.- 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 OâCallaghan, the former Vicar General of the Diocese of Cloyne, says he still doesnât agree with the Irish Catholic Churchâs 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.
âFor 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,â said Monsignor OâCallaghan in a letter to the Irish Catholic newspaper that was published on August 25.
Last month a judicial inquiry â led by Judge Yvonne Murphy â blamed Monsignor OâCallaghan for failing to report nine cases of alleged abuse made between 1996 and 2005 which, it said, should âvery clearlyâ 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 OâCallaghan retired this year.
Monsignor OâCallaghan says he argued against the 1996 guidelines when they were being drafted on the grounds that the âform of mandatory reportingâ being required compromised his âChristian duty of pastoral care.â
âThe 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.â
He adds he âshould have resigned on the point of principleâ from his role as the delegate once he realized âthe implications of the 1996 guidelines for the overriding duty of pastoral care.â
Monsignor OâCallaghanâs 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 âdeeply, deeplyâ regretted the 1996 guidelines were not followed.
âI 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.â
Bishop Magee also offered to meet anybody who felt let down or angry with him.