THE BISHOP WHO ran Cloyne diocese when complaints of child abuse were being made, but not acted upon, may be abroad.
Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford, told a press conference this afternoon that he didn’t know the location of Bishop John Magee. He said that he might be abroad but he couldn’t be sure. When asked why he did not know exactly where Magee was, Clifford said that he had no contact with the bishop as he wanted to stay “emotionally distanced” from his case.
The archbishop took over the administration of Cloyne after Magee stepped down in March 2009. His resignation came after at least two years of pressure to do so when it became clear that the Diocese had not been compliant with child protection guidelines.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter, speaking at the publication of the Cloyne Report today, said that primary blame for the dismal neglect of the abuse survivors and their cases had to be lain at the door of the bishop in charge, namely Bishop Magee. Two previous investigations into handling of complaints in his diocese criticised his inaction on claims.
Today, Archbishop Clifford told reporters during the conference – which can be reviewed at @TheJournal_live’s Twitter stream – that Magee’s concealing of information even during these investigations was “indefensible”. It was not a mere act of omission, he said, but “It’s really telling lies”. He also said that he wished that Magee had been in his seat to answer questions today.
As for John Magee, his only presence today was in the form of a brief statement released on the Cloyne Diocese website. He said:
The Commission has found that the Diocese did not fully implement the procedures set out in Church protocols for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse against clergy. These failures were first brought to light by the Report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, which was published by the Diocese in 2008. I again sincerely apologise to all those who were abused by priests in the Diocese of Cloyne for my failure to ensure that they were fully supported and responded to in their time of need.
When the Church procedures were published in 1996, they were intended to be a new beginning for the Church in dealing with allegations and supporting complainants. While I was fully supportive of the procedures, I now realise that I should have taken a much firmer role in ensuring their implementation. I accept in its entirety the Commission’s view that the primary responsibility for the failure to fully implement the Church procedures in the Diocese lay with me.
Given my position of responsibility, I am particularly saddened when I read the accounts of the complainants describing the effects of the abuse, knowing that I contributed to their distress. I have met some of the complainants personally and heard their stories. The people, who were so terribly abused by priests, found the courage to come forward to talk to me, or to my delegate, Msgr O’ Callaghan who was representing me, and in many cases, we failed them. I am sorry that this happened and I unreservedly apologise to all those who suffered additional hurt because of the flawed implementation of the Church procedures, for which I take full responsibility.
I can only hope that the detailed work of the Commission and the National Board can now provide the new beginning that we all had hoped for in 1996.
Cloyne diocese helpline: Freephone 1800-742800
Harbour Counselling Service (part of the HSE NCS, based in Cork and Kerry): Freephone 1800 235 234
Towards Healing: Freephone 1800 303 416 or 01 800 0963315 (U.K.)
Cork Sexual Violence Centre Freefone: 1800 496 496
The National 24 hour Helpline for Victims of Rape and Sexual Abuse: Freephone 1800 778 888
Connect: Freephone 1800 477 477
One in Four: 01 662 4070 from 9.30am to 5.30pm
The Samaritans helpline is available 24 hours a day everyday on 1850 60 90 90.