Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Dromore Diocese makes two new appointments in wake of child abuse allegations

Two new appointments have been made in the Diocese of Dromore, which has been rocked by a string of child abuse allegations in schools and local parishes in recent months.

A long serving parish priest from Tyrone has been appointed Vicar General in the diocese, deputising for Bishop John McAreavey, who resigned in March amid criticism over celebrating Mass alongside disgraced cleric, Fr Malachy Finegan, despite knowing that he was a paedophile.  Finegan, who died in 2002, was accused of systematically physically and sexually abusing young boys throughout his time as a teacher and President of St.Colman’s College in Newry, spanning 20 years from 1967 to 1987. He was also accused of sexual and physical abuse against boys on church premises.  Despite having knowledge of the claims made against Finegan, Dr McAreavey also officiated at his funeral.

Bishop Philip Boyce, apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Dromore, announced on Thursday that 55 year old Fr Anthony Corr, parish priest of Donaghmore and Aghaderg in Tyrone, will take over the role of Vicar General. 

“I am delighted to appoint one of the younger clergy, well known for his pastoral dynamism, to this role,” said Bishop Boyce. Canon Liam Stevenson, former President of St.Colman’s College, previously held the role and it is believed Fr Corr’s appointment  is an attempt to break connections from the school’s abuse scandal. 

Fr Desmond Loughran, Parish Priest of Dromore, was also announced as acting administrator of the Cathedral Parish, Newry, with Fr Feidhlimidh Magennis, lecturer in St Mary’s University College, assisting in the Parish of Dromore.

Fr. Loughran takes over as replacement for Canon Francis Brown, who last month stepped aside from his role after a serious sexual abuse allegation was levied against him.  The Diocese was accused of serious breaches of child safeguarding protocol, after a BBC investigation revealed that Canon Brown was allowed to remain in public ministry for six weeks after the diocese was made aware of the abuse claim.  He is currently the subject of a police investigation into the allegation. 

Bishop Boyce’s caretaker appointment following the resignation of Dr McAreavey also proved to be controversial, with the former Bishop of Raphoe coming under fire for his handling of clerical sex abuse allegations in 2011.

According to the Diocese, Bishop Boyce is expected to announce further changes in the coming months, “in line with his mission to support the diocese in this transition period.”