Belfast Telegraph

It's a sham... abuse victims react to bishop's apology

Shamed former bishop John Magee
Shamed former bishop John Magee

By Victoria O'Hara

Survivors of clerical abuse and priests have criticised the apology from a former Newry-born bishop who misled authorities about reporting cases of institutional child abuse in the Republic.

Dr John Magee, the former Bishop of Cloyne, apologised and offered to meet abuse victims "on bended knee". But a spokeswoman for Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse last night branded the apology "empty".

The Association for Catholic Priests (ACP) has also criticised Dr Magee's remarks as "inadequate".

The angry response comes after the former aide to three Popes spoke after the publication of the Murphy Commission report.

The damning findings said Dr Magee (74), Bishop of Cloyne from 1987 to 2009, falsely claimed that all allegations of abuse were being reported to state authorities.

He created two different accounts - one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files - of a meeting with a priest suspected of abusing a child.

The report said Dr Magee's response to accusations of clerical child sex abuse was "inadequate" and "inappropriate".

Speaking for the first time publicly this week, Dr Magee said he felt "horrified and ashamed" by abuse in his diocese.

"I beg forgiveness, I am sorry and I wish to say that if they wish to come and see me privately I will speak with them and offer my deepest apology," he said.

"I feel ashamed that this happened under my watch - it shouldn't have and I truly apologise," he said.

But Margaret McGuckin from Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse said the apology was "too little, too late".

She added: "It is a sham. I don't believe any of the victims will want to meet him as I think they will be so angry. His behaviour has been disgraceful.

"If he was genuinely concerned, an aide to three Popes and a true Christian would not have allowed that to have happened, and for a through investigation to have taken place.

"He is begging for forgiveness, I don't think victims can forgive - he is supposed to be a pillar of Christianity. His apology means nothing, it is too little, too late."

ACP spokesman Father Tony Flannery said the interview with Dr Magee was "not enough".

"There are many questions which are left which need to be addressed," he said.

"We also feel that the language he used does not connect sufficiently with those involved - it's just not clear enough".

Story so far

The Murphy Report into the Cloyne diocese's handling of child abuse was published in July. The Commission for Investigations into the diocese of Cloyne probed allegations against 19 priests and looked into how the Catholic Church and state authorities handled allegations of abuse between 1996 and 2008 involving 40 alleged victims. Bishop Magee's spoke publicly for the first time this week over a month after its publication

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