Friday, January 21, 2011

Safety Welfare Protection & Rights of Children

Some of the ideas that I would like to see a new Government advance in the interests of the Safety Welfare Protection & Rights of Children

Hold the Children’s Rights Referendum preferably with a wording as close as possible to that published by Joint Oireachtas Committee in February 2010.

Introduce legislation to put the Children First Guidelines on a statutory basis with failure to comply being a criminal offence and also introduce system of independent inspection of audit and compliance with Children First Guidelines.

Remove responsibility for the Child Care System from the HSE and have that service reformed and delivered by people working under the aegis of Minister for Children.

Empowering children with knowledge, confidence and language is an important part of the child protection process. The STAY SAFE and SPHE programmes within schools are a significant part of this.

• All teachers should receive a basic SPHE pre-service training as all teachers are involved in social and personal education of young people.

• There should be a module in the SPHE programme dedicated specifically to Child Safety, Welfare and Protection at post-primary level.

• Children’s knowledge of SPHE should be assessed regularly.

There is urgent need for Garda Vetting of people working with children to be extended to facilitate the passing on of soft information, organisations working with or providing services to children have called for this to be done for many years but to no avail.

Parents and Guardians should be able to register a concern with authorities about any individual who has access to their children about whom they are genuinely worried. In some cases it should be possible for them to be told if such an individual is a known sex offender or not. This measure is already being rolled out in the UK, having being piloted to great effect; the pilot scheme in four counties saw one in ten calls to police uncover evidence of a criminal past. Out of 315 applications for information from concerned parents, details of 21 paedophiles were revealed. These were sex offenders known to the authorities who were putting themselves in a position of having access to children again, and they were stopped because those parents could register their concerns and access this information.

Review the In Camera rule in respect of court proceedings under the Child Care Act 1991. This rule was intended to protect children but instead protects a system which fails them.

Sex offenders who have served their sentences are generally released into the community without supervision, though some may be under the supervision of the Probation Service. There is an urgent need for changes to this system to be made ...

• A multi-agency approach to the support and monitoring of released offenders must be developed along with a more stringent regime of signing on procedures with regular personal visits to Garda stations by released offenders.

• Secondly, those responsible for monitoring sex offenders should have the powers and the resources to make regular unannounced visits to the homes of released sex offenders.

• Thirdly, monitoring of sex offenders should include electronic tagging, curfews and other restrictions, for example an offender who only ever abuses children after he/she has taken alcohol should have it as a condition of their release that they don’t consume alcohol.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Full text Vatican Letter 1997

Dublin, 31 January 1997

Strictly confidential

Apostolic Nunciature In Ireland N. 808/97

Your Excellency,

The Congregation for the Clergy has attentively studied the complex question of sexual abuse of minors by clerics and the document entitled "Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response", published by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Advisory Committee.

The Congregation wishes to emphasize the need for this document to conform to the canonical norms presently in force.

The text, however, contains "proceedures and dispositions which appear contrary to canonical discipline and which, if applied, could invalidate the acts of the same Bishops who are attempting to put a stop to these problems. If such procedures were to be followed by the Bishops and there were cases of eventual hierarchial recourse lodged at the Holy See, the results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same Diocesan authorities.

In particular, the situation of 'mandatory reporting' gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature".

Since the policies on sexual abuse in the English speaking world exhibit many of the same characteristics and procedures, the Congregation is involved in a global study of them. At the appropriate time, with the collaboration of the interested Episcopal Conferences and in dialogue with them, the Congregation will not be remiss in establishing some concrete directives with regard to these Policies.

For these reasons and because the abovementioned text is not an official document of the Episcopal Conference but merely a study document, I am directed to inform the individual Bishops of Ireland of the preoccupations of the Congregation in its regard, underlining that in the sad cases of accusations of sexual abuse by clerics, the procedures established by the Code of Canon Law must be meticulously followed under pain of invalidity of the acts involved if the priest so punished were to make hierarchial recourse against his Bishop.

Asking you to kindly let me know of safe receipt of this letter and with the assurance of my cordial regard, I am

Yours sincerely in Christ,

+Luciano Storero
Apostolic Nuncio

To: Members of the Irish Episcopal Conference
- their Dioceses

Monday, January 17, 2011

RTE/WYB - Vatican Inv in Cover Up

I have never believed that the Catholic bishops cover up of the sexual abuse of children by priests was something unique to the Catholic Church in Ireland, nor have I believed that such acts of cover up were unknown to the Vatican.

The Murphy Report found that the child sexual abuse by priests was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities. Each of Dublin’s four Archbishops from McQuaid in the 1970s to Connell in the 1990s knew of the abuse, many auxiliary bishops knew and the vast majority of priests who were aware of particular instances of abuse simply chose to turn a blind eye. The welfare of children, which should have been the first priority, was not even a factor to be considered in the early stages. The medical profession was misled about what the Church knew about abusing priests and even when the Church was advised not to re-assign such priests, the advise was ignored. Catholic Church assurances that paedophile priests were being monitored were completely untrue and other children paid the price.

The Ferns Report found that notwithstanding the extremely unfavourably medical reports provided, priests were appointed to curacies in that Diocese and continued in positions without any effective monitoring or control. Bishop Comiskey agreed with the Ferns Inquiry that the proper response to an allegation of child sexual abuse against a priest was to remove him from active ministry pending the determination of the allegation. Notwithstanding this belief, no priest was stood aside from active ministry during the episcopacy of Bishop Comiskey and no precept was issued preventing any priest from saying Mass and partaking in religious ceremonies. Priests were moved out of the Diocese in some cases but no child protection measures were put in place to ensure that children in the Diocese to which the accused priest was sent were not placed in danger.

The Grand Jury Report into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia found that Cardinals Bevilacqua and Krol were aware that priests in the Diocese were perpetrating massive amounts of child molestations and sexual assaults. In many cases the same priests were reported again and again and Archdiocese leaders employed deliberate strategies to conceal known abuse. The Report says that they chose to protect themselves from scandal and liability rather than protect children, going on to say that Cardinal Bevilacqua was motivated by an intent to keep the record clear of evidence that would implicate him or the Archdiocese. The tactics used to achieve this included conducting non-investigations designed to avoid establishing priests’ guilt, transferring known abusers to other parishes where their reputations were not known, misleading parishioners about the reason for a priest’s transfer, harbouring known abusers from other dioceses (like Archbishop Ratzinger did in Munich in 1980), making concerted efforts to prevent reports of abuse to law enforcement, manipulating medical records to keep abusing priests in ministry, interfering with medical evaluations, inventing limited ministry which they documented but did not enforce and intimidating victims and witnesses in an attempt to silence them.

The Grand Jury Report into the Archdiocese of Boston found that the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests was due to an institutional acceptance of abuse. Again top Archdiocese officials knew the extent of the problem for many years, but their response was to maintain secrecy, fail to report allegations to civil authorities, fail to co-operate with law enforcement when allegations were being investigated, fail to conduct thorough investigations, place children at risk by transferring abusing priests to other parishes, place children at risk by accepting abusing priests from other Dioceses (like Archbishop Ratzinger did in Munich in 1980) and fail to supervise priests known to have sexually abused children. In language almost identical to the Murphy Report the Boston Report concludes that for at least six decades three successive Archbishops, their Bishops and others in positions of authority within the Archdiocese operated with tragically misguided priorities. They chose to protect the image and reputation of their institution rather than the safety and well-being of the children entrusted to their care.

The Philadelphia Report also noted similar behaviour by Bishops and Cardinals in other Dioceses in the United States and found that this amounted to the Catholic Church having employed well-orchestrated strategies for decades and in all parts of the United States to keep abusing priests in ministry while minimising the risk of scandal or legal liability.

Tonight’s broadcast of the RTE Would You Believe documentary Unspeakable Crimes, shows yet again that Catholic bishops covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests did so with the full knowledge of the Vatican: while this further confirms the Vatican’s involvement in the cover up, it does not absolve Irish Catholic Bishops of responsibility for their own actions and decisions. It does however demonstrate very clearly that the Vatican sending Cardinals to Ireland to conduct an ‘Apostolic Investigation’ is, as I said before, self-serving, window-dressing nonsense.