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Vatican wanted 'Fr Filth' to serve monastery sentence

The Vatican wanted a dangerous Irish paedophile priest to serve 10 years in a monastery rather than force him out of the Catholic Church, an inquiry revealed today.

Irish clerics wanted to dismiss Tony Walsh - jailed for 16 years last week on 17 counts of child abuse - but Rome urged that he be allowed to remain in the clergy.

Nicknamed Fr Filth, he attacked a young boy in the toilet of a pub in Dublin in May 1994 after attending the funeral of his victim's grandfather as the Catholic hierarchy in Rome debated how he should be dealt with.

Pope John Paul II dismissed Walsh in 1996 after a direct appeal for action by Cardinal Desmond Connell.

The Commission hit out at Rome's handling of the case - listed in the report under the randomly selected but seemingly inappropriate pseudonym Fr Jovito.

"The handling of that appeal in Rome was unsatisfactory," it said.

"The fact that the original decision of dismissal was replaced with a sentence that would have confined Fr Jovito to a monastery for 10 years suggests that after the 10-year period, Fr Jovito might have been entitled to resume his clerical ministry.

"The whole process was unduly cumbersome and at one stage it was suggested to the Archbishop that he should start all over again and initiate a new canonical process."

The report went on to say that a major factor in Rome's decision to push for monastery service appears to have been an inability to charge him by reason of paedophilia.

Walsh was posted to Ballyfermot Parish in west Dublin in 1978.

Two days after he arrived he was accused of a sex attack on a young boy.

Belfast Telegraph

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