John Magee, the Catholic bishop of Cloyne, has apologised to victims of clerical sex abuse, but the apology is designed solely to save Magee’s own hypocritical arse. John Magee couldn’t care less about the victims of sexual abuse as long as his pervert priests are protected and he himself stays out of the shit.
You see, John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne, is an arrogant, cynical prick who couldn’t give one flying fuck about the victims of clerical sexual abuse. For six months, John Magee prevented the publication of a report about abuse allegations in his own diocese because he didn’t like what it said about him. It was only when too much pressure built up that he was forced to release the report before he started to look like an even worse bastard than he already is.
John Magee is a fucking disgrace and should either quit now or be kicked out.
This report, by Ian Elliott of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSC), was highly critical of Magee’s attitude to complaints of sexual abuse. It was also highly critical of his failure to set up any proper mechanisms to deal with complaints, and it found that his diocese had put children in danger because of its inability to deal properly with allegations of abuse.
Because John Magee carries total responsibility for whatever his diocese does about abuse claims, you can read the report as a direct criticism of him, but of course, as we all know, Princes of the Church don’t like to be questioned. (This fellow, incidentally, used to be Private Secretary to three Popes, and therefore it’s fair to assume that he carries more than his fair share of self-importance).
The NBSC was set up by the church when it felt it could no longer hide from the law. It is genuinely independent of the bishops and in Cloyne it investigated how the diocese handled allegations against two priests of the diocese. This is an important distinction to make: it did not investigate the allegations themselves, but looked instead at how Magee and his associates dealt with them. Magee has tried to use this to distract attention from his own complete failure to grasp the significance of abuse, by emphasising that the allegations are unproven, but this time he’s in the shit. You see, for once, it IS about him.
How did Magee suppress the report for so long? Simple. By old-fashioned bluster, suggesting that it contained something defamatory about him. In other words, this miserable old swine was threatening to sue the body set up by his own church to investigate the way it handles sexual abuse allegations.
So not only is Magee a hypocrite who cares for nothing but his own hide. He’s also a miserable old bully. The very man to have protecting your children from rapists, wouldn’t you say?
But it doesn’t stop there. Not only did Magee and his cronies try to suppress the report, but so did the State, in the person of Barry Andrews, Minister for Children. Andrews has had this report since it was completed, but has continued to hide behind the lie that he knew nothing about it and that the HSE was conducting its own investigation. This is untrue. This is a deliberate falsehood, and Barry Andrews has been lying to the DÃ¡il and to the Irish people.
To quote directly from the report:
On the 15 February 2008, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSC) met with two senior officials within the Department of Health and Children. The purpose of the meeting was to update the Department on the ongoing initiatives that the NBSC had embarked upon in order to embed best practice in the field of safeguarding children within the Church.
At the conclusion of that meeting, the CEO was informed that a complaint had been made to the Minister regarding the practice of the Diocese of Cloyne in a particular case. A copy of the correspondence was given to the CEO and he was asked to investigate the circumstances outlined in the complaint, and to report back his findings.
There you have it. The Minister’s own department asked Elliott to investigate this case, and he has had the report in his possession since June 2008.
The lying fuck.
Let me give you some background on the report that mortally offended the old Bishop.
Elliott studied the bishop’s handling of allegations against two priests: A and B.
He concluded that child protection practice was … inadequate and in some respects dangerous. According to Elliott, he saw no evidence that risk had been appropriately identified or managed, thereby potentially exposing vulnerable young people to further harm.
The first complaint to Elliott was from a priest who claimed to have been sexually abused by Priest A as a child, and who was unhappy with the way he had been treated when he reported it to the diocese. Elliott travelled to Cloyne in February 2008 to find out more, but Magee’s people wouldn’t give him enough information to properly investigate the handling of the case. He subsequently wrote to Magee asking for the fuull case records.
In April, Elliott was contacted on behalf of a woman who described serious sexual abuse for five years by another priest of the diocese, Priest B, including rape when she was thirteen. This woman had also complained to Magee and Monsignor O’Callaghan, his adviser, describing what had happened. According to Elliott’s report, this woman suffered additional trauma as a result of perceived lack of acceptance and support. In other words, this woman came to the conclusion that Magee and O’Callaghan couldn’t give a shit about her.
Later that month, Magee met Elliott and handed over the papers for the two cases.
It’s worth looking at the cases in more detail.
The complainant XY, a priest of the Diocese, first told the Bishop in December 2004 that he had been abused, but didn’t identify the perpetrator. A year later, in May, he told Dean Goold who the abuser was.
Four months later Magee met Priest A, following which the priest resigned.
This was Magee’s idea of urgency: on hearing such grave allegations, he waited four months before removing somebody who might well be abusing more children right now.
It took Magee six months for the diocese to contact the police and even then they didn’t identify the accused, though their letter does name the victim. Be clear about that. Magee and his people protected the identity of the accused from the police, but they exposed the victim in the most invasive and hurtful manner possible.
According to Elliott:
Two important points should be noted. Firstly, the delay in reporting was supposedly justified in the view of the Diocese, by the unwillingness of the complainant to talk to the Gardai. In short, the attitude of the complainant was seen as the determining factor as to whether a complaint was reported or not. This is an obvious and concerning misunderstanding of what good child protection practice dictates.
Secondly, the failure to name the alleged perpetrator to the Gardai was not exceptional. Indeed, it is described as “their normal practice” by the Bishop in a signed minute of a meeting which took place on 25 May 2006 involving the Bishop, XY and his parents. (The minute was produced by the Bishop himself.)
Got that? It was not their normal practice to tell the police who the alleged perpetrator might be. The bishop himself has said that it is normal practice to conceal the identity of an alleged rapist from the police.
Who does this man think he is? Clearly this is not a person willing to submit himself to the law of the land as the rest of us have to. This is clearly a person who arrived from his cloistered and rarefied existence in Rome, believing himself to be somehow better than the rest of us, and not only better, but also exempt from the normal standards of decent behaviour.
Throughout the case papers for priest A, Elliott goes on, references are made to the pastoral care policy of the Diocese and the need for reconciliation. It is not clear as to what is meant by these references. However, what are glaringly absent are any references to the need to protect vulnerable young people and to act in a timely and effective way to achieve this end.
The minutes of the Case Management Committee that met on 21st of September 2005 to discuss the A case make no mention at all of current risk to young people. Even though this man is quite possibly a serial rapist, they don’t even bother to ask themselves if he might be a risk to young people today, though they do discuss offering him early retirement.
Priest A’s role in the diocese gave him the opportunity for contact with young people, yet there’s no evidence of any effort to find out if he has raped or otherwise sexually abused other young victims, but this is hardly surprising when you discover the composition of the committee.
The committee, it turns out, is composed entirely of clergy, except for one person, and Elliott remarks that this raises issues about the objectivity of their advice. Indeed. A committee composed almost entirely of moral cripples. Ask my brother if I’m a liar.
Priest B was a careers guidance teacher in a local convent school.
In early 1995, PSP and her father told Magee that Priest B had sexually abused her. On 30th March, Magee ordered O’Callaghan to investigate, with the resulting papers to be placed in the secret archive maintained by the Diocese.
The Diocesan Child Protection Management Committee discussed the case on the 4th July 1995, the 17th July 1995 and the 14th November 1995. During these deliberations, the Committee raised doubts about the quality of the alleged abuse and the victim’s age. They noted that the victim did not want to report the matter to the GardaÃ and therefore no report was made by the Diocese.
On the 4th September 1996, a woman, ZW, complained about the relationship between Priest B and her fourteen year old son, V. The woman also stated that she had had a sexual relationship with Priest B for about a year which gave him frequent access to her house.
On 9th December 1997, another woman, DB, wrote to the Bishop alleging that Priest B sexually abused her during confession in a retreat house.
Magee wrote to Priest B on 14th February 1998, instructing him not to visit schools or have young people in his house, and subsequently placed him on restricted ministry. There is no formal definition of this term as far as I know, but it seems to mean that he could work as a priest while having no no parish. Big deal. Priest B was still allowed to wear clerical garb and still had access to children in his official capacity. Four years later, in 2002, Monsignor O’Callaghan floated the idea of Priest B returning to full ministry, which would require the agreement of the complainants. In other words, he contemplated approaching victims on behalf of their abuser, and asking them to make this concession. Or to put it another way, he had no idea what he was dealing with and no understanding whatever of people’s feelings.
O’Callaghan also discussed other options with B, including retiring on sick leave, and taking legal action to clear his name.
Finally, in January 2003, when ZW and her son V came back to the bishop, the police were informed for the very first time, seven years after the original complaint to the bishop.
On 17th November 2005 a woman called NM alleged serious sexual abuse by Priest B, including rape that started when she was thirteen and went on until she was eighteen. It seems the penny had finally dropped with Magee that this man might be a sexual predator and a serial rapist. The police were informed.
Magee, it seems, is no rocket scientist.
O’Callaghan wrote to Magee in January 2006 to ask how he should deal with the GardaÃ’s queries on the B case. According to Elliott’s report, it is clear from the papers contained in the file that the policy of the Diocese in their contacts with the GardaÃ was to give “minimal” information. In particular, it is indicated that no information was to be volunteered in respect of any previous complaints involving this priest.
Elliott interviewed Magee and O’Callaghan in May 2008 and asked them certain questions arising from the cases under review. Magee and O’Callaghan accepted that there were “lacunae” — as they put it — in their child protection policies and practice. This is typical mealy-mouthed bishop-speak. Lacunae my arse. There were huge gaping holes, not only in their policies but in themselves. Gaps of ethics, gaps of moral comprehension and an almost complete absence of human empathy for the victims.
Lacunae. I feel contempt for any man who would seek to obscure the reality of his behaviour behind such a word. Lacunae.
This is such a revealing choice of terminology that it deserves a paragraph all to itself. This word exposes Magee, the uncertain farm boy who went to Rome and learned a new vocabulary, and who yet fails to realise that not everyone was as ignorant as he was when he went away.
Lacunae. A word beloved of the likes of people such as Magee for obfuscation.
It’s pathetic, as is Magee himself. Pathetic, limited and irrelevant.
The two boys, Magee and O’Callaghan, acknowledged to Elliott that they recognised the need to ensure that all information relating to an allegation of abuse is conveyed to the appropriate authorities fully and in a timely way, and they accepted that this has not happened in these two cases.
Did they now? Wasn’t that nice of them?
They also told the NBSC that a substantial and radical re-appraisal of child protection policies and practice in the Diocese, but there was no evidence to support the claim. This was, in fact nothing but waffle, as it turned out. It didn’t prevent them fulminating and attempting to bully all around them in an effort to have the report suppressed, and therefore you’d have to question their sincerity in everything else they said at that meeting when their backs were to the wall.
They are,a pair of two-faced, duplicitous old bastards trying to waffle their way out of a problem, just as they’ve been doing all their lives. They are, in fact, the familiar, dishonest, hypocritical face of the Catholic church.
Elliott in his report concluded that the diocese of Cloyne is significantly deficient in child protection practice. He concluded as follows:
- The Bishop is the responsible person in these matters. He holds the authority and the responsibility to ensure that actions are taken and children are protected.
- The bishop had no right to delegate any of these responsibilities to an adviser.
- The diocese, and therefore the bishop as the responsible person, fails to focus on the child victim.
- the diocese fails to quickly protect the victim. It fails to cooperate with statutory agencies investigating abuse and protecting children.
- It shares information reluctantly and what it does share is limited.
- It gives away as little as possible.
- Some people on the Bishop’s staff think this grudging attitude is a correct way to behave.
- The Child Protection Management Committee is focussed on the needs of the accused priest, not the child.
- The committee never considered the continuing risk to children.
- There was no understanding or appreciation of the nature of the issues that they were dealing with
- Actions when taken, were inappropriately delayed and were minimal in content.
- The Bishop didn’t realise that by allowing individuals, against whom an allegation has been made, to continue to wear the vestments of a priest may facilitate further abuse of young people.
- The diocese could be seen as complicit in abuse by not removing predatory sexual abusers from the priesthood.
- Children have been placed at risk of harm through the inability of the diocese to respond appropriately.
- The diocese failed to act effectively to limit the access to children by individuals against whom a credible complaint of child sexual abuse was made.
- The competence of those involved in this area of work in the Diocese has to be questioned. Risk has not been recognised and responded to appropriately.
- The responses of the Diocese could be described as ill advised, and too little, too late.
This is a damning report. An absolute failure by Magee to discharge his responsibility to victims of abuse. An absolute failure by the bishops as a whole, even now, to comprehend what sexual abuse is and how it should be handled.
These guys still don’t get it. They still think they’re above the law of the land, and in this it seems that at least some government ministers are inclined to agree with them. How about that? A minister of our elected government who doesn’t believe our sovereign state has authority to challenge the likes of Magee about his policy on handling criminals.