- The Washington Times - Friday, November 27, 2009

DUBLIN | Roman Catholic archbishops in Dublin obsessively covered up widespread sexual abuse of children by priests until the mid-1990s, a report commissioned by the Irish government said Thursday.

One priest admitted abusing more than 100 children. Another said he had abused children every two weeks for more than 25 years, it said.

All archbishops in charge over the 1975-2004 period covered by the inquiry were aware of some complaints and the archdiocese was preoccupied with protecting the reputation of the church over and above protecting children’s welfare, the report said.

It said the church was “obsessively” concerned with secrecy and operated a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” about abuse.

“Unfortunately, it may be that the very prominent role the church has played in Irish life is the very reason why abuses by a minority of its members were allowed to go unchecked,” it said.

The report, designed to show how the church and state responded to charges of abusing children, said a representative sample of 46 priests against whom complaints were leveled made it “abundantly clear” that abuse was widespread.

Diarmuid Martin, archbishop since the end of the period covered by the report, said trying to avoid scandal earlier ironically produced a scandal now.

“This is the diocese in which I was born,” he told reporters. “How do I feel when I have to unveil here before you the revolting stories of the sexual assault and rape of many young children and teenagers by priests of the archdiocese? No words of apology will ever be sufficient.”

The inquiry, which came six months after a similarly damning and even more graphically detailed report about church-run industrial and reform schools, also accused state officials including police of abetting the cover-up.

Acknowledging the errors of state bodies, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern told reporters of his reaction to the findings.

“I read the report as justice minister. But on a human level - as a father and as a member of this community - I felt a growing sense of revulsion and anger,” he said. “Revulsion at the horrible evil acts committed against children. Anger at how those children were then dealt with and how often abusers were left free to abuse.”


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