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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Statement by Cardinal Connell
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¬†In the wake of the recent Prime Time programme about the sexual abuse of children by priests in the Dublin diocese and the entirely understandable anger, suffering and bewilderment following it, I want to repeat the Church's utter abhorrence of the evil which has been perpetrated and my own deep regret for serious inadequacies in our response. I am only too well aware, however, that repetitions of such sentiments on my part at this stage may serve little purpose. What is needed, once and for all, is a thorough, independent and fully professional investigation of what has happened. Establishing the truth as unambiguously and as objectively as possible is the essential first step in moving beyond this shameful issue. This is pre-eminently in the interests of those who have been the victims of abuse. But it is also in the best interests of society at large and of the Church itself. Only when the truth has been established can the requirements of justice and reconciliation be met. On the basis of such an investigation we must be willing to learn whatever lessons emerge and face whatever the consequences may be. Doubt has been cast on the ability of Judge Hussey's Commission to carry out the investigation to which I refer. Such doubt seems to rest principally on the fact that the Commission has been established by Church authorities ≠ the Bishops' Conference, CORI and the IMU. For this reason it is seen as the Church investigating itself. This is mistaken. Once established, the Commission was given complete independence, with freedom to decide on its own membership and to amend its terms of reference in whatever way it deemed appropriate. Judge Hussey has chosen her fellow-Commissioners solely on the basis of their professional expertise, not of their allegiance to the Catholic Church. What is needed in the present situation is to identify the best means of moving forward. In order to do this, the diocese will co-operate fully with any body of enquiry set up by an appropriate authority. But we remain convinced that Judge Hussey's Commission, genuinely independent and capable of operating throughout the 32 counties of Ireland, is fully equipped to carry out such a task. Questions continue to be asked about the issue of confidentiality and access to Church files and documentation. There are genuine concerns in this area, but the nub of the issue is not whether certain matters may need to remain confidential, but who should have the power to decide this. It is our absolute determination that Judge Hussey, having where necessary heard the relevant expert advice, will be the arbiter in this matter as in all others connected with the enquiry. Since 1995, the names of all priests of the diocese of Dublin against whom allegations have been made of child sexual abuse, and the names of those who have made formal allegations, have been passed on to gardai except in cases where the diocese was aware that the complaint had already been made to the gardai. This policy, which includes allegations made both in the past and in the present, has been consistently upheld since then. The policy of the diocese is that reporting to the gardai is so central that the diocese will not receive any formal complaint unless that complaint can be reported to the gardai. Finally, in all of the current circumstances, it is evident that the form of enquiry that is most appropriate is the one which comprehensively and transparently deals with this issue in truth and in justice for all concerned. source: Communications Office, Dublin Diocese 23 October 2002
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