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Archbishop responds to last chapter of Murphy Report

By Sarah Mac Donald - 13 July, 2013

The sexual abuse of children by priests in the archdiocese of Dublin must never be forgotten and “can never be whitewashed away” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said.

In a statement issued in response to the publication on Friday of the redacted sections of the Murphy Report, the Archbishop said that there were some who think that with its publication “we can now draw a line under this dark period in the history of the church in Dublin.”

He said there were others who would challenge the work of the Murphy Commission.

“I repeat that the Murphy Report represents and remains a true milestone which marks our history,” he stated.

He underlined that for those who had been abused by the former priest, Patrick McCabe, the publication of Chapter 20 would again bring to life their horrific experiences.  

Recalling the comments he made on the publication of the major part of the Report by the Murphy Commission in November 2009, he said they remained his sentiment as the final section was published.   

“Today, it must be unequivocally recalled that the Archdiocese of Dublin failed to recognise the theft of childhood which survivors endured and the diocese failed in its responses to them when they had the courage to come forward, compounding the damage done to their innocence. For that no words of apology will ever be sufficient.”

Following the setting aside of Mr Justice Gilligan’s previous orders prohibiting the publication of Chapter 20, the way was cleared for publication of the report in its “complete original form” by the Minister for Justice.

The restrictions imposed on Chapters 19 and 20 were to ensure that criminal proceedings underway against people named in the Report would not be prejudiced.

The Murphy Report investigated the mishandling of allegations of clerical child sex abuse against 46 priests in Dublin between 1975 and 2004. It was published in November 2009 but Chapters 19 and 20 were redacted.

Chapter 19, which examined the abuse perpetrated by former priest Tony Walsh, was published in December 2010

Chapter 20 examines the way three archbishops of Dublin dealt with Patrick McCabe, beginning with Archbishop Dermot Ryan, who was archbishop from 1972 to 1984. He was followed by Archbishop Kevin McNamara (1984 to 1987) and then Cardinal Desmond Connell from 1988 to 2004.

The Murphy Commission said it was aware of 21 complainants against McCabe.

The report is highly critical of Archbishop Dermot Ryan saying he knew about complaints against McCabe.

It said that the Archbishop “protected Fr McCabe to an extraordinary extent; he ensured, as far as he could, that very few people knew about his activities; it seems that the welfare of children simply did not play any part in his decisions.”

The Report is also critical of the role of the Gardaí asserting that they failed to investigate a complaint about the priest’s abusive behaviour and stifled another complaint.  As no action was taken, the priest was able to travel to the US and serve in the Californian diocese of Santa Rosa from 1983 to 1986. He was laicised in 1988.

“My concern today is with the victims of Patrick McCabe, those who have come forward to tell their stories and those for whom the pain of telling their story is still too raw. I think of the parents and the spouses and the children of the victims whose lives have also been damaged by what happened,” Archbishop Martin said on Friday.

He acknowledged that for those abused by Patrick McCabe, “the wait for truth has been a long one.”

Justice delayed compounded their suffering, he said. “I hope that today, with the publication of the full Chapter 20 of the Murphy Report some of their suffering will ease.”

According to Dr Martin, the archdiocese of Dublin continues to receive information about Patrick McCabe and other men who ministered there and were serial abusers of children. 

He said any new information received by the diocesan Child Safeguarding Service is shared with the civil authorities and the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. 

He confirmed that the archdiocese of Dublin is aware of allegations against Patrick McCabe by over 30 named persons in Ireland and in the United States.

Acknowledging the work of “hundreds of dedicated and trained child safeguarding volunteers in our parishes, working tirelessly to ensure that children are as safe as possible in all areas of Church life,” he paid tribute to the ongoing child protection work and the enormous change in structure and in attitude in the Church to the safeguarding of children.

“It is a tribute to the courage and strength of those survivors who came forward to tell the truth of what happened to them in the past.”

By Sarah Mac Donald

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