VOTFI Statement on Child Safeguarding Failures in Cloyne, Dec 2008

(Explanatory note: The National Board for Safeguarding Children had reported on Dec 19, 2008, that Cloyne diocese’s procedures for safeguarding children were not in accordance with guidelines drawn up in the wake of the Ferns report, and were in some respects ‘dangerous’.)

“The NBSC report on the management of two child protection cases in the diocese of Cloyne shows clearly that three years after the Ferns report in 2005, an Irish bishop had failed to ensure that the safety of the children of his diocese was paramount in the minds of all those answerable to him for the safety of Catholic children. Other children were thereby still being endangered at this late date – despite the guidelines supposedly adopted by all Irish bishops in the wake of the Ferns report.

As Ireland became aware of the enormous harm caused by clerical sexual abuse of children fourteen years ago in 1994, when the present bishop of Cloyne, Dr John Magee, was already in office, his failure to learn over such a long period what every Catholic parent now instinctively understands renders him wholly incompetent to discharge his apostolic and pastoral role of safeguarding their children. We therefore call upon him to resign this office immediately.

In the event of his failing to do so, we call upon the Holy Father, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, to exercise his supreme authority to request the resignation of Dr Magee.

We also call upon the Holy Father to investigate and explain to the parents of all Catholic children why so many bishops in so many different parts of the world – from California to India – have failed their people in exactly the same way. Every catastrophe calls for the most minute investigation into its causes, and the dereliction of their child safeguarding duty by so many highly placed servants of the church represents a greater moral catastrophe than our church has ever experienced in its past.

We also commend the CEO of the NBSC for his honest and forthright report and call urgently for the publication of the results of the NBSC audit of child protection provision in all Irish dioceses. This report on Cloyne must automatically raise fears that other Irish dioceses may still be in default of their child safeguarding obligations.