A retired Catholic bishop has been singled out for failing to follow Church rules on reporting clerical sex abuse in an Irish diocese as recently as three years ago.
A fourth damning inquiry into the church in Ireland lays the blame for the mishandling of allegations with John Magee – a former Vatican aide who served as personal secretary to three popes.
The judge-led investigation into his inadequate attempts to deal with abusive clerics launched a withering attack on the former Bishop of Cloyne in Co Cork for attempting to blame subordinates for his failures.
The long-awaited report also found his second-in-command Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan did not approve of the Church’s protection guidelines, in particular the need to alert the police, and “stymied” child abuse policy.
“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,” the shocking 400-page report found.
The inquiry – headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, who in 2009 exposed a damning catalogue of failures in the Dublin Archdiocese – found the Catholic hierarchy in Cloyne was resisting church policy 12 years after a framework document on child protection was adopted in 1996.
The commission’s devastating criticisms go right to the top of the Catholic Church.
It lambasted the Vatican and accused it of an “entirely unhelpful” reaction for referring to the Irish Church’s mandatory reporting guidelines as merely a study document.
It found the response from Rome effectively gave a carte blanche to the likes of Bishop Magee to ignore the guidelines and offered “comfort and support” to senior clerics such as Monsignor O’Callaghan who dissented from official Irish Church policy on paedophile priests.
John Magee stood down from day-to-day duties in March 2009 and resigned a year later.
In one of its most damning assessments, the report states the Cloyne scandal was different from others, because it dealt with allegations after 1996.