I was a little emotional on Prime Time on Thursday night. No one was more surprised than I was, I’m more used to being composed and articulate. But even though I had anticipated the essence of the Murphy Report, I will never get used to reading about priests ( or any adults ) ‘swimming nude with young boys in a swimming pool in the back garden’, ‘photographing children in sexual postures alone and in groups’, ‘liking physical intimacy with children’, ‘knocking a boy unconscious’, ‘kissing young girls in confession’ or ‘putting a hand down the trousers of a nine year old girl’. To read chapter after chapter of this disgusting behaviour is deeply upsetting for anyone with any regard for the safety and welfare of a beautiful child, as all children are.
As if this wasn’t upsetting enough we then read about what action was taken when bishops and priests were notified of the above abusive behaviour. The Report finds that after allegations were received, bishops and priests 1)encouraged one abusing priest to ‘stay on (in the parish) for a further six months in order to avoid any damage to his reputation’, 2)found that no canonical crime had been committed by the photographing of naked sick children in hospital, 3)conducted a marriage ceremony so a priest could marry a woman who he had sexually abused since the age of 13, 4)misled the medical profession about the extent of priests’ abusing in order to secure a favourable report and 5) worst of all used such ‘useless’ medical reports to justify sending paedophile priests out to new parishes where they carried on abusing more children.
When I was 17 years old I told our school guidance counsellor Ken Duggan that I had been abused by Father Ivan Payne for nearly three years up to aged 14. Ken Duggan reported my allegation to Archbishop’s House and Archbishop Ryan delegated responsibility for managing the allegation to Bishop Dermot O’Mahony. Some months later it was reported back to Ken Duggan that Father Payne had accepted that my allegations were true and he was eventually removed from our church in Cabra where I had been an altar boy. Bishop O’Mahony referred Father Payne to Professor Noel Walsh for assessment: unfortunately he said there had been a complaint from a 17 year old about inappropriate contact with Father Payne. He totally failed to mention that I was 17 now but the inappropriate contact was actually molestation, and had occurred when I was aged 12-14.
Shortly after this pretence of being referred for a medical assessement, Father Payne was moved to his new parish in Sutton. The Murphy Report finds that he abused at least 7 more boys after that time, though a total of 31 people made allegations against him. This, for me, is the worst single fact that has come out of this Report time and time again. Whether they manipulated information and medical professionals to get favourable but useless medical reports or wrote favourable letters of reference for paedophile priests moving onto other dioceses, they are absolutely responsible for the abuse of every child after that point. Listening to Archbishop Martin’s speech at Mater Dei on Thursday, which was printed in full in this newspaper yesterday, there is not one word of apology for this, and there should have been.