A letter sent by the Vatican to Irish bishops in 1997 shows that they blocked attempts to report pedophile priests to the police. A new documentary reveals the contents of the letter and claims that, on two occasions, the Vatican intervened and stopped attempts made by Irish bishops to defrock pedophile priests.
Bryan Maguire, abuse survivor and spokesperson for the Voice of the Faithful organization said the letter changes the way he feels about the clerical abuse. He said "It certainly puts a different complexion on the way in which the Irish bishops acted and points a finger right back to Rome.
"At root what we've got is not just abusive priests and bishops that cover up, but an entire system that has enabled and facilitated those bishops and priests.
"What we want is for the Church to take a mirror to itself and not to just push the problem down to a local problem."
The documentary which will be aired on Ireland's national broadcaster, "Unspeakable Crimes", reveals the details of the cover-ups.
In a High Court cast last month an order was given to publish Chapter 19 of the Murphy Report, which looks at the clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese. This chapter shows that the bishops made moves to dismiss Tony Walsh from the priesthood. However the Vatican instead sought to send him to a monastery for 10 years.
"Unspeakable Crimes" shows that Walsh went on to abuse another child after a Church court recommended that the be laicized. In the documentary the mother of the child who was abused points the finger directly at Rome.
It also shows that an Irish archbishop threatened to resign because of a certain case in the 1990s. The Department of Public Prosecution declined to prosecute the priest and the archbishop recommend he be dismissed from the clergy. He was overruled by the Vatican.