Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Bishop criticises sex abuse report handling

A stone cross
The report criticised how suspected abusers were treated

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmiud Martin has been criticised over his response to a report on clerical sex abuse.

Bishop Dermot O'Mahony questioned the support he showed for his priests and current diocesan policy since the publication of the Murphy report.

In a letter he said more should have been done to counteract a statement in the report that most of the clergy "knew and did nothing" about the abuse.

Bishop O'Mahony, a retired auxiliary bishop, was mentioned in the report.

The Murphy report into abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese from 1975 to 2004 was highly critical of the handling of priests who were suspected abusers.

It laid bare a culture of concealment where Church leaders prioritised the protection of their own institution above that of vulnerable children in their care.

In documents obtained by the Irish Catholic newspaper Bishop O'Mahony compares Archbishop Martin's actions unfavourably to those of the Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, ''who defended the Gardai (Irish police)" and said that "it was a different time then".

He said the archbishop did nothing to counteract the statement of the Murphy Report, widely circulated in the media that ''the majority of clergy knew and did nothing''.

Bishop O'Mahony said he told the archbishop at a meeting of the Diocesan Council on November 30 last year his "criticism was unfair".

"You were out of the diocese for 31 years and had no idea how traumatic it was for those of us who had to deal with allegations without protocols or guidelines or experience in the matter of child sexual abuse,'' he said.

In a letter to members of the Council of Priests and copied to the Apostolic Nuncio, Bishop O'Mahony stated that ''the acceptance by media and current diocesan policy that a 'cover-up' took place must be challenged".

He said that his motivation for circulating the documents was ''motivated by my concern for the common good of the diocese in the service of the Gospel so that the truth may emerge''.

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