Statement of Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne, in response to the publication of the final chapter of the Cloyne report
I welcome the publication of the final chapter of the report by the Commission of Inquiry into the handling by Church and State authorities of allegations and suspicions of child sexual abuse in the diocese of Cloyne.
I fully accept the finding of the Commission that the analysis of how the Fr Ronat case was handled is illustrative of the failures to deal properly with child sexual abuse allegations up to 2008.
It is deeply regrettable that the procedures for handling such cases as clearly outlined in the Framework Document of 1996 were not carried out. As a result, further hurt and distress was caused to complainants. They were also denied the justice they deserved.
On behalf of the diocese of Cloyne, and on my own behalf, may I express my profound sorrow and once again extend my sincere sympathy to those who have been abused and to their families.
The priest concerned was suspended from all ministry in the Diocese of Cloyne in November 2005 and has not been allowed to minister to the public since. He was only allowed to celebrate Holy Mass in the privacy of his own home without a congregation. He was also instructed not to wear clerical dress or present himself as a priest.
Priests are in a position of special trust and responsibility, particularly where young people are concerned. To betray that trust by engaging in the heinous crime of child sexual abuse is appalling.
I would like to assure the public, and particularly the people of the diocese of Cloyne, that all of the child safeguarding procedures set out by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church are being implemented fully.
Mr Bill Meagher, an expert in childcare, has been appointed as the Designated Delegate for the Diocese, there is a very active Committee for the Safeguarding of Children under the Chairmanship of Mr Con Lynch, and there are fully trained volunteers working in every parish, all with the aim of ensuring the safeguarding of children in Cloyne.
I would invite any person who has been a victim of child sexual abuse and who has not yet come forward to report their experience to An Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive. They can also contact the National Board for Safeguarding in the Catholic Church through www.safeguarding.ie or the Diocesan Delegate Mr Meagher on 086 0368999.
Towards Healing, the organisation that helps those who have suffered child sexual abuse, has extended its Helpline hours today until midnight and tomorrow from 11-8 pm which can contact on free-phone 1800 0303416 (ROI) and 08000963315 (Northern Ireland and UK).
For further information contact: Michael Keane, Insight Consultants, 00 353 86 8244500 or the Catholic Communications Office 00 353 86 1727678