Archive for the ‘abuse’ Category

Now that the Apostolic Visitation to certain Dioceses, Seminaries and Religious Institutes in Ireland has been concluded, it is intended here, in accordance with what was stated in the Communiqué of 6 June 2011, to offer an overall synthesis indicating the results and the future prospects highlighted by the Visitation.

It should be borne in mind that the Visitation was pastoral in nature; the Holy Father’s intention was that it should “assist the local Church on her path of renewal” (Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland, 19 March 2010). It was not intended to replace or supersede the ordinary responsibility of Bishops and Religious Superiors, nor to interfere “with the ordinary activity of the local magistrates, nor with the activity of the Commissions of Investigation established by the Irish Parliament, nor with the work of any legislative authority, which has competence in the area of prevention of abuse of minors” (Communiqué of the Holy See Press Office, 12 November 2010).

In communicating this summary of the Findings of the Apostolic Visitation, the Holy See re-echoes the sense of dismay and betrayal which the Holy Father expressed in his Letter to the Catholics of Ireland regarding the sinful and criminal acts that were at the root of this particular crisis.

The Visitation to the Dioceses was carried out in the four Metropolitan Sees during the first few months of 2011. The four Visitators, accompanied by qualified and authorized persons and in coordination with the Archbishops of the Sees concerned, met individuals from the various categories listed in the Communiqué of 12 November 2010, along with others who requested a hearing, including representatives of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. Special priority was given to the meetings with victims of abuse, who were assured of the particular closeness of the Holy Father. Some of the Archdioceses held very moving penitential liturgies in the Cathedrals, attended by clergy and members of the faithful, with the participation of victims of abuse in each case. These four Visitations included meetings with the suffraganeous Bishops and yielded sufficient information to provide an adequate picture of the situation of the Church in Ireland, such as to obviate the need to extend the Visitation to the suffraganeous Sees.

The Visitation to the Seminaries examined the situation of four Institutes: the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, Saint Malachy’s College in Belfast, and two Institutes in the Archdiocese of Dublin – the National Seminary, Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and the Milltown Institute of the Society of Jesus. All Hallows College in Dublin informed the Visitator that it no longer offered a programme of priestly formation and consequently it was not included in the Visitation. Before visiting each of the Institutes, the Visitator was able to study documentation on the Colleges concerned. Upon arrival, with the assistance of several Bishops and priests, all previously approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Visitator examined, to the extent possible, all aspects of priestly formation, along the lines indicated in the Press Communiqué of 31 May 2010. The Visitator and his assistants held individual meetings with formators and seminarians, as well as others holding positions of authority in the seminaries, including those responsible for the protection of minors. Priests ordained within the last three years were also invited to a personal conversation if they so wished. It should be pointed out that the Milltown Institute, which is more an academic centre than a seminary, was examined only with regard to the theological formation offered to future priests.

The Visitation to the Religious Institutes took place after careful study of the responses to the questionnaire that was sent to all Institutes with Religious houses in Ireland. The questionnaire sought to elicit information on the current safeguarding measures and policies adopted by each Institute and the effect of the present crisis on the Institute’s members. The Visitators then held various meetings with Bishops, Superiors and formators of the different communities and with any particular groups, including abuse victims, that requested a meeting, as well as representatives of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. Meetings were held with the members of the Conference of Religious of Ireland, both in the common assemblies and in regional assemblies throughout the country. The Visitators had the opportunity to conduct extended visits to 31 Institutes. They estimate that, during the visit, they had the opportunity to dialogue with a significant portion of Religious in Ireland.

With a view to promoting the work of renewal called for by the Holy Father, the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Catholic Education have carefully studied the information collected by the respective Visitators. Keeping in mind the provisions of the document Towards Healing and Renewal issued by the Irish Episcopal Conference, they have communicated their conclusions to the four Metropolitan Archbishops and to the Ecclesiastical Authorities of the seminaries visited, indicating courses of action. The Archbishops and the Ecclesiastical Authorities gave their responses. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life is likewise forwarding its conclusions to the Superiors of all Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life with houses in Ireland. A Summary Report will also be presented to the Apostolic Nuncio to be shared with the Bishops of Ireland.

During their stay in Ireland, the Visitators were able themselves to see just how much the shortcomings of the past gave rise to an inadequate understanding of and reaction to the terrible phenomenon of the abuse of minors, not least on the part of various Bishops and Religious Superiors. With a great sense of pain and shame, it must be acknowledged that within the Christian community innocent young people were abused by clerics and Religious to whose care they had been entrusted, while those who should have exercised vigilance often failed to do so effectively. Indeed, “wounds have been inflicted on Christ’s body” (Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland, 19 March 2010). For these faults, forgiveness must once more be asked: from God and from the victims! As Blessed John Paul II said: “there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young” (Address to the Cardinals of the United States, 23 April 2002).

At the same time the Visitators were able to verify that, beginning in the 1990s, progressive steps have been taken towards a greater awareness of how serious is the problem of abuse, both in the Church and society, and how necessary it is to find adequate measures in response.

The Visitation was also intended to determine whether the structures and procedures put in place by the Church in Ireland from that period onwards are adequate to ensure that the tragedy of the abuse of minors will not be repeated. In this regard, the Holy See has made the following observations:

Particular attention has been given to the assistance offered by the Church in Ireland to victims of past abuse. All the Visitators acknowledge that, beginning with the Bishops and Religious Superiors, much attention and care has been shown to the victims, both in terms of spiritual and psychological assistance and also from a legal and financial standpoint. It has been recommended, therefore, that, following the example given by Pope Benedict XVI in his meetings with victims of abuse, the Irish diocesan authorities and those of the Religious Institutes continue to devote much time listening to and receiving victims, providing support for them and their families.
Their meetings with the victims of abuse helped the Visitators to understand better various aspects of the problem of the sexual abuse of minors that took place in Ireland. The Visitators and the Church in Ireland are thankful for this contribution and want to assure them that their well-being is of paramount concern for the Church.
In their meetings with the chief officers of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church and various diocesan officials, the Visitators were able to verify that the current norms of Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland (Guidelines) are being followed. The Visitators welcome the process, already initiated by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, of regularly auditing the implementation of the Guidelines. It is recommended that this process of covering all Dioceses and Religious Institutes by regular audits will be implemented in a prompt manner.
In recent years the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church has been thorough and far-reaching, for which reason it should be supported by the Bishops, Religious Superiors and the whole community of the Church in Ireland, and it should continue to receive sufficient personnel and funding.
The Archbishops of the visited Archdioceses gave assurance that all newly-discovered cases of abuse are promptly brought before both the competent civil authority and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The norms contained in the Guidelines, as well as the procedures to implement them, must be updated in accordance with the indications published on 3 May 2011 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and also periodically revised. The Guidelines need to be amended in order to create a common model for all the Dioceses and Religious Institutes, and they should be periodically re-examined in order to ensure increasing effectiveness both in the work of prevention and in the response to cases of abuse in all the required aspects, for the good of everyone concerned.

In view of the shortage of personnel trained in canon law, the Visitators insisted on the need for a reorganization of Ireland’s ecclesiastical tribunals, to be carried out in cooperation with the competent bodies of the Holy See, so that the various cases still awaiting definitive resolution can be adequately processed.
The Visitators were struck by the efforts made throughout the country by Bishops, priests, Religious and lay persons to implement the Guidelines and to create safe environments. In the four Archdioceses, the results of these efforts were judged to be excellent. In addition to the large number of volunteers, they noted the presence of men and women within the various safeguarding structures who bring the highest level of professionalism to the service of the Christian community.

In the Visitation to the Seminaries, the following elements were examined: theological doctrine on the priesthood, seminary governance, questions regarding the admission of candidates to the seminary and assessment of them prior to ordination, the process of formation (human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral), and possible ways of assisting recently ordained priests. Particular attention was given to the admission of candidates and to programmes of spiritual and human formation aimed at enabling seminarians to live priestly celibacy faithfully and joyfully. The Visitation to the Seminaries gave priority to issues involving the protection of minors.

In this regard, the Holy See has made the following observations:

The Visitation was able to establish that there are dedicated formators in Irish seminaries, committed to the work of priestly training. The seminarians themselves were generally praised for their human and spiritual qualities and for their motivation and commitment to the Church and her mission. Studies are taken seriously, and attention is given to human and spiritual formation.

Each seminary has clear child protection norms in place and the Irish seminaries are committed to educating future priests with a broad understanding of all that is involved in the protection of minors within the Church.

For the further improvement of the seminaries, it has been proposed, wherever necessary:

to ensure that the formation provided is rooted in authentic priestly identity, offering a more systematic preparation for a life of priestly celibacy by maintaining a proper equilibrium between human, spiritual and ecclesial dimensions;
to reinforce structures of Episcopal governance over the seminaries;
to introduce more consistent admission criteria – this would involve the seminary, in consultation with the Dioceses, examining and deciding admissibility of candidates;
to show greater concern for the intellectual formation of seminarians, ensuring that it is in full conformity with the Church’s Magisterium;
to include in the academic programme in-depth formation on matters of child protection, with increased pastoral attention to victims of sexual abuse and their families;
to re-evaluate the pastoral programme, ensuring that it is sacramental, priestly and apostolic, and duly concerned with preparing candidates to celebrate the sacraments and to preach;
to ensure that the seminary buildings be exclusively for seminarians of the local Church and those preparing them for the priesthood, to ensure a well-founded priestly identity.

The task entrusted by the Holy See to the Visitators to Religious houses was twofold: 1) ensuring that all Religious Congregations have adequate protocols for safeguarding children and are implementing them; and 2) encouraging members of Institutes and Societies to a renewed vitality in their life and mission as Religious or members of Societies of Apostolic Life. In a spirit of cooperation with the Bishops, clergy and lay faithful of Ireland, the Superiors and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life are encouraged to develop the resources at their disposal, so that they may be better equipped to meet the needs of those still suffering the effects of abuse. In the light of the immense contribution they have made in the past to the life of the Church in Ireland and their remarkable missionary outreach across the world, consecrated persons should renew their commitment to building communities capable of offering their members mutual support along the path towards holiness and capable of contributing effectively to the renewal of the entire local Church community.

In this regard, the Holy See has made the following observations:

The Religious in Ireland will join Bishops in mutual reflection, planning and support, revitalizing the instruments of dialogue and communion that have been envisioned by the Magisterium (cf. Mutuae Relationes). The Bishops themselves will convoke and lead the process of renewing dialogue and concrete collaboration in the field of safeguarding children, while also seeking to bring about a more effective and deeper communion between different and complementary charisms in the local Church.

The Major Superiors of each Institute in Ireland should design a programme for focusing anew over the next three years on the Institute’s fundamental sources, particularly the following of Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, and contained in the Apostolic Tradition of the Church’s teaching, the living of their vows in a contemporary context, and the life, works and charism of the founder of the Institute (Perfectae Caritatis; Vita Consecrata).

All Institutes should perform an audit of their personnel files, if such an audit has not yet been carried out. As in the case of the Dioceses, every Religious Congregation, active and contemplative, should perform the regular audit monitoring the implementation of the norms contained in the Guidelines, in coordination with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

Major Superiors should develop, with the members of their Institutes, concrete means for revitalizing communities of prayer, community life and mission.

The Religious in Ireland are asked to consider developing a collaborative ministerial outreach to those suffering from the effects of abuse.

Based on the proposal of the Visitators and the observations made by various Dicasteries of the Holy See, it has been recommended that the Bishops of Ireland and Religious Superiors, in collaboration with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, should continue to examine and update the current Interim Guidance – Leave from Sacred Ministry and Apostolate for Clergy and Religious with a view to:

Formulating guidelines for handling the varied cases of those who have been accused, but in whose case the Director of Public Prosecution has decided not to proceed.

Formulating policies regarding the falsely accused and their return to ministry.

Formulating policies regarding the pastoral care of those who are convicted of abuse: the appropriate settings and the conditions under which such offenders should live.


The Visitators have been able to establish that, over and above the suffering of the victims, the painful events of recent years have also opened many wounds within the Irish Catholic community. Many lay persons have experienced a loss of trust in their Pastors. Many good priests and Religious have felt unjustly tainted by association with the accused in the court of public opinion; some have not felt sufficiently defended by their Bishops and Superiors. Those same Bishops and Superiors have often felt isolated as they sought to confront the waves of indignation and at times they have found it difficult to agree on a common line of action.

On the other hand, this time of trial has also brought to light the continuing vitality of the Irish people’s faith. The Visitators have noted the exemplary way in which many Bishops, priests and Religious live out their vocation, the human and spiritual bonds among the faithful at a time of crisis, the deep faith of many men and women, a remarkable level of lay involvement in the structures of child protection, and the heartfelt commitment shown by Bishops and Religious Superiors in their task of serving the Christian community.

These are just some of the signs of hope that the Visitators have identified, alongside the various difficulties, in the life of the Church in Ireland. It is vitally important that, at a point in history marked by rapid cultural and social transformation, all the components of the Church in Ireland hear in the first place a renewed call to communion: communion among the Bishops themselves and with the Successor of Peter; communion between diocesan Bishops and their clergy; communion between Pastors and lay persons; and communion between diocesan structures and communities of consecrated life – communion that is not attained merely through human agreements or strategies, but above all by listening humbly to God’s Word and to what the Holy Spirit gives and asks of the Church in our day. Only a united Church can be an effective witness to Christ in the world.

Among the pastoral priorities that have emerged most strongly is the need for deeper formation in the content of the faith for young people and adults; a broad and well-planned ongoing theological and spiritual formation for clergy, Religious and lay faithful; a new focus on the role of the laity, who are called to be engaged both within the Church and in bearing witness before society, in accordance with the social teachings of the Church. There is a need to harness the contribution of the new Ecclesial Movements, in order better to reach the younger generation and to give renewed enthusiasm to Christian life. A careful review is needed of the training given to teachers of religion, the Catholic identity of schools and their relationship with the parishes to which they belong, so as to ensure a sound and well-balanced education.

Since the Visitators also encountered a certain tendency, not dominant but nevertheless fairly widespread among priests, Religious and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the Magisterium, this serious situation requires particular attention, directed principally towards improved theological formation. It must be stressed that dissent from the fundamental teachings of the Church is not the authentic path towards renewal.

The Visitation also placed in question the present configuration of Dioceses in Ireland and their ability to respond adequately to the challenges of the New Evangelization. The Holy See and the local episcopate have already initiated a joint reflection on this matter, in which the communities concerned are to be involved, with a view to adapting diocesan structures to make them better suited to the present-day mission of the Church in Ireland.

Finally, the Visitation attested to the great need for the Irish Catholic community to make its voice heard in the media and to establish a proper relationship with those active in this field, for the sake of making known the truth of the Gospel and the Church’s life.


For its part, the Holy See recalls the ongoing importance of the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, which proposes an overall vision that can shed useful light on the pastoral priorities of the Church in Ireland, and on the special attention that must be given to the younger generation. The forthcoming International Eucharistic Congress will surely represent an important stage in this process, as will the subsequent National Mission, which it is hoped will provide all the members of the Church community with a fruitful opportunity for prayer, common reflection and instruction on the content of the Christian creed, in harmony with the Holy Father’s vision for the approaching Year of Faith. As Pope Benedict said in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland: “Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, the Church in Ireland can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all Bishops, priests, Religious and lay faithful.”

In the name of the Holy Father, heartfelt gratitude must once again be expressed to all those who worked so generously to ensure a fruitful outcome for the Apostolic Visitation – firstly, to the Visitators and their assistants, then to the entire Catholic community of Ireland: the lay faithful, including the various victims of abuse, the Bishops, the clergy and the Religious communities who have responded so well to this concrete sign of the solicitude of the Successor of Peter for the future of the Church in Ireland.

Consequently, the Apostolic Visitation should now be considered completed. The Holy See entrusts its conclusions to the responsibility of the Bishops, clergy, Religious and lay faithful of Ireland, in the hope that they will bear fruit worthy of that process of healing, reparation and renewal which Pope Benedict XVI so eagerly desires for the beloved Church in Ireland.

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Eighteen groups that were involved with the running of residential institutions for children investigated by the Ryan commission have refused to contribute to the €1.36 billion costs incurred by the State in compensating people who had been abused in the institutions.  Source

Why is this thing dragging on? Why can’t the Criminal Assets Bureau step in?  Has anyone in the present government actually read the Final Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse? And if they have read it, have they read it out loud to these Religious Congregations? Here’s a few of their findings with my own comments added:

A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from. Seeing or hearing other children being beaten was a frightening experience that stayed with many complainants all their lives.

It’s high time these Congregations were subjected to ‘pervasive fear’ and ‘terror’ – Let them live with the fear that their assets will be taken from them. Introduce them to the terror of being flat broke.

Children who ran away were subjected to extremely severe punishment. Absconders were severely beaten, at times publicly. Some had their heads shaved and were humiliated.

Shaving them of their assets would be perfect justice.

The boys’ schools investigated revealed a pervasive use of severe corporal punishment. Prolonged, excessive beatings with implements intended to cause maximum pain occurred with the knowledge of staff management.

Corporal punishment in girls’ schools was pervasive, severe, arbitrary and unpredictable and this led to a climate of fear amongst the children. The regulations imposed greater restrictions on the use of corporal punishment for girls. In some schools a high level of ritualised beating was routine whilst in other schools lower levels of corporal punishment were used. Girls were struck with implements designed to maximise pain and were struck on all parts of the body. The prohibition on corporal punishment for girls over 15 years was generally not observed.

Corporal punishment was often administered in a way calculated to increase anguish and humiliation for girls. One way of doing this was for children to be left waiting for long periods to be beaten. Another was when it was accompanied by denigrating or humiliating language. Some beatings were more distressing when administered in front of other children and staff.

Maximum pain must be returned to these Congregations – this is the sword they wielded on children, they lived by this sword, let them die by this sword. Never mind that this punishment will be public and humiliating: this is Justice.

The recidivist nature of sexual abuse was known to religious authorities. The documents revealed that sexual abusers were often long-term offenders who repeatedly abused children wherever they were working. Contrary to the Congregations’ claims that the recidivist nature of sexual offending was not understood, it is clear from the documented cases that they were aware of the propensity for abusers to re-abuse. The risk, however, was seen by the Congregations in terms of the potential for scandal and bad publicity should the abuse be disclosed. The danger to children was not taken into account.

The Congregational authorities did not listen to or believe people who complained of sexual abuse that occurred in the past, notwithstanding the extensive evidence that emerged from Garda investigations, criminal convictions and witness accounts. Some Congregations remained defensive and disbelieving of much of the evidence heard by the Investigation Committee in respect of sexual abuse in institutions, even in cases where men had been convicted in court and admitted to such behaviour at the hearings.

Any other organisation, or group of organisations, found to have endangered children in such a despicable way for so long would be shut down and their assets seized. These Congregations terrorised children. They made children feel worthless. It’s high time these Congregations were worth less …

Children were frequently hungry and food was inadequate, inedible and badly prepared in many schools. Witnesses spoke of scavenging for food from waste bins and animal feed. The Inspector found that malnourishment was a serious problem in schools run by nuns.

Bearing in mind that the stated reason the majority of children were consigned into the ‘care’ of these Congregations was that they were children from dysfunctional families; yet here we have findings that the Congregations were dysfunctional, dangerous and utterly unsuited to caring for children. Yet the State funded them and the Congregations took the money under false pretences. It’s time these monies were fully refunded.

Clothing was a particular problem in boys’ schools where children often worked for long hours outdoors on farms. In addition, boys were often left in their soiled and wet work clothes throughout the day and wore them for long periods. In all schools up until the 1960s clothes stigmatised the children as Industrial School residents.

There was a further stigma if you absconded, at least in Ferryhouse. They made you wear short trousers – the thinking here was that you would be easily spotted if you re-absconded: Here’s a pic from Ferryhouse. See if you can count how many of the children in the pic absconded:


Their only crime was that they wanted to go home – and this was only part of the ‘justice’ the Congregations meted out to children. Time they were put into short trousers.

Where Industrial School children were educated in internal national schools, the standard was consistently poorer than that in outside schools. National school education was available to all children in the State and those in Industrial Schools were entitled to at least the same standard as that available in the country generally. Internal national schools were funded by a national school grant and teachers were paid in the same way. There was evidence particularly in girls’ schools that children were removed from their classes in order to perform domestic chores or work in the institution during the school day. When discharged, boys were generally placed in manual or unskilled jobs and girls in positions as domestic servants. Even where religious Congregations operated secondary schools beside industrial schools, children from the Industrial Schools were very rarely given the opportunity of pursuing secondary school education. Industrial Schools were intended to provide basic industrial training to young people to enable them to take up positions of employment as young adults. In reality, the industrial training afforded by all schools was of a nature that served the needs of the institution rather than the needs of the child.

It’s time to serve the needs of survivors and victims and not the sensibilities of these Congregations. The statutory objective of CAB is to target the proceeds of criminal activity to ensure that those engaged in criminal activity do not benefit from it. These Congregation were unjustly enriched by the slave labour of children.

– – – – – – – –

Realistically though all the above actions would only happen in my dreams – and they would be wild dreams. As a child I never had such dreams in anyway. Never did I dream that what I, and so many other children, were suffering should be revisited on those making us suffer. I’ve never dreamt of pushing a nun’s hands into a fire; I’ve never had the dream of battering a member of the clergy with a hurley stick or a wheel brace or a coin-embedded leather strap; I’ve never dreamt of starving or enslaving members of the Religious Orders. My dreams were more fantastic than those – fantastic, because I knew they were not going to come true; for you see I dreamt of decent and enough food on my plate; I dreamt of warm places, of running free in a meadow; of confusion explained; of childish puzzlement satisfied; of a little red bus; of loving touches; of being wanted;

And then there’s a squeeze on my shoulder and I’m released from my reverie. I sit at a big table and the Minister repeats his question:

“Would you like a bun with your coffee, Andrew?”

It’s not a religious Minister that’s asking the question but a democratically elected Minister and 18 years of an almost unrelenting childhood flashes before me:

Flashes of a loving family that soon went sour; of loving relatives who wanted to care for us; of a father’s refusal to allow that; of a final 6 weeks of being locked in a room with my sister and crippled brother, surviving on rainwater, nettles and mushrooms and sometimes milky eggs; of men in spacesuits rescuing us from the filth and squalor; of being scrubbed and washed and togged out it new clothes; of being in Court and being handed an orange and my brother; of hooded heads with faces and long dark corridors lined with statues; of children kneeling in a hall chanting ….. and all the horrors that followed.

And I’m not looking for revenge – only justice. And I can still dream.

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The disgraced Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, will bring at least two dark secrets to his grave with him. The Newry-born Magee was Secretary to three Popes, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, the only cleric in history to achieve such an incredible honour. John Cooney, an Irish journalist covering religious affairs, wrote how Magee proudly boasted that Pope Paul VI treated him like a son, and that John Paul II treated him like a brother. According to Cooney, he was considered the “most handsome man” in the Vatican and had incredible access to the Popes. He lived in a wonderful villa on the Vatican grounds.

It even had a private chapel, and he loved to entertain friends from Ireland and arrange meetings with the Pope for a chosen few. He was widely expected to return to Ireland in triumph as Archbishop of Armagh, his home diocese, and be the future Primate of All Ireland. But John Paul 11 banished him to a lonely Cork diocese in 1987, when Magee was at the height of his power. The job of Bishop of Cloyne was intended for someone else, but John Paul insisted that Magee go. He was never liked by the priests there, who considered him a Vatican outsider who was dumped on them. The Bishop’s house was a sad, drafty old building in need of repair, totally unlike his Vatican villa.

The reasons why he was exiled to Cloyne have never been explained. Rumors ran rampant, including involvement in a cover-up of the death of John Paul I and unspecified personal behavior charges, but nothing ever came to light. What is known is that in 1978, on the death of John Paul I after only 33 days as Pope, Magee covered up the fact that a nun found him, and a statement was issued that he was the person who discovered the body.

Why this was so has never been explained. Nor was the fact that he was briefly brought back to Rome immediately when Pope John Paul II died for unspecified duties. By all accounts, he went into a deep funk when posted to Cloyne, a minor diocese in Ireland far from his beloved Armagh. His lack of oversight of the child abuse problems in his parish were seen as a sign of his total disinterest in his new duties. Now he is gone, and the mystery of how he ever ended up in Cloyne, or why he tried to mask the truth of who found the body of John Paul I, may never be known.

In “Angels and Demons,” Dan Brown’s prequel to “The Da Vinci Code,” an ambitious Irish priest close to the Pope almost becomes Pope himself by plotting and eliminating enemies during a papal conclave. The book’s Rev. Patrick McKenna may well have been loosely based on Magee. Whatever lofty ambitions Magee had,  they have long since ended, and he resigned in disgrace. It was surely not the script he had written for himself.

From Irish Central Niall O’Dowd

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Remarkable bishop

Remarable bishop, the Magee


Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean “Miss”?

Mr. Praline: I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Owner:  We’re closin’ for lunch.

Mr. Praline:  Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this here bishop whom I confessed to not half an hour ago in his very own boutique.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue boutique …What’s,uh…What’s wrong ?

Mr. Praline: I’ll tell you what’s wrong, my lad. ‘E’s gone, that’s what’s wrong!

Owner: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s just resting.

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a gone bishop when I see one, and I’m not looking at one right now.

Owner: No no he’s not gone, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable bishop, the Magee is’n he, aye? Beautiful cassock! Look at the head gear!  Beautiful

Mr. Praline: The cassock don’t enter into it. He’s gone, ain’t he?.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! ‘E’s resting!

Mr. Praline: All right then, if he’s restin’, I’ll wake him up! (shouting loudly) ‘Ello, Bishop magee! I’ve got a Brady fish for you if you  show…

Owner: There, he moved!

Mr. Praline: No, he didn’t, that was you shaking the chair!

Owner: I never!!

Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!

Owner: I never, never did anything…

Mr. Praline: (yelling and shouting repeatedly) ‘ELLO Bishop Magee!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!

Mr. Praline: Now that’s what I call a missing bishop.

Owner: No, no…..No, ‘e’s stunned!

Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?

Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin’ up! Bishops stun easily, Major …. real easily

Mr. Praline: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. This bishop is definitely gone, and when I asked about him not ‘alf an hour  ago, you assured me that his total lack of movement was due to him bein’ tired and shagged out following a prolonged triduum novena in Galway.

Owner: Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the Latin.

Mr. Praline: PININ’ for the LATIN?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got home?

Owner: The Magee Blue prefers kippin’ on it’s back! Remarkable bishop, is’nit, squire? Lovely cassock!

Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that bishop when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that he had been sitting still and gazing into space in the first place was that he had been NAILED to the chair.


Owner: Well, o’course he was nailed there! If I hadn’t nailed him down, he would have nuzzled up to t’confessional box, cracked it apart with his nose, and VAVOOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Mr. Praline: “VAVOOOM”?!? Mate, this bishop wouldn’t “vavooom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘E’s bleedin’ demised!

Owner: No no! ‘E’s pining for the Latin!

Mr. Praline: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This bishop is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiffo! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the chair ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘His metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-BISHOP!!


Owner: Well, I’d better replace him, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the shop, and uh, we’re right out of bishops.

Mr. Praline: I see. I see, I get the picture.

Owner: I got a slug.


Mr. Praline: Pray, does it do confessions or masses???

Owner: Nnnnot really.  Benedictions maybe… and a couple of Angeluses a week, arthritis permitting!


Owner: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)

Mr. Praline: Well.


Owner: (quietly) D’you…. d’you want to come back to my place?

Mr. Praline: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.

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The IMPACT of abuse is IMMEDIATE. You don’t feel good about your self, you don’t speak up for yourself, you let people walk over you, trample on your feelings, your emotions, your self-esteem. You find it hard to actually look at yourself eye-to-eye in the mirror. You distrust your instincts. You are fearful of the past catching up with your present. You minimise the abuse you suffered. You isolate yourself from the community. You become overprotective of your own family. As a child you haven’t, of course, read all the “Coping Strategies” books and you certainly haven’t attended any seminars on child abuse. You’re only a child, but you’re also a child in captivity so there is no Mum or Dad or Auntie or Uncle you can run to for comfort or help. You are alone as are all the other children you are in captivity with.

I remember once dirtying my knees when I was around 6 or 7 [] years old while I was under the “tender” dominion of the Sisters of Charity. One of their nuns went ballistic – absolutely ballistic on seeing the dirt on my knees. Now a nun going ballistic near a group of small children can be hilarious but we knew this was just a prelude to something more terrible. I just stood there as she vented her rage – name calling was only the least of it, if people are confused about what a HATE-FILLED RANT is need only ask me or any of us – it’s very obvious, in hindsight, that this particular nun was not happy at all in her job.

The spittle that gather around her mouth was an awesome sight, no matter how often you witnessed it, her eyes were popping and her face was contorted. All well and good of course because it’s just a HATE-FILLED RANT and when she’s finished I’ll get a few wallops and she’ll move on to some other thing that’s annoying her. But this White Garbed-Monster (she was a novice nun and dressed completely in white) was wielding a hurley stick and she swung it better than Christy Ring. Right across my legs. She just kept bashing me on the legs and knees with the hurley until blood started squirting out of my left knee. I ran into the toilets to hide, and sat down on one of the toilets seats and the squirting turned into a flow of blood. I remember feeling quite hot and sweaty, I remember looking at one of the panels on the door, it was like a mirror. I could see this little child, his face was sweating and he had incredibly sad crying eyes. When I think of the abuse visited on ALL of us in those …places I see that little child’s face.

I don’t see the blood gushing from his knee, I don’t feel the physical pain he is feeling, I just see those sad crying eyes. This was the first time I had seen myself. I’m sure there were mirrors in that…place but they would have been too high for little children. So all the other children knew what I looked like except me. I remember a photograph was taken of a group of us once before this and it took the other children to point me out.

I carry the IMPACT of this HATE-FILLED RANTING NUN to this day in the shape of LIVID SCARS on my knee. But the memory of it is ALWAYS those SAD CRYING EYES of a helpless child. Today when I look into a mirror I see it all again. For years I avoided mirrors, but today I am not afraid to look into a mirror and I feel that I am reaching out to that child, and I feel I am no longer helpless….. nor is that child.

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When I was recently asked about punishments in those places by someone who was never in those places I think she expected an answer like: “well they used they’re hands or fists to box us or clatter us, their feet to boot us and they used blackthorn sticks or big leather belts for more formal punishments.” Sounds like an answer that couldn’t be denied, even she could relate to those types of punishments. She was around 40 years old and she was from the era of corporal punishment. But that wasn’t the answer I gave her.

In those places EVERYTHING was part of your punishment. Mealtimes were a PUNISHMENT. Our food was vile, it really would have been illegal AND cruel to feed pigs on what we “survived” on. Our main food really was bread and dripping. And the dripping wasn’t the nice white strained stuff you’d see on the shelves of Tesco’s all nicely wrapped, nope it was a funny yellow colour.

Funny isn’t the right word there – it was a kind of OFF-YELLOW/KHAKI colour. Having that spread on your skinner (slice of bread) in the morning at 7:00am was meant to sustain until 12:30 in the afternoon. I remember getting “porridge” too, note the quotes as when I became an adult and was given porridge I hesitated because what I was being served as an adult didn’t look or didn’t taste anything like what I got as porridge in those places. I firmly believe that this “porridge” we were given was something that the pigs had refused to eat.

Dinners were another PUNISHMENT. Let me describe a STEW in those places. Imagine a gravy, not too thick now, with soft watery lumps, 3 strands of meat – these strands are THINNER than your laces and about the length of your thumb (this is the thumb of a 10 year old child), 2 slices of carrot and 1 spud (green tinged of course). But wait now we also got desserts sometimes, really we did. How ever so posh. May I describe the dessert? OK. Well it was a bread pudding. That’s not very posh I hear you say – but hold on now – our bread pudding was also green-tinged AND had that OFF-YELLOW/KHAKI colour. Beat that.

Tea/Supper was the old reliable: Bread and Dripping again but THEY did try to vary our Tea/Supper because we’d get “Oxtail Soup” sometimes. Well THEY called it “Oxtail Soup” and I’ve watched, with something approaching jealousy, my own children having Oxtail Soup and let me tell you my children’s Oxtail Soup is nothing like the “Oxtail Soup” dished up to us in those places. We’ll never know what kind of dish it was as the Government of the day didn’t have the right to demand from these orders the diet that we were fed on. I’m just talking about our diets in those places being used as way to PUNISH us. But really everything about those places was a PUNISHMENT.

From the isolation from society, to the regimentation of little children – being forced to march from one place to another, children being forced to stand to attention in the yard semi-naked while the “nurse” inspected us OR, if the notion took her, have a good few of us scrubbed down with purple or brown iodine. Being forced to say rosaries was a PUNISHMENT, being forced violently to run around the yard with a lighted candle at night in the rain was a PUNISHMENT. Being forced violently to scrub toilets with your own toothbrush was a PUNISHMENT.

Being forced violently to learn how to darn a sock was a PUNISHMENT. Being physically separated from your brother or sister was a PUNISHMENT. Being forced to listen to those black-garbed monsters denigrate you Mum and Dad was a PUNISHMENT. Being violently forced to become right-handed was a PUNISHMENT. And most of these PUNISHMENTS you became inured to, they became part of your everyday existence. You didn’t think much of the rights and wrongs of them after a while, you let them lie in your sub-conscious mind until, as an adult, a certain aroma or sound or sight would bring them into focus and you’d rage against those black-garbed monsters. These black-garbed child haters are STILL working with vulnerable communities in this country, they’ve spread their particular poison around the world.

I believe their PUNISHMENT should be the immediate closure of these orders in this country, their properties and their riches should be taken from them and these orders should be banished from this country. My goal is to prevent them from working with vulnerable communities in this country ever again.


As a former detainee from Ferryhouse I’d like to state here that child detainees who wet their beds were punished…… Firstly they were segregated in the Dormitories. Secondly they were given a Special Name: SAILORS. Thirdly they were severely thrashed. Fourthly they were forced to wash their sheets with carbolic soap. Fifth they were separated from the rest of the boys for verbal and psychological humiliation. Sixth they were disallowed from washing themselves forcing them to go around all day smelling of urine – this meant that they received more physical punishments from those who were teachers or workshop managers.

At the farce they called the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse on September 8 2004 the current representative of the child-gaolers from Ferryhouse, stated that boys who wet their beds at night were not punished. He said he asked those older members of his “celibate” organisation whether there were punishments for bed-wetting and they stated that there were no punishments. They are LIARS. Or is what I stated a fantasy?

Another this representative said was that punishments were mostly spontaneous and not formal. That is another lie. Punishments were formal.

You were hit for Belching (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having a hole in your sock (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having a button missing from your shirt (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having a button missing from your trousers (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having a hole in your jumper (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for basically growing out of your shoes (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having dirt in your nails and this after spending the whole day picking spuds. (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having a “tideline” after washing in the morning (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having soiled underwear – one of their obsessions (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for whispering in the chapel (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for walking when you should have been running (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for running when you should have been walking (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for turning left when you should have turned right (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for turning right when you should have turned left (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for not joining your hands in the chapel (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for getting a spelling wrong (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for not standing to attention when a Brother entered the room (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for not knowing your catechism (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for dropping a stitch in the knitting shop (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having dirty knees after being digging in the fields (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for being dirty after working in the pigsty (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for refusing to play hurling (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for refusing to play Gaelic football or hurling (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for being insolent – that’s when you ask why you are being battered (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for snoring (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having your hands and arms under the blanket at night (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having a runny nose (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having scabies (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for not asking permission to go to the toilet – this involved you having to raise your right-hand in the air and placing your left hand over your scrotum if you wanted to have a pee or placing your left hand on your anus if you wanted to have a shite (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for reading the Bunty or the Judy comic – these were deemed “corrupting” (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for looking sideways at a Brother or priest (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for making noises at night when you went to the toilet (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for not writing what was on the board when you got to write a letter to your mum or dad (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for scratching your head (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for vomiting during mealtimes (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for vomiting at anytime (this was entered in a book)
You were punished for having nits in your hair (this was entered in a book)
You were punished if you cried for your mum or dad (this was entered in a book)

You were punished for having a broken heart (this was NOT entered in a book).

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Fairytale of Kathmandu

Fairytale of Kathmandu – clip

The documentary focused on visits by the poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh to Nepal during which he had close relationships with many young men of 16 years old or older. The documentary questioned whether Ó Searcaigh’s relationships with these youths were exploitative and whether they demonstrated a power and wealth imbalance between the 50 year old Ó Searcaigh and the young Nepalese. Ó Searcaigh is presented in the documentary as paying for the housing, food, bicycles and clothing of boys at least 16 years old. He mentions on camera having sex with some of them, denying that he abused them or that he coerced them into having sex with him.

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by Mary Kenny, Irish Catholic, 5 May 2005

It is reported that survivors of institutional abuse are increasingly taking their own lives because they are being “pushed around” between the Redress Board and the National Office for Victims of Abuse – without getting any final satisfaction.

But hasn’t it struck anyone that there might be now be too much counselling, too much raking over past unhappiness and victimisation, and too much expectation of compensation?

Studies are now showing that the traditional social attitudes to a miserable childhood- put it behind you and get on with life – is almost certain a better way of coping than constantly picking at the scabs of emotional wounds.

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No one refuses a bargain. You might be checking out a funky 1960s coat at Se Si or a well-made pine table in an auction rooms and if you can get it for bottom dollar why say no? Rich as some of us are, everyone knows that if you count the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves. The extra few bob come in handy, especially at this time of year. There is one bargain basement, benefit-in-kind which will not be the subject of a Public Accounts Committee investigation – that of the exploitation of child labour. Before getting into detail, let me acknowledge the debt this column owes to Questions And Answers, and specifically to a remark made there last Monday by journalist Breda O’Brien. Without her shared memories of her rural childhood, the insight she hit on would be consigned to the pages of Suffer The Little Children, by Ms Mary Raftery and Dr Eoin O’Sullivan, a book about which she is somewhat sceptical. And I would be fingering funky coats and pine tables without a second thought.  Ms O’Brien has been very busy since she hit the headlines trying to dispute certain facts reported there. Fintan O’Toole noted recently the “extravagant claims she made for her professional capability” in the matter while, of course, respecting her standing as a journalist.

The book is a must-read for every citizen, drawing as it does not only on over two years’ research by the award-winning Ms Raftery, who was accountable to RTE for the original programme’s accuracy, but on close to a decade’s academic scrutiny by Dr O’Sullivan, whose rigour won him a Ph.D. from Trinity College. Nothing it says has been disproved.  Unfortunately, Ms O’Brien’s words coincided with the timing of a debate about the Statute of Limitations Bill, a blunt and arguably unfair instrument now passed by the Dail and about to be heard in the Seanad.  Doubly unfortunate is their coincidence with Dr Patricia Casey’s public remarks about the condition labelled “false memory syndrome”, along with her earlier opinions about what she perceives as shortcomings in both the social worker and counselling professions. Incidentally, those two professions are the principal routes to uncovering child abuse and helping victims survive it.  MS O’Brien shared with us her childhood memories of Artane boys who worked on her father’s farm. It was a touching moment. You glimpsed a family bond which was strong and enduring, close enough for that little girl to ask her daddy if the rumours about Artane were true. He explained that he had also been punished at school.

The unasked question was did everyone have a rough time then? There is a world of difference between being hit with a strap, as my father was also, and being beaten within an inch of your life. We blur that distinction at our peril.

The facts about child labour uncovered by Dr O’Sullivan and Ms Raftery are shocking. So many people gained from the unpaid or underpaid work of industrial and reformatory school children that their sweat, blood and tears are buried deep within this economy.  People could, and did, buy their produce for half-nothing. Many of those goods survive today.  “Artane’s vast army of 800 boys worked the school’s 290-acre farm of prime land. Well into the 1960s, no labour-saving machinery had been purchased . . . With so much free child labour, Brothers presumably felt there was no need,” according to the book. Meat, eggs and dairy products were sold from Artane at market prices until the 1970s. No available records disprove the assertion that profits were denied to the boys who had helped create them.  Individual testimony tells how boys were sometimes hired out to farms and businesses who needed an extra hand. The effect was to offer an invisible layer of subsidy to farms and businesses who would otherwise have to pay considerably higher labour rates.

Older boys often went directly from Artane to be boarded out as farm labourers. Some were never paid, others were paid a low rate directly into an account controlled by the Brothers, with no guarantee that the boys would ever see it. Some were treated badly; others were encouraged and fed well for the first time in their lives.  THE demand for both farm labour and domestic servants was such as to encourage some school managers to reduce the children’s formal education on the basis that it would not get them a job. Within the schools, inmates did the heavy work, which saved on the need for paid staff and thus kept fees down in boarding for the day-pupil children from “respectable” families.  Trained to be meek, the boys and girls were biddable and vulnerable when they took up employment outside.   Dr Mona Hearne’s research on domestic servants revealed that attempts to unionise the sector never succeeded: you couldn’t afford to alienate your employer because only a reference from him or her would secure you another job. For former inmates, the choice otherwise was to be returned to a school or Magdalen laundry.

Even if people didn’t buy the rashers and sausages and eggs they produced for their high-fat Irish breakfasts, or get a “little girl” to do the heavy work, other benefits accrued to those who used their products and services. Tailored clothes rosary beads, hand-finished furniture, souvenirs and ornaments, boots and shoes were made by the schools. Mattresses were stuffed by hand, slip-overs and head-rests painstakingly sewn, tablecloths crocheted, embroidered or laundered according to need.  All were sold relatively cheaply, keeping consumer prices down for those items.  Everything was made possible by the institutional Catholic Church in Ireland. In the absence of contrary evidence, it still stands accused of pocketing the profits for unspecified purposes, and encouraging people who might otherwise have claimed to be “good Catholics” to exploit their labour with official approval.  

Buried in our thriving GNP is the unpaid debt we owe those workers. I’m dedicating my Millennium Candle to them.

Irish Times: Mon 12 Dec 1999



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