Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Response To The Quinn Spin On Bishops

Some time ago David Quinn, of 'christian think-tank' the Iona Institute was explaining to readers of his Irish Catholic blog why it was understandable that I had chosen to formally leave the Catholic Church - I had been abused by Fr Ivan Payne as a child and the Catholic Church had failed to do all it could to bring him to justice. If I were to summarise Chatpter 24 of the Murphy Report in one sentence I wouldn't use Mr Quinn's flowery language: I'd say the Catholic Church coverd up for Fr Ivan Payne in 1981 and as a result of that cover up many more children were sexually abused by Payne. Mr Quinn likes to minimise the church's role in covering up the sexual abuse of children.

He was at it again today on the RTE News at One when he said it was unfair for Bishop Field to have to resign because there was no cover up after 1996. The Dublin Archdiocese's handling of clerical child sexual abuse in 1996 and for some years after was no less obscenely disgraceful than in the years which preceeded 1996 and Bishop Field's appointment in 1997.

I appreciate you may not have time to read all of the Murphy Report but if you want a flavour of what was going on in the Archdiocese of Dublin from mid 90s on I have added relevant quotes from the Murphy Report below.

1.113 In the mid 1990s, a light began to be shone on the scandal and the cover up. Gradually, the story has unfolded.

1.36 It was not until November 1995 that Archbishop Connell allowed the names of 17 priests about whom the Archdiocese had received complaints to be given to the Gardaí. This figure was not complete. At that time there was knowledge within the Archdiocese of at least 28 priests against whom there had been complaints.

13.32 In March 1996.. Monsignor Stenson informed Mrs Collins that Fr Edmondus was not in a parish, was living in a religious house and was receiving therapy.

13.34 Fr Edmondus was in fact, contrary to assurances given to Mrs Collins, still a curate in Edenmore and was not immediately removed from ministry. Connell’s reason: the reason I did that of course was because there had been nothing against [Edmondus] for something like 30 years. It should also be noted that it is not correct to say that there had been nothing against Fr Edmondus for 30 years; there had been the concerns expressed in 1993.

13.39 The Gardaí met Monsignor Stenson in May 1996. They asked him for a copy of the Fr Edmondus file or at least for an opportunity to look at it. He refused stating he would need legal advice first. He said that canon law did not permit him to give permission for the file to be read.
13.40 Monsignor Stenson was also asked about the claim that Fr Edmondus had admitted the offence to him and a letter he wrote to Mrs Collins was shown to him. Monsignor Stenson expressed dismay on seeing the letter, saying that he would not have written that had he known that she would be handing over the letter to the Gardaí.
13.41 Despite having told Mrs Collins that Fr Edmondus had admitted to her abuse Monsignor Stenson refused to make a statement to that effect to the Gardaí.

13.48 In December 1996, Archbishop Connell met Mrs Collins and her support priest, Fr James Norman.

13.49 One of the matters that upset Marie most was the statement by Cardinal Connell that the Framework document was not binding in canon or civil law and that therefore he could follow what parts of it he wanted to follow. He claimed the Cardinal told her he had to protect the good name of the priest who had abused her.

13.78 The Commission is particularly concerned that the Archdiocese seems to have been in breach of the guideline which states: “If the bishop or religious superior is satisfied that child sexual abuse has occurred, appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that the accused priest or religious does not remain in any pastoral appointment which affords access to children”.

20.162 Mr file was revisited by the Archdiocese in 1994/1995 when clerical child sexual abuse was frequently in the headlines. In October 1995, a priest of the Archdiocese wrote to tell the Archbishop that Mr would arrive in Dublin in October 1995 and intended remaining for ten days. The Archdiocese did not tell the Gardaí that Mr was in Dublin in October 1995.

20.164 In November 1995, the Archdiocese disclosed to the Gardaí the names of 17 priests against whom complaints of sexual assault had been received. The name of was not on that list.

20.166 In 1997, the case was brought before the advisory panel. The panel recommended that the civil case should not be contested. It further recommended that the parish priests of Mr former parishes be gathered together to be briefed on what to do if anyone came in seeking help or who might need help in the future. This recommendation does not appear to have been acted on. Similarly, the abused who came forward were not told the truth. Their accounts were listened to and counselling was offered, but they were not validated or vindicated by the Archdiocese by being given the truth as the Archdiocese knew it.

20.167 Mr planned yet another visit to Dublin for June 1998. Archbishop‟s House was informed of his plans by a priest friend in January 1998. There is a memo on file which states that Monsignor Dolan, having taken legal advice, phoned the priest friend of Mr and told him:
(iii) If we become aware of his presence in Dublin we will inform the Gardaí.

20.169 Mr did arrive in Dublin in June 1998. He held a function in a hotel to which his various clerical and lay friends and family were invited. The Gardaí were not notified of his presence.

20.171 New complainants continued to emerge and further civil proceedings were issued against the Archdiocese. The diocese adopted a legalistic and defensive position in relation to the civil proceedings while at the same time offering what was described as „pastoral support‟ to the victims. Despite the growing evidence of the extent of Mr criminal behaviour and despite the Archdiocese‟s declared policy of not protecting abusers and despite the fact that his location was known within the Archdiocese, and was readily ascertainable on inquiry, the Gardaí were not notified of Mr whereabouts.

26.28 In 1998, following a visit to Medjugorje, Fr Moore attempted to book a catholic youth hall for a weekend retreat for a number of adults and young persons whom he had met on that trip. The diocese instructed the youth organisation not to give him the hall. It was pointed out to Fr Moore that this activity was in breach of his contract with the diocese.

27.23 Another complainant came forward in August 1997. The type of abuse alleged was of corporal punishment on his bare buttocks. It was decided in the Archdiocese that the nature of the complaint did not involve sexual abuse; consequently it concluded that there was no obligation under Church policy at the time to refer the matter to the Gardaí. In December 1997, the Gardaí recommended in relation to the August 1997 complaint: “… the Accused‟s conduct in this case was vile, despicable and probably sadistic. It comprised all but the worst elements of a bad assault in that it was brutal and had sado-sexual connotations. By stripping or partially disrobing these children they were made feel dirty, vulnerable and above all extremely ashamed. I also hold the view that the act of disrobing (and thereby indecently exposing) anyone –child or adult- amounts to an indecent assault. …

30.13 The Dublin Archdiocese reviewed Fr Cicero‟s file in 1995 as part of its review of all cases involving child sexual abuse. Monsignor Stenson commented:
“by Framework standards it would appear that child-care issues would have arisen in respect of the children in [the parish] and this was never addressed at the time. It is clear that there was no question of the matter being reported to the Gardaí even though it would probably fall under the definition of child sexual abuse in the Framework document”. .... it seems that Bishop Forristal and Monsignor Sheehy agreed to let matters continue as they were, on the basis that there had been no incidents for many years, but that Fr Cicero should be referred for assessment.

30.27 When the Dublin Archdiocese decided to review matters in 1995 and took the decision to return Fr Cicero to Ossory, they found themselves stymied. Bishop Forristal, as he himself admits, was mainly responsible for the delays in having the priest assessed. The bishop told the Commission that his exercise of responsibility over Fr Cicero was “severely hampered by the vigour with which Monsignor Sheehy acted to preserve [Fr Cicero‟s] unofficial working function at the Tribunal and to defend his position generally”. The bishop said that, ultimately, he was persuaded by Monsignor Sheehy‟s view that Fr Cicero‟s “mental and physical wellbeing were being assured through his continuance in that role”. The Commission finds it extraordinary that Bishop Forristal and the Archdiocese allowed Monsignor Sheehy to have such influence as they had the power to have their wishes in respect of Fr Cicero implemented.
30.28 The matter was not reported to the Gardaí until April 2002 and was never reported to the health board. This was in breach of the Church‟s own guidelines.

31.5 Bishop Murray was immediately informed and in turn contacted Archbishop‟s House in December 1988. The allegations were discussed at a meeting of the auxiliary bishops where it was decided that Fr Clemens would be given alternative accommodation in a non-parochial setting.

34.20 In December 1997 Monsignor Stenson spoke to a local priest about the monitoring system that was supposed to be in place. The priest recalled a vague conversation with Bishop Murray but said that nothing was mentioned about a monitoring system. It would appear that the only system that was in place at that stage was one where Bishop Murray inquired from Fr Marius if he was behaving himself.

34.21 In October 1998, another complaint was made to the Archdiocese about Fr Marius. The complainant‟s doctor felt she was not physically or emotionally ready to make a formal complaint to the diocese at that time. The Archdiocese did not pursue the matter with the priest.

34.24 In February 2002, a complaint was received from a women who claimed that she had been abused by Fr Marius. The complainant later revealed that she was the same person who had reported the abuse to the parish priest in 1998. She also sought compensation for the trauma which she had suffered. She claimed that Fr Marius raped her once and sexually assaulted and attempted to penetrate her on other occasions. This abuse occurred while she was assisting with parish activities.

34.24 In May 2002, the Archdiocese notified both the Gardaí and the health board about this new complaint.

35.29 In February 1998, the mother of one of Fr Reynolds‟s alleged victims spoke to the chancellor, Monsignor Dolan, indicating that her daughter had been sexually abused by a priest some 20 years previously. She did not give the name of the priest nor was she asked for it......the Commission finds it strange that the name of the priest was not sought. Had it been sought, Monsignor Dolan could have accessed Fr Reynolds‟s file and seen his admissions to Monsignor Stenson made almost two years earlier.

35.30 Bishop O‟Mahony had a meeting with Dr Walsh and Fr Reynolds in May 1998...he (Walsh) repeated that he should not be involved in non-structured or informal interactions with children in the parish or in school.

35.31 At this stage Fr Reynolds was still acting as chaplain in the National Rehabilitation Hospital.

35.32 Six days after Dr Walsh wrote to Bishop O‟Mahony, a social worker at a drug treatment centre contacted the chancellor, Monsignor Dolan, to tell him that a client had alleged that she had been abused by Fr Reynolds when she was nine years old.

35.33 She said she was particularly concerned because Fr Reynolds was a chaplain at the National Rehabilitation Hospital.

35.35 In July 1998, Archbishop Connell released Fr Reynolds from his duties as chaplain to the National Rehabilitation Hospital and nominated him as a beneficiary of the Diocesan Clerical Fund.

35.36 This was notified to the social worker who had approached the Archdiocese with the complaint against Fr Reynolds. She was told that he would be living in monitored retirement.

35.37 At this stage Fr Reynolds was not living in monitored retirement. He was living unmonitored first with his sister and subsequently with his stepmother.

35.40 The Archdiocese held the view that no formal complaint had been made. They therefore had not reported the matter to the Gardaí.

35.56 This case was extremely badly handled by the Archdiocese. Numerous indications of serious abuse and of admissions by Fr Reynolds were ignored. The suspicions about Fr Reynolds surfaced during his time in Glendalough in 1994. Despite the fact that the parents had no desire to go to the Gardaí or to the health board, and wished the Church to deal with the matter, it was March 1996 before any interview with Fr Reynolds was conducted. He admitted to the complaints. He stated that something similar happened in other parishes. No proper investigation was conducted into his activities in other parishes. Despite this admission he was allowed to remain on as parish priest in Glendalough until July 1997.

35.57 In the interview with Monsignor Stenson in March 1996, Fr Reynolds also admitted that his sexual orientation was towards children. A record of this interview is signed by Fr Reynolds. Again, despite this, he was given an appointment in the National Rehabilitation Hospital. This appointment gave him access to young children. Subsequently, Bishop O‟Mahony became aware that Fr Reynolds may have a problem with child sexual abuse but he does not seem to have mentioned this to anyone else in the Archdiocese or, indeed, to the hospital.

42.3 The first complaint of sexually abusive behaviour towards a minor was made to the Gardaí in October 1995.

42.9 Fr Sergius applied for sabbatical leave in 1997 to go to a foreign diocese for two years. He was told that the Archdiocese would have to inform the foreign diocese about the complaints which had been made and the concerns which had been expressed. Archbishop Connell met Fr Sergius and told him that he would be welcome back in the Archdiocese after his two years abroad. Archbishop Connell wrote to the bishop of the foreign diocese saying that Fr Sergius was “a priest in good standing” ....but added the following reservations:
He could be aggressive in his use of language, especially if he has taken alcohol. He had had a three year involvement with a woman; this had been “dealt with and is now regarded as a thing of the past”. The Archbishop expressed the view that Fr Sergius would act responsibly but undertook to take him back immediately if this was requested. The violent nature of his relationship with the woman and the more recent general complaints were not mentioned in the letter.
42.10 The sabbatical leave was to run from September 1997 to September 1999. However, Fr Sergius returned home after just nine months. The Archdiocesan records do not show the reason for his early return. He was appointed to a parish in August 1998. It later became clear that the parish priest was not told of the problems which Fr Sergius had had in the past...

42.14 In April 2002, the parents of three altar boys complained that the boys had been physically and verbally abused by Fr Sergius.

42.21 His propensity to be sexually abusive was known to the Archdiocese so it should have been very concerned indeed about the complaints of the young girls. Bishop Ó Ceallaigh should have been informed of the full range of complaints against Fr Sergius when he was dealing with the December 1996 complaint.

42.22 His problems should have been made known to his parish priest and area bishop in 1998 and he should not have been allowed involvement with the confirmation class.

43.3 There are three complaints or expressions of concern in relation to a trip to France by altar boys from the parish in which Fr Dante was a curate in 1985. The first was made in December 1995 .. ..One rule was that underwear could not be worn when the altar boys reached the continent, that all boys were to sleep naked and that the bathroom door was to be left open when showering so Fr Dante could “check”‟ on the boys. Punishment was to be smacking on the bare bottom. The former altar boy stated that he was once punished in this way and “something about it didn‟t feel quite right”.

43.4 The former altar boy also told Monsignor Dolan that the boys had to undress in front of Fr Dante at night and that a different boy had to sleep in the same bed as Fr Dante each night due to a shortage of beds.

43.5 In March 1997, .... Bishop Walsh concluded that the alleged incidents could be viewed as in the nature of strict discipline or containing some sort of gratification.

43.6 Monsignor Dolan concluded that the case did not pass the threshold of suspicion of child sexual abuse but he suggested, among other things, that an assessment would be appropriate.

43.7 Shortly after the meeting, it was confirmed to Monsignor Dolan that Fr Dante would be attending the Granada Institute. Fr Dante believed this would be better for him and the diocese as it would help him cope with his stress problems. He was treated in Granada for the following seven months. A psychological report ...concluded however that it would be prudent for him not to minister to children given the nature of the allegations. Fr Dante was allowed to return to ministry and was appointed curate in another parish from 1 September 1999. He did not take up the appointment due to “severe stress”. He was appointed a parish chaplain and chaplain to a hospital in July 2000. It seems that he actually carried out relatively little pastoral work in the parish because of his health problems; he did most of his work in the hospital.

43.8 Meanwhile, a second allegation was made ... In 1996, a woman informed Monsignor Dolan that there had been an incident with her son and Fr Dante when her son was ten years old. She alleged that ... had invited her son over to his house to learn about computers. On his second visit, Fr Dante allegedly invited the boy to sit on his knee. The boy refused and there was no further contact between the pair.

43.9 In late 2002, a third allegation, which was the second one concerning the trip to France in 1985, emerged. At some stage in 2002, a mother had spoken to a curate in her parish about incidents with her son during the trip to France in 1985. In December 2002, the allegations were brought to the attention of the parish priest who immediately contacted Fr Paddy Gleeson, one of the delegates at the time.

43.11 In January 2003, while the third allegation was being investigated, the parish priest spoke to the father of another altar boy. The father asked his son if he had seen anything on the trip to France. His son alleged that the boys had slept two to a bed and were made to sleep naked. He further alleged that Fr Dante had always slept with one of the boys. On a separate occasion when this boy was staying with Fr Dante, he had to undress in his presence.

43.12 The Archdiocese informed the Gardaí of the third allegation in January 2003. In a follow-up letter Fr Gleeson asked, at the request of Cardinal Connell, that the Gardaí not contact Fr Dante until the diocese had informed him of the new complaint as the Cardinal was concerned about his unstable health. The Gardaí were also told of the other allegations/expressions of concern in relation to the trip to France.

48.30 ... the Commission is concerned about the confusion which surrounds the level of information given to the other priests in the parish to which Fr Benito was assigned in December 2003. It is clear that Bishop Field did give the parish priest some information but it was certainly not complete or sufficiently specific. For example, the parish priest was not told that there were concerns about Fr Benito‟s relationship with a boy and he was not told the age of the girl involved.


  1. Perhaps there are too many of Mr. Quinn out there which is very vexing. Archbishop Connell sat on many reports. I'm coming to the same gate which Marie Collins and Andrew arrived at so many years before where requests for files held by the Archbishop's Office (then Desmond Connell now Diarmuid Martin) are not disclosed and freely available regarding known reports of clerical child sexual abuse by priests. It flies in the face of the revelations of the published Murphy Report and shows that business is as usual in denial and concealment which means pain and suffering to victims following in the sad tracks of those who walked this road before concerning the Catholic Church hierarchy and foot soldiers. Like survivors arising from the rubble of damaged and desecrated lives there are still no lessons learnt. This is a painful realisation.