Lochside Garage

Fr Brian speaks out on the latest sex abuse scandal

FR BRIAN D’Arcy has said there is definite “room for improvement” in how the Vatican handles cases of clerical child sexual abuse.
The popular priest and broadcaster has been a vocal critic of the church’s handling of the issue and was subsequently censured by the Vatican in 2012. He was speaking in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Catholic Church’s handing of paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finnegan.
Fr Finnegan was a teacher at St Colman’s College in Newry and also the school’s president over a 20 year period until 1987. The disgraced cleric is accused of abusing 12 people along with a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse against pupils.
The Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey resigned last Thursday after it emerged that he had celebrated Mass with Fr Finnegan while aware of the claims against him. The bishop had been under pressure over this decision as well as conducting Fr Finnegan’s funeral in 2002.
A letter by Bishop McAreavey on his resignation was read out to parishioners at weekend Masses in Dromore Diocese in which he said he had “wrestled” with his decision to resign while also asking people to pray for “those who have been abused and all who are suffering at this time”.
Fr Brian said this week: “In all of this, the victims are the people who still are the most damaged and in need of sympathy, encouragement and care. It has been a terrible few days for anybody who ever has been abused, not only for the victims of Malachy Finnegan but for anyone who has suffered abuse.
He said despite the safeguards currently in place, many families have been “very badly let down” in the past: “We have to recognise that there is now a strong system throughout many parishes in Ireland where the people themselves take responsibility for the protection of children within their own area. I understand very clearly that the manipulation abilities of paedophiles of any description particularly clerical, knows no bounds.
“There is no system which will be 100% certain in this case where you have the evil of paedophelia hiding under the mask of religion. It’s very difficult to understand fully that systems will be broken however the stronger the system, the more difficult it is for a paedophile to get his or her evil ways and the better it is that children will be protected.”º

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