Delays of months and years in Order's reporting of sexual abuse, Church report finds

The Catholic Church's counselling service, Towards Healing, has extended its opening hours today and tomorrow, in response to the publication of investigations into nine dioceses and religious congregations.

This is the fifth tranche of such reports, and concerned the Arch Diocese of Dublin, the Diocese of Meath, Cloyne and Killaloe.

The review also includes The Religious Congregations of the Presentation Brothers, the Patrician Brothers, Benedictine, Glenstal and the Missionary Societies of the Columban Missionaries and the Society of Divine Word.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church has warned the fact that a priest was convicted of abusing a child just this year shows the Church needs to remain vigilant on abuse.

The Presentation Brothers were criticised in the report as they delayed for months in telling gardaí about allegations of abuse.

The report says: "There were delays of months in the case of An Garda Síochána or years, in the case of the HSE."

CEO of the board Teresa Devlin said: "There were sexual abuse allegations against deceased brothers and against former lay teachers belonging to the order which had not been reported.

"They were promptly reported once they were discovered, but again that should have been picked up earlier."

In an earlier statement, she said that overall, "all Dioceses are making very good progress in adhering to the board’s standard. For the Religious Congregations and Missionary Societies, progress appears slower.

"There has been a sea change in that all are now conscious of their obligations around reporting, unfortunately in two cases (one Congregation) we saw that priests continued in ministry even though admissions were made and in another Order, cases against deceased brothers, former brothers and lay teachers were not always notified to the Gardaí."

Patterns

Having conducted so many reviews to date, the board said it had been possible to idenify the following patterns:

* "Offences largely took place between 1940 -2000, with a decline in notified offending behaviour after 2000; however there is still a need for vigilance and constant oversight and prompt action as noted in the conviction of a priest who abused children up until 2011.

* "Some priests in particular abused very quickly after ordination, which leads to questions about formation.

* "A number of the abusers were charismatic priests, who were popular among people.

* "Some abusers had other addictive problems such as alcohol addiction."

Today's reports bring the total of Church authorities reviewed to date by this process to 37 (26 Dioceses and 11 Religious Congregations/Missionary Societies).

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