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Monday, February 27, 2017
Irish Primate responds to Ferns report
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¬†Following the release of a government report into clerical child abuse in the Diocese of Ferns the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Dr SeŠn Brady, yesterday issued an extensive apology on behalf of the Church and announced the establishment of a new one-Church National Board for Child Protection in Ireland. According to the 270 page report, the Catholic Church in Ireland covered up the sexual abuse of young people by priests over several decades in the Diocese of Ferns, County Wexford. Reuters said the report details the Church's handling of 100 allegations of abuse against 21 priests in the diocese of Ferns dating back to the mid-1960s. The Minister for Children, Brian Lenihan, said in a statement: "It is clear from the report that effective action was not taken to protect vulnerable children over a period many years." "On behalf of the government I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms the repeated failure and gross dereliction of duties of those in positions of trust in the Dioceses of Ferns," the minister added. The investigation found that for 20 years a bishop in charge of the rural diocese in Ireland's south east dealt with priests against whom abuse allegations were made by transferring them to a different post or different diocese for a time. The Ferns Inquiry report criticised the bishop's decision to ordain "clearly unsuitable men into the priesthood" when he knew or ought to have known that they might abuse children. The inquiry was set up following the resignation in 2002 of the Bishop of Ferns, Brendan Comiskey, when it emerged he had been aware of the activities of an abusive priest in the diocese, south of Dublin, but failed to protect the victims. Cardinal Brady said in a statement: "I am deeply shocked and saddened by the findings of the inquiry into child sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Ferns. The revelations make for very uncomfortable reading. The pages retelling the pain experienced by those who have suffered, are especially heartbreaking. "I apologise to all those people who have suffered lasting hurt at the hands of abusers in the Church. As priests they should have been protecting and nurturing the talents of these young people. The betrayal of trust is horrendous. Today the Church is ashamed of its past failings regarding child protection. "I welcome the publication of the report prepared by Mr Justice Frank Murphy, to which we will give very careful consideration. I sincerely hope that its publication will be an important step in helping all of those who have suffered so terribly to heal the pain they have experienced and to get the strength to put this awful chapter of their lives behind them. The Church stands ready to assist them in any way it can in bringing closure to their trauma and in helping them to rebuild their lives. "I pray for the abused and their families that they will be able to achieve healing and peace in their lives. I pray that those who have abused will realise the terrible harm they have done and will seek pardon for their sins. "Actions, as well as words, are now required to show our seriousness on this issue. We are committed to ensuring that the Church at all times sets an example of best practice in this area. The professionals who assisted us in developing our new national policy on child protection have told us that our new policy, Our Children: Our Church, will put us at the forefront of national and international best practice in this area. "No one who is a danger to children is permitted to minister in the Church. A core recommendation of Our Children: Our Church is the establishment of a new National Board for Child Protection. The announcement of the name of the chairperson of the Board and its composition will be made shortly. It is our intention to implement the document from Parish level up. "Finally, I ask you also to remember in prayer the priests and people of Ferns. This is an incredibly difficult period for them and their Apostolic Administrator Bishop Eamonn Walsh. "May the risen Christ, who has promised to remain always with His Church, give us hope and strength." Source: Irish Catholic Media Office/CCN
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