It is clear that significant errors of judgement were made by successive bishops when responding to child abuse allegations that emerged within the Diocese of Raphoe, a review of safeguarding practices undertaken by the NBSCCC (National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church) has acknowledged.
The 23-page report, which was released this morning, also acknowledged that the Diocese of Raphoe experienced a significant level of clerical abuse cases reported in the past two decades.
“Amongst these one particular case stands out. This involved a serial paedophile priest who was the subject of a book and also of a great deal of media attention. This priest, Fr. Eugene Greene, was charged and convicted of a number of serious offences against children.
The report goes on: “Too much emphasis was placed on the situation of the accused priest and too little on the needs of their complainants. Judgements were clouded, due to the presenting problem being for example, alcohol abuse and an inability to hear the concerns about abuse of children, through that presenting problem.
“More attention should have been given to ensuring that preventative actions were taken quickly when concerns came to light. This view is based on an assessment of cases reported to the diocese and includes a number which were received during the previous bishops’ time in office.
“It is a matter of great regret to Bishop Boyce that his focus on victims’ needs was not greater in the past, and he now acknowledges that he has a very different appreciation of his safeguarding responsibilities as to when he first came into office. The reviewers would accept that this is the case and would wish to commend Bishop Boyce on his willingness to learn the painful lessons of the past and to apply them to the current practice in the diocese.”