November 27, 2009 BBC World
DUBLIN, Ireland — Police officers, government officials and bishops of the Catholic church in Ireland have been harshly censured in a report on clerical child abuse over three decades in the Archdiocese of Dublin. Coming just a few months after an equally harsh report on the ill-treatment of children in Church-run industrial schools, the latest revelations have shocked Catholics and non-Catholics alike throughout the island.
An official commission investigated 320 allegations against a sample of 46 out of 183 priests from 1975 to 2004. It found that several cardinals and bishops protected criminal priests while taking no action to protect children.
Responding to the report, Ireland’s Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said that “the era where evil people could do so under the cover of the cloth, facilitated and shielded from the consequences by their authorities, while the lives of children were ruined with such cruelty, is over for good.” He added: “The bottom line is this: A collar will protect no criminal.”
In one of the most telling comments, the religious affairs correspondent of Irish national broadcaster RTE said on the main evening news that the report “represents the failure of civil Ireland, in the independent republic of Ireland, to stand up to the royalty of Ireland, the Catholic Church.” Deference to the clergy in this once devoutly Catholic country caused the police to conclude that the crimes of the Catholic Church were outside their remit.