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Joseph Duffy was Bishop of Clogher for 31 years Photo by: RTE

Catholic Church watchdog highly critical of retired Clogher bishop's handling of clerical sex abuse

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Joseph Duffy was Bishop of Clogher for 31 years Photo by: RTE

The National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSCCCI) has published audits of several dioceses and states that the now retired bishop of Clogher, Joseph Duffy, repeatedly missed opportunities to prevent clergy from abusing children.

Claims were made against 13 priests over almost four decades. Two of the priests were jailed. Between January 1, 1975 and November 2012, police received 22 allegations involving priests in the diocese.

The audit, which covered the period from 1975 to the present, says there was an unacceptable delay in removing a priest from all ministry after receiving a credible allegation. A second priest suspected of multiple abuse was transferred to another parish and later sent overseas for therapeutic help. He was extradited to the Republic from the United States and died before he could be brought before the court. 

RTE reported that Duffy said he accepted the criticism and that he did “regret that, in the past, the standard of managing some cases fell short of what is expected today.” Duffy was bishop of Clogher for 31 years and was the spokesman for the Catholic church for much of that time.

He added that the review is an important assessment and contribution to maintaining a positive culture of safeguarding in the diocese. Duffy said that he is satisfied that the review recognizes effective child safeguarding structures and practices within the diocese. He said about these structures, “I along with clergy and laity, spent many years developing in each of the parishes throughout Clogher.” 

The audit states that the issue of safeguarding children was effectively prioritized in a diocese covering Co Monaghan and parts of Donegal, Louth, Cavan and Tyrone. The diocese is under the jurisdiction of current leader Dr. Liam MacDaid. MacDaid succeeded Duffy in 2010.

The BBC reported that Ian Elliott, chief executive of the NBSCCCI said, “There is a very clear difference between the good practice that is now present within the diocese and the commitment to an open and collaborative relationship with the statutory authorities.”

He added, “We didn’t see the same evidence of that when we looked at case files historically held within the diocese. That was a concern to us and we have noted that within the review and identified that as being not good practice and not something that should occur.”

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