Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Report on the Cloyne Report: Tommorow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow--Ongoing Cover-Up in the Catholic Church (3)

The Dramatis Personae: Magee, O'Callaghan, and Leanza

And so to the heart of this sorry morality tale told by an idiot (and the idiot here is decidedly not the Cloyne commission): here are the three reverend gentlemen who strut and fret across the stage of the Cloyne report, who strutted and fretted their hour upon the stage of the Irish Catholic church, telling the audience that they were all about protecting children from danger, and were very sorry indeed that children had ever been placed in harm's way by the Catholic church and its leaders.

And then along came the Cloyne commission and caught these reverend gentlemen in a bit of very churchmanlike dissimulation.  In behind-the-scenes finagling to make things appear quite different on their carefully arranged stage set than things were, in fact, in reality.  Along came the Cloyne report, which caught these reverend gentlemen in outright lies.  

This is why, I suspect--this shocking distance between what the leaders of our church keep saying, and then what they actually do--Irish moral theologian Vincent Twomey has just told the media that he is "seething with anger" after having read the Cloyne report, and thinks all Irish bishops appointed before Diarmuid Martin should resign.  It was Vincent Twomey, readers will recall, who wrote in 2009 that the most shocking finding of all in the cover-up of the Catholic abuse crisis was the "lack of expected emotional response" among church leaders to reports of children being abused. 

As Twomey notes, the expected emotional response when we hear of children being sexually abused is horror and outrage.  He is profoundly shocked that, rather than expressing such expected emotions, many Catholic officials have sought, instead, as Msgr. O'Callaghan continued to do in Cloyne up to 2009, to convince us that it's the priests abusing children who deserve our compassion.  And, as a result, they've resisted any and all attempts to make those priests accountable to state laws requiring the reporting of child abuse--laws designed to assure the safety of other children an abuser might then target, if the danger (s)he poses is not reported.

If I had the dramatic talent of someone like Beckett (and I decidedly don't), I could turn this Cloyne script into a riveting play about moral depravity and moral bankruptcy.  I could do so simply by having these three men--no other characters--come on stage and speak their lines right out of the script of the Cloyne report.  With the audience knowing precisely the extent to which what the gentlemen were professing (about sorrow that children have been harmed and the need to protect children) did not match what they were really doing behind the scenes.

I have selected these passages from the Cloyne report because people need to know what Catholic pastoral leaders like Magee, O'Callaghan, and Leanza have been doing and continue doing.  This is a record that needs to stand for history--in the simple, unsparing prose of the Irish government report--every bit as much as the record of the Eichmann trials now stands for all time as a story of what Nazi Germany was capable of doing.

Bishop John Magee

Here is the man in whose hands all power to make things happen in the Cloyne diocese resided--its bishop.  Here is a record of what he said.  And a record of what he did:

In evidence to the Commission, Bishop Magee said that he was fully committed to the implementation of the Framework Document and was shocked to discover in 2008 that it was not being implemented. The Commission considers that this response is totally inadequate. It became clear during the course of this investigation that Bishop Magee had, to a certain extent, detached himself from the day to day management of child sexual abuse cases. Bishop Magee was the head of the diocese and cannot avoid his responsibility by blaming subordinates whom he wholly failed to supervise (1.19) (boldface added). 

The Diocese of Cloyne was informed in 2004 that it was not implementing the Framework Document properly. The diocese had voluntarily agreed to have its procedures and processes examined by an independent expert, Dr Kevin McCoy, in 2003.  Dr McCoy’s report was completed in 2004. It showed that the diocese was not fully implementing all the procedures set out in the Framework Document. While Dr McCoy stated that the diocese had embraced the reporting policies set out in the Framework Document, this was not in fact the case. He examined eight cases. The Commission was not able to establish which eight cases he examined or precisely what documentation he received (1.37) (boldface added). 

Bishop Magee initially told the Commission that he had not seen Dr McCoy’s full report until 2009 but subsequently said that he was mistaken and did see it at the time it was produced. Clearly, he did not read it then or, if he did, he did not take its message on board or he chose to ignore it (1.38) (boldface added).

Some of these failures to properly record information about complaints of child sexual abuse could be put down to lack of organisation, lack of resources or human error or they could be due to a deliberate policy. The admission by Bishop Magee that he deliberately created two different accounts of the same meeting with Fr Caden (see Chapter 21) raises very serious issues about the diocese’s policy on the creation and retention of documentation (1.48) (boldface added). 

Throughout the period covered by this report there were clear Church guidelines in place for dealing with complaints of child sexual abuse. There were Irish Church guidelines issued in 1996, 2005 and 2009. Instructions were issued by the Vatican in 2001 and in 2010. The Diocese of Cloyne has consistently emphasised that it followed a ‘pastoral approach’ while implementing the various guidelines (4.1) (boldface added).

In fact, at the time the bishop communicated with his priests in 1996, the advisory panel had ceased to function and had become more in the nature of an ad hoc group, some of whom were consulted by Monsignor O’Callaghan when he considered he needed advice. Bishop Magee told the Commission that he understood that the advisory panel was functioning at this time. A new advisory panel was put in place in 2005 – this was known as the inter-diocesan case management committee (4.19) (boldface added).

Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan 

Here is the man to whom the man with the power delegated his power--the man who, as the bishop surely knew when he chose this subordinate to handle cases of sexual abuse in the Cloyne diocese, actively resisted the procedures mandated by the Irish bishops for the handling of such cases.  Who actively resisted, above all, the requirement of reporting credible allegations of abuse to the police and health officials.  Here is what that all-powerful subordinate said, and what he did:

The context of this [Cloyne] report differs significantly from the context of the Commission’s Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin. It deals with allegations made in the period after 1996, the year in which the Catholic Church in Ireland put in place detailed procedures for dealing with child sexual abuse and two years after the State had been convulsed by the Fr Brendan Smyth case. This meant that the so-called ‘learning curve’ which it was claimed excused very poor handling of complaints in other dioceses in the past could not have had any basis or relevance in Cloyne. Both Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, the vicar general in the diocese charged with investigating complaints of child sexual abuse against priests, and Mr Diarmaid Ó Catháin the solicitor retained by the diocese to deal with any legal implications arising from cases of child sexual abuse, told the Commission that they had followed what was happening in North America in relation to clerical child sexual abuse (1.5) (boldface added). 

The greatest failure by the Diocese of Cloyne was its failure to report all complaints to the Gardaí. Between 1996 and 2005, there were 15 complaints which very clearly should have been reported by the diocese to the Gardaí. This figure of 15 does not include concerns and does not include cases where the allegations were already known to the Gardaí (although some of these also ought to have been reported). Of these 15, nine were not reported (1.22) (boldface added).

He [Msgr. O’Callahan] failed to understand that the requirement to report was for the protection of other children (1.23) (boldace added). 

In 1996, Monsignor O’Callaghan did report complaints against one priest to the health board. After that, no complaint was reported to the health authorities until 2008. The requirement to report to the health authorities was one which the Church imposed on itself and which the Diocese of Cloyne ought to have implemented in respect of all complaints whether historical or not and whether or not the Church had any confidence that the health authorities would do anything about these complaints. It was the failure to report to the health authorities which set off the sequence of events which led to the Elliott report (see Chapter 6) and ultimately to the establishment of this Commission (1.25) (boldface added).

[This section comments on the diocesan advisory panel set up by O'Callaghan]: In the Commission’s view, it was inappropriate to have the delegate, the deputy delegate and the advising solicitor as members of the panel as their roles made it virtually impossible for them to give the sort of independent advice which the bishop needed (1.31) (boldface added).

It does not appear either from the minutes or from Monsignor O’Callaghan’s notes that the [inter-diocesan case-advisory] committee was given full information on the issues they were discussing (1.36) (boldface added). 

Monsignor O’Callaghan has said that he did not see the full McCoy report until 2009 and had seen only a summary in 2004. The evidence available to the Commission is that he almost certainly was given a copy of the full report in 2004 (see Chapter 4). He also got an oral briefing on the report in 2004. Even if he did not see the full report, the Commission finds it astonishing that, as the person charged with handling allegations of child sexual abuse, he did not look for and get a copy of the full report. It is equally strange that he could use this report, which he says he had not read, as the basis for defending the diocese’s practices when they came under scrutiny in 2008 (1.39) (boldface added).

Monsignor O’Callaghan told the Commission that he considered that the Framework Document did not provide an adequate pastoral response for those affected by child sexual abuse. He preferred a pastoral approach and felt that what he regarded as the “rule-led” procedures of the Framework Document interfered with this approach. In conjunction with the solicitor who advised the diocese on child sexual abuse cases he devised a scheme whereby counselling was provided to the complainants in a manner which it was hoped would not attract any legal liability to the diocese (1.41) (boldface added).

However, the pastoral approach espoused by Monsignor O’Callaghan is not a sufficient response to allegations of child sexual abuse.  It does not provide for a proper investigation of the complaints either by the State or the Church authorities (1.42) (boldface added).

It appears that Monsignor O’Callaghan kept all the files relating to complaints of child sexual abuse in his house. About 20% of the documents supplied by the diocese to the Commission were undated. Many of the documents were hand written and difficult to read. If typed versions of written documents were also supplied, they sometimes differed in content from the handwritten document. It is clear that copies of a number of documents were not retained on files as the Commission received documents from witnesses that should also have been in the files provided by the diocese but were not (1.47) (boldface added).

This panel [i.e., the advisory panel] met three times in 1995 (see Chapter 9) and did not meet again. If this panel continued to function after 1995, it can only have involved Monsignor O’Callaghan and Archdeacon Twohig as the only other member, Mr Ó Catháin, is clear that it did not meet again after 1995. Archdeacon Twohig died in April 2009. A panel consisting of two senior priests of the diocese is not the sort of independent panel that was envisaged in the Framework Document. The minutes of the three meetings in 1995 are available but there are no subsequent minutes (3.38) (boldface added).
What was being proposed [i.e., in the 2006 audit of dioceses] was not an audit in the usual sense of that word. An audit is an independent examination of the evidence supporting specific statements in order to enable the auditor to assess whether the statements are accurate. What was proposed here could more accurately be described as a survey or an information collection exercise. There was no provision for the information provided by the dioceses to be subjected to independent verification as would be required in an audit (6.43) (boldface added).

Readers should also note the important sections of the Cloyne report noting Msgr. O'Callaghan's failure or refusal to appoint qualified support people within the diocesan structures, who would help monitor abuse cases and assure the safety of children (1.26-1.27), and his failure or refusal to establish any independent advisory panel to assist him and the bishop in processing abuse allegations (1.28f).

Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza 

And here is the man with the real power, the power pointing to the large, portentous throne behind the small "country" throne of the Cloyne episcopacy.  This is the man who represents the most powerful man of all within the Catholic church, the all-powerful man who occupies the most powerful throne of all within the Catholic church.  Here is what that man representing that all-powerful throne to the Irish church said.  And what he did:

The Commission asked the Papal Nuncio to “submit to it any information which you have about the matters under investigation”.  The Commission has no power to compel the Papal Nuncio. The Papal Nuncio replied that the Nunciature: “does not determine the handling of cases of sexual abuse in Ireland and therefore is unable to assist you in this matter. In fact, such cases are managed according to the responsibility of local ecclesiastical authorities, in this instance the Diocese of Cloyne. Like all ecclesiastical entities in Ireland, the Diocese of Cloyne is bound to act in accordance with canon law and with all civil laws and regulations of Ireland as may be applicable” (2.11) (boldface added)

The Irish bishops sought recognition from Rome for the Framework Document but it was not forthcoming. Furthermore, almost a year after its introduction, the Papal Nuncio at the time wrote, strictly confidentially, to all the bishops in Ireland in the following terms: “The Congregation for the Clergy has attentively studied the complex question of sexual abuse of minors by clerics and the document entitled “Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response”, published by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Advisory Committee.  The Congregation wishes to emphasize the need for this document to conform to the canonical norms presently in force. 

The text, however, contains ‘procedures and dispositions which appear contrary to canonical discipline and which, if applied, could invalidate the acts of the same Bishops who are attempting to put a stop to these problems. If such procedures were to be followed by the Bishops and there were cases of eventual hierarchical recourse lodged at the Holy See, the results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same Diocesan authorities.  In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature’.  Since the policies on sexual abuse in the English speaking world exhibit many of the same characteristics and procedures, the Congregation is involved in a global study of them. At the appropriate time, with the collaboration of the interested Episcopal Conferences and in dialogue with them, the Congregation will not be remiss in establishing some concrete directives with regard to these Policies.  For these reasons and because the abovementioned text is not an official document of the Episcopal Conference but merely a study document, I am directed to inform the individual Bishops of Ireland of the preoccupations of the Congregation in its regard, underlining that in the sad cases of accusations of sexual abuse by clerics, the procedures established by the Code of Canon Law must be meticulously followed under pain of invalidity of the acts involved if the priest so punished were to make hierarchical recourse against his Bishop” (4.21) (boldface added).

There can be no doubt that this letter greatly strengthened the position of those in the Church in Ireland who did not approve of the Framework Document as it effectively cautioned them against its implementation (4.22) (boldface added).

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