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AMERICA NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY JAMMED WITH PEDOPHILE PRIESTS
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COLLAPSES COMPLETELY, OR JUST LET IT COLLAPSE AND START WOMEN BASED
Ireland Says 102 Priests Suspected of Abuse
Report Cites Abuse of 350 Children Over Decades
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK,
DUBLIN, Ireland (March 8) - The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland,
rocked for a decade by sex scandals, on Wednesday made its biggest
admission yet: 102 of its Dublin priests past and present, or 3.6
percent of the total, are suspected of abusing children.
Seamas Culligan, Zuma Press
Ireland, a predominantly Catholic nation, has been rocked by waves of
church sex-abuse scandals since 1994.
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The disclosure comes a week before the government convenes a probe
into how church and state authorities conspired, by negligence and
design, to cover up decades of child abuse within the Dublin priesthood.
"It's very frightening for me to see that in some of these cases, so
many children were abused. It's very hard to weigh that up against
anything," said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, a Vatican diplomat
assigned to Dublin in 2003 to address the problem in Ireland's largest
Since his appointment, the archdiocese - home to more than 1 million
Catholics - has been going over the personnel records of more than
2,800 priests who have worked in Dublin since 1940.
The conclusion: 102 are suspected of abusing children, 32 have been
sued, and eight have been convicted of criminal offenses.
The archdiocese already has paid $7 million, including $2 million in
both sides' legal bills. Martin says the archdiocese probably must
begin selling property to meet looming bills for 40 unresolved
lawsuits and potential claims from hundreds more.
The government probe, expected to run for at least 18 months, follows
a similar inquiry into clerical abuse in the southeast diocese of
Ferns. When the earlier report was published in October, it exposed a
catalog of abuse, including a priest who molested a group of First
Communion girls on the altar but was never punished.
While the church has been on the legal and moral defensive in the
United States in recent years, the sense of uproar and disillusionment
has been more profound in Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country
that once exported priests worldwide. Here, church and state were
intertwined until the 1970s - a breakup being accelerated by the abuse
The first major scandal, in 1994, involved the government's failure to
extradite a notorious pedophile priest to the neighboring British
territory of Northern Ireland. The government of the day collapsed
In 2001, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern apologized for state agencies'
role in prolonging children's suffering and injustice and established
a compensation-paying panel that exposed the taxpayer, rather than the
church, to most of the bill for victims abused in orphanages,
workhouses and other Catholic-run institutions.
The Residential Institutions Redress Board is expected to pay out
about $1.2 billion when the last of its more than 11,000 claimants is
But Ireland's 26 dioceses and archdioceses must face the bills for
abuse claims against parish priests. So far, Martin is the only
archbishop to address the scandal so directly, establishing a Child
Protection Service at a cost so far of $3 million and publishing
reports on the number of cases identified.
Wednesday's report said Dublin church officials had positively
identified at least 350 abuse victims and "a possible further 40
persons who may have been abused but who it is not yet possible to
identify or trace."
Colm O'Gorman, who runs a support group for Irish abuse victims called
One in Four - a reference to the idea that about 25 percent of Irish
people suffered sexual abuse as a child - praised Martin's approach as
courageous, but also wise given that his turf is about to be
investigated in searing detail.
"Diarmuid Martin sticks out like sore thumb, not just in Ireland but
internationally. I've never seen this open, transparent approach in
any other diocese in the world," said O'Gorman, who as an altar boy
was abused by a Ferns priest who committed suicide in 1999.
"Prior to Archbishop Martin's investiture, the leadership was
suggesting they didn't really understand the nature of the problem,"
he said. "We're not hearing that kind of nonsense anymore."
But O'Gorman predicted that many more wrongs would be exposed by the
coming government-commissioned probe. He noted that before the Ferns
investigation began, he had expected it to identify eight to 10
priests as abusers; instead, the report identified 26, more than 10
percent of the area's priests.
Martin discussed the latest findings in private over the past few
weeks with groups of Dublin priests. "I know that the vast majority of
priests don't abuse, that they do good work, that they're extremely
upset and offended by what's happened," he said.
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