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Irish Church braces for new report on abuse in Cloyne diocese

December 22, 2010

Ireland’s justice minister, Dermot Ahern, was due to receive a report today on sexual abuse by priests in the Cloyne diocese. The report, which could be made public early next year, is likely to re-ignite criticism of the Irish Catholic hierarchy.

The Irish Church is still reeling from the effects of the “Murphy report,” released last November, detailing the failure of Church leaders to restrain abusive priests. But the Murphy report covered only the Dublin archdiocese. The Cloyne diocese is the subject of a separate investigation, which covers a more recent time period: from 1996 to 2009.

In March, Bishop John Magee of Cloyne resigned his post, apparently at the request of the Holy See. Bishop Magee—who had served at the Vatican, as personal secretary to three Pontiffs—had been severely criticized for failing to enact new standards for reporting and disciplining priests accused of sexual abuse. The new report from the Murphy commission will examine the charges against priests in Cloyne during Bishop Magee’s tenure there.

Upon receiving the commission’s report, the justice minister is expected to refer the document to prosecutors, who may weigh the possibility of criminal charges. The minister may then seek court permission to make the report public.

The Cloyne diocese is currently under the supervision of an apostolic administrator, Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel, who was given this temporary added assignment when Bishop Magee resigned. The Vatican has not yet appointed a permanent replacement.


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