Irish government releases `damning' abuse report

A special commission sponsored by the Irish government criticized a
bishop for failing to report allegations of clerical sexual abuse to
police and noted "concerns" about the same bishop's own interactions
with a teenage boy.

The commission's report, published on July 13,
is based on a two-and-half-year investigation of the Diocese of Cloyne
in the wake of sexual abuse allegations made against 19 priests between
1996 and 2009.

Investigators faulted the diocese for failing to
inform police about 15 allegations of clerical sexual abuse, including
two cases in which the alleged victims were still minors at the time the
accusations were made.

Speaking before the Irish parliament July 13, Prime Minister Enda Kenny described the report as "damning."

Cloyne inquiry is the fourth major probe by the Irish government into
clerical sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church since 2003. The
investigations have revealed widespread child abuse over several decades
by clergy and members of religious orders and have led to the
resignations of three bishops.

None of the previous investigations
dealt with events as recent as those in the new report, which occurred
after Irish church leaders established child protection policies in
1996. The report concludes that, in the case of Cloyne, those policies
were "not fully or consistently implemented."

Bishop John Magee,
who served as bishop of Cloyne during the entire period covered by the
report, stepped down from active duty in March 2009 and resigned a year
later. He publicly asked "forgiveness and pardon" for his failure to
prevent sexual abuse.

During the investigation, the report said,
"concerns were expressed about [Magee's] interaction with a 17-year-old
boy" whom the bishop kissed and embraced, an experience that the
teenager found "disquieting." But the report concluded that the incident
was eventually handled correctly.

Prior to becoming bishop, Magee served as a private secretary to three popes: Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II.

Vatican launched its own investigation of clerical sexual abuse in
Ireland last November. It announced last month that the inquiry had
finished its "first phase" but said that a published report of its
findings might not appear until next year.  —RNS

Francis X. Rocca

Francis X. Rocca writes for Religion News Service.

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