Monday, August 15, 2011

Bishop Jones calls on Magee to return and answer questions

by Sarah Mac Donald
CI News
Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Bishop Christopher Jones of Elphin has become the third member of the Irish episcopacy to call on the former Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, to return to the diocese and give a public account of his handling of allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

The former papal secretary, who left his home in Mitchelstown before the Cloyne Report was published in July, is believed to be in the US.

Bishop Jones made his call as he launched ACCORD’s 2010 annual report on Thursday. Previously, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and Armagh’s Bishop Gerard Clifford had called on Dr Magee to publicly acknowledge his mistakes, as outlined in the Cloyne Report. The Murphy Commission found that only six of 15 cases of alleged child abuse were reported to Gardaí between 1996 and 2005.

Bishop Magee, who was himself the subject of an allegation of inappropriate behaviour in the report, is accused of taking “little or no” active interest in managing such cases until 2008.

Bishop Jones, a member of the Bishops' Liaison Committee for Child Protection, said that as "pastor to his flock,” Dr Magee should return to answer questions raised in the Report. He told reporters he “genuinely did not know where he was” but that he “would like to see him back in the diocese to answer questions.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Archbishop Dermot Clifford, who is currently acting administrator of Cloyne, has confirmed that a picture of Bishop Magee, which hung in the Church of Our Lady Conceived Without Sin in Mitchelstown, has been removed at the request of parishioners. The picture, which was put up on display to encourage vocations and was accompanied by the text, ‘Be Not Afraid, Follow Me’ was removed according to Archbishop Clifford’s spokesman “because of concerns following the Cloyne report that it might upset parishioners.”

In a separate development, Archbishop Clifford has said he will convene a meeting of all the priests of the Diocese of Cloyne early next month to discuss the findings and fallout of the Cloyne Report. According to a spokesman for the Archbishop, the meeting hasn’t been held so far due holiday arrangements of a number of the diocese’s clerics, which would have prevented them attending any meeting.

The spokesman also underlined that four meetings of the priests of the diocese were held between 2009 and 2011, ahead of the publication of the report. He said they were addressed by experts in the healing of victims, public relations and child protection.

The spokesman’s comments followed criticism by members of the Association of Catholic Priests in the Dioceses of Cloyne, and Cork & Ross, who met during the week to discuss the impact of the Cloyne Report’s findings and the lack of leadership in the Church in the wake of the publication of the Murphy Commission’s findings.

Fr Joe McGuane, a member of the Association of Catholic Priests from Youghal, called on Dr Magee return to Ireland and answer criticisms over his handling of clerical child sexual abuse in Cloyne. Failure to do so would only prolong the controversy, Fr McGuane warned.

“He should come back now and respond to what the Murphy report said about his failure to properly deal with complaints of child sexual abuse because if he doesn’t, it will continue to fester and will erupt again whenever he does return or is tracked down,” Fr McGuane said.

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