Dr John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore and a member of the Bishops’ Liaison Committee for Child Protection, said the time had come to “take action” over the abuses rocking the Church. Referring to the beleaguered Cork bishop, Dr John Magee, he said he “had to think about his position”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time, Dr McAreavey said the report that had uncovered the mishandling of child sex abuse allegations in the diocese of Cloyne was “very disappointing”.
“We have been down this road before,” he said.
“And when Cardinal Seán Brady said last week that people were let down and bewildered, he was understating things.”
Dr McAreavey acknowledged the serious nature of what has emerged, but said he was still anxious to reassure people and particularly victims that a huge amount has been learnt.
“The biggest task facing the Church is consistent practice, and that we continue to have our own strong national board,” he said.
He said people like Ian Elliott, who carried out the damning report of Cloyne on behalf of the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC), and people like him, were of the highest integrity. “They are our strongest guarantee that the Church will be held to its own best standards.”
Meanwhile, Maeve Lew-is, the director of One in Four, a support group for victims of sexual abuse, said she would be “very surprised” if Bishop Magee did not know about a letter written by his own advisory committee threatening legal action against the NBSC if it published the report exposing the mishandling of the alleged abuses by the diocese.
She said she had been shocked by the contents of the letter, which intimated that the NBSC report was not true.
“The bishop has no option but to go. Following the publication of the HSE audit, his credibility is in tatters,” she said.
While Ms Lewis welcomed the news that Cloyne was to be investigated by the Dublin Archdiocese Commission, she said that unless the commission encouraged victims to come forward, it would be meaningless.
Ita Mangan, a member of the commission, said she did not expect a lengthy investigation.
She said she felt that the investigation would be comparable to the Ferns inquiry because of the number of abuse allegations.
THE questionnaire the HSE sent to bishops and religious orders had seven sections.
The first part required each bishop or head of a religious order to state if they had accepted Church guidelines and if they drew-up a set of procedures to deal with abuse claims.
The second and third parts looked for verification on whether reports of abuse would be passed to the Garda and HSE quickly, who was the child protection officer and what training is in place.
The controversial section 5 sought information on how previous cases were dealt with.
The final two parts are general queries on vetting, protocols and a space for further comments.
The 7-page questionnaire had to be signed by the bishop concerned.