VICTIMS of clerical abuse in Cloyne have said they will co-operate with the Church’s secret canonical tribunal into the actions of Fr Ronat, a North Cork priest who was the subject of 11 complaints of abuse in the Cloyne report.
Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford, the apostolic administrator of the Cloyne diocese, said he intends to reconvene the secret court, which was suspended in 2009 because victims wanted to first see the outcome of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation’s report on the handling of abuse in the diocese.
The court was established under the auspices of Archbishop Clifford and could lead to Fr Ronat being defrocked. He will be represented by an advocate qualified in canon law. The court will consist of two clerical canon lawyers and a notary.
The complainants who allege he sexually abused them will also be invited to give evidence.
The victims have questioned how many tens of thousands of euro have been spent by the state in providing free legal aid to Fr Ronat during criminal trials and in his efforts to have more of the report redacted at the High Court. Despite a failure by the courts to convict the priest, the victims have said they have an “all guns blazing” attitude to next year and that they will not give up their fight for justice.
“It has been a desperately hard few months for us,” said a victim, described in the report as Fenella. “Words cannot express what it felt like to see him work free from court. And you know not one priest made one word of support towards us at any pulpit in Cloyne.”
In recent weeks, the final chapter of the Cloyne report was published — the chapter that dealt with complaints against Ronat. This chapter was the longest in the Dublin Archdiocese’s investigations into Cloyne.
It showed how 11 complaints of abuse were made to the diocese about Fr Ronat and eight complaints were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, yet the priest has not been convicted.
Meanwhile, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church has finished its report into the handling of clerical sex abuse complaints by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. It is not known if order will publish the audit which was expedited after a scandal broke out last summer about historical clerical abuse at Carrignavar College in North Cork.
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