All but one chapter of a harrowing child abuse report set to rock the Catholic Church in Ireland could be published at the end of next week.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern today said he intends to publish findings of the Dublin Archdiocese inquiry quickly, with several Bishops expected to be in the firing line for mishandling allegations.
A High Court judge ruled chapter 19 must be fully censored along with any other references to the priests, victims and abuse detailed in that section.
The minister said: “I have always made it clear that I have been anxious to put the report into the public domain as quickly as possible while at the same time not wishing to do anything which would prejudice the chances of any of the people involved in these evil deeds being brought to justice.”
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin warned earlier this year the long-running inquiry had uncovered thousands of cases of abuse by priests.
Up to 450 people have made abuse allegations against former priests since 1940.
The report was referred to the High Court last July amid fears full disclosure of the inquiry into allegations against a sample 46 priests could prejudice the trials of three clerics facing prosecution.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ruled: “The Court comes to the conclusion that a specified part of the Commission’s report might prejudice criminal proceedings.”
The judge said the court had no power to censor chapter 19 permanently, adding it will be re-examined in May next year when outstanding court cases should be complete.
The report will be the second devastating scandal to rock the Church in Ireland this year, detailing abusers and their victims and outlining the response to allegations by a succession of bishops.
They include 19 clerics in the Catholic hierarchy, including Cardinal Desmond Connell who last year dropped a potentially embarrassing court challenge to stop the Commission getting access to 5,586 secret Church files.
Seven of the bishops who served in Dublin are dead.
One in Four, which supports victims of abuse, said the court ruling was a relief to people who were sexually abused as children in the diocese of Dublin.
Executive director Maeve Lewis said many had been waiting for years to learn how it was that so many allegations were mishandled.
“Very few survivors of child sexual abuse engage with the criminal justice system. It is important that the cases which come before the courts are not jeopardised in any way,” she said.
“However, we are concerned that the omission of certain sections may undermine the integrity of the report and may mean that the full picture of how children were endangered in the Archdiocese of Dublin does not emerge.”
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said it was important those facing criminal charges are brought to justice before the final chapter is published.
Chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop said victims have been waiting a long time for this report, and hope they would understood why parts of it had to be redacted.
“It is really important the perpetrators of these crimes get to court and are punished,” she added.
In May, the so-called Ryan report detailed horrific abuse perpetrated by religious orders in state and church run institutions over several decades.
The Dublin inquiry, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy focussed on the sample 46 priests, who have had complaints against them, over three decades since 1975.
The five volumes of Ryan revelations detailed shocking physical, sexual and psychological abuse meted out to thousands of youngsters, some of whom were only put into care because their families were too poor.
Pope Benedict met Ireland’s most senior clerics, Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop Martin, in the wake of the report to discuss its findings.