Category: Archive

Irish cardinal to open church files to abuse probers

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The cardinal, who has been under pressure after an RTE TV documentary highlighted the handling of abuse by priests in the archdiocese, said he understood that gardai would begin to read the files in early January.
“The archdiocese of Dublin is cooperating fully with the gardai in their investigation,” Connell’s statement said.
The announcement came after a five-hour meeting last week involving the cardinal, other church leaders and two abuse victims who had been calling for Connell’s resignation.
Marie Collins and Ken Reilly said in a joint statement that their “common and overriding purpose is the protection of all children from sexual abuse.”
“We will work together to develop, improve and expand existing practices,” they said. “The cardinal reiterated his conviction that no priest who had sexually abused a child should be trusted again in any parish or ministry involving children.”
Both had been abused by priests in Dublin. They withdrew their call for Connell’s resignation and a planned Jan. 5 silent protest outside Connell’s Drumcondra palace will not go ahead.
However, the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, while welcoming gardai cooperation, has reiterated its call for the cardinal to resign.
It said victims were no nearer to finding out the full extent and involvement in the “coverup and complicity of crimes on children by members of the hierarchy of the church.”
SOCA said assurances had been given before but they had been found to be “shallow and empty.”
“Despite past church and religious promises to cooperate fully with such inquiries as the Laffoy Commission, the church and religious have/are spending millions of euro on legal challenges to stifle and stagnate the very inquiry the church and religious promises to cooperate fully with,” SOCA said in a statement.
Collins told RTE she regarded the outcome of the meeting with the cardinal and church authorities as “a complete change in the diocese’s attitude to the whole problem.”
“They have realized that they have handled it badly, that they need help,” she said.
She added that the church had “had pulled no punches” and had been very frank during the lengthy meeting.
“We had a lot of uncomfortable things to say,” she said. “They must have been uncomfortable for the cardinal to hear but he received what we had to say very well.
“We have ended up in a very hopeful position for the future.”
Collins said abuse victims had the most reason to be cynical about statements from the church and their wording.
“Many people may feel that because we are coming out of this meeting positive that somehow it is a PR exercise and we are being sucked in and manipulated in some way,” she said. “But I honestly feel the Cardinal has moved on in six years. He has changed his attitude and has learned.”
The cardinal, she said, had wanted to listen even though it may have been hard for him. “They were willing to listen. I think it is a very, very hopeful sign and it is something that I didn’t see as ever going to happen.”
She said victims were now going to be involved shaping how the church handles the matter in the future and in improving structures for deal with abuse and complaints.
They will be advising on the ongoing care of all who have been hurt by the issue of clerical child sexual abuse and in the development of existing and future training of all involved in the work of the church in this area.
There will also be a review of guidelines on dealing with sex abuse that were issued in 1996.
“The fact that victims are now going to be involved in all that move forward is just wonderful,” Collins said.

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