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Irish sex-abuse audit confirms past errors, sees 'marked improvement' recently

Catholic World News - November 30, 2011

An independent audit of the handling of sex-abuse complaints in six Irish dioceses has found that Church officials regularly overlooked the rights of victims in order to protect priests. But the review by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) found “marked improvement” in recent months.

The NBSCCC report confirmed a pattern observed in other accounts of the sex-abuse crisis, both in Ireland and in other countries. Bishops had frequently covered up evidence of abuse, moved accused priests to new parish assignments, and failed to inform civil authorities about abuse complaints. New policies set in place by the Irish hierarchy have substantially remedied those failings, the report said.

The NBSCCC was particularly critical of the handling of complaints in the Raphoe diocese, whose former leader, Bishop Seamus Hegarty, resigned last week from his post as Bishop of Derry. The current Bishop of Raphoe, Philip Boyce, conceded that “there have been very poor judgments and mistakes made” in the diocese’s handling of abuse cases. Bishop Hegarty said: “I now look back and know that my practice in the past was sometimes poor and I am deeply sorry that anyone was hurt through my management of allegations historically.”

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