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Press Release

One in Four expresses dismay and frustration following the rejection of “Valuing Children” by Irish Catholic Church

“It seems crystal clear that the Catholic Church has not learned from its grave and devastating past failures in child protection and that it does not posses either the will or the desire to implement change” says O’Gorman

One in Four, the national charity working to support women and men who have experienced sexual violence, today voiced dismay and frustration at the refusal of Irish Catholic Bishops and the leaders of Irish Religious Congregations to accept and implement the church commissioned expert report “Valuing Children.” The report sought to put in place meaningful and effective child protection measures across the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The policy was developed by the expert working group, chaired by Ms. Maureen Lynott. Ms Lynott is an international expert who developed the national child protection guidelines “Children First” for the Department of Health and Children.  The expert working group disbanded yesterday after church authorities refused to accept and implement its recommendations. It is our understanding that the group decided it could no longer continue to work to develop meaningful child protection policy given the stance adopted by church.

One in Four understands that church leaders refused or were unwilling to accept the involvement of professional expertise in decision making in child protection matters. It appears that church authorities would not agree to the key principles of accountability and transparency, necessary to deliver meaningful child protection.

“It seems crystal clear that the Catholic Church has not learned from its grave and devastating past failures in child protection and that it does not posses either the will or the desire to implement change. The fact that Bishops and congregation leaders appear to continue to value power, privilege and position above the safety of children is incomprehensible. Once again they have demonstrated callous disregard for the protection of children and a complete lack of care for victims of abuse, their communities and for the church itself”, said Colm O'Gorman, Director of One in Four.

The scandal of clerical sexual abuse has its roots in the failure of the State to enforce adequate child protection measures within every agency operating within Ireland, including the Roman Catholic Church. Irish church leaders and Canon Law experts have made much of the independence accorded the church under the Irish Constitution. Such privilege however, comes with responsibilities; responsibilities for which church has time and again demonstrated an arrogant disregard. It is no longer acceptable that any agency operating within Ireland should be able to disregard their moral duty of care towards children and vulnerable people. It is no longer acceptable that Ireland, as a modern, progressive society, should be inhibited in its attempts to protect its children from rape and sexual violence by the internal law of another sovereign state, The Holy See.

One in Four therefore calls upon the Minister of Health and Children to take urgent action, as is his responsibility, to enforce State child protection policy in the form of “Children First” on every agency operating within the State. This must in the first instance be immediately enforced upon the Catholic Church, who have finally and fully demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to act responsibly and appropriately in this regard.

 
 

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