Really Sciency

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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Suffer the little children

Yet another report is published highlighting the extent of Child abuse in the Catholic Church - this in the Irish diocese of Cloyne. And this time we know for sure who was responsible for such abuses to go on unreported to the authorities; Bishop John Magee, a man as personal secretary to three successive popes, at the heart of the Vatican.  Released on Wednesday, it investigated how allegations against 19 priests were dealt with between 1996 and 2009.

Bishop John Magee
 
The worst thing is that this abuse occurred after 1996 when the church's own child protection guidelines were in place as a result of previous claims of abuse. Yet this report tells us over and over how the implementation of the policies and procedures was inadequate and inappropriate and found that Bishop John Magee falsely told the Irish government he was reporting all abuse allegations to authorities.
 
This report describes him as  being "entirely unhelpful" in dealing with allegations of sexual exploitation.The authors of the report said the Vatican's actions "can only be described as unsupportive in relation to the civil authorities".  The report concluded: "It is a remarkable fact that Bishop Magee took little or no active interest in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the framework document was adopted. By then it was hard to ignore such cases as the media with full of such stories.

The inquiry concludes that the fact that some child sexual abuse allegations were not reported to police was the diocese's "greatest failure". There were 15 cases between 1996 and as late as 2005 which "very clearly" should have been reported. Yet police were not told about nine of them. The most serious lapse was the failure to report the two cases in which the alleged victims were minors.
  
He made the same mistake as others but in his case the church's child protection guidelines were supposedly in place, and he cannot claim he did not know how to respond to the abuse allegations.

Bishop Magee stepped aside from duties in the diocese in March 2009 after an independent report found his Cloyne Diocese had put children at risk of harm. His resignation was accepted by the Pope a year later and he is now living in retirement.

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