Bishop apologises for moving abusive priests to another dioceses
on 05/09/2012 12:04:40
John Kirby said he had a lack of understanding about the sinister and recidivist nature of the child abuser and the lifelong damage that the destructive behaviour has on victims.
"Most of all - whilst I did notify the civil authorities at the time of these complaints - I profoundly regret and apologise for moving the priests concerned to different parishes, thereby placing others at serious risk," he said.
Bishop Kirby later tried to explain his actions in the 1990s, saying he had no comprehension of paedophilia.
He said: "I saw it as a friendship that crossed a boundary line."
Bishop Kirby said the decision to transfer the abusive priests in the early to mid-90s was a grave mistake.
"I operate very differently now and will continue to do so in the future," he added.
"Finally, I wish to reiterate my regret for the terrible damage caused by these two priests."
The revelation was included in one of seven reports following audits by the Catholic Church's own watchdog into four dioceses and three religious orders.
A separate audit of Cork and Ross Diocese uncovered concerns about priests retiring to Cork from Britain, including three with convictions for child abuse.
It warned that information from their dioceses in the UK was "not as forthcoming as it should have been", leading to a lack of awareness of potential risk.
The report said the issue underscored the need for good priests to get a celebret acting as a licence to Minister.
Ian Elliot, chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC), carried out the reviews on behalf of the church.
He examined child protection in Clonfert, Cork and Ross, Kildare and Leighlin and Limerick, and the Religious Orders the Dominicans, the Spiritans, who were formerly known as the Holy Ghost Fathers, and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
Dr Elliot warned about the damage to a priest who is forced to step down from duties while complaints are examined.
He said the issue of three priests in Cork and Ross subsequently allowed to return to ministry highlighted whether it is just and fair to force suspension.
Dr Elliot said paucity of evidence and the length of investigations may have added to avoidable distress and public ignominy.
The seven audits reported that allegations were made against 146 people in the church relating to 378 complaints of abuse.
Twelve convictions were secured, it stated.
Mr Elliot said his review found a markedly higher level of abuse allegations in the religious orders than in the church dioceses.
They were responsible for 89 clerics who faced a total of 267 accusations with six convictions secured, the audit found.
"The wider incidence of abuse amongst the religious is worthy of further consideration, particularly as the reviews also found examples of significant practice deficits such as the non-reporting or delayed reporting of allegations when they emerged," Mr Elliot said.
"Set against that, there was a complete openness and commitment to change."
A confidential counselling and support service for survivors of institutional, clerical and religious abuse has extended its opening hours today following the publication of the seven reports into child safe-guarding practices in the Catholic church.
Towards Healing's helpline (freephone 1800 303 416) will open all day today and tonight until 1am.
The service will be available from 8am until 1am tomorrow and on Friday.
The Connect counselling service will also be available this evening, and over the weekend, to provide support. Connect's opening hours are 6-10pm, Wednesday to Sunday at freephone 1800 477 477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK.