An Irish diocese has been criticized over its failure to deal with allegations of sexual abuse against children between 1996 and 2008, this after new portions of the Cloyne Report were published.
The redacted elements of the report, which were finally released this week, said the failure rested mainly with former bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, who resigned in March last year, and Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, the delegate for the diocese with responsibility for child protection.
The report investigated how clerical child sex abuse allegations were handled in Cloyne diocese between January 1, 1996 and February 1, 2009. It followed findings by the Catholic church’s own child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, that child protection practices in Cloyne were “inadequate, and in some respects dangerous.”
In January 2009 the then Irish government decided to extend the remit of the Murphy Commission, then investigating the Dublin archdiocese, to include Cloyne. Its subsequent report, published in July of this year, looked at how abuse allegations against 19 priests there were handled between 1996 and 2009.
As court proceedings were then pending against “Fr. Ronat,” the pseudonym for the priest who is the subject of Chapter 9 of the Cloyne Report, the Irish High Court decided that elements of that chapter should not be published until those proceedings concluded, which they now have. The 42-page chapter details how a total of 13 complainants reported abuse allegations against Fr. Ronat.
It states: “It seems Fr. Ronat practiced hypnosis as a means of dealing with the problems of people who came to him in his capacity as a guidance counselor. A number of complainants told the commission they were asked about hypnosis when they were making a complaint.
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“Bishop Magee denies any knowledge of Fr. Ronat practicing hypnosis. Fr Ronat told the commission that he did use hypnosis but only as a hobby. He said that he did not use it with people who had emotional problems but only for treatment of addictions such as tobacco and alcohol.
In February 2009 a complainant under the pseudonym “Keita” came forward to the diocese and gardai alleging she had been abused by Fr. Ronat in 1973 while 15 and suggested hypnosis was involved.
The commission concluded that: “This case clearly illustrates the failure by the diocese of Cloyne to deal properly with allegations of child sexual abuse.
Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel, the apostolic administrator of Cloyne, extended his sympathy to abuse victims in the wake of this week’s release.
He said the diocese planned to establish a special healing program for victims early next year in which abuse survivors would be able to meet former bishop Magee, who resigned in March last year, and Msgr. O’Callaghan, in the company of a trained facilitator.
Meanwhile, Donegal has probably the worst record for clerical child sex abuse in Ireland, Bishop Philip Boyce has admitted.
The Bishop of Raphoe also revealed that 20 people working for the Catholic Church in the diocese, which covers most of the county, had still not been vetted.
The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church gave little detail on 52 known allegations against suspected abusers in Donegal since 1975.
The Irish Independent reported that more than 20 of the complaints were against notorious pedophile priest Eugene Greene, who abused dozens of youngsters while being moved from parish to parish. Greene was jailed for 12 years in 2000 after pleading guilty to 41 sample charges against 26 victims between 1962 and 1985. He was freed in 2008.
Asked about the prevalence of clerical child abuse cases in the diocese, Bishop Boyce accepted that it was proportionately higher than many other dioceses and “probably” the worst in the country.
“I haven’t seen all the other dioceses to confirm that, but I would say it has one of the highest,” he said.