Irish Report Condemns Catholic Church for Concealing Abuse

Posted July 13th, 2011 at 6:10 pm (UTC-5)
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A government-sponsored report condemns the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland for what it describes as the church's “inadequate” response to allegations of sexual abuse of children, and says high-ranking clergy helped conceal the abuse.

The report by an independent commission Wednesday says the rural diocese of Cloyne in southern Ireland and its bishop, John Magee, largely ignored claims of molestation, rape and beating of children by members of the church between 1996 and 2009.

It said the victims identified in the investigation were all of the opinion that in their meetings with higher church officials, the sole concern was the protection of the institution rather than the well-being of the children.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter pledged to pass a new law making it an imprisonable crime to withhold knowledge of suspected child abuse. He and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald described the report as particularly shocking because the abuse allegations were covered up long after the church pledged to report all such cases since 1995.

Magee offered an apology Wednesday for failing to firmly implement church procedures on reporting abuse. He resigned last year after a church-led investigation determined that his handling of abuse allegations had exposed children to risk.

The Vatican had no comment on the report, which is the Irish government's fourth fact-finding probe in recent years on the church's sex abuse scandal.

Catholics in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have demanded church accountability for the abuses, which began coming to light eight years ago in the United States and later became apparent in Europe.

Victims have accused the church hierarchy of failing for decades to punish errant priests.