The Coyne Report about sexual child abuse in the diocese of Coyne is out and pretty damning. It has prompted the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, to announce that the withholding of information about serious offences against a child is to become a criminal offense.
Because that’s what John Magee, Bishop of Coyne, did: he knew about cases of abuse and not only did he cover it up, he lied about it:
The report found that the Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, misled the minister for children by claiming the church’s guidelines for handling abuse cases were being fully complied with. It also found he falsely told the Health Service Executive (HSE) that allegations of abuse were being reported to Gardaí.
2/3 of the complaints made between 1996 and 2008 were in fact not reported to the Garda and not a single case was passed to the HSE.
And look at those dates. This is about what’s happening RIGHT NOW.
“It is truly scandalous that people who presented a public face of concern continued to maintain a private agenda of concealment and evasion,” Mr Shatter commented.
It’s a point a lot of people don’t seem to get. The church claims higher moral authority than the rest of us and yet cares more about itself as an institution than the vulnerable people it has promised to protect. It’s the very act of the church placing itself in that moral position that has allowed so many vulnerable people to be placed in their care in the first place. This is one of the reasons that abuse by church institutions is worse than abuse in some other professions. Society insists that we pay church institutions unearned respect and howls at us if we criticise them. And they aren’t living up to that responsibility.
“I am sorry that this happened and I unreservedly apologise to all those who suffered additional hurt because of the flawed implementation of the church procedures, for which I take full responsibility,”
It doesn’t seem like much of an apology. Even while he’s apologising, he’s playing down serious of what happened and distancing himself from it. This is not a matter of failing to implement guidelines in a sufficiently enthusiastic manner: it’s about wilfully failing to report cases of child abuse to the authorities and then lying to officials about it. It’s about his damning children to torment to protect his beloved church, which he cares more about than the people he’s supposed to be protecting. The torment of these children is an inconvenience to him and even when he’s laid bang to rights by a 341 page report, he can’t bring himself to admit that he had the ability to prevent many cases of abuse.
But he didn’t care.