Open Letter To:
Archbishop D. Martin
Bishop D. Murray
Bishop J. Moriarty
Bishop M. Drennan
Bishop E. Walsh
Bishop R. Field
I write with reference to the publication of the Murphy Report into the handling of allegations of child sexual abuse against priests operating in or under the aegis of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.
I started reading the Report at 10am in an office of the Department of Justice last Thursday morning and quickly became both very angry and very sad as chapter after chapter revealed sickening details of acts of abuse perpetrated by priests on vulnerable young children. No matter how many other Reports I may have read or how easily I recall my own childhood experiences at the hands of former priest Ivan Payne, there is nothing that prepares a decent human being for the details of how any adults, let alone priests, sexually abused young children.
And then there is the cover up of that abuse. The knowing calculating self-serving cover up of the sexual abuse of children in order to maintain secrecy, avoid scandal, protect the reputation of the Church and preserve its assets. The Report is quite clear that these were the pre-occupations of the Archdiocese in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, adding that the Commission of Investigation has no doubt that child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese and that the structures and roles of the Church facilitated that cover up.
Bishop Murray your behaviour is described as inexcusable; you protest that this is not the only description of your behaviour. You are right: the Report also says you were aware for many years of complaints and/or suspicions of clerical child sexual abuse, dealt badly with a number of complaints, and you did not deal properly with the suspicions and concerns that were expressed to you, these comments don’t exactly balance out the finding of your actions being inexcusable.
Bishop Moriarty you told the people in Kildare and Leighlin that you were not directly criticised in the Report. Yes you were: you claimed your reason for not properly investigating Fr Edmondus was because you did not have access to the archives, but the Report says that you could have asked the Archbishop to conduct a search which would have revealed earlier sexual abuse by the priest. That, Bishop Moriarty, is criticism.
Bishops Drennan, Walsh and Field, you were auxiliary bishops of Dublin during some of the period (1975-2004) covered by the Commission of Investigation. The Report tells us that a number of auxiliary bishops were made aware of complaints of child sexual abuse by priests in their geographical areas. Others found out about such priests through the regular monthly meetings involving the Archbishop and the auxiliary bishops. It is not believable to me that none of you, as bishops attending those meetings, were unaware that child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese. You were Bishops working in a Diocese where children were sexually abused by priests, priests that the Diocese knew were dangerous. You were all part of a structure and culture that facilitated the sexual abuse of children.
Bishops Murray, Moriarty, Drennan, Walsh and Field it is time for you all to resign. Some of you have tried to keep a low profile, others are trying to hold onto office in a manner that has become obscene. And please don’t hide behind the fact that some of you were not criticised in the Report; the Report only details a sample of allegations against 46 priests but it found allegations against 172, and don’t forget there are almost 40 pages missing from the Report, what will they reveal when they are published? For the Murphy Report to so conclusively find that child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese at a time when you were all bishops in the Diocese, and for you all to remain in office is to add insult to injury to me, and many people like me, who were sexually abused by priests. It is deeply hurtful and distressing that none of you can see that the hurt and pain caused to so many children in the Archdiocese at a time when you were Bishops is reason enough for you all to respect those sad experiences and go.
Archbishop Martin you have told your fellow Bishops that they must come out and answer questions raised in the Report – there are no questions raised in the Report, each chapter concludes with findings, findings of fact. It doesn’t ask Bishop Murray if he thinks his actions were inexcusable, it tells us they were. It doesn’t accuse him of behaving inexcusably, it tells us he did. Archbishop you have no right to tell Bishops that they should respond to this Report and if their responses are acceptable to you and your priests then maybe things will be okay. Things are not okay; you are not the one to judge their actions, Judge Yvonne Murphy has done that and on the basis of her findings I say your fellow Bishops, as named here, should resign. And if they don’t, you should resign before your meeting with them next week. In the meantime stop trying to undermine the Commission of Investigation and its findings.