Thursday, January 28, 2010


I wish to express my great disappointment that former auxiliary Bishop Dermot O’Mahony has chosen to challenge the findings of the Murphy Report, specifically the emphatic finding that the sexual abuse of children by priests was covered up. This finding is backed up by a wealth of evidence throughout the Murphy Report and it was further accepted by the Irish Catholics Bishops at their Winter Conference in December 2009 when they admitted that they were shamed by the extent to which child sexual abuse was covered up in the Archdiocese of Dublin and recognised that this indicated a culture that was widespread in the Church.

The references to Bishop O’Mahony in the Murphy Report are quiet shocking as seen in examples below:

1.47 The auxiliary bishops who dealt particularly badly with complaints were Bishops O’Mahony and Kavanagh.

1.49 Bishop O’Mahony’s handling of complaints and suspicions of child sexual abuse was particularly bad..... When he ceased to be chancellor, he failed to tell Archbishop Ryan about a number of complaints, for example, the complaint relating to Fr Vidal on whose behalf he gave a reference to the diocese of Sacramento in California without giving details of his past history.

1.50 In the case of Fr Payne he allowed a psychiatric report which was clearly based on inaccurate information to be relied on by Archbishop Ryan and subsequently by Archbishop Connell

1.51 He failed to tell either the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Archdiocesan authorities or the Gardaí that Fr Reynolds, who was chaplain to the hospital at the time, might have a problem with child sexual abuse.

1.67 Bishop O’Mahony accepted that the policy of giving little or no information to the parish priest was probably there in order to protect the reputation of the priest and that it was a “wrong policy”.

15.21 The Commission is very concerned that Fr Vidal was allowed to return to ministry in spite of his admission of child sexual abuse. It is particularly concerned that Bishop O’Mahony did not provide the diocese of Sacramento with any information about Fr Vidal’s adverse history.

18.7 The Commission has grave concerns about the fact that Bishop O’Mahony gave a reference about Fr Tyrus when he sought a job working with young people at a time when Bishop O’Mahony was aware that Fr Tyrus had had a relationship with a 17-year-old girl when he was a teacher. Bishop O’Mahony told the Commission that there was nothing to indicate that the relationship with the 17 year old was a sexual one. The Commission considers that the description provided by the priest psychologist makes it abundantly clear that the relationship was sexual.

20.106 It appears that Bishop O’Mahony was still concerned that this matter might give rise to scandal ...Bishop O’Mahony disputes the characterisation of his motivation as being the avoidance of scandal. He told the Commission that his motivation was pastoral support for the family and the priest. However, the Commission considers that his notes and those of the local priest suggest that the avoidance of scandal was the primary consideration. Furthermore, there is no evidence of any ongoing Church support for the family once the immediate threat of scandal had passed.

24.79 The initial complaint against Fr Payne was handled very badly and, as a result of the failure to deal with it properly, many other children were abused or potentially exposed to abuse. Archbishop Ryan and Bishop O’Mahony were particularly culpable.

Bishop O’Mahony would do well to spend some time reflecting on the damage done so many children by what he did, and what he failed to do, instead of criticising Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for correctly accepting the findings of the Murphy Report in full.

END - 28/01/2010

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