Catholic prelates in N. Ireland react to report on priest linked to 1970s IRA bombing
Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Seán Brady / Fr. James Chesney
Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Seán Brady / Fr. James Chesney
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Two bishops responded Tuesday to claims that a Catholic priest was never questioned for his suspected role in a Northern Ireland bombing during the 1970s. The prelates remarked that the suspicions are “shocking” and commented that the case should have been properly investigated during the priest’s lifetime.

On July 31, 1972 a triple car bombing killed nine, including an eight-year-old girl, and injured 30 in the village of Claudy. Among those who died were five Catholics and four Protestants.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) never claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Daily Telegraph reports. The bombers had allegedly tried to make warning calls but telephone lines were down from earlier bomb damage.

Fr. James Chesney, reported to be an IRA sympathizer, was suspected of planning the attack. He was later transferred to a parish in the Republic of Ireland outside of the United Kingdom’s jurisdiction.

The priest died of cancer in 1980 at the age of 46 and was never questioned by police.

Al Hutchinson, the Northern Ireland police ombudsman, recently issued a report which charged that a Royal Union Constabulary (RUC) official refused a detective’s request to arrest the cleric. The same official asked whether the matter could be raised within the Church hierarchy.

Hutchinson found that when the Church was informed about “the level of concerns others had” about Fr. Chesney, officials challenged the priest about his alleged activities “which he denied.”

“In the course of this enquiry the Police Ombudsman’s investigation found no evidence of any criminal intent on the part of any Church official,” stated the report.

Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Seán Brady and Bishop of Derry Séamus Hegarty issued a joint statement Tuesday on the investigation. They accepted the ombudsman’s findings and conclusions.

“All known material in the possession of the Catholic Church has been made available to the Ombudsman,” the statement said.

“This case should have been properly investigated and resolved during Father Chesney’s lifetime. If there was sufficient evidence to link him to criminal activity, he should have been arrested and questioned at the earliest opportunity, like anyone else. We agree with the Police Ombudsman that the fact this did not happen failed those who were murdered, injured and bereaved in the bombings.”

According to the prelates, the Catholic Church was “constant” in its condemnation of the violence during the conflict known as the “Troubles.”

“The Catholic Church did not engage in a cover-up of this matter,” Cardinal Brady and Bishop Hegarty wrote. They noted that the Church was approached by the then-Secretary of State at the instigation of senior members of the RUC.

According to the bishops, the actions of Cardinal William Conway or any other Church authority did not prevent the possibility of the future arrest and questioning of Fr. Chesney, as the priest was known to have regularly traveled across the border.

“Fr. Chesney is dead and, as a suspect in the Claudy bombing, he is beyond the justice of earthly courts,” the bishops’ statement continued, saying that the bereaved and injured “deserve to know the truth.”

Urging that the “human cost of this atrocity” be remembered, Cardinal Brady and Bishop Hegarty assured the bombing victims of their prayers.

“It is only with honesty and bravery that we as a community can address these painful issues and do our best to ensure that the dreadful lessons of the past are learned and never repeated,” the bishops’ statement concluded.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea

Liturgical Calendar

December 18, 2014

Advent Weekday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Jer 23: 5-8
Gospel:: Mt 1: 18-25

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27