A decision is likely early next year on an appeal by a Cork priest into a secret Church court’s decision to defrock him for the serial sexual abuse of minors and teenagers.
As part of the appeal, the Cloyne priest, Dan Duane, aged 76, was invited to Rome by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to outline his objections to the diocese’s decision. He is not obliged to attend.
He was the subject of 11 complaints of abuse and three years ago, Cork Circuit Criminal Court directed that he be found not guilty of indecently assaulting a teenager.
The judge made the direction on the grounds of the 30-year delay in making the complaint.
A month later, Duane was found not guilty of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl 31 years earlier.
However, a year later, a secret canonical court set up by the Cloyne diocese's former administrator, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford, and which had heard from a number of his victims, ruled he should be forced to stand down as a priest. The same diocese has issued apologies and settled civil cases with at least five of his victims.
In its judgment last March, the canonical court “reached the decision with moral certainty” that the priest had sexually abused minors and teenagers and that he “should be dismissed from the clerical state”. They said this was not a recommendation but a decision.
Immediately, Duane, from Mallow, appealed the decision to the Apostolic Signature and the Pope, as he believed his defence was not “properly taken into account”.
At the canonical hearing, three priests — two clerical canon lawyers and a notary — assessed the evidence given by the victims. All involved had to sign an oath of secrecy.
The canon law court then drew up its report and its recommendations were sent to the Vatican.
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