Cardinal ‘truly sorry’ to clerical abuse victims

December 23, 2013

Cardinal Seán Brady has said he is “truly sorry” to the survivors of abuse in his archdiocese and recognised that past practices have failed children.

The Cardinal made the public apology  after the findings of an audit carried out by the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCCI)were published last week.

The audit, which was carried out in August this year, and refers to all alleged abuse between 1950 and 2000, revealed that 36 allegations had been made against 16 priests since January 1975 with one investigation resulting in a prison sentence.

The report looked at the Armagh archdiocese – spanning counties Armagh, Tyrone, Derry and Louth with a Catholic population of over 200,000 – and found that 19 allegations were reported to have occurred between 1950 and 1980, while 13 allegedly took place between 1980 and 2000.

The audit highlighted that little information was found on the receipt and management of allegations in the archdiocese before 1995, and pointed to “inconsistent filing leading to a lack of clarity about how decisions were made”.

“Reviewers cannot be confident that the records of allegations prior to 1995 are complete,” it added.

Despite all 36 recorded cases being reported to the PSNI, only one conviction came from investigations. In 2004, Fr Michael McQuillan was sentenced to 12 years for 40 offences committed between 1986 and 1993. He was released in 2010 after serving 6 years of his sentence.

Nine of the priests against whom allegations of abuse were made are still living with four still in ministry, while seven are deceased.

The NBSCCCI said the nature of the legacy cases in Armagh were “extremely complex” and many were contested by the priests involved.

The report made six recommendations for the archdiocese to implement.  These included addressing gaps in the historical records of allegations, inviting young people to become actively involved in safeguarding awareness, and developing a written policy for victim outreach and support.

No abuse allegations have been made since 2000 and the reviewers reported that the diocese was fully committed to protecting children and young people. They praised Cardinal Brady for his approach to the issue since taking up his role as Primate of All-Ireland in 1996.

Following the audit’s publication, Cardinal Brady issued a statement in which he spoke directly to victims of clerical abuse. In it he said his first thoughts were now with the victims and apologised for their hurt.

“I know that for you, survivors of abuse and your families, days such as today are especially difficult. You have suffered terribly and I am truly sorry,” he said.

“I pray for you and will work to ensure that you are supported on your journey towards healing and peace.

“We will continue to do all we can to ensure that current high standards of safeguarding practice are maintained. Our children, and especially those who have suffered, deserve no less.”

In the wake of the audit, many critics have called for an independent investigation into clerical child sex abuse, maintaining that “internal church reviews” were no substitute for a proper inquiry.