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One in Four - The Ferns Report

“The Inquiry wishes to record its revulsion at the extent, severity and duration of the child sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated on children…”.

The Ferns Report speaks of the sexual abuse and rape of children by priests in the Diocese of Ferns spanning a period of forty years. Those children as adults spoke out, many turned to their Bishop, and they were not responded to. In many cases they spoke to others and often their cases came directly or indirectly to the attention of the Gardai or the Health Board. The gross failure of the Roman Catholic Church to respond to their complaints and the failure of state agencies to effectively investigate and prevent the abuse of those victims and countless other victims is detailed with forensic insight in the Ferns Report. We wholeheartedly welcome its publication, commend the Inquiry Team on an extraordinarily effective investigation and endorse their findings and recommendations.

The catalogue of failures detailed in this report cannot be excused as simply personal individual failures but must also be seen as the failure of institutional Roman Catholic Church to act upon its detailed awareness and understanding of clerical sexual abuse in an effort to protect children.

That Ferns Inquiry has found that responsibility for that failure extends beyond the Diocese of Ferns and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and extends all the way to the heart of the Vatican itself.

The report finds that since 1962 the Vatican has operated an international policy that swore all those with knowledge of clerical sexual abuse to absolute secrecy under threat of ex-communication, the harshest penalty available to the church. This finding finally brings responsibility for the appalling litany of failures both in the Diocese of Ferns and other dioceses internationally back to Rome as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

The report also clearly details the response of state agencies, including An Garda Siochana, the South Eastern Health Board and the Department of Education to clerical sexual abuse. It finds significant failings on the part of all agencies to prevent or respond to allegations, suspicions or complaints of clerical sexual abuse.

The investigation of past events can only be purposeful if its focus is both to respond to those events, to bring comfort and support to those affected and importantly to ensure that this is never allowed to happen again. In that regard we are pleased to see the Inquiry has adopted our recommendation for a new criminal offence regarding the reckless endangerment of the welfare of children. We welcome the commitment from government to act upon the recommendations of the report and we are committed to playing an active role in the implementation of those recommendations

We would also wish to acknowledge the unequivocal acceptance of the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Ferns of the findings of the report.


Contact information

Support and resources for people who have experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual violence.