VOTFI Challenge to Bishop Seamus Hegarty of Derry – Dec 31, 2009

[Following this statement of Dec 31st, 2009, in February 2010 Bishop Hegarty denied categorically that in his time as bishop of Raphoe (1982-94) he had known anything of the abusive activities of Eugene Greene.]

On December 9th, 2009, in response to the publication of the Murphy report on clerical child sex abuse in Dublin archdiocese, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference announced:

“We are shamed by the extent to which child sexual abuse was covered up in the Archdiocese of Dublin and recognise that this indicates a culture that was widespread in the Church.”

The period referred to was 1975-2004. During the period 1982-1994 Bishop Seamus Hegarty was bishop of Raphoe. The prolific child rapist Eugene Greene served as a priest in Raphoe in that period. Gardai did not become aware of his crimes against twenty-six young men until 1997. However, there is compelling evidence, revealed in 2008 in the book ‘Breaking the Silence‘ * that his criminal activities were known to Raphoe clergy at least as early as 1976.

When Bishop Hegarty approved the Irish bishops’ statement of December 9th, was he admitting that the ‘widespread’ cover up of clerical child sex abuse extended to the diocese of Raphoe during his term of office there? Or does he deny having had any knowledge during that period of Greene’s abusive proclivities and activities?

Bishop Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin has tendered his resignation on the grounds that he should have challenged the culture of cover up that prevailed in the Dublin archdiocese when he was an auxiliary bishop there. All bishops who failed that challenge should now resign also. Is Bishop Hegarty one such, or was he inexplicably unaware of the cover up culture that prevailed among bishops in Ireland during the period 1975-2004?

*Breaking the Silence, Martin Ridge and Gerard Cunningham, Gill and Macmillan, 2008