Sexual abuse allegations made against priests in 19 Catholic diocesan colleges throughout State

— Protestant-run boarding schools declined to respond to request for details from The Irish Times

St Muredach’s cathedral in Ballina, in Killala diocese. St Muredach’s Diocesan College paid out a settlement of €100,000 following an allegation of child sexual abuse against a priest.

By Patsy McGarry

The sexual abuse of boys at boarding schools in Ireland was not confined to those run by religious congregations such as the Spiritans, Jesuits, Dominicans, Vincentians, Carmelites or Benedictines. Such abuse has also taken place in diocesan colleges run by local Catholic clergy, or junior seminaries as they were also called. Run by almost every Catholic diocese in Ireland, such colleges were usually where its priests and bishops were recruited. In recent years however, due to the clerical child sex abuse crisis, it has become practice to appoint new bishops from outside each diocese as it was felt familiarity with abuser priests encouraged cover-ups in the past.

It is unknown how many boys were sexually abused in these boarding schools, but The Irish Times, with the co-operation of Catholic Church authorities, has established that in this jurisdiction 19 such diocesan colleges have faced sexual abuse allegations against a total of 44 priests. Some 33 of these directly involve the local diocesan college, with similar allegations against a further 11 diocesan priests at other schools in the dioceses.

There are 26 Catholic dioceses on the island of Ireland, with the diocesan colleges of Derry, Armagh, Down and Connor, and Dromore in Northern Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland, neither the Archdiocese of Dublin, the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, nor the diocese of Waterford and Lismore had diocesan colleges.

Of the 19 remaining dioceses contacted for relevant details by The Irish Times, only Cloyne failed to supply details as to whether abuse allegations were made against priests at its diocesan college, St Colman’s in Fermoy, Co Cork. However, it is known that at least one priest at St Colman’s College faced abuse allegations, which led to High Court proceedings in 2008. The case was settled when St Colman’s College paid damages to the former pupil.

Survivors of abuse at fee-paying schools invited to come forward ‘without fear’ to scoping inquiry ]

In the diocese of Galway, eight priests faced sexual abuse allegations at its schools, of which five faced allegations from their period teaching at St Mary’s Diocesan College in the city. There were also allegations against three further priests at other schools in the diocese. All allegations were reported to civil authorities.

None of the accused priests in Galway faced prosecution while “some” were sanctioned by the Church. “Total costs in relation to all school-related cases was under €100,000. This was paid from non-parish related monies,” the diocese said.

The associated Clonfert diocese has received no allegations against priests who taught at its diocesan college, St Joseph’s, Garbally, in Ballinasloe.

Dioceses of Ireland
Dioceses of Ireland.

In Elphin diocese’s Summerhill College, Sligo, and St Aloysius College, Athlone, child sex abuse allegations were made against three priests. In four other cases allegations was either withdrawn or not sustained. All allegations were reported to civil authorities with no prosecutions following. No financial settlements were made by the diocese arising from any allegations.

In Ferns diocese, allegations of child sexual abuse were made against three priests concerning their time as teachers at St Peter’s College, Wexford, with allegations also against two priests at other schools in the diocese. All allegations were reported to civil authorities with one priest convicted in the courts, while two of the priests were laicised (dismissed from the clergy) by the Church.

Settlements were reached with 15 people who made allegations of sexual abuse by the Ferns priests, 12 following their abuse at St Peter’s College. The amounts involved were not made available by the diocese.

In Kilmore diocese, three priests who were teachers at St Patrick’s College, Cavan, were accused of child sexual abuse and another priest/teacher there was accused of unspecified abuse. He was also accused of unspecified abuse at another school in the diocese. All accused priests are deceased.

All cases were reported to civil authorities, but just one was fully investigated and it did not lead to a prosecution. The priest under investigation left the priesthood. One priest had died before an investigation could take place and the other died before an investigation was completed. There were no settlements in any of the cases.

The diocese of Cork and Ross recorded allegations against three priests who were on the teaching staff of St Finbarr’s Diocesan College, Farranferris, and against two other priests on the staff of two other schools in the diocese. All allegations were reported to the civil authorities.

One accused priest was prosecuted and convicted in relation to abuse in a parish before he was also accused of sexual abuse at St Finbarr’s. He was laicised and is deceased. No criminal prosecutions were initiated in connection with allegations at St Finbarr’s College or at the other schools. There have been no settlements in any of the cases.

Three priests at St Jarlath’s, Diocesan College of Tuam Archdiocese, faced abuse allegations; while one priest did so involving another school in the Archdiocese. All were reported to civil authorities. One of the St Jarlath’s priests was convicted in the courts while all three accused there faced sanction by the Church. Settlements of €60,000 were made with two men arising from the abuse allegations at St Jarlath’s.

At St Macartan’s in Monaghan, Diocesan College of Clogher diocese, two priests were accused of sexual abuse. Both were reported to the civil authorities with no prosecutions arising and no settlements were paid by the diocese.

Two priests at St Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, Diocesan College of Achonry diocese, faced allegations of child sexual abuse, as did a priest at another school in the diocese. Both priests accused of abuse at St Nathy’s were deceased when allegations against them were received by the diocese. All cases were reported to civil authorities.

Two child sexual abuse allegations were received by the diocese concerning the priest accused of abuse at another school in the diocese. A “substantial figure” was paid out by the diocese as settlement in relation to one of the allegations while a settlement was also paid by the Redress Board.

Allegations were received against one priest who worked at St Finian’s College, Mullingar, Diocesan College of Meath diocese, after his death. Allegations concerning another priest there were found by An Garda and Tusla to be “completely untrue and without any foundation whatsoever”. A settlement of €50,000 was agreed in the former case.

At St Brendan’s Killarney, Diocesan College of Kerry diocese, one priest was accused of child sexual abuse. He was reported to the civil authorities but did not face prosecution. He was sanctioned by the Church. No settlement was involved. No allegations about priests had been made at St Michael’s College, Listowel, also a Diocesan College of Kerry diocese.

Two priests were accused of child sexual abuse at St Munchin’s Diocesan College in Limerick. Both were reported to civil authorities, with one prosecution. One was removed from ministry. There were no settlements in these cases.

One priest was accused of child sex abuse at St Mel’s, Longford, Diocese College of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise diocese. He was reported to civil authorities but faced no prosecution or Church sanction.

At St Muredach’s in Ballina, Co Mayo, Diocesan College of Killala diocese, one priest faced child sex abuse allegations. He was reported to civil authorities but was not prosecuted, nor was he sanctioned by the Church. The diocese paid out €100,000 in settlement due to the abuse.

Similarly, one priest at St Kieran’s in Kilkenny, Diocesan College of Ossory diocese, faced abuse allegations. He was reported to the civil authorities but there was no prosecution, nor was he sanctioned by the Church.

At St Flannan’s in Ennis, Diocesan College of Killaloe diocese, one priest faced abuse allegations. He was reported to civil authorities but, as he was deceased by the time the allegations emerged, he faced no prosecution or sanction by the Church. A settlement was agreed in this case but details were “not specified for GDPR reasons”.

No priest at St Eunan’s in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, Diocesan College of Raphoe diocese, faced abuse allegations but one priest faced accusations of abuse at another school in the diocese. These were reported to civil authorities, with no prosecution. The priest was sanctioned by the Church.

There have been no allegations of child sexual abuse against priests who taught at St Mary’s Knockbeg College, Carlow, Diocesan College of Kildare and Leighlin diocese.

No response from Protestant boarding schools

Repeated attempts over recent months by The Irish Times failed to get any response to a request for details surrounding allegations of child sexual abuse at what were or are Protestant boarding school for boys in the Republic.

The schools contacted were Bandon Grammar School Cork, Kilkenny College, Dundalk Grammar School, Rathdown School Dublin, Midleton School Cork, Wilson’s Hospital Westmeath, Villiers School Limerick, King’s Hospital School Dublin, Sligo Grammar School, St Columba’s College Dublin, Wesley College Dublin.

It is not as though sexual abuse was unknown in such schools. In his autobiography Full On, broadcaster and former government minister Ivan Yates describes his years at the since-closed Protestant boarding school Aravon in Rathmichael, Co Dublin, as “unremitting torture”, where he was sexually abused by the owner and headmaster, Charles Mansfield.

In 2016 eight pupils were suspended pending the outcome of an investigation at King’s Hospital School in Dublin into allegations that a teenage boy there had been sexually assaulted.

In 2008 King’s Hospital was party to six figure settlements, along with Swim Ireland, involving 13 female victims of convicted sex abuser Derry O’Rourke, who had been employed by the school as a swimming coach. The victims claimed O’Rourke was allowed remain there despite several complaints about him to the school from 1973.

Complete Article HERE!

In rare move, Vatican official chastised Texas Bishop Strickland at conference

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland

by Religion News Service

If Texas Bishop Joseph E. Strickland is known outside of his diocese for anything, it’s for controversy.

The conservative firebrand, who oversees the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, has sparked backlash from critics for everything from voicing support for priests who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to offering a prayer at a “Jericho March” event in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. More recently, Strickland challenged Pope Francis, announcing on his Twitter feed that he believes the pontiff is “undermining the Deposit of Faith.” His efforts have inspired some detractors to call for Strickland’s resignation, while others have urged Vatican intervention.

But according to multiple sources, Strickland has already been on the receiving end of the Vatican’s ire for more than a year: He was chastised by a representative of the Holy See in 2021, they say — a move that simultaneously signals the potential for formal Vatican disciplinary action and exemplifies the difficulty of reining in a controversial cleric.

“(Strickland) doesn’t really care,” Barber said of the alleged encounter. “It’s the truth that sets us free. If he goes down because he’s speaking the truth, oh well.”

A separate source who is familiar with the meeting but who chose to remain anonymous, as they have not been given permission to discuss the matter publicly, told Religion News Service the incident took place in November 2021 at the annual USCCB meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. The source said the nuncio specifically confronted Strickland about his Twitter feed, which had garnered controversy at the time for, among other things, posts that opposed the three major COVID-19 vaccines distributed in the U.S. at the time.

Asked about the encounter via email this week, Strickland said he would “prefer not to comment.”

The nuncio’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

For his part, Barber told RNS he did not wish to speak further about the incident and would not name the source of his information. Instead, he criticized Pope Francis, accusing him of being ambiguous about important moral questions and calling the pontiff a “disaster for the Catholic Church.”

Strickland would hardly be the first cleric in U.S. history to be reprimanded by the Holy See. In the 1980s, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI — launched an investigation into Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, an outspoken liberal cleric and critic of nuclear power, who oversaw the Archdiocese of Seattle at the time. The Holy See ultimately appointed an auxiliary bishop to the region who shared authority with Hunthausen.

But it’s highly unusual for the public to learn about less formal admonishments doled out to bishops by Vatican officials behind closed doors. What’s more, Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University and an expert on U.S. Catholicism, said a nuncio privately dressing-down a U.S. bishop at a conference is particularly rare, and showcases the delicate situation facing modern popes when it comes to cowing outspoken, media-savvy clerics who buck the party line.

Strickland has become a popular figure in right-wing Catholic circles for his criticism of President Joe Biden and oppositional stance against COVID-19 vaccines, which includes expressing support for priests who have challenged their own bishops by refusing to get vaccinated. (Strickland’s position contrasts sharply with that of Pope Francis, who has advocated repeatedly for the use of vaccines, even calling them an “act of love.”) In addition to the Terry and Jesse Show, Strickland has appeared on a number of conservative and far-right Catholic websites, ranging from EWTN to Church Militant.

Church Militant also organized a protest outside the same November 2021 USCCB meeting where the nuncio is alleged to have confronted Strickland. Speakers at the event, where some participants waved anti-Biden “Let’s go Brandon” flags, praised Strickland from the stage. He also posed for photographs with staffers from Church Militant, an outlet that has railed against other bishops using language critics have decried as homophobic and racist.

Church officials wishing to curtail Strickland’s influence could take dramatic steps like they did with Hunthausen, Faggioli said, but “there’s no measure that can deprive him of the access to these various blogs or influencers” the bishop often utilizes to amplify his message.

“I believe that the fear is that, if he’s removed, his visibility will be amplified,” Faggioli said.

What’s more, if the alleged scolding was meant to cow Strickland, Faggioli said, it doesn’t appear to have had much of an effect. Since the 2021 meeting, the Texas bishop has been embroiled in multiple controversies over challenging the authority or rhetoric of church officials — be it his fellow bishops or the pope. And while Strickland’s much-maligned tweet about Pope Francis earlier this month was an attempt to distance himself from a podcaster who questioned whether Francis is, in fact, the pope, his effort still resulted in controversy.

“I don’t know how much that dressing down worked,” Faggioli said.

Complete Article HERE!

Sex Abuse in Catholic Church

— Over 1,900 Minors Abused in Illinois, State Says

More than 450 credibly accused child sex abusers ministered in the Catholic Church in Illinois in the decades since 1950, the state attorney general said Tuesday.

A new report by the attorney general of Illinois covering decades names more than 450 credibly accused sexual abusers, including priests and lay religious brothers.


More than 450 credibly accused child sex abusers have ministered in the Catholic Church in Illinois over almost seven decades, the office of the state’s attorney general, Kwame Raoul, said Tuesday in an investigative report. That is more than four times the number that the church had publicly disclosed before 2018, when the state began its investigation.

The 696-page report found that clergy members and lay religious brothers had abused at least 1,997 children since 1950 in the state’s six dioceses, including the prominent Archdiocese of Chicago.

The report adds 149 names to lists of child sex abusers whom the dioceses themselves had publicly identified before or during the investigation. That brings the total number of identified abusers to 451, the report says. The additional names were supplied by victims who came forward and shared their accounts with investigators, who then followed up on their accounts. Investigators also reviewed more than 100,000 pages of files held by the dioceses, and interviewed church leaders and their representatives.

One case among many documented in the report involves Thomas Francis Kelly, a priest who abused more than 15 boys ranging in age from 11 to 17 in several parishes in the 1960s and 1970s. A victim contacted the attorney general’s investigators to describe being singled out by Father Kelly as an 11-year-old altar server. The priest invited the boy to drive-in movies and to spend the night in the rectory, where the priest offered him beer. The boy awoke in the night to find Father Kelly performing oral sex on him, the report says.

The priest’s tactics were well enough known that they became a topic of conversation among the victim’s peers. Two other victims of Father Kelly shared similar experiences with investigators. The archdiocese moved the priest from parish to parish, the attorney general’s report notes. The priest died in 1990.

Attorneys general and grand juries in a number of states have investigated sexual abuse in the church, including an investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore that was released last month. The many investigations were inspired by a sweeping report in 2018 on six dioceses in Pennsylvania, which stunned Catholics across the country.

The Illinois report was initiated by Lisa Madigan, Mr. Raoul’s predecessor as attorney general, who identified early in her investigation a significant gap between the number of clergy members who had been credibly accused and the much smaller number disclosed by the church. “The number of allegations above what was already public is shocking,” she told The New York Times in 2018.

Why It Matters: Questions about abuse by Illinois clergy members have lingered for years.

The effects of the clerical sex abuse crisis have rippled through the Catholic Church in the United States for decades, and burst into public view 20 years ago when the The Boston Globe documented a sprawling cover-up of abuse in church settings.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois estimates that Catholics make up about 27 percent of the state’s population, above the national average for states.

In the early 1990s, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago led a pioneering commission on sexual abuse in church settings, establishing a board made up mainly of lay people to evaluate accusations of abuse against clergy members. The attorney general’s report calls the Chicago archdiocese “a leader in the new era of handling abuse claims,” with a policy of removing credibly accused clergy members from ministry rather than shuffling them to new posts. But the report also documents how the archdiocese sometimes failed to act on its own recommendations.

In advance of the release of the attorney general’s report, the state’s six Catholic dioceses released a statement last week on their approach to allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, said in the statement that the church in Illinois “has been at the forefront of dealing with sexual abuse of minors for many years.”

“This report clearly tells us that no one knew more about abuse, and no one did less about it, than these dioceses themselves,” said Mike McDonnell, a spokesman for SNAP, an advocacy group for victims of clerical sexual abuse.

What’s Next: Prosecutions appear unlikely in many of the cases described.

Most of the abuse documented in the report happened decades ago. The report acknowledges that criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits will be impossible for many victims, because of statutes of limitations and the deaths of perpetrators. The investigation’s goals, rather, were offering an account of past abuse and “providing voice to survivors.”

Some states, including California and New York, have enacted a “look-back window” allowing victims of child sex abuse to bring civil claims that would otherwise be barred by statutes of limitations, but Illinois is not among them.

Complete Article HERE!

‘You cover up abuse’

— Right-wing Catholic group slammed over anti-LGBTQ tweet


CatholicVote, a right-wing non-profit that labels itself as the “top Catholic advocacy organization” in the United States, received a drubbing on social media this weekend over a comment that it posted about a CNN article.

The outlet reported on Friday that actors Idina Menzel and Jonathan Van Ness had released statements strongly condemning the wave of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation that Republicans are spearheading throughout the country.

“At least 417 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the United States since the start of the year — a new record, according to American Civil Liberties Union data as of April 3. That’s more than twice the number of such bills introduced all of last year,” CNN explained.

“My son and his friends, they don’t even have to be told about being inclusive,” Menzel told CNN. “As a mother, I want my son to grow up in a world where you can love anyone. No matter who he becomes as a human being, he’ll be loved. He will have a home. He will be celebrated for who he is.”

Van Ness remarked that “child poverty is a way bigger threat to children right now. Child abuse is a way bigger threat to children right now. Gun violence is a way bigger issue for parents to be focusing on as opposed to what people are choosing to wear and how people are choosing to express themselves,” with which Menzel agreed, according to CNN.

After CNN published its interviews with Menzel and Van Ness, CatholicVote tweeted, “Protecting kids from explicit sexual content = ‘anti-LGBTQ.’ Noted.”

The blowback, which was swift and harsh, centered primarily on the Church’s extensive history of sexual abuse.

A nameless Twitter user kicked things off, writing, “We should protect kids from Catholic priests being that kids are always sexually abused in a Catholic Church.”

St. Martin’s Press publisher Jo Luehmann: “You all have entire bookshelves where you demonize non-Christians. The number of abuse survivors and victims in your churches is alarmingly massive. You cover up abuse of children in schools, churches and homes. Perhaps sit this one out.”

Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Alejandra Caraballo quipped that “maybe y’all should protect kids from priests, adding that “the only thing that’s sexually inappropriate around children are catholic priests.”

Wu Tang is for the Children: “Hey @CatholicVote, might want to clean up your BS first before offering up your thoughts here.”

Girl Geek: “If you really want to protect kids from sexual abuse, the best thing to do is keep them out of churches.”

Vs.: “CatholicVote boldly refuses to sit this one out.”

Victoria Brownworth: “Oh my goodness. Seriously? The pedophile priest cheering section has the unmitigated gall to show your faces here? Sit down and say 1,000 Hail Marys as penance.”

Bizzle (Alfalfa Male): “Oof. Damn. You may want to take a seat.”

drew olanoff: “You really want to involve yourselves in this conversation?”

LeftwardSwing: “You should probably stay out of this conversation. Over 150 members of the archdiocese in Baltimore alone.”

RWLatstetter #BERNIE2024: “STRANGE RELIGION YOU HAVE THERE! The average settlement in recent sexual abuse cases against the Catholic Church is around $300,000 – $400,000. To date, Catholic dioceses in the U.S. have paid over $3 billion in compensation to sexual abuse victims.”

Complete Article HERE!

LGBTQ Catholics dream of a changed church, while seeing reasons to hope


As a child in inner-city Milwaukee, Father Bryan Massingale’s grandmother gave him a leather-bound copy of The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, along with a dream that he might need it someday.

“My grandmother was not delusional. She did not live in denial of reality,” said Massingale, a Jesuit priest who holds an endowed chair in ethics at Fordham University, in New York City. “Her gift was a vision, an act of hope. It was a dream, a hope, a reminder that the neighborhood, with its drugs, violence and rodent-infested corner store with overpriced goods, did not define or limit who I could be.”

That’s important to know, he declared, since he was speaking as “a Black, gay priest and theologian” at Fordham’s recent Ignatian Q Conference for LGBTQ students from Jesuit campuses. This event was a “space for our dreaming, for queer dreams” of hope for “despised and disdained and stigmatized peoples,” he added.

“I dream of a church where gay priests and lesbian sisters are acknowledged as the holy and faithful leaders they already are,” he said, in a published version of his address. “I dream of a church where LGBTQ employees and schoolteachers can teach our children, serve God’s people and have their vocations, sexuality and committed loves affirmed. …

“I dream of a church that enthusiastically celebrates same-sex loves as incarnations of God’s love among us.”

Theological visions of this kind inspire hope for some Catholics and concern for others.

Thus, the North American phase of the Vatican’s global Synod on Synodality found “strong tensions within the Church,” while participants in the virtual assemblies also “felt hope and encouragement and a desire for the synodal process to continue,” according to the 36-page report (.pdf here) released on April 12 by U.S. and Canadian Catholic leaders.

Catholics are “called to act co-responsibly in a synodal fashion, not to wait until we know how to do everything perfectly, but to walk together as imperfect people,” said one group, in its summary of the process. Another group added: “When Church structures and practices are dynamic and able to move with the Holy Spirit, everyone is able to ‘use their gifts in service of the Church and of each other.'”

Calling for “greater inclusivity and welcome” within the church, the final report said this was especially true with “women, young people, immigrants, racial or linguistic minorities, LGBTQ+ persons” and “people who are divorced and remarried without an annulment.”

But the report also warned about the “danger of false or unrealistic expectations regarding what the synodal process is meant to be and to ‘produce,’ since people living in “North American culture” tend to focus on “measurable results and … winners and losers.” Some participants, for example, questioned calls for “radical inclusion,” while asking about the “pastoral and even doctrinal implications” of that term.

The explosive nature of these debates jumped into the news weeks later when the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York hosted, next to a side altar, a “God is Trans” exhibit.

In his written explanation of his art, Adah Unachukwu said this display “maps the queer spiritual journey” through “Sacrifice, Identity and Communion.” There is, he added, “no devil; just past selves” and “Communion rounds out the spiritual journey, by placing God and the mortal on the same plane.”

After seeing headlines, Archdiocese of New York officials promised to investigate the exhibit at the Paulist Fathers parish. The congregation also offers, on its website, an “Out at St. Paul” ministry to the “Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans and Queer community.”

Media reports early this week noted that parish leaders changed the name of this art exhibit, but that it remained in place.

Massingale delivered his Fordham address before that controversy. However, he did stress that Catholics must dare to share dreams of change – even those with “an inherently subversive quality” – while seeking a “new and more just social order.”

Referring to the “wedding banquet at Cana,” when Jesus turned water into wine, the Jesuit theologian called for a changed church in which “people of all races, genders and sexualities rejoice at the presence of love” and a world in which “spiritual wounds will be healed, where faith-based violence will be no more, where fear and intolerance are relics of history.”

Complete Article HERE!