Bizarrely, apologists for Cardinal Connell seem to be suggesting that the reason he is trying to hide files from the child abuse Commission is that he wants to protect the confidentiality of the victims of these crimes. However, Connell already has form in concealing knowledge of serious sexual crimes from the police, and the effect of this has been to protect the criminals and the Catholic Church, not the victims. So what is in the files that Cardinal Connell is trying to hide? Well, the Commission is examining how the Dublin Archdiocese responded to a representative sample of complaints against priests. If those samples are similar to cases we already know about, the files could contain such behaviour as refusing to tell the police that a priest had admitted sexually abusing a sick child in a hospital and photographing the abuse, telling a victim of child sexual abuse that she was trying to ruin the good name of her abuser, lending money to a paedophile priest to settle a legal case against a victim then telling the media that he had not compensated anybody, appointing a paedophile priest as chaplain to a hospital without telling the hospital why, deciding to have a particularly vicious paedophile priest defrocked then letting him continue as a priest while appealing the decision thus enabling him to sexually assault the grandson of a deceased person after a funeral, and generally moving paedophile priests from parish to parish to continue sexually abusing children. Here are details of five sample cases in which we already know that Cardinal Connell presided over.
||||||||||||| 1. In 1960, Father Paul McGennis, who was chaplain at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, sexually assaulted at least two young girls who were patients in the hospital, and took photographs of the abuse. One of his victims was Marie Collins, who was then thirteen. In the late 1970s, the same priest repeatedly sexually assaulted a nine-year-old girl in County Wicklow. Here is how the Catholic Church dealt with this case. >>> The Response to the Crimes of Father Paul McGennis In 1995, Marie Collins complained to the Catholic Church about Father McGennis. Monsignor Alex Stenson, a senior figure in the Dublin archdiocese, interviewed Father McGennis and confirmed to Marie Collins that the priest had admitted sexually abusing her. However, Cardinal Connell refused to allow Monsignor Stenson to tell the police about this, because Stenson had not warned McGennis that his admission could be used in evidence against him. Cardinal Connell also refused to give the police the Church’s file on Father McGennis. In 1996, the Irish Bishops issued guidelines about informing the civil authorities about clerical child sex abuse. Later that year, Cardinal Connell met Marie Collins, who accused him of being in breach of the church’s own guidelines. She said that Cardinal Connell had replied that they were only guidelines with no force in either canon civil law, and that he was acting on legal advice not to co-operate. Connell later said that that what he had said was that the guidelines superseded both canon and civil law. But Father James Norman, a priest who had also been at the meeting as a support person to Marie Collins, supported Marie Collin’s version of what Cardinal Connell had said. Father Norman also confirmed that Cardinal Connell had told Marie Collins that she was trying to ruin Father McGennis’s good name over something that had happened thirty or forty years before. Father McGennis was eventually sentenced to eighteen months in prison for these crimes.
|||||||| 2. Between 1968 and 1987, Father Ivan Payne sexually assaulted an unknown number of children, some of whom were patients in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, and some of whom were altar boys or may have been children who he met while he worked for more than 20 years as a volunteer with Sunshine House, the St Vincent de Paul holiday home for poor children. Here is how the Catholic Church dealt with this case. >>> The Response to the Crimes of Father Ivan Payne In 1981, Andrew Madden, an altar boy in Cabra, complained that Father Payne had sexually abused him. The Dublin Archdiocese sent Father Payne to see a psychiatrist, and then moved him to Sutton parish where he continued to abuse children. In 1985, Father Payne was appointed as a Presiding Judge at the Dublin Regional Catholic Marriage Tribunal, where he counseled couples who were seeking annulment of their marriages. In 1998, Cardinal Connell was appointed Archbishop of Dublin. In 1993, Andrew Madden took a legal case against Father Payne, and Father Payne made an out of court settlement of £27,500. He funded this legal settlement with a £30,000 loan from the Dublin Archdiocese. In 1995, when the media reported on details of this settlement, Cardinal Connell moved Father Payne out of Sutton. Father Payne also stopped working at the Dublin Regional Catholic Marriage Tribunal. In May 1995, when the story about the court settlement became public, Cardinal Connell denied that the Archdiocese had paid the compensation. “I have compensated nobody,” he insisted. “I have paid out nothing whatever in compensation.” In October 1995, Cardinal Connell admitted that he had lent Father Payne the money for this settlement. “I helped by giving the assistance of a loan,” he said. “And consequently I have always believed the Diocese did not compensate.” In 1998 Father Payne admitted to eight sample charges of sexual assaults on young boys. He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for these crimes.
|||||||| 3. Father Noel Reynolds admitted sexually abusing more than 100 children in eight Dublin parishes. In 1995, another priest reported concerns about the behaviour of Father Reynolds as parish priest of Glendalough. In 1996, several parents complained to Cardinal Connell that they were worried that Father Reynolds had been sexually abusing their children. Here is how the Catholic Church dealt with this case. >>> The Response to the Crimes of Father Noel Reynolds Cardinal Connell did nothing for eighteen months after these complaints, at which stage the parents threatened to tell the media about Father Reynolds. Cardinal Connell then moved Father Reynolds from his parish, and appointed him as chaplain to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire. Cardinal Connell did not tell the Hospital why he had moved Father Reynolds. In February 2002, Cardinal Connell said of this episode: Having retired from his appointment as parish priest of Glendalough on health grounds, Father Noel Reynolds was appointed chaplain to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in 1997. We sincerely regret not informing the hospital authorities about concerns expressed regarding Fr. Reynolds in 1995. These concerns related to his inappropriate behaviour with children. We fully accept that we should have informed the hospital authorities about the concerns raised at the time of his appointment. |
||||||| 4. Father Tony Walsh was a priest in Coolock and Ballyfermot, who impersonated Elvis Presley as a member of the All Priests Show during the 1980s. He sexually abused an unknown number of children, including masturbating on top of an altar boy who had served at his ordination mass and raping a young boy in the Phoenix Park on his ninth birthday. In 1995, following a funeral, he sexually assaulted the eleven-year-old grandson of the deceased. Here is how the Catholic Church dealt with this case. >>> The Response to the Crimes of Father Tony Walsh In the early 1990s, the mother of Ken Reilly, who was one of Father Walsh’s victims, complained to five priests, Monsignor Alex Stenson, Bishop James Kavanagh and Archbishop Dermot Ryan about Father Walsh sexually abusing her son. In 1992, Cardinal Connell set up a three-man internal tribunal to investigate these complaints. The tribunal included two current Catholic Bishops, Willie Walsh of Killaloe and John McAreavey of Kilmore. The internal tribunal found Father Walsh guilty, and recommended that he be defrocked as a priest. Given that so many paedophile priests were simply moved to a different parish, this says something about how serious Father Walsh’s crimes must have been. Father Walsh appealed its decision. While he was appealing the decision, Father Walsh was allowed to continue as a priest. Neither Cardinal Connell nor the internal tribunal told anyone about the conclusions the tribunal had come to. The Archdiocese did speak to the police about these crimes, but they did not tell the police everything that they knew. In 1995, following a funeral, Father Walsh sexually assaulted the eleven-year-old grandson of the deceased. In 1997, Father Walsh was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for these and other sexual assaults on children.
|||||||| 5. Between 1983 and 1988, Father Thomas Naughton sexually abused an unknown number of young boys in three different Dublin parishes. During this time, the Archdiocese twice sent him to see psychiatrists for treatment, then returned him to work as a priest thus enabling him to continue to abuse children. In 1995 one of his victims, Mervyn Rundle, took a legal case against Father Naughton. Here is how the Catholic Church dealt with this case. >>> The Response to the Crimes of Father Thomas Naughton In 1995, the Rundle family and the Archdiocese both contacted the police about Father Naughton’s sexual assault on Mervyn Rundle, who had been a nine year old altar boy at the time of the assault. However, the Archdiocese concealed from the police information that they had about earlier sexual assaults by Father Naughton, who had admitted these crimes to Monsignor Alex Stenson. Mervyn Rundle then began his civil action. In 1998, Father Naughton was sentenced to three years for in prison for this and other sexual assaults on children. In 2003, the Archdiocese agreed a settlement with Mervyn Rundle, under which they paid him an unprecedented €300,000 to €4000,000. In a statement read on his behalf to the High Court, Cardinal Connell apologized to Mervyn Rundle. He also acknowledged that, prior to this crime, serious concerns had emerged about his abuser, and that a better pursuit of these concerns could have led to Father Naughton being withdrawn from his clerical duties. Mervyn Rundle told the Irish Times that, eighteen years previously, when his father had taken him by the hand to the Bishop’s Palace in Dublin, his nightmare had got worse. He said that Monsignor Alex Stenson had asked to speak to him alone. He remembered Monsignor Stenson saying “Stop your lies, stop telling your lies,” and he said that was terrified, “a 10-year-old child against all those big priests.” He told the Irish Times that the civil action had taken seven years out of my life, and that the Archdiocese, under Cardinal Connell, had fought them every inch of the way, even after his solicitor got the Archdiocese’s documents on the case, and they then realized that the Archdiocese had known about Father Naughton’s crimes long before he had even come to Mr Rundle’s parish. “They made made me go though seven years of fighting to get to this point,” he said. “They could have saved me all that.”