Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Retired bishop admits mistakes

Bishop Joseph Duffy has been criticised for unsatisfactory responses to child abuse allegations and risky behaviour of priests

A retired Catholic bishop has admitted mistakes after a watchdog found opportunities to stop dangerous paedophile priests were consistently missed.

Joseph Duffy, who led the Diocese of Clogher on the border in Ireland for 31 years, conceded poor judgment among past hierarchy in dealing with clerical abuse allegations.

The damning review found one serial abuser had not been taken out of ministry but moved to a new parish and eventually sent overseas for therapy.

In a second case, auditors said it was unacceptable to allow a priest facing a credible abuse allegation to continue to minister.

"I accept the criticism in the review and regret that, in the past, the standard of managing some cases fell short of what is expected today," Bishop Duffy said.

The audit, by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, sparked renewed calls for an inquiry in Northern Ireland into child abuse to be expanded.

Watchdog chief Ian Elliott identified 23 allegations reported to gardai in the Republic and 22 to the health service against Clogher priests from 1975 to November last year.

His report found the response to complaints often unsatisfactory and that risky behaviour was not adequately addressed and preventative opportunities often missed, he said.

No past priests or bishops were named in the report, or information on their victims or the type of abuse they endured. Bishop Duffy was in charge from 1979.

The allegations in Clogher relate to 13 priests. Seven of them are dead and one faced complaints from a previous ministry, the report also found.