The Cloyne Report (Written April 2011)

I wrote this in 2011 following the publication of the Cloyne Report. The report dealt with how officials in the diocese failed to protect children from abusers. As past employee of the diocese I felt betrayed and disgusted at how the victims had been let down.

To anyone who has not been on this planet in the past ten days, we have seen the publication of the Cloyne Report and the landmark speech by Enda Kenny in response to the report.

For anyone not familiar with the above – the Cloyne Report details how, over the years from 1996 to 2009, 2 men in particular dealt with abuse cases within the diocese. These men are Bishop John Magee and Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan.
The report found that the Diocese did not implement Child Protection Guidelines – in short, men who abused children were not reported to the Gardai and in some cases, documents were falsified.
Bishop Magee has been forced to retire, and the diocese is now being administered by Archbishop Clifford.
During the past week Enda Kenny, made a powerful speech about the Cloyne Report, and the fact that in the report the Vatican is mentioned as having a role to play in the cover up of abuse cases.

In all of this, the first concern has to be the victims of abuse. The adults and children who had their childhood destroyed by men of evil. By men who should face the courts and be hit with the full force of the law.

As a father, and as a catholic, I have been shocked by all that has been revealed.
I have been shocked that men who claim to uphold the values of Christ should instead protect and hide acts of evil, and those who perpetrate them.
As one who studied for priesthood for Cloyne Diocese I have come to know a number of priests. The vast majority of the priests I know are not just good and decent – some of them are great men. They have sacrificed what I would consider a normal life, so that they can be there for others.
These priests I know have been very let down by the hierarchy – by the official church’s dealing with abuse cases. They are disgusted, they are dismayed. As I am disgusted and dismayed.

One of the deeply disturbing aspects of all of this is that no lessons were learnt. Ireland was first shocked by clerical child abuse when we heard the name Brendan Smyth. He was arrested in 1994, and by 1999 the church in Ireland had the document “Children First” – a set of guidelines for child protection.
What is outlined in the Cloyne Report happened after these guidelines were published.
What happened in Cloyne happened because the guidelines were ignored.
What happened in Cloyne led to more people being hurt, being abused.

Enda Kenny’s speech captured the anger of a number of people (me included). It highlighted the fact that the Vatican seems to look at these cases as a legalistic exercise rather than a human tragedy.

I would love to think that the report and Enda Kenny’s speech will change these men. That the officialdom that stifled reporting will recede and that humanity will prevail, both in the Irish Church and the Vatican.
However, the signs are not good.
In the past week, some of the commentators on the radio have already started quoting Canon Law and trying to shift blame. This is protection of the institution – not support of the victims.

I hope, I pray that things will change. I hope and pray that the victims will get the support and the comfort they need and deserve.

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