Bishop Buckley apologises for child abuse 'crimes'
BISHOP of Cork and Ross, John Buckley, has offered his apologies ‘to all who have suffered as the result of abuse by Church personnel’ following a review by the Church’s child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children.‘No apology, no gesture of repentance or sorrow can ever make up for the suffering caused to children and their families’, said Bishop Buckley, who prayed ‘that the Lord’s healing power will give them peace.’
‘Every single victim has been offered access to counselling support and therapy offered by the diocese. They were let down by people who professed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no place in the Church for those who would harm the young.’
The purpose of the review was to confirm that the diocese manages all complaints in accordance with the guidelines issued by the National Board, said Bishop Buckley. The diocese of Cork and Ross was one of four dioceses and three religious congregations to be the subject of reviews.
‘The board confirms that there was full co-operation and information-sharing with the Gardaí and HSE and that they have been notified “of all concerns, complaints and allegations against priests that are known to the Diocese of Cork and Ross”. Garda vetting applications have also been processed for all priests of the diocese as well as many lay people who are involved in Church activities.’
Bishop Buckley welcomed the ‘positive outcome’ to this report and its recommendations, which will ‘further enhance our safeguarding service.’ The review will be a ‘source of assurance’ to the people of the diocese and a ‘confirmation that the diocese is taking its obligations in relation to child protection very seriously.’
‘Guaranteeing the safety of children is relentless and on-going. To do this, we need a strong system of inspection and oversight and demonstrative evidence that the guidelines are being implemented correctly. These structures of review and accountability have been proven to work very effectively.
‘Structures have been put in place to reach out to every corner of the diocese so that people will have full and adequate information on the safeguarding of children and on what actions to take if concerns arise in relation to child abuse by priests or church personnel. Indeed, our concern for the safety of children is underpinned by the presence in every parish of child safeguarding representatives. All have undergone training in order to fulfil their safeguarding roles in the church.’
The priest is in a ‘very special position of trust’ and people expect the ‘highest standards of behaviour from those in whom such trust is reposed’, he said, adding that he hoped that the ‘crimes of a small number of priests’ will not ‘invalidate the good work of so many hard-working priests in Ireland.’ The ‘vast majority’ of priests are good men who are ‘demoralised’ by the revelations, he said.
‘My hope is that all our efforts will result in making the Church a safer place for children. We look forward with hope, trying to ensure that this will never happen again.’
Bishop Buckley asked any people who have suffered in this way, to contact him on 021-4301717 or to contact Towards Healing, a Church-funded counselling service which assists victims of child abuse, on Freephone 1800 30 34 16.