Up To Their Groins

John Magee, the Catholic bishop of Cloyne, has apologised to victims of clerical sex abuse, but the apology is designed solely to save Magee’s own hypocritical arse. John Magee couldn’t care less about the victims of sexual abuse as long as his pervert priests are protected and he himself stays out of the shit … You see, John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne, is an arrogant, cynical prick who couldn’t give one flying fuck about the victims of clerical sexual abuse – Bock the Robber

It seems perverse that the pope should order an English bishop to recant his views on the Nazi holocaust against the Jews or face demotion from the church hierarchy, yet threaten nothing of any consequence to an Irish bishop guilty of much worse. Holocaust denial, while an incredibly odious position, is ultimately an opinion which people should be entitled to hold. Can the expression of an off the wall opinion by an eccentric reactionary English bishop be as harmful as the cynical actions of his Irish counterpart in the wilful mismanagement of child abuse procedures?

The hopes of many after the Ferns Report in 2005 must have evaporated in sighs of exasperation on learning of the vile practices that have gone on in the diocese of Cloyne, Co Cork under the dictatorship of the local bishop John Magee, former assistant to 3 popes. When the role of this senior clerical miscreant became public knowledge, the Irish Times reported:

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, (NBSC) was highly critical of the way that the Diocese of Cloyne and Bishop John Magee handled a series of complaints of sexual abuse made by five people against two priests in the diocese.

Despite the lessons that the Catholic Church has been invited to learn as a result of the cumulative knowledge acquired from the litany of abuse cases its clerics have literally been up to their groin in, the NBSC report was able to state:

children have been placed at risk of harm within the diocese of Cloyne through the inability of that diocese to respond appropriately to the information that came to it regarding child protection concerns involving the clergy. It failed to act effectively to limit the access to children by individuals against whom a credible complaint of child sex abuse was made . . . put simply, the responses of the diocese could be described as ill-advised and too little, too late.

The NBSC did not investigate if the allegations of child abuse had any substance but whether the church hierarchy dealt with those allegations in an appropriate manner. It produced minutes from a 2006 meeting signed by Magee which stated that the gardai would never be supplied with the identities of alleged child abusers within church ranks. Magee described the practice of withholding such vital information as ‘normal.’

Meetings of the diocesan Child Protection Management Committee, ostensibly in place to safeguard children, were more concerned with protecting the priests. Actions taken by the Bishop John Magee were minimalist and delayed. The protection he afforded to priests meant that children were left exposed to danger of further abuse.

A priest, Matthew Ring, who left the Cloyne diocese in 1999 in ‘utter disillusionment and deep disgust at the cover up of chid sex abuse has called on Magee to resign.

I posed the question to Bishop Magee at the time of my resignation: how can I baptise innocent children into a system when they run the risk of being abused and never see justice? What I got was a stony silence.

In Easter of 2008 when Ring approached Magee on behalf of a family who had complained against the diocese but who were being fobbed off he:

got the same reaction as ever. I pressed upon him that victims of abuse require truth, validation, redress and closure. He went silent. What has been allowed to happen is vile in the extreme.

So vile in fact that one outraged blogger made no attempt to moderate his language in demanding, ‘John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne - Resign You Fucking Bastard.’ Couldn’t agree more but boss priest Brady failed to see it this way. Strenuously defending his man and rejecting all calls for Magee to resign, the cardinal insisted that Magee would do all in his power to ensure child abuse in his diocese was a thing of the past. What does the good cardinal in his divine disdain for non-clerical worldly beings take people for?

The 2005 child protection policy, Our Children, Our Church which stipulated that child abuse allegations made against clergy were to be handled by a professionally competent person and not by a cleric has fallen flat on its face in this case, a point underlined by Colm O’Gorman, the former director of the One-in-Four victim support group. He commented that ‘the report shows the person who had ultimate responsibility for child protection in this area has been shown to have failed absolutely in discharging that duty.’ In calling for the state to take full responsibility for child protection he claimed, ‘here we are finding out yet again that bishops don’t take child protection seriously. Child protection has to be the primary responsibility of the state.’

When the pope thinks a bishop with a Nazi fetish who simply professes not to believe a given historical narrative merits discipline in a fashion that a senior cleric totally indifferent to the fate of children at the hands of his priests does not, it is time for society to consider banning the Catholic Church from the lives of its children. Schools, playgrounds, crèches, nurseries and homes should be off limits to the lot of them.

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