Hundreds of children abused by 20 priests

Shocking new report to reveal cover-up scandal in diocesePhilip Boyce: Bishop of Raphoe will publish report

Irish Independent/August 11, 2011

A shocking new report will reveal how up to 20 paedophile priests abused hundreds of children in one diocese over a 40-year period -- sparking a new cover-up scandal for the Catholic Church.

Clergy are severely criticised for the way victims and their families were treated in the diocese of Raphoe, Co Donegal.

The report is due out later this month.

It will come in the wake of a series of damning reports which have rocked the church with revelations about the scale of sex abuse in the diocese of Cloyne, in the archdiocese of Dublin and by religious orders.

The report, for the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, is expected to be published by the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Philip Boyce, in the next two weeks.

It is understood the board received "total cooperation" from Dr Boyce.

The contents of the report are said to be "horrific" and outline a catalogue of allegations against priests who abused young children and senior colleagues who failed their victims.

"There were hundreds and hundreds of victims," one source told the Irish Independent, "and they were abused again and again while the church actively prevented investigations by the civil authorities.

"The Raphoe diocese, like others, was only interested in protecting the church and not the victims"

In one case the Irish Independent has learned about a priest who raped young boys in one of Raphoe's 33 parishes and was "sent away" for less than a month after the parents of a young boy made a complaint to the church.

The incident, in 1977, left the family devastated when they realised the priest was returning to the parish. The family were assured that the church had "dealt with" the matter and that no more incidents would take place.

The priest in question was moved through several other parishes over a 30-year period as the diocese failed again and again to deal with him. He continued to target young boys and abuse them. Gardai were never informed of the allegations.

When gardai did become involved in a number of investigations, the church was uncooperative, obstructive and misled detectives.

Even though the diocese had investigated allegations against some priests, no files were ever handed over to gardai and no records were ever found.

In another incident, the parents of one victim claim they were asked by a senior cleric if they were "all right" financially.

One victim, raped by a Catholic priest in the diocese, told the Irish Independent: "I cannot begin to tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing this audit being published. It will be like a dark cloud lifting off me.


"The cover-up by the church in Rome and here in Ireland is finally being exposed. I have no doubt Dr Boyce will apologise to people like me, but what we want is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Another victim insisted the authorities had to go much further than publishing the audit. "In every walk of life, someone who covers up a crime or who prevents a criminal from being brought to justice is arrested and charged with helping an offender or perverting the course of justice."

The audit of the diocese was led by Ian Elliott chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. The board was founded in 2006 and has compiled audits on six of Ireland's 26 dioceses.

A spokesman for Mr Elliott said his board 's report examined "the full extent of all complaints or allegations, knowledge, suspicions or concerns of child sexual abuse, made to the Raphoe diocese by individuals or by the civil authorities in the period 1 January 1975 to the present day, against Catholic clergy."

The clergy included all members of religious congregations affiliated with Raphoe.

Raphoe diocese press officer, Fr Paddy Dunne, told the Irish Independent he believed the audit would be published within weeks. "No exact date has been set for its publication but I believe it will be before the end of August," he said.

"It is very important that we are open and honest about what is in it and that we deal with all the issues which are raised."

The Raphoe diocese set up a child protection committee in June 2006. Bishop Boyce said last month that all abuse allegations are now reported to gardai.

Each parish now has two or more child protection representatives who train all church personnel who have contact with children.

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