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Sex abuse: Church of England, Catholic Church of Ireland

Sex abuse: Church of England, Catholic Church of Ireland

Not to say that The Episcopal Church is without fault, but cases of sex abuse and mismanagement by bishops are in the news again: the two cases receiving attention today are in the Church of England and in the Catholic Church of Ireland.

The Church of England, the BBC reporting:

Cotton was ordained in 1966, despite having a conviction for indecently assaulting a choir boy. He went on to abuse at least 10 boys from Eastbourne in the 70s and 80s. In 1999, the year when Cotton retired as a priest, Bishop Wallace Benn gave him permission to continue with his priestly duties.

Baroness Butler-Sloss was appointed by the Diocese of Chichester to carry out the review

The bishop appears to have told Baroness Butler-Sloss that he was not concerned about granting the permission, because of Cotton’s continued ill-health and because he had a lack of contact with children.

But the Reverend Val Gibbs told the BBC that Cotton was still active and working in three churches with access to children. She said: “On the two occasions that I met him, actually in the church, he was celebrating the Eucharist, and preaching.” Ms Gibbs said there were children present at the time.

Bishop Benn also appears to have told Baroness Butler-Sloss that the purpose of the permission to officiate, issued in 1999, was to permit Cotton to celebrate Communion in the nursing home where he was then living. He was not admitted into a nursing home until September 2003, four years later than the report states. The BBC discovered Cotton was not living in a nursing home in 1999.

The Irish Catholic Church,

Ireland Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore met with Vatican ambassador Giuseppe Leanza Thursday, a day after a government-sponsored report condemned the country’s Roman Catholic Church for its inadequate response to allegations of the sexual abuse of children.

Gilmore rebuked the papal ambassador for the Vatican’s behavior in the case and Leanza said he was “very distressed” by the failure to protect children within the church. He said he would bring a copy of the report to the attention of the Vatican.

Wednesday’s report by an independent commission said the Catholic clergy of the rural Cloyne diocese in southern Ireland largely ignored claims of molestation, rape and beating of children by members of the church made between 1996 and 2009. It also said that high-ranking clergy helped conceal the abuse.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald stressed that the abuse allegations were covered up long after the church pledged to report all such cases.

Gilmore accused the Vatican of instructing bishops not to report abuse cases to the authorities because it would undermine the church’s canon law.

From a NYT editorial:

Throughout the long scandal of sexual abuse by rogue priests, the Vatican has blatantly resisted the idea that civil law must trump church rules in confronting criminal acts. This was evident again in the revelation that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland continued to cover up abuse cases long after it had issued rules to protect children in 1996.

A principal factor in the cover-up, the government study found, was a Vatican letter in 1997 warning Irish church leaders against full cooperation with law enforcement authorities. The papal representative wrote that the anti-abuse policies conflicted with church law and should be considered “merely a study document.”

This turned criminal law on its head and, as the study noted, gave bishops “freedom to ignore” the tougher rules and protect abusers in the church. In the diocese of Cloyne, investigated in detail by the Dublin government, church officials did not act on complaints against 19 priests in the 13 years after the rules were put in place.

The new findings showed that the abuse was not confined to previous generations. “This is about Ireland now,” said Frances Fitzgerald, Ireland’s minister for children. As usual, apologies were offered, this time by John Magee, the longtime bishop of Cloyne, who resigned last year. …


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Roger Mortimer

Wallace Benn is, FWIW, the only active bishop (suffragan, Chichester) of the five bishops on the “panel of oversight” for the newly-formed AMiE.

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