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Ireland proposing tough new mandatory reporting requirements; Irish Children’s Minister states “there are no exceptions, no exemptions”

September 1, 2011

The BBC reported this week that Ireland is currently in the process of drafting new child protection measures.  These measures, which will include new mandatory reporting requirements, are expected to apply fully to the Catholic Church.  The Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter has stated that mandatory reporting “will apply regardless of any internal rules of any religious grouping”.

The Irish Children’s Minister, Francis Fitzgerald, was more explicit, stating that the secrecy of the confessional will not exempt a priest from reporting child abuse.  She indicated that if a priest learns of abuse in the sacrament of confession he will be obligated by law to report it to the proper authorities.

Fitzgerald has said “If there is a law in the land it has to be followed by everybody, there are no exceptions, no exemptions”.

The child protection legislation which is being proposed is in response to the recent publication of the Cloyne Report.  The Cloyne Report found that child sexual abuse reports were continuing to be covered-up and not reported to civil authorities between the years 1996 and 2009 in the diocese of Cloyne.  The bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, had even misled law enforcement officials, telling them that he had filed the reports with the authorities, when in fact he had never done so.

The Minister of Justice alluded to this stating “It is the failure in the past to make such reports that has led sexual predators into believing that they have impunity and facilitated pedophiles preying on children and destroying their lives”.

Cardinal Sean Brady, the archbishop of Armagh and the primate of Ireland has indicated that he believes the new measures are unacceptable.  Brady stated that “freedom to participate in worship and to enjoy the long established rites of the church is so fundamental that any intrusion upon it is a challenge to the very basis of a free society”.  He further said that “the inviolability of the seal of confession is so fundamental to the very nature of the sacrament that any proposal that undermines that inviolability is a challenge to the right of every Catholic to freedom of religion and conscience”.

The secrecy of the confessional can have consequences that perhaps Cardinal Brady has not considered.  In a particularly chilling case a priest in Queensland Australia, Michael Joseph McArdle, testified under oath that he went to confession more than 1,500 times to seek forgiveness for the sexual abuse he had committed against boys.  After going to confession the priest stated “it was like a magic wand had been waved over me”.  Over the course of a 25 year period he confessed to 30 different priests about the sexual assaults he had committed.

McArdle testified that the only instruction he was provided in the confessional was to undertake penance in the form of prayer after confessing that he had sexually assaulted a child.

Kate Walmsley of Ireland has spoken out publicly about the stand that Cardinal Brady has taken after her parish priest revealed that he is prepared to go to jail rather than break the seal of the confessional.  Kate was sexually abused in the confessional when she was eight years old at Nazareth House in Derry.

When addressing her parish priest Walmsley said “He is putting the interests of the perpetrator first, most people believe he should tip off the social workers or the police.  I feel God didn’t make that rule, the church made it but it’s now 2011 and times have changed”.

Why is the Irish government considering asking priests to report child sexual abuse, even when they learn of that abuse in the confessional?

In order to answer this question it is necessary to understand what the children of Ireland have endured for so many years.

The clergy sexual abuse scandal in Ireland broke open in 1994 with the sentencing of the notorious pedophile Brendan Smyth. Reports of sexual and physical abuse by Catholic clergy continued to make headlines in Ireland throughout the decade.

Then in 2005 an official investigative report was published known as the Fern Report.  The Fern Report examined sexual abuse reports in the diocese of Fern over a 40 year period.  The investigative team examined over 100 abuse reports made against 26 priests.  The report found that the church hierarchy covered-up the sexual crimes committed by its clergy and provided them access to new victims.  It also found that reporting to civil authorities did not begin until the 1990’s.

In 2009 the Ryan Report was made public.  The Ryan Report, a nine year investigation resulting in a 2600 page document, found that rape and sexual abuse was “endemic” in Catholic industrial schools and orphanages.  These institutions were responsible for the care of over 30,000 Irish children.  These facilities, which operated from the 1930’s until the 1990’s were considered reformatories where children were sent if they were considered to be petty thieves or truants.  These accommodations also housed many of Ireland’s unwed mothers.  Instead of being “reformed” many of these children became victims of rape and sexual assault at the hands of their caretakers.

Also issued in 2009 was the Murphy Report.  The Murphy Report was an investigation into child sexual abuse in the diocese of Dublin from 1975 to 2004.  The report found that church officials in Dublin covered up the sexual and physical abuse of children for over 30 years.  It also found that state officials were complicit in allowing the cover up to occur.  It was not until 1995 that church officials began reporting abuse to the civil authorities.

Now, after the recent publication of the Cloyne Report it is expected that in October the Raphoe Report will be released.  It is anticipated that this report, which examined abuse in County Donegal, will be just as troubling as previous investigations, revealing the same pattern of sexual abuse and the cover up of that abuse. In addition it is expected that the existence of a pedophile ring in that diocese will be confirmed.

And now, the Irish Examiner reports that an investigation will be launched into reports of abuse at a Cork school which was run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.  This inquiry will interview more than 500 former students in an attempt to determine the level of abuse that took place in the 1970’s and 1980’s at the school.

The Irish people have grown weary of the continued revelations about the sexual and physical abuse that has been perpetrated against their children. The government has now decided that it must do all that it can to prevent another generation of Irish children from experiencing the crime of sexual assault.

In order to keep their children safe Ireland is now prepared to challenge the internal rules and regulations of the Catholic Church, their children’s future depends on it.

  1. Not to diminish the high crimes of the RCC but Please examine the Jehovah’s Witnesses who go door to door and come on our property.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses pedophiles.
    Many court documents and news events prove that Jehovah’s Witnesses require two witnesses when a child comes forward with allegations of molestation within the congregation. Such allegations have customarily been treated as sins instead of crimes and are only reported to authorities when it is required to do so by law, (which varies by state).

    It has also been shown that child molesters within the organization usually have not been identified to the congregation members or the public at large. These people engage in a door to door ministry, possibly exposing children to pedophiles.

    The Watchtower corporation has paid out millions in settlement money already.
    — Danny Haszard abuse victim

  2. I am happy they are going after these child molesters. Bravisimo. But this abuse is even more prevalent in the overseas islamic community, where young boys are basically used as sex slaves in some sects, since it is even more Harem to touch a woman. Crazy stuff.

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