Belfast Telegraph

Claudy bombing: Catholic Church 'more interested in making excuses'

By Emily Moulton

The Catholic Church has been accused of showing more interest in making excuses than dealing with the pain of victims in its response to the Claudy bombing report.

It has been more than a week since the Police Ombudsman revealed the Church made a secret deal with the RUC and the British Government to prevent the arrest of Father James Chesney — the priest suspected of being an IRA leader and masterminding the 1972 atrocity — yet there has been no formal apology from the Church.

Last week a statement from Cardinal Sean Brady said the Church accepted the findings, but did not say sorry.

But this week the Catholic Communications Office released a statement in the name of former bishop Edward Daly, which called the findings into question and accused journalists of competing to write the most “lurid headlines”.

Bishop Daly stated: “I am not at all convinced that Father Chesney was involved in the Claudy bombing. I may be mistaken about that, but I do not think so.”

The Catholic Church’s response to the Claudy report has drawn comparisons to its handling of a series of allegations against priests of child sex abuse .

Fr Patrick McCafferty, who is originally from Belfast, said the Church has reverted to type in failing to address the concerns of victims.

He said: “I think it needs to be pointed out the Church has not been accused in this report of covering anything up. But they did cover up crimes against children, therefore it’s not so unbelievable that they would cover up something like this.

“Again the way they handle hurting human beings is often very unsatisfactory and that’s the shocking thing I think.

“Whether dealing with this atrocity or the victims of child abuse, the response is often dictated by covering their own actions and making excuses for themselves.

“It’s not focused on the pain and suffering of those who are coping with whatever form of trauma.”

Crisis communications specialist Nick Garbutt, from AsItIs Consulting, believes the Catholic Church should follow its own teachings and issue an apology.

“I don’t think there is any doubt or anybody has contested the fact that the Church spoke to the authorities and as a result of that Fr Chesney was moved,” he said.

“My point is that if you are faced with something like this, something that wasn’t moral, then you have to deal with it and have to step up and accept some responsibility for whatever it is you have done and apologise where appropriate — and I think this is certainly an instance where an apology is appropriate.”

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