THE Vatican is today protecting disgraced Bishop John Magee.
Magee is now believed to be hiding out in Rome following the latest scandal to hit the Church. Insiders believe he is being protected by the Vatican and Pope Benedict amid the furore of the damning Cloyne Report.
The Vatican has so far refused to comment on the report which accuses Magee of lying to the state about the protection of children.
Pressure is now growing on the Church to call the Bishop to account.
The report shows that the Catholic Church was ignoring its own guidelines of child protection as recently as 2009.
It also says that Bishop Magee kissed and touched a teenage boy in a manner described by investigators as “inappropriate behaviour”.
Bishop Magee’s exact whereabouts remained a mystery today as pressure was growing on the Catholic Church to call the bishop to account.
He has not commented on the report or made himself available to answer questions from the media.
A visibly shaken Archbishop Dermot Clifford said he would have been “very happy” if Bishop Magee was in front of the press responding to questions about the Cloyne report instead of him.
“I’d be very happy if he was sitting here in this seat and it’s a pity that he isn’t,” he told a press conference in Cork after the publication of the report.
The diocese’s caretaker bishop, who is also the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, described himself as “having distanced himself from John Magee” in recent years and had not any contact with him recently.
He said he believed that the former Bishop of Cloyne was out of the country.
Bishop Magee has been accused of lying to the State over child protection procedures in the Cloyne Diocese where he and a senior assistant failed a succession of victims of clerical sex abuse.
The report also reveals that Bishop Magee was the subject of a complaint over an alleged inappropriate incident with a teenage boy. His actions were deemed to be “inappropriate behaviour” rather than abuse.
It took diocesan authorities three months to report on the matter to gardai once they were made aware of the allegations.
A file was later sent to the DPP who recommended no charges be brought against the bishop.
The complaint centred on an incident where Dr Magee “tightly” embraced a 17-year-old boy, referred to in the report as “Joseph” and allegedly kissed him on the forehead.
Joseph, who had been contemplating entering the priesthood, had a number of further meetings with the bishop, some when he was under 18 and some when he was over 18.
Dr Magee later denied kissing Joseph on the forehead but said he had made the sign of the cross on his forehead.
He acknowledged telling Joseph he loved him but later explained his intention “was to comfort the young man who was upset by family problems”.
Dr Magee was referred to a “boundary counsellor” who outlined what “constituted good practice in the area of touch in the context of pastoral relationship.”
The commission found that the case was dealt with appropriately.