The report by the Church’s child protection watchdog noted there was an absence of risk-management plans and insufficient written evidence of internal Church procedures being followed in relation to clerical sexual abuse within the diocese.
It found there was an unwarranted delay in removing one priest from ministry, while the roles and responsibilities of various individuals and panels had not been clearly and formally assigned.
While the diocese had not always made timely notifications to gardaí and the health authorities about reports of clerical sexual abuse, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church review said its performance had improved over time.
Allegations against six priests were only received after their deaths, while a complaint against another was received shortly before his death. Another priest was charged with a serious sexual offence against a minor but died before the case came to trial. Just two of the diocese’s clerics accused of child sexual abuse are still alive but they are no longer serving priests.
One of those, Fr Peter Cribben, 71, a former parish priest of Newbridge, Co Kildare, and Rhode, Co Offaly, was given a three-year suspended jail term after pleading guilty at Naas Circuit Criminal Court in March 2009 to three charges of indecent assault on a 14-year-old schoolboy.
The other priest has never faced a criminal prosecution but remains out of ministry. Both men are subject to ongoing diocesan supervision and support.
However, the report also revealed that there were five non-diocesan priests living within the diocese who have been accused of child sexual abuse.
It expressed concern about the lack of clarity and certainty regarding the management and supervision of a priest living within the diocese who has been suspended from a UK diocese because of child protection concerns.
The diocese, which includes practically all of Co Carlow as well as parts of Kildare, Offaly, Laois, Kilkenny, Wexford, and Wicklow, has 86 priests based in 56 parishes.
Diocesan administrator, Monsignor Brendan Byrne, said both the gardaí and the HSE had been notified of all allegations against priests of the diocese. He pointed out that only one allegation against a serving priest had been received by the diocese in the past 10 years.
Msgr Byrne said he accepted 12 specific recommendations made by the NBSCCC “in full” which he predicted would be completed by the end of the year and would make the diocese’s child protection measures “more robust and accurate.”
Out of 48 individual standards set by the NBSCCC in relation to best safeguarding practice, the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlinmet 30 criteria in full and 14 in part.
The report said it was unusual that the diocese’s designated person for receiving allegations, Msgr John McDonald of The Curragh, had not met with the diocese’s advisory panel or been responsible for the creation and management of files on priests accused of child sexual abuse.
Msgr Byrne said thediocese had spent €115,617 to date on child protection measures, including counselling, training, legal fees, and insurance.