Brendan Comiskey, the disgraced former Bishop of Ferns, has broken his silence for the first time in 12 years on the clerical sex abuse scandal that ended his career.
In an exclusive video for the Irish Independent, the 79-year-old answers questions about the scandal and why he has kept silent since 2002.
“I did my best and it wasn’t good enough and that’s it,” says Comiskey, who retreated into hiding after the BBC TV documentary ‘Suing the Pope’ revealed how he failed to protect children from pedophile priest Sean Fortune in his Wexford diocese.
Fortune killed himself in 1999 while awaiting trial on 66 charges of sexual abuse against 29 boys, the Irish Independent reports.
Three years after Comiskey’s resignation, the government inquiry on clerical abuse in the Diocese of Ferns found the bishop’s investigation into the rape of children by his clergy was "an inappropriate and inadequate response.” It concluded that he had "failed to recognize the paramount need to protect children, as a matter of urgency, from potential abusers.”
Comiskey, a reformed alcoholic, said his problem with alcohol “was not an excuse.”
When asked how he feels about the scandal today, Comiskey, who still retains the honorary title of Bishop Emeritus, said: “I feel exactly the same way I felt the day I resigned, deeply sorry for everything that happened. It [the Ferns situation] was a mess, there is a new fellow [Bishop Brennan] there and they have an excellent structure in place to care for victims.”
The bishop said he’d read the Ferns Report “several times” but did not want to “start going over it again now.” He declined the Irish Independent’s request for a more in-depth interview.
“I am not hiding; I am living like an ordinary Irish citizen. I am retired, retired people don’t talk to the public in any other profession,” he said.