Galway bishop Dr John Kirby has apologized for his part in the movement of two priests who abused children in the Clonfert dioceses.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Kirby said there were no guidelines in place when he moved the two priests in the 1990s. The bishop said at the time he believed that separating the priests from the victims was the solution. He said he understood that the sexual abuse being reported was simply “that it was a friendship that crossed boundary line.”
On Newstalk’s “Lunchtime” show the chief executive of Barnardos, a charity for vulnerable children, described Kirby’s excuse as “Childish, puerile, infantile.”
Reacting to Kirby’s comments, Ian Elliot the chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, said, “Care needs to be taken when appointing a bishop that you do not appoint a bishop with these attitudes.
“These are basic competencies that everyone should have in authority. I’m not calling for anyone to resign but, for me, that’s an absolute basic requirement.”
Seven reports by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) were released on Wednesday. They show a high incidence of allegation of abuse within three orders, in four dioceses. They also show a failure to comply with child protection guidelines.
On Wednesday, Kirby admitted that he had considered resigning over the incidents and admitted that if the incident took place now he would resign immediately.
Kirby said, “There were no guidelines available at that time. Clearly if it was now, I would have no question I'd be gone in the morning.
"I operate very differently now and will continue to do so in the future.”
Bishop Kirby pointed out that he believed there may have been other victims of both priests, however, no further allegations ever came to light. The two priests in question are no longer active in Church.
Kirby also said that the eight recommendations laid out by the report, including that he not deal with allegations of sexual abuse, alone had not been fully implemented.
He said the way in which he dealt with the allegations of sexual abuse by two priests in the diocese in the early 1990s was “naive”.
“You can put it down as gross innocence and naivety. I literally thought if I separated the priest and the youngster, that it was a friendship that crossed boundary line and I literally thought if I separated them I'd have solved the problem,” the bishop said.
“I was not aware that that youngster was part of a group and that there were people before him and that there were people after them.”
The NBSCCC reviews looked at the dioceses of Clonfert in Galway, Cork and Ross, Kildare and Leighlin, and Limerick. They also examined the religious orders of the Dominicans, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Spiritans.
Overall the report found good practice in some areas which contrasted with “very poor practice elsewhere,” according to BreakingNews.ie.
Since 1975, in Cork and Ross, 26 priests have had allegations of sexual abuse made against them. Three of these priests are still practicing while seven have retired.
In Limerick, 18 priests had allegations made against them, 34 claims were made to the police and 41 were brought to the attention of the health authorities.
In Kildare and Leighlin, 18 allegations were made against ten priests. Eight of these priests are deceased and the other two are out of ministry. Only one of these ten priests was convicted.
Here’s statement from the Chief executive of NBSCCCI Ian Elliott on their reviews: