Some priests still resisting Garda vetting

A NUMBER of priests have still resisted requests for them to submit to Garda vetting procedures.

The overwhelming majority of the country’s 2,200 priests on duty have volunteered to be vetted in a process that involves them having all previous addresses and jobs checked for police reports.

However, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church said a “very small number” have not had their backgrounds checked because they “expressed reservations about the process”.

The Government is to make it mandatory that all people working, or likely to work, with children secure clearance from the gardaí. It is not known where the resisting priests are based.

All priests are also psychologically assessed before beginning the path to ordination. However, this was not always the case and previously only exceptional cases were put forward for assessment.

One priest referred to in the Cloyne report, Fr Calder, was psychologically assessed in 1978 prior to his ordination in June 1984.

The initial assessment was damning. The report found Fr Calder was “characterised by a high degree of defensiveness and very limited ability for self criticism”.

“The most significant feature of his results was a very high score on the psychosis scale (97th percentile),” it said.

It also said there were clear indications of “deep sexual repression and a rigid, inflexible quality to his personality which is likely to make it very difficult to get through to him”.

Twenty years later — after his parochial ministries provoked fear, suspicion and mistrust in three Cloyne parishes — Fr Calder was again assessed in the Granada Institute.

At this point his superiors were told he “displayed a constellation of emotional and personal characteristics which have been found in people who seek to satisfy their unacceptable sexual needs in surreptitious ways”.

Prior to his ordination, superiors in seminaries were required, under advice circulated by the Vatican, to closely monitor the motivations for people choosing to sign up to chastity. It asked that those who looked as though they were entering for the wrong reasons be sent for analysis. If they were not suitable, they should not be allowed enter.

The advisory document said: “Special attention must be paid to those who give evidence of neuropsychosis and who are described by psychiatrists as neurotics or psychopaths, especially those who are scrupulous, abulic, hysterical, or who suffer from some form of mental disease (schizophrenia, paranoia, etc).

“The same is true of those who have a delicate constitution or, particularly, those who suffer from weakness of the nervous system or from protracted psychic melancholia, anxiety or epilepsy... or who are afflicted with obsessions...

“Superiors should carefully examine all these types and subject them to a thorough examination by a prudent and expert Catholic psychiatrist who, after repeated examinations, will be in a position to determine whether or not they will be able to shoulder, with honour to that state, the burden of religious and priestly life, especially celibacy.”

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