News archive 2011, Towards Healing

Statement by Archbishop Dermot Clifford on the Cloyne Report

Statement by the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dermot Clifford, D.D.

Apostolic Administrator, Diocese of Cloyne

 I accept the findings of the Commission of Investigation into the handling by Church and State authorities of allegations and suspicions of child sexual abuse against a number of clerics in the Diocese of Cloyne.  I wish to thank the members of the Commission on the completion of their very thorough investigation.  This is the first time that the survivors of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne have had an opportunity to have their stories heard publicly.

I humbly apologise on my own behalf as Administrator of the Diocese, and on behalf of its clergy, to all who suffered and their families. I am appalled by the depth of damage and suffering caused by a minority of clergy in the Diocese, as outlined in this Report. Great pain was also caused to the families of those abused, whose strong relationship with the Catholic Church was, in a number of cases, damaged or destroyed.

The Report finds that the Diocese of Cloyne did not implement the procedures set out in the Church protocols for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse in the period concerned. It appalls me that, up to 2008, 13 years after these procedures were put in place, they were still not being implemented in the Diocese of Cloyne. This means that the Church authorities in Cloyne failed some of those who were abused by not adhering to their commitments when dealing with complaints.

I note that in their statements issued today both the now retired Bishop John Magee and Mgr Denis O’Callaghan have accepted full responsibility and apologised for their failures in the implementation of the Church procedures, as outlined in the Report.

Since my appointment as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne in March 2009, it has been part of my role to ensure that proper procedures are being followed in each and every complaint of child sexual abuse.

Building on many of the genuine improvements put in place prior to my appointment as Administrator, a large number of positive actions have taken place in the Diocese over the past three years.

Structures have been put in place to reach out to every corner of every parish in the Diocese of Cloyne so that people will have full and adequate information on the safeguarding of children and on what actions to take if suspicions arise in relation to child sexual abuse by clergy or Church personnel.

I would like to mention just a few of the actions taken in the Diocese:

  • Bill Meagher, a former child care manager with the HSE, has been appointed Diocesan Designated Officer/Delegate for Safeguarding of Children
  •  The Diocese manages complaints, suspicions and concerns in accordance with the guidelines issued by the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church
  • There is full co-operation and information sharing with An Garda Síochána and the HSE
  • All priests in active ministry have been trained in safeguarding of children
  • Special notice boards providing advice on the safeguarding of children and the means of obtaining further information and assistance have been erected in every parish.
  • Garda vetting applications have been processed for all priests of the Diocese who are in active ministry, as well as many lay persons involved in other Diocesan activities.

I have circulated a comprehensive list of the safeguarding reforms implemented for your information.  I believe it gives a good indication of the real improvements that have been put in place to ensure that children and vulnerable adults in Cloyne are safeguarded now and in the future.

Our child safeguarding team has been working with the assistance of the National Board on many of these improvements.  Indeed it was through the National Board’s intervention that the failures in the implementation of Church procedures in Cloyne first came to light.  I wish to take this opportunity of apologising to the National Board for the fact that it was provided with incomplete information when conducting its Review.

It is a very sad day for all the priests and people in the Diocese of Cloyne.  We sincerely hope that our responses to complaints and the ongoing efforts in safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in the Diocese will go some of the way to atone for the grave failures of the past. Such failures must never be permitted to happen again.

I join with the Commission in expressing the hope that the publication of this Report can in some way assuage the hurt and anger that those abused and their families have experienced.

Thank you.

Further media inquiries to:

Michael Keane

Insight Consultants

086 824 4500 or 01 293 9977

Notes to editors:

  1. The Diocese of Cloyne covers east, north, and mid Cork It has 46 parishes and a population of approximately 160,000 Catholics. Main towns are Cobh, Fermoy, Mallow, Macroom, Midleton, Mitchelstown, Kanturk and Youghal.
  2. There are 133 priests attached to the diocese at present.
  3. On March 7th 2009 Most Rev Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne.
  4. On March 24th 2010 Most Rev John Magee’s resignation as Bishop of Cloyne was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI.

ACTIONS TAKEN IN RELATION TO THE SAFEGUARDING OF CHILDREN IN THE DIOCESE OF CLOYNE

CASE MANAGEMENT:

  • Bill Meagher, a former child care manager with the HSE, has been appointed as Diocesan Designated Officer/Delegate for Safeguarding of Children. Fr John McCarthy has been appointed as Deputy Diocesan Designated Office/Delegate
  • The Diocese manages allegations, suspicions and concerns in accordance with the guidelines issued by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church
  • There is full cooperation and sharing of information with the Garda and the HSE
  • We have established an Advisory Panel to discuss cases involving priests currently in ministry where clarity is lacking on the nature of suspicions raised and/or the course of action to be followed. Its membership is in line with the National Board for Safeguarding of Children guidelines
  • An Advisor has been appointed to each priest out of ministry in line with National Board guidelines.
  • A Safeguarding co-ordinator has been appointed to each priest out if ministry in accordance with National Board guidelines. Both these and advisors have undergone appropriate training.

TRAINING:

  • The Cloyne Diocesan Safeguarding Children Committee has made the completion of training all priests in active ministry its priority. All priests have now been trained in Safeguarding Children.
  • Training and Garda vetting of retired priests who are available for ministry in the Diocese is almost complete. There is a four month turn-around time in processing vetting applications by the Garda Vetting Unit.
  • Working in tandem with the training Garda vetting  for all priests in Cloyne have been submitted for processing.
  • Each parish has now a trained representative in place, while most parishes generally have two. Some have three and more.
  • As a result of the training, there have been information sessions or Child Awareness meetings held at parish level for those who work alongside children in their Church community.
  • The Committee designed and circulated a draft parish checklist or self-audit tool. That was in turn sent to all parishes.
  • Subsequently, Members of the Committee set about visiting all the 46 parishes.  The Committee had a Resource Pack to help each parish implement safeguarding policies and procedures.
  • The analysis of this audit of pariishes has begun and should be completed in the near future.
  • During this time, a subcommittee was established. It dedicated itself to producing a new revised edition of the safeguarding children policy for the Diocese of Cloyne.  This was a formidable and considerable task. The resulting comprehensive document allows for referencing child safeguarding matters e.g policy statement, procedures, codes of behaviour and so forth.  This policy document has been approved by the National Board for Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church.
  • It has now been distributed to all priests and is in the process of being distributed to all parish representatives.
  • From the Safeguarding Children in the Diocese of Cloyne Policy, came the Parish Policy, which addressed the need for an easily readable manual that could be widely distributed in the parishes.
  • The response to the purchasing of noticeboards dedicated solely to the display of the Churches Safeguarding Contact Details was significant.
  • In each church a record is maintained of all persons present in the sacristy area for any occasion. This includes altar servers, priests, sacristans, readers, Eucharistic ministers and any other church personnel.
  • Structures have been put in place to reach out to every corner of every parish in the Diocese so that people will have full and adequate information on safeguarding of children. It will be clearly demonstrated how to act where suspicions arise and where allegations are being made, the contact details to obtain advice and assistance and the means of transmitting vital information.

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