and other countries know also that there are many caring priests and religious within the Church. Over the last fifty years many of the laity have left the Church for various reason some will be in situations (entangled in evil) where there is no HOPE of reconciliation through the Sacrament of Absolution many of these will still have a memory of the Penny Catechism and reception of some of the Sacraments, are they to be left abandoned?
    Many years ago I knew someone who over many years sent money to a monastery in France for masses to be said for the dead the two people petitioned for were Judas and Hitler at one point many years later I asked why? The reply was “Someone has to”. The reflection of this heart before God was something beautiful to behold one can only bow ones head before this act in humility. I am advocating that all those who cannot receive absolution and partake of the Lords table Communion, who venerate the true Divine Mercy image of broken man in making a public confession just prior to receiving the bread of life should be permitted to do so. One of the valid concerns for the church with regards to the divorced who have taken a civil partner is that it will create scandal within the Church I would argue that there is no scandal (Deception) as the recipient has acknowledged the need of God’s mercy at that moment in time before the faithful.
    Jesus embraced all, always encouraging those he encountered to change direction (Repent) in the present moment, this present moment is now and is the point we all continually start from within our heart each moment of the day.
    Jesus proclaimed “Anyone who comes to me I will not turn away”
    Those who know that they need God’s mercy people like me, in honesty could deny no one the opportunity of receiving His Divine Mercy and nourishment (Grace) from partaking of the Bread of Life and in so doing permit them to grow spiritually and live. Jesus on forgiving “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “But seventy times seven!
    I would say to our deflated Shepherds remove the Idol (Image) of arrogance from the eyes of the faithful, open the gates of the sheepfold wide for the lost sheep let them see and venerate the true Divine Mercy Image and in so doing give them the means to dwell in His Mercy at that moment in time. Make haste inflate your own hearts with compassion seize the present moment the souls you save may include your own.
    Please consider reading my posts in the link below, RECLAIM the laity before it’s too late.
    http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2017/01/reclaim-the-laity-before-its-too-late/
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  7. Rory Connor

    95% of accusations of clerical sex abuse of children have been found to have been well-founded.”

    Really? There is an article on the Spiked-OnLine website – by barrister Barbara Hewson – regarding the recently published Report of the Northern Ireland Historical Abuse Inquiry. Her article is entitled “This is How to Inquire into Child Abuse” and I submitted a response as follows:
    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/this-is-how-to-inquire-into-child-abuse/19403#.WKbnDjuLTIV

    Last October I responded to an article by Luke Gittos regarding the ongoing disintegration of the UK Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Hopefully you won’t object to me reproducing it here as my conclusions stand up very well in the light of the publication of the report of the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. I also feel that Barbara Hewson is being too positive in her attitude towards the HIA report.

    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/this-abuse-inquiry-was-doomed-to-fail/18837#.WJCN0RuLTIU

    QUOTE
    Luke Gittos is correct in his observation that “It is now broadly accepted that [the IICSA’s] remit, which anticipates an investigation into 13 separate areas of public life, is impossibly wide“. He is definitely NOT correct in assuming that “Public inquiries that abandon the aspiration to objectivity and impartiality will inevitably unravel.

    There have been several Inquiries in Ireland that abandoned any pretext of objectivity, assumed the guilt of the accused and ignored clear evidence that accusers were telling lies. They were all “successful” because they were all directed at a SINGLE target i.e. the Catholic Church. The mistake make by your British Inquiry it that it has about 13 separate targets – in fact more because many of the 13 threads have sub-threads. “It’s a bit Irish” you imperialists used to joke about us, but our Irish conspiracy theorists are a lot smarter than yours today!

    About 2007 I gave evidence to the Ryan Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, as part of the group “Let Our Voices Emerge” which represented persons falsely accused of abuse. One of the points we stressed was that leading members of four different “Victims'” groups had made clearly false allegations against the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy e.g. that they had murdered children in their care. Some of these murder allegations related to periods when no child died of ANY cause (so we are talking about deliberate lies rather than delusions.) Personally I coined the phrases “Murder of the Undead” and “Victimless Murders” to describe these claims. A version of documentation that I gave to the Commission can be seen here:
    http://www.irishsalem.com/irish-controversies/allegations-of-child-killing-1996to2005/SunTribune25May06.php

    When the Commission published its Report in May 2009, it turned out to be a slashing attack on the Catholic Religious Congregations – and there was no mention at all of the child killing claims or indeed of other demonstrably false allegations. Originally I thought that the Commission had just turned a blind eye to our evidence. I was subsequently told – by someone close to the action – that they had indeed looked into the child killing claims, decided that there was no truth to them and thus deliberately excluded them from their Report. Thus the Commission disregarded claims that were clearly lies – but without making any findings against the accusers – and accepted as true any allegations that the Religious could not PROVE were false.

    Your British Inquiry could easily pull off a similar stunt. The problem is that your Inquiry’s remit is too broad and there are too many targets to be effectively slandered in any reasonable time-frame!
    ENDOFQUOTE

    NOTE 31 January 2017.
    The “Murder of the Undead” claims are now a dead duck (no pun intended) in the Irish Republic and have been for several years. The “victims” who gave evidence to the HIA inquiry therefore knew better than to make claims whose falsity could be easily demonstrated. Even if they had done so, I suspect that the Inquiry report would have ignored them or brushed them off!

  8. Rory Connor

    I mentioned above that leading members of FOUR “Victims'” groups had made allegations of child killing against the Religious Congregations and also provided a link to an article in which I attempted to summarise such claims. At the time of writing in 2006, I actually forgot about the original child-murder claim. However anyone interested can locate it by Googling the following newspaper headline (from the Daily Mirror, 11 October 1997)
    “HOT POKER WAS USED ON LITTLE MARION.. NO CASH WILL GET HER BACK; I THINK MY BABY WAS MURDERED AT THE ORPHANAGE, SAYS PAYOUT MUM.”

    I managed to forget about it because the level of lunacy in this country on the topic of child abuse is so high that it’s impossible to keep track of it all.

    The last such allegation occurred in 2009 in the immediate aftermath of the publication of the Murphy Report on the Dublin Archdiocese. There was no child-killing claim in the Report itself but lots of public hysteria. A number of TDs and Journalists demanded – and got – a high level Garda review into alleged Catholic Church collusion in the unsolved murder of a young girl in 1970 i.e. nearly 40 years previously. A year later the Minister for Justice informed the Dail that the Garda review team had found no evidence of any such collusion. The matter was briefly reported by the Irish Independent
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/gardai-find-no-coverup-in-1970-murder-of-girl-26605757.html
    but if our “newspaper of record” saw fit to publish a report, I missed it.

    There is a kind of symmetry in this decade+ long tale (which also involved the 2002 exhumation of a boy who died about 30 years before – obviously the Gardai have nothing better to do with their time!). The first and the last accusations related to REAL children – the 1997 one because the claim was new and needed a minimum level of credibility, the 2009 one because the continual failure to produce any evidence was beginning to discredit the accusers. The really lunatic allegations – what I call the “Murder of the Undead” ones – occurred in the middle period when journalists and politicians were prepared to believe anything, and the accusers themselves were aware of the fact!

    Apparently the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Commission did not have to deal with murder allegations but I note that a number of accusers claimed that nuns had forced them to eat their own vomit. In a way, that kind of accusation is as bad as the child-killing ones but it has the advantage that it cannot be disproved!
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/nuns-forced-care-children-to-eat-their-own-vomit-abuse-inquiry-told-29954872.html

    It’s about time that our Bishops and leaders of Religious Congregations stopped apologising and demanded that the people who made or supported such claims, be called to account for their actions.

  9. Rory Connor

    It’s a pity no one else is joining in this discussion BUT there seems to have been a major development in the outside world. The Birmingham Mail has a story (21st February) headed
    Ex-police officer accuses historical child abuse victims of LYING to win compensation” with subheading
    Labour candidate Bernard McEldowney sparks fury with claims about inquiry into institutional abuse

    It begins:
    http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/ex-police-officer-accuses-historical-12629639
    A former West Midlands Police officer has accused victims of institutional childhood abuse of LYING to a Government inquiry to win compensation. Labour Party activist Bernard McEldowney is due to stand for the Bromsgrove ward of Woodvale in the county council elections in May.

    But the retired police inspector has sparked fury in Northern Ireland after attacking a Government inquiry looking at the institutional abuse of children, dating back decades. Mr McEldowney claims the inquiry was ‘hijacked’ by people who lied to win compensation, including former residents of St Joseph’s Children’s Home in Londonderry – where he was a resident. …..

    Up to now Mr. McEldowney’s comments seem to have been carried only by the local Derry Journal and ignored by the national media. I don’t know if this indicates a breakthrough?

    According to the article, the recently published HIA Report stated that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused and that they should receive and apology and compensation payments of up to £100,000 each. But Mr McEldowney has criticised the pay-outs and defended the nuns at his former care home.

    He said: “What makes me extremely angry is that the reputations of many good nuns has been ruined due to the many lies that have been told to and believed by the HIA Inquiry.

    “I am extremely disappointed with the conclusions that the inquiry has reached in relation to many of the allegations made to them.

    I am a former police officer and submitted a significant amount of evidence to the inquiry and in a number of cases I have been able to prove conclusively that some of the alleged victims from the Termonbacca module of the inquiry had lied.” [My Emphasis]

    He added: “I have no problem with real victims having their abuse investigated and acknowledged by the authorities. The problem I have always had with the HIA Inquiry was that for many of the people who hijacked this inquiry, this was all about getting their grubby hands on compensation, even if it meant ruining the reputations of many good innocent people.”…

    It sounds like Mr McEldowney made the same kind of representations to the Northern Ireland HIA Inquiry that I (and other members of the “Let Our Voices Emmerge” group) made to the Ryan Commission. The big difference is that Bernard McEldowney spent 16 years at St Joseph’s in Termonbacca, Londonderry, which was run by Sisters of Nazareth nuns. ( He left in 1978 at the age of 18.) Yet the Inquiry ignored his evidence anyway!

  10. Kevin Walters

    Padraig McCarthy@5

    “If we take that as accurate, it means that 5% of accusations are not well-founded. We need to have robust procedures to deal with both those which are verified and with those which are not. Otherwise we inflict injustice on those 5%. I know there is no perfect system of justice, but we must retain an objective approach. The sense of horror at child abuse must not cloud our clear reasoning”.
    I agree with you that robust procedure to deal with both those which are verified, and with those which are not are needed. There is no perfect system of justice for decade’s the belief was that the bishops and priests possessed integrity, deference was given to them while so many vulnerable children were denied protection and justice from your general view point this has now reversed, two wrongs don’t make a right but while ever the Bishops are on the defensive in not serving the truth the culture of today will hold them in contempt as they see them on the world stage (Presently Australia) continuing to choose secrecy while promising transparency, to fight victims while promising to care of them, smoke and mirrors they always appear to be the winners (unaccountable) Their compromised hearts know nothing about justice and integrity they just appease as they do as they please.
    Sorry and apologies are wearing thin on the back of ongoing institutional denialism
    The Church has made its own idol manifest in an image of worldly goodness (Perfection) steeped in superiority and elitism resulting in the destruction of innocence and it now reaps the whirlwind and will continue to do so while ever it clings to its self-image of worldly goodness.
    Australia-news; Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen I am pleased to say was very forthright in his relies to the commission
    “I was also a victim of sexual abuse by clergy when I first came to Australia, even though I was an adult,”
    “He said titles, privileges and the church’s institutional dynamics “breed clerical superiority and elitis”
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/feb/21/australian-bishop-says-he-suffered-sexual-abuse-at-hands-of-catholic-clergy

    “Catholic Church’s child protection body would have broad secrecy powers, inquiry told”
    After all that has gone before can you believe it?
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/20/catholic-churchs-child-protection-body-would-have-broad-secrecy-powers-inquiry-told

    “Catholic Church’s ‘pontifical secret’ stops disclosure of sex abuse allegations, expert says”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/feb/09/catholic-churchs-pontifical-secret-stops-disclosure-of-sex-abuse-allegations-expert-says

    Only a Church that has the capacity to show its true face warts and all in humility will have any future standing before mankind credibility needs to be re-established.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  11. Kevin Walters

    Maria Collins the lone survivor on Vatican abuse commission resigns
    “I have come to the point where I can no longer be sustained by hope. As a survivor I have watched events unfold with dismay”
    https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/exclusive-survivor-explains-decision-leave-vaticans-abuse-commission
    Is anyone surprised?
    kevin your brother
    In Christ


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