Saturday, February 16, 2008

Irish Cardinal challenges release of child abuse files

Early last week, Ireland learned about High Court proceedings brought by Cardinal Desmond Connell, challenging the right of current Archbishop of Dublin Dr. Diarmuid Martin to release diocesan files to a government-backed commission of inquiry into allegations of rape and child sexual abuse. The documents had been classified as legally privileged during his time as Archbishop of Dublin. Then, suddenly on Monday of this week, the former Archbishop of Dublin dropped his attempt to prevent a state inquiry into clerical sex abuse.

Diarmuid Martin, who succeeded Connell as Archbishop of Dublin in 2004, had pledged to cooperate fully with the inquiry. Martin has already handed over more than 60,000 church documents to the investigation into how senior members of the Dublin clergy handled complaints of abuse against more than 100 priests. The Catholic Church in Ireland is struggling to restore trust after a string of child sex abuse cases.

Previously, Cardinal Connell had promised to disclose all, but was slow to produce. He was appointed archbishop in 1988, but did not initiate an investigation into allegations until seven years later in 1995. Up until then, he had only removed two priests. It wasn’t until 2002 that Connell supplied to Gardai the names of 17 priests. Since then Archbishop Martin has disclosed that 135 abuse allegations were made against 147 priests.

Cardinal Connell may want to leave the past in the past, but his efforts at stopping the investigations will only lead observers wondering what is he trying to hide?

click here for an interesting editorial on this investigation.

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