Monday, December 7, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
The Irish Church's standing in Rome has been dealt a further damaging blow with a high-level Vatican investigation into a complaint of child sexual abuse against a Tipperary-born archbishop.
This is the first instance of an official charge of clerical child molestation being made against an archbishop of Irish nationality, and it comes as the Irish Church is preparing “for the worst” with publication of the Murphy Report on abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
It was learned yesterday Richard Burke (60), Archbishop of Benin, a city in southern Nigeria, stepped aside earlier this year pending the outcome of an ecclesiastical trial by the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Kiltegan missionary archbishop from Fethard, Co Tipperary, who is believed to be in the United States, has not commented on the allegation.
He is accused by Dolores Atwood, a 40-year-old married woman now living in Canada, of sexually abusing her when she was a minor, aged 14, and ill in a Nigerian hospital which he visited as a priest.
She also alleges that she suffered “emotional torture” during a 20-year secret affair which he conducted with her contrary to his vow of celibacy.
Last night St Patrick's Missionary Society in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, also known as the Kiltegan Fathers, revealed it received a complaint from a woman against Archbishop Burke on December 16 last.
“We expressed the deep sorrow and regret of the Society for the suffering the complainant and her family are going through and we affirmed the Society's commitment to child protection,” a statement said.
“We assured her that the Society's Child Protection Policy and Procedures would be adhered to. The Society offered to provide counselling for the complainant.”
The statement confirmed that the Society has complied with a request from the Doctrinal Congregation to send to Rome all relevant documents relating to the allegation so that Rome can exercise full jurisdiction.
“Although a member of St Patrick's Missionary Society, Archbishop Burke ceased to be under the jurisdiction of the Society when he became a bishop and is now under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See,” the Kiltegan Fathers said.
It was the late Pope John Paul II who consecrated him Bishop of the Nigerian diocese of Warri in March 1997, and in December 2007 Pope Benedict XVI promoted him to Archbishop of Benin City.
According to Monsignor Charles Scicluna, a senior advocate for the Congregation, Pope Benedict was informed of the charges against Archbishop Burke, who will be called to Rome for interrogation before it completes its investigations under oath of confidentiality.
Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/vatican-probing-child-sex-abuse-allegations-against-archbishop-14542457.html#ixzz0V6ZOW2Pq
THE report on the Catholic hierarchy's handling of child sex abusers in the Dublin archdiocese is expected to criticise civil authorities for contributing to a culture of impunity surrounding paedophile priests.
While senior clergy will carry the blame, the report also implicates some senior gardai and health authorities for failing to follow through on complaints against paedophiles. According to informed sources, the report singles out the lax response of gardai in certain investigations and also criticises the former health boards in the Dublin area for failing to protect children from exposure to paedophile priests.
"The report will indicate that some senior gardai did not see investigating church men as their role. There was a view that the church was outside the remit of the garda," said an informed source.
Health authorities are criticised for not having the structures in place to deal with abusers outside the family. "They did not seem to know what their powers were," said the source.
The criticisms are believed to relate to cases dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, a period when both the Church and the civil authorities have in the past claimed they had yet to be enlightened about paedophilia.
The Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in the Dublin archdiocese is the second this year to examine the extent of child abuse perpetrated by the members of the Catholic Church. The Ryan report disclosed in brutal and graphic detail how children, most from poor and vulnerable backgrounds, were routinely beaten, sexually and psychologically abused in residential institutions.
The findings of the second report are expected to be just as shocking.
The scale of official reluctance to challenge Catholic hierarchy over its handling of paedophile priests is said by sources to be disturbing. Equally alarming is how the errant priests were shielded behind the cloak of the church as they moved from one parish to the next.
The victims of clerical abuse and the clergy itself may have to wait another fortnight to discover the extent of the report's findings. Having got the all-clear from the High Court,Justice Minister Dermot Ahern had planned to release it after a cabinet meeting last Tuesday.
The report's release was stalled again after the Director of Public Prosecution raised fresh concerns that its publication could prejudice a forthcoming trial of a priest on sex abuse charges.
In advance of its publication, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has already alluded to its findings as providing "a painful but an important reflection on society".
But when it is eventually published, the protagonists in the sordid tale of ecclesiastical cover up documented in several volumes running to 1000 pages are likely to include former senior clerics in the Dublin diocese.
Its investigation from 1975 to 2004 examines in forensic detail the progress of 46 paedophile priests, under the stewardships of the Archbishops Dermot Ryan, Kevin McNamara andCardinal Desmond Connell. Of the three, Cardinal Connell is expected to face most scrutiny. Archbishop of Dublin from 1988, he retired in 2004, with yet another apology for his scandal-prone handling of child sexual abuse cases.
Demonstrating his willingness to face up to clerical sex abuse, he trawled diocesan records over 50 years and gave the names of 17 priests to gardai, along with the names of those who had complained. He was demonstrating his willingness to deal with clerical child abusers at the time.
When in 2005, his successor, Archbishop Diarmiud Martin, embarked on his own trawl of diocesan archives, he discovered files on 102 priests and identified a figure of 390 children whom they had sexually abused. Last year, Archbishop Martin revised the figure to 160 priests who were suspected or alleged to have abused more than 400 children since 1940.
Another protagonist is expected to be Monsignor Alex Stenson, whose name has featured in several of the child abuse cases highlighted in recent years due to his role in investigating complaints against priests.
A highly regarded canon lawyer, Msgr Stenson is now a parish priest in Killester, a north Dublin suburb. For several years he was chancellor of the Dublin archdiocese working with both Dr Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Connell who succeeded him in 1988.
As chancellor, Msgr Stenson was the person to whom many parents were referred when they complained about suspect priests.
Msgr Stenson was the senior cleric who accused a nine-year-old Mervyn Rundle of lying when he claimed to have been abused by a parish priest. This was despite the fact that the diocese had already received numerous complaints against the priest.
The priest was instead sent back to his parish. It was many years later before he was convicted and Mr Rundle awarded €300,000 in an out-of-court settlement.
Those who know Msgr Stenson say that he is a meticulous record taker. It is believed that he took detailed notes of his interviews with priests under suspicion and with their accusers, including parents, children and others.
It is understood that these records accounted for many of the 65,000 diocesan documents that Archbishop Martin released to the commission of inquiry last year. Cardinal Connell contested the release of some of the documents, in a High Court action which he later withdrew.
Msgr Stenson, who helped to draft the Catholic Church's guidelines on dealing with child sex abuse, spoke at the launch of the document in 1996.
Elaborating on the guidelines for journalists, he said there is "no way certain paedophiles" could be re-admitted to ministry, although bishops could make an exception in "special cases" where the priest would not have access to children.
Perhaps this was the logic which led to the late Fr Noel Reynolds becoming chaplain at the National Rehabilitation hospital in Dublin in 1997, despite complaints to the Dublin archdiocese about his behaviour towards children in his previous parish of Glendalough.
Cardinal Connell never told the hospital about Fr Reynolds' past, in breach of his own church guidelines.
Only when a "formal" complaint was made to the archdiocese in 1998 was Fr Reynolds removed from ministry. He later admitted to abusing 100 children.
Despite that staggering confession, the first the hospital knew of its former chaplain's paedophile proclivities was when it was contacted by the ground-breaking Prime Time documentary in 2002.
Behind the Catholic hierarchy's public displays of sorrow and hand-wringing for the victims of clerical sex abuse is a competing loyalty to canon law.
The Dublin archdiocese even refused to assist gardai in cases where sex abuse had been admitted to them in private by priests because -- in its view -- canon law took precedence over civil law.
This ecclesiastical arrogance was displayed to greatest effect in the case of Marie Collins. As a 13-year-old in hospital in Dublin, the chaplain stood at her bedside and took inappropriate photographs of her.
Years later in 1995, when she learnt that the cleric was still a working priest, she reported him to the Dublin archdiocese. Although the priest had admitted his guilt, Cardinal Connell indicated he could not co-operate with a garda inquiry. Msgr Stenson later threatened to sue Marie Collins when he discovered she had given his correspondence to her admitting the priest's guilt to gardai.
When Marie Collins went public with her claims in 2002, Michael McDowell, then justice minister, dismissed the Catholic Church's canon law as having the same status as golf club rules.
Seven years and a commission of inquiry later, it still remains to be seen whether or not the Catholic hierarchy is truly ready to bow to the law of the land.
An Irish archbishop is accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Africa before having a 20-year affair with her, it emerged today.
The Vatican is investigating a complaint made against Archbishop Richard Burke, who stepped down as Archdiocese of Benin in Nigeria earlier this year.
He is one of the most senior members of the Catholic Church to be accused of assaulting a minor.
Archbishop Richard Burke was a member of St Patrick’s Missionary Society, based in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow.
In a statement the society, also known as the Kiltegan Fathers, confirmed it received a complaint from the woman last December.
“She alleged that she was sexually abused as a child by Richard Burke,” it said.
“We expressed the deep sorrow and regret of the society for the suffering the complainant and her family are going through and we affirmed the society’s commitment to child protection.
“The society offered to provide counselling for the complainant.”
Archbishop Burke, who is from Co Tipperary, was ordained a priest 34 years ago and later worked as a missionary in Nigeria. He became an archbishop in 2008.
It is alleged he sexually assaulted the victim in April 1983, when she was a 14-year-old patient in a hospital.
The victim, a married 41-year-old mother of three who now lives in Canada, maintains she also had a relationship with the cleric for more than two decades.
Archbishop Burke withdrew from ministry while the complaint is being investigated.
The Catholic Church has been rocked by child sex abuse scandals, most recently with the Ryan Report which laid bare the physical and psychological abusive regimes operated by religious orders in church and state-run institutions.
A damning inquiry into the handling allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese is also due to be published.
The Kiltegan Fathers said although still a member, Archbishop Burke is under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See since he was made a bishop.
“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith requested that all relevant documents relating to the allegation be forwarded to Rome so that it can exercise its full jurisdiction in the matter,” its statement read.
“The society has done this.”
The Kiltegan Fathers said it also kept in contact with the complainant and informed her regularly of the steps taking in accordance with its policy and procedures.
“The society is committed to ensuring that justice is done and that no child is put at risk through the behaviour of our members,” it added.
The Vatican is investigating an allegation of child sex abuse against an Irish-born archbishop based in Africa, his missionary order confirmed today.
Archbishop Richard Burke (60), from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, was ordained a priest for St Patrick’s Missionary Society, known as the Kiltegan Fathers, in Co Wicklow, in 1975. He was ordained a bishop in 1997, and installed as Archbishop of Benin, Nigeria, in March of last year.
In a statement, the society said it had received a complaint last December from a 40-year-old woman against Archbishop Burke.
“She alleged that she was sexually abused as a child by Richard Burke. We expressed the deep sorrow and regret of the society for the suffering the complainant and her family are going through and we affirmed the society’s commitment to child protection,’’ it added.
“We assured her that the society’s child protection policy and procedures would be adhered to. The society offered to provide counselling for the complainant.’’
The statement pointed out that although Archbishop Burke was a member of the society, he had ceased to be under its jurisdiction when he became a bishop and was now under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See.
“However, he agreed to follow the society’s child protection procedures and voluntarily withdrew from ministry while the complaint is being investigated,’’ it added.
“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith requested that all relevant documents relating to the allegation be forwarded to Rome so that it can exercise its full jurisdiction in the matter. The society has done this.’’
The society, said the statement, had kept in contact with the complainant, and informed her regularly of the steps being taken in accordance with policy and procedures. She had also been informed of the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See in the matter.
“The society is committed to ensuring that justice is done and that no child is put at risk through the behaviour of our members,’’ it added.
The Irish Mail on Sunday featured an interview with Dolores Atwood, who said that the abuse began when she was 14 years old and a patient in a hospital at Warri, Nigeria, in April 1983.
She alleged the archbishop continued to have a sexual relationship with her as recently as 2003.
Ms Atwood, who now lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, said she believed she was “manipulated and controlled’’ as a teenager.
She said she eventually confessed the relationship to her husband because she was wracked with guilt. She wrote to the Vatican and the society reporting the allegations.
Ms Atwood said she had provided phone recordings, letters and airline tickets to Church authorities as proof of their relationship.
(CNN) -- A Rwandan accused of "complicity" in the massacre of students at the college he headed during the country's genocide 15 years ago has been arrested in Italy, where he served as a clergyman, an international police agency said.
Officers from the Italian Carabinieri and Interpol's National Central Bureau in Rome, Italy, arrested Emmanuel Uwayezu -- who had been wanted in Rwanda, the international police organization Interpol said Wednesday in a news release.
Uwayezu, 47, is accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. He is in Italian custody and is awaiting extradition to Rwanda.
According to Interpol's statement, the Rwandan arrest warrant says Uwayezu was alleged "to have acted individually and as part of a conspiracy to plan and commit genocide by instigating Hutus to kill Tutsis in the area of Gikongoro, as director of the Groupe Scolaire Marie Merci college in Kibeho."
He is accused of "participating in meetings with government and military authorities which allegedly planned the extermination of the Tutsi ethnic group" and "complicity in the massacre of some 80 students in May 1994 in the college which he headed."
Uwayezu arrived in Italy in 1997, took an alias, and was working as a vicar at the Church in Empoli commune near Florence when he was seized, Interpol said.
"The arrest of Uwayezu demonstrates the power and effectiveness of international co-operation between police worldwide in obtaining information in relation to the identification, location and apprehension of fugitives around the world," said Jean-Michel Louboutin, Interpol's executive director of police services.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide left an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead over a 100-day period, the United Nations and Interpol say. Millions more were raped and disfigured, and nearly an entire generation of children lost their parents.