Letter reveals ‘disgust’ of victim when he learned of cover-up

THE wife of a Cloyne child abuse survivor whose attacker was involved in two previous abuse claim cover-ups has said her husband is “disgusted” information was withheld which could have saved him.

In a letter to the Irish Examiner the partner of a victim who was given the pseudonym “Andrew” by the Murphy Commission, said the Church categorically failed to protect her husband from the priest given the name Fr Rion.

The woman, whose name is known to this newspaper, said despite claims “Andrew” had been reconciled with the church, “the truth is, all he feels is betrayal”.

As an altar boy, her husband was abused in the home of the priest who returned to Cloyne in the 1970s after retiring from an Australian diocese on “health grounds” after two abuse claims there.

Andrew’s wife said her husband believes the Church has not taken responsibility for what happened.

And in a call for deeper examinations into clerical child abuse in Ireland, she added that investigators — who did not inform her partner he was mentioned in the Cloyne report — need to follow up on any fresh leads as “others may be suffering in silence”.

“As Andrew’s wife I sat through every advocacy session, every psychological assessment and read every piece of correspondence given to us.

“It became clear very early on that neither the diocese of Cloyne nor the Brisbane diocese [which Fr Rion left] wished to take any responsibility for this case,” she wrote.

“In reading the report findings it came as a huge shock to find out that there had been two previously reported cases of abuse against this priest in Brisbane. I cannot put into words how disgusted I am that this information was deliberately withheld.

“How can these people claim to be morally just and yet still put their own interests in front of the victims.

“Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan noted that Andrew was doing well and had been reconciled with the Church. The truth is that he eventually just gave up, as the emotional toll on his and my lives was far greater than any benefit he felt he was receiving in pursuing his case,” she said.

The abuse survivor’s wife also noted that almost 40 years on, her husband is still struggling with the “trauma” of what happened, leading to trust issues, alcohol dependency and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Fr Rion is said to have died in 1976.

Despite having no formal association with Cloyne, he was given permission by the diocese’s then bishop, John Ahern, to visit local schools and say Mass at his home with the assistance of altar boys.

When Cloyne became aware of the allegations in January 2005, it contacted the Brisbane archdiocese to check on the background of the alleged abuser.

The Australian Church authorities failed to reveal information about two secret abuse claims against Fr Rion — from 1937-44 and 1950-55 — as it was “never asked”, felt the investigations were historical and said they were not fully examined at the time.

The Murphy Commission said such an attitude was “astonishing”.

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