.- The Irish priest blamed in an official report for his failure to report cases of alleged clerical abuse to the authorities has defended his actions but also said he should have resigned from his position.
Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, the former Vicar General of the Diocese of Cloyne, says he still doesn’t agree with the Irish Catholic Church’s 1996 guidelines which made the reporting of such alleged abuse cases mandatory.
At the same time, he says he should have resigned in protest against them.
“For most of those priests accused in Cloyne, the complaints alleged incidents dating back over 30 or 40 years. Of those priests, some would now be terminally ill while others would be under constant medical care,” said Monsignor O’Callaghan in a letter to the Irish Catholic newspaper that was published on August 25.
Last month a judicial inquiry – led by Judge Yvonne Murphy – blamed Monsignor O’Callaghan for failing to report nine cases of alleged abuse made between 1996 and 2005 which, it said, should “very clearly” have been reported to the authorities. The monsignor was charged with child safety by Bishop John Magee.
Bishop Magee resigned his office last year, while Monsignor O’Callaghan retired this year.
Monsignor O’Callaghan says he argued against the 1996 guidelines when they were being drafted on the grounds that the “form of mandatory reporting” being required compromised his “Christian duty of pastoral care.”
“The literal guidelines did not allow for any discretion to bishops and to their delegates. Reporting was to be made immediately. No exception was to be made even when an accused priest was on his death-bed.”
He adds he “should have resigned on the point of principle” from his role as the delegate once he realized “the implications of the 1996 guidelines for the overriding duty of pastoral care.”
Monsignor O’Callaghan’s comments come only two days after Bishop Magee issued a further apology for his role in the affair, telling the Irish television station RTE that he “deeply, deeply” regretted the 1996 guidelines were not followed.
“I feel ashamed that this happened under my watch -- it should never have and I truly apologize. If through my not fully implementing the 1996 guidelines that we had I have made any victim suffer more, on my bended knee I beg for forgiveness.”
Bishop Magee also offered to meet anybody who felt let down or angry with him.