November 06, 2002
Priest accuses Cardinal over clerical sex abuse failings

Connel 2.jpg

Desmond Connell

by Ralph Riegel in The Irish Independent

A CORK priest issued an impassioned appeal for the Church to honestly and transparently face up to clerical child sex abuse as he accused Cardinal Desmond Connell and the Dublin hierarchy of "clinging to power in secrecy".

Fr James McSweeney was given a standing ovation by parishioners at St Oliver's in Cork after he accused the Church hierarchy, including Cardinal Connell, of letting down priests and ordinary Church members through their failure to properly confront the crisis.

Fr McSweeney who admitted he would probably have quit the priesthood 15 years ago if he'd known the reality of the scandal said that he was "sickened, angered, frustrated and genuinely upset" by recent revelations of the Church's handling of the controversy.

"We have been let down big-time by the leaders of our Church who failed to act and have clung to power in secrecy," he said.
"It is we and, especially the victims, who are now paying the price for this," he added.

Fr McSweeney stressed that the fall-out of the scandals for ordinary priests and members of the Church has been nothing short of catastrophic.
"The only reason I am still a priest is because of my faith and my belief in Jesus Christ," he added.

However, he acknowledged that, as a young priest studying in Maynooth 15 years ago, he would have quit had he known the exact scale of the clerical child sex abuse crisis.

"Why stay on board a sinking ship? Wouldn't it be easier to quit and try something else and just get on with a normal life," he said.
"If someone had given me a crystal ball when I was training in Maynooth and given me a chance to jump ahead 15 years and have a sneak preview of all that would happen in the years ahead, I would have done such a runner back down to Cork that all records would have been broken," he admitted.

The Cork curate said that many young priests look at the Irish Church and, instead of feeling pride, they "shudder" at what they see.

"Instead of being open, honest and up-front, Cardinal Connell and the Church authorities in Dublin have done the exact opposite," he said.

Fr McSweeney urged the Dublin Diocese to adopt the approach of the Diocese of Cork & Ross where all such allegations are dealt with in an open, direct fashion with clear inquiry systems in place.

Posted by Colm at November 06, 2002 04:15 PM
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