Statement by Cardinal Seán Brady in response to the Cloyne Report
Drumcree Pastoral Centre, Portadown
The publication of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Safeguarding in the diocese of Cloyne represents another dark day in the history of the response of Church leaders to the cry of children abused by Church personnel. I welcome this Report. Earlier today, Archbishop Dermot Clifford apologised to the survivors of abuse and their families, to the people of the diocese of Cloyne and to the wider Church. I apologise and express my shame and sorrow at what has happened.
Especially during these days I ask that we remember, in our thoughts and prayers, all those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, as a result of abuse. For those who are suffering the Church provides professional support and the recently established Towards Healing service is available to assist survivors.
The findings of this Report confirm that grave errors of judgement were made and serious failures of leadership occurred. This is deplorable and totally unacceptable.
These serious failures were first investigated by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church whose report was published in December 2008. I commend the National Board for its determination to fulfil the mandate given to it of devising and overseeing the implementation of best practice in safeguarding children throughout the Church. One positive aspect to come out of Judge Murphy’s Report is the confirmation that the Church-established structures of review and accountability have been proven to work effectively.
The current Church environment for children is a totally different one to that of the past. As was publicly reported by the National Board on 11 May last:
- it has been advised that all allegations of abuse have been reported to the statutory authorities, North and South;
- all dioceses have safeguarding personnel in each of the 1,386 parishes on the island;
- thousands of volunteers in Ireland have undergone training in order to fulfil their safeguarding roles throughout the Church;
- in addition, the National Board has provided training to 52 groups on various aspects of safeguarding guidelines;
- priority has been given to the ongoing programme of audit of dioceses and religious congregations. As stated by the Board last week, audits of three dioceses have been completed and three further diocesan audits will be completed by the end of the month.
The Commission of Inquiry states that in all my dealings with Bishop Magee, my overriding objective was to ensure that safeguarding practice in Cloyne be prioritised and implemented and that Bishop Magee should be available fully to assist the Commission of Inquiry led by Judge Murphy.
It was my view, from an early stage, that an Apostolic Administrator be appointed to administer the diocese while Bishop Magee remained available to assist the Commission of Inquiry in its work.
Today’s Report highlights again the necessity for continuing vigilance and full cooperation with the civil authorities, and the National Board, in the critical area of safeguarding children. I call today for the introduction of legislation to support mandatory reporting of allegations of child sexual abuse to the statutory authorities.
I welcome the statement last week by the National Board that the resolution of the data protection issues earlier this year has cleared the way for the continuation of the audits of individual dioceses. The Church’s full commitment to this partnership is a guarantee of best practice in child safeguarding.
Notes for Editors
Towards Healing Helpline
Towards Healing is an organisation which provides telephone counselling and a counselling and psychotherapy referral service for people who have suffered physical, emotional or sexual abuse when they were children by persons working for the Catholic Church in Ireland– www.towardshealing.ie
From the Republic of Ireland: 1800 303 416
From Northern Ireland: 0800 096 3315
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth:Martin Long00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444