Charles Ivan Payne
Irish priest. Ordained 1967 for the Archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland. 1998 CONVICTED in Ireland of offences related to sex abuse of boys age 11 to 14 dating from 1968 to 1987. Known by some as “Ivan the Terible.” Sexually molested seriously ill children in a hospital – often referred to his victims as his “little angels.”
According to multiple media reports in the Irish press Payne studied canon law from 1974-76. Payne in fact studied Canon Law at Ottawa’s St. Paul University. While pursuing his canonical studies Payne assisted on a regular basis across the Ottawa river at St. Aloysius Gonzaga RC Church (Gatineau, Quebec). Payne would regularly spend weekends at the church rectory. He was actively involved in the parish youth group. I am told in fact by one source that the youth group “was his forte.”
After attaining his academic credentials Payne returned to Ireland, but he made frequent trips back in the ensuing years to visit at St. Aloysius. On one such visit he was accompanied by a young lad – Payne said the boy was his nephew. A personal friend of mine used to lend Payne his car during some of these visits.
While visiting Payne regularly stayed at the home of Lorne Maher. I knew Lorne. About ten years ago Lorne told me that he knew a lot about some Irish priests who came to Canada but he didn’t feel it would be right at that time to divulge what he knew. What did he know about Payne? That I will never know – Lorne died in 2004. (May he rest in peace)
The pastor at St. Aloysius when Father Payne would have first shown up was Father Maurice Egan. At the parish doing his diaconate year was Lomer Rooney. Rooney was ordained in 1976. After ordination Father Rooney served as assistant at “St. Al’s” and then, around 1978, as pastor (1978-1983).
July 2009: Father Ivan Payne: Murphy Report Chapter 24
1995: it seems after word started to seep out of sex abuse there was an agreement that he not say Mass in public. Monsignor campaigned to have Payne appointed to a chaplaincy. When allegations of sex abuse became public, Monsignor Sheehy opposed Payne’s removal from the tribunal claiming “it would likely be the destruction of a good priest.” After more victims came forward Payne resigned from the tribunal.
1993 (10-14 May): Speaker at Canon law conference at All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney, England (The Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland past conferences) emphasis added
“The Canonical Implications of AIDS”: Fr John Watts
“Examination of Replies of the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts”: Fr Lawrence Wrenn
“A Case Study on Force and Fear as Ground of Nullity: Presentation of an Actual Case Preceded by some Reflections on the Pontifical Commission’s Response on the Natural Law basis of Grave Fear as a Ground of Nullity”: Fr Ivan Payne& Fr Eugene O’Hagan
“The Right Intention for Marriage”: Rev Peter Kitchen
“The Eastern Code: An Overview and Comparative Study”: Fr Francis Morrisey, OMI
“The Presumption of Innocence in Criminal Proceedings in Canon and Civil Law”: Mr John Larkin
at some point became President of the Canon Law Association of Great Britain and Ireland
1985: at the urging of Father Gerard Sheehy was appointed by Archbishop Kevin McNamara as the Assistant Judicial Vicar for the Dublin Archdiocese (Vice Officialis). Sheehy, a canon lawyer who served as Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Dublin 1965-1975, served as Chairman of the Editorial Board for publication of The Canon Law Letter & Spirit: A Practical Guide to the Code of Canon Law(1995), a commentary on the new (1983) Code of Canon Law. Consultant Editor was Father Francis G. Morrissey omi. Morrissey was Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law at Saint Paul University 1972-84.
November 1981: Andrew Madden allegations of abuse which started in 1976 when he was 12 and continued to 1981. In 1993 Payne described the abuse as ”going as far as was necessary to get satisfied without unnecessary violation”.
1976: appointed to the Dublin Regional Marriage Tribunal. Remained there until 1995. During this time also served in parishes
1974-76: canon law studies at St. Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario.
Assisting at St. Aloysius Gonzaga RC Church in Gatineau, Quebec on weekends and actively involved with the parish youth group. Returned frequently for visits after his return to Ireland.
1970: studies at University College Dublin
August 1943: Birth
Inclusion of abusers on church body criticised
30 December 2010
PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent
PSYCHOLOGIST DR Maureen Gaffney has described as “perversity on a breathtaking scale” the fact that the Catholic Church’s Dublin Regional Marriage Tribunal included two known clerical child sex abusers when it was suggested that Tony Walsh also be appointed to it.
On December 6th last, Walsh was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment, four suspended, for child sex abuse. Chapter 19 of the Murphy report, published before Christmas, dealt mainly with how church and State authorities handled allegations against Tony Walsh. He was described by it as “probably the most notorious child sexual abuser to have come to the attention of the [Murphy] commission”.
The report revealed that in 1989 it was suggested that Walsh, then an admitted child sex abuser, be appointed to the tribunal, which dealt mainly with annulments.
This was not done but, as the Murphy report puts it, there were then “two known abusers . . . in the regional marriage tribunal . . .’’ Those were Fr Ivan Payne and a priest referred to as “Fr Cicero” in the report.
Dr Gaffney, adjunct professor of psychology and society at UCD, told The Irish Times : “I can’t even begin to fathom the reasoning’’ behind such appointments. It indicated that the marriage tribunal “was regarded as an area of such low importance it did not matter if there were depraved people there”, she said. There were, within the church, “many areas of endeavour which were womanless and childless . . . some of them areas of high status.’’
“As we know in Ireland of the period, many marriages were annulled on sexual grounds,” she said. She was appalled at “the idea of bringing in people with such problems before people who had severe difficulties with their own sexuality . . . I don’t think the church had any sense that the annulment process was about human beings.”
The tribunal dealt mainly with applications for annulments from the Dublin archdiocese.
Its judicial vicar, or chairman, in 1989 was the late Msgr Gerard Sheehy. In autumn of 1989, according to Chapter 19, it was suggested (it does not say by whom) to Msgr Sheehy “that he might take Fr Jovito [Tony Walsh] into the tribunal”.
Msgr Sheehy declined “on the basis that Fr Jovito’s limited intellectual capacity might lead him to become frustrated”.
He stated that a prison chaplaincy might be more suitable. The archdiocese had by then extensive knowledge of Walsh’s abuse of children, going back to 1978.
Ivan Payne was appointed to the tribunal in 1975. The first complaint against him in 1981 concerned the abuse of Andrew Madden. Msgr Sheehy and Archbishop Dermot Ryan were informed. In September 1984 Payne was moved to Sutton.
In April 1995 Mr Madden went public. By then, the archdiocese had received reports of inappropriate behaviour by Payne in Sutton. In July 1995, two boys in Sutton made complaints about Payne. Others also came forward.
Attempts to remove Payne from the marriage tribunal were resisted by Msgr Sheehy who argued it “would very likely be the final destruction of a good priest . . .” Still more complainants came forward. In October 1995, Payne resigned from the tribunal. In June 1998, he was sentenced to six years on charges arising from the abuse of 10 children. He was laicised in 2002.
Fr Cicero was a priest of Ossory diocese and began working with the tribunal in the 1970s. Complaints about his abuse of young girls were first reported in 1986, despite which Msgr Sheehy supported his continuing on the tribunal.
In 1999 he admitted abusing “approximately 12 victims”. In November 2000 he was removed from the marriage tribunal. Msgr Sheehy described it as “a shattering blow”. So in January 2001, it was agreed Fr Cicero would be allowed do unofficial work for the tribunal.
He died in 2002.
Inside the Murphy Report: Fr Ivan Payne
The Irish Catholic
25 Feb 2010
Chapter 24 of the Murphy Report deals with fr Ivan Payne. He was appointed as chaplain to the hospital in February, 1968. In October 1970 he started studies in University College Dublin and was appointed as assistant priest in Mourne Road parish. He was appointed curate in Mourne Road in August 1972 and continued his involvement with the hospital. He left there in August 1974 and studied abroad for two years.
He was appointed as parish chaplain in Cabra in 1976 and subsequently in Sutton in 1983.
Extent of abuse
”The Commission is aware of a total of 31 people who have made allegations of child sexual abuse against him; 16 of these people allege they were abused during his time as chaplain in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, and the vast majority are male. He was convicted of indecent assault in respect of ten victims and he served a prison sentence.
First complaint to the archdiocese – 1981
The first complaint to the archdiocese about Fr Payne was made in November 1981. The complaint concerned the abuse of Andrew Madden and was made by Madden’s school guidance counsellor to Msgr Alex Stenson.
Msgr Stenson compiled a comprehensive contemporaneous written account of the allegations being made. Fr Payne was also working in the Regional Marriage Tribunal at the time. The abuse started when Andrew Madden was about 12 years old (about 1976) and continued until 1981. Fr Payne described the abuse (in 1993) as ”going as far as was necessary to get satisfied without unnecessary violation”.
Msgr Stenson then told Archbishop Ryan who instructed him to ask Bishop O’Mahony to deal with it.
However, Bishop O’Mahony ”never received any instructions or brief to act on behalf of Archbishop Ryan other than to deal with Fr Payne”. Bishop O’Mahony described his role as that of a ”priest helper”, that is, he was required to ”express the pastoral care of the diocese rather than to be involved in the process of the case either civilly or canonically”.
”This absence of clear lines of authority is one of many reasons why this case was badly handled at the time.” (Murphy)
Bishop O’Mahony met the school guidance counsellor who had made the complaint. He then spoke to Archbishop Ryan.
Bishop O’Mahony met Fr Payne in December 1981. Fr Payne admitted guilt. ”It is clear that Bishop O’Mahony knew the extent of the abuse and the age of the victim at the time of the abuse.” (Murphy)
Bishop O’Mahony went to see Professor Noel Walsh, Professor of Psychiatry in UCD and a consultant psychiatrist. (He later told the Commission that he ”thoroughly briefed” Professor Walsh about ”the nature and circumstances of Andrew Madden’s allegations against Fr Ivan Payne”.)
Fr Payne was then sent to Prof. Walsh for assessment. In his report, Prof. Walsh described Fr Payne as having ”successfully overcome the crisis in question”.
When Bishop O’Mahony received Prof. Walsh’s report, he informed Archbishop Ryan of its contents, gave his view that the report was positive and recommended that Fr Payne’s position be kept under review.
Bishop O’Mahony made no contact with Andrew Madden or his family at the time the complaint was made. (He described this in 1996 as ”a definite pastoral omission and hard to understand as it ran contrary to diocesan policy even at that time”.)
Prof. Noel Walsh
Giving evidence to the Commission in July 2007, Dr Walsh said he ”was given no data as far as I can recall by any of the bishops. They didn’t send me letters from parents who had complained or anything. So I did not have the data which presumably led the bishop or whoever to refer these patients to me”. As far as he can remember, he did not get any written brief. Words like paedophile or child abuser were never used; the priest ”might have crossed a boundary” was a likely expression.
He is adamant that he did not hear the specific allegations against the priests. Bishop O’Mahony and/or Canon McMahon would say: ”We are concerned about this priest, there have been certain complaints against him and we would like you to assess him. The communication to me would have been minimal” There was no such thing as a specific statement Fr ‘X’ has been accused of this, that or the other.”
Bishop O’Mahony agreed that psychiatrists were not generally given written briefings. In the case of Fr Payne, he told the Commission that he went to Professor Walsh’s rooms and briefed him on the ”actual nature and circumstances of the case”. He told the Commission that oral briefings were preferable as ”I can be much more nuanced”. He imagined that any psychiatrist would have taken notes of what he was being told.
”It is clear to the Commission that Prof. Walsh cannot have been told the precise nature of the complaint against Fr Payne.” (Murphy)
It seems that Bishop O’Mahony was the only person who read Prof Walsh’s 1982 report. ”It must have been obvious to him that Prof. Walsh was making a report based on false information. Such reports are, of course, useless.” (Murphy)
In September, 1982, Fr Payne was appointed to Sutton parish as parish chaplain. No supervisory arrangements were put in place.
Sometime before September, 1984, Msgr Gerard Sheehy (Chancellor of the archdiocese 1965-1975) asked Archbishop Ryan to appoint Fr Payne as Vice Officialis (a diocesan bishop’s judicial vicar). The archbishop refused.
In June, 1985, Msgr Sheehy wrote to Dr Connell’s successor, Archbishop McNamara, suggesting that Fr Payne be appointed Vice Officialis. Fr Payne was appointed
In 1989, Andrew Madden rang Bishop O’Mahony and asked to meet him. He raised the question of Fr Payne’s presence in Sutton. Bishop O’Mahony told him that he had no reason to believe Fr Payne was sexually abusing children in Sutton.
In 1991, Fr Payne first came to the attention of Archbishop Connell (in October) when a question arose about promoting him from the Dublin Regional Marriage Tribunal to be the President of the National Marriage Appeal Tribunal. Archbishop Connell consulted the auxiliary bishops and was told by Bishop O’Mahony to look at Fr Payne’s file in the secret archive. Having discovered what had happened in 1981, Archbishop Connell decided not to agree to his promotion. ”He considered he could not agree to the promotion as he would have to inform the other members of the Bishops’ Conference about the complaint. This would, Cardinal Connell told the Commission, involve ”defaming” Fr Payne.
Bishop O’Mahony again sent Fr Payne to Prof. Walsh for assessment.
In March 1992, Andrew Madden wrote to Fr Payne looking for compensation; he did not seek compensation from the archdiocese. The diocesan solicitors were instructed by Archbishop Connell to offer Fr Payne financial assistance in disposing of the case. A settlement was reached between Mr Madden and Fr Payne in May 1993.
Mr Madden began speaking to a number of journalists and the first media references to the payment began to appear. Mr Madden was angry that the Church continued to deny that anyone had received a payment as a result of clerical child sexual abuse.
Fr Payne was sent for a third assessment to Prof. Walsh.
In November, Andrew Madden wrote letters to the papers under a pseudonym describing how his case had been handled. Archbishop Connell discussed this development with Msgr Sheehy (judicial vicar) and suggested Fr Payne be sent for treatment.
”Msgr Sheehy wrote, unsolicited, what can only be described as a tirade about anonymous letters and the unjust treatment of priests. Msgr Sheehy’s concerns, as expressed in letters to Msgr Stenson and Archbishop Connell, were entirely related to the rights of the priest and the autonomy of the Church. He considered that sending Fr Payne for treatment was unwise and unjust and ”a manifest invasion of his rights under the law of the Church”. (Murphy)
He wrote: ”It is my opinion that there is a gross over-reaction on the part of many of our Church authorities to this whole paedophile crisis”.
Fr Payne was sent to a therapeutic facility in the USA for a further assessment. A lengthy report showed, among other things, that Fr Payne: was sexually attracted to adolescent boys but was also sexually attracted to adult men and women. It recommended that he undergo residential treatment.
Cardinal Connell did read this report but Fr Payne was not sent for residential treatment; he did attend the Granada Institute in Dublin. He was continuing to work in Sutton parish (until June 1995) and in the Marriage Tribunal.
In April, Andrew Madden told his story on the Gay Byrne Show on RTÉ Radio.
The archdiocese issued a statement following this and other media reports.
”As reported in recent days, a priest settled a claim in respect of such abuse. It has been suggested that this settlement was made by the diocese. It is not and never has been the practice of the diocese to accept responsibility for any such settlement by a priest. The priest did receive financial assistance from the diocese to enable him to meet such claim, on the basis that this would be repaid, and a substantial portion in fact has already been repaid. The amount of the assistance is actually less than amounts donated to the diocese by the Archbishop himself out of his personal resources”.
In May, Archbishop Connell said on RTÉ television: ”I have compensated nobody. I have paid out nothing whatever in compensation. It is my policy that if a priest is guilty and he wishes to make an out-of-court settlement that is his responsibility. The diocese does not pay for that.”
Msgr Stenson heard reports from Sutton of inappropriate behaviour by Fr Payne and told Bishop O’Mahony. There is no evidence that this was followed up.
In June 1995, Fr Payne was released from Sutton and appointed chaplain to a convent.
”It would appear he had an agreement with Bishop O’Mahony not to say Mass in public.” (Murphy)
However, Msgr Sheehy said he was doing supply work, including some arranged by Msgr Sheehy himself. Msgr Sheehy continued to campaign for him to be appointed to a chaplaincy.
In July, Andrew Madden went public under his own name. Another complainant then came forward.
He claimed to have been abused while in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. He was advised by Bishop O’Mahony to report the matter to An Garda, but he did not do this.
Msgr Stenson interviewed the complainant and compiled a comprehensive report. He then met Fr Payne who said he did not remember the alleged incidents but ”it’s not impossible that there was some contact which was misinterpreted”.
Also in July, two boys from Sutton made statements to gardaí alleging abuse by Fr Payne.
In August, a meeting of the archbishop and auxiliary bishops considered removing Fr Payne from the Marriage Tribunal. In letters to Archbishop Connell, Msgr Sheehy argued strongly against this: ”It would be disastrous not only as a public act – which it would obviously be, and at once portrayed to be – but, far worse, as an act which would very likely be the final destruction of a good priest of this diocese.”
In September, Fr Payne resigned as Vice Officialis ”but seems to have remained working for the Marriage Tribunal”. (Murphy)
Also in September another man who alleged that he had been abused while a child in Crumlin Hospital complained to the archdiocese.
In October 1995, other former Crumlin patients came forward alleging abuse by Fr Payne.
Another complainant from Sutton complained that he had been abused over a number of years by Fr Payne in Sutton and in a children’s holiday home.
”Msgr Sheehy continued to support Fr Payne’s position in the Marriage Tribunal and railed against Archbishop Connell’s proposal that he be removed: ”I could not but regard such a precipitate and so-called public opinion-motivated decision as a grave mistake, pregnant with the possibility of even more grave injustice.”
”Msgr Sheehy was very critical of a trip to the USA undertaken by Msgr Stenson and ‘some civil-law associates’. This was a trip undertaken in 1994 to find out more about how the American bishops were dealing with cases of child sexual abuse.” (Murphy)
In October, Fr Payne resigned from the Marriage Tribunal.
Another Crumlin patient made a complaint followed soon afterwards by a Cabra complainant. ”It is clear from the various statements made to the gardaí by children abused in Crumlin that other children may also have been abused in their presence.” (Murphy)
In November, another person from Crumlin complained to the archdiocese, followed by another former Crumlin patient in December.
”Msgr Sheehy continued to argue against the way the archbishop was handling the allegations. His main concerns were: The public naming of priests against whom allegations had been made; the priest could take an action for defamation against the Church authorities; the public impression that the bishops were being media driven.
Fr Payne was questioned by gardaí in February 1996.
Another former Crumlin hospital patient complained to gardaí.
Bishop O’Mahony resigned as an auxiliary bishop in 1996; he was ill for much of the period 1996-1998 and was abroad for treatment for some of this time.
”Cardinal Connell told the Commission that he did not know what was being done about Fr Payne in the period 1996-98: ‘It was a matter for the Chancellery.’ It is quite clear that it was not a matter for the chancellor as the chancellor has no powers to reprimand or sanction a priest.”) (Murphy)
Another former Crumlin patient complained in early 1997.
In March 1997, Fr Payne was charged with 13 counts of indecent assault on nine of the complainants. Later he was charged with 29 counts of indecent assault on Andrew Madden.
In January, Fr Payne pleaded guilty to charges of indecent assault on ten victims and was sentenced (in June) to six years’ imprisonment. He was released in October 2002.
The archdiocese asked Fr Payne to apply for laicisation. Fr Payne eventually agreed. He was laicised in 2002. More allegations continued to emerge up to 2008.
The Murphy Commission concludes that ”Archbishop Ryan and Bishop O’Mahony were particularly culpable” in the case of Fr Ivan Payne.
”When Archbishop Connell first became aware of the problem, he did not inform himself properly. He took a very hands off approach to this case.
”Msgr Sheehy (an influential background figure) believed in Fr Payne’s innocence even when it became abundantly clear that there was no basis for such a belief. He wrote eloquently on the subject of the rights of priests without ever managing to refer to, or consider, the rights of children. He acted in an entirely irresponsible manner in arranging supply work for Fr Payne when Archbishop Connell had effectively, but not formally, removed him from ministry.”
Overall, Murphy states, the failure to deal properly with the initial complaint against Fr Ivan Payne meant that ”many other children were abused or potentially exposed to abuse”.
Canon law can be spun to measure
Sunday October 27 2002
How the Church interprets its own rules is the crux, says Colum Kenny
[Emphasis added by Sylvia]
IF MIRIAM O’CALLAGHAN had let Micheal Martin read what he wanted to read on Prime Time last week, the public would have been shocked. The Minister for Health intended to quote from a revealing book on Church law. The book was published just seven years ago by an international board chaired by Monsignor Gerard Sheehy, a senior lawyer in the Dublin Archdiocese. Entitled The Canon Law: Letter and Spirit, it endorses a conservative approach to complaints of sex abuse. Its references to paedophilia cry out for clarification.
The book provides one of a number of reasons for suspecting that the Church’s own inquiry into child sexual abuse may not be as adequate as some had hoped when Judge Gillian Hussey agreed to chair it. Cardinal Desmond Connell said last week that the Hussey inquiry will need to be guided by “expert advice”. This includes advice on canon law, the Church’s own internal rules.
It should be said that the code of canon law itself makes no mention of “confidentiality”, contrary to an impression created last week by various people. And the code contains no explicit provision for keeping sex abuse files from any State inquiry, and does not use the term “paedophilia”.
But the book that the Minister for Health, Micheal Martin, brought to RTE does. It uses the word “confidential” in a way that goes beyond the needs of victims. It represents paedophilia as an urge or impulse outside the abuser’s control, which may reassure some continuing abusers. The authors also argue that diocesan authorities “must tread very carefully, balancing the harm done to the victims, the rights of the cleric in canon law, and the overall good of the Church in its striving for justice for all”. They even suggest that no canonical penalty may be advisable for sex offenders in some cases, partly because this could lead to the State requesting relevant Church files.
Published as late as 1995, with the solemn approval of Cardinal Desmond Connell, Sheehy’s book is a striking example of how lawyers interpret laws. It demonstrates very clearly why bishops have felt justified in behaving as they have on paedophilia.
Sheehy was the presiding judge of the Dublin archdiocese’s marriage tribunal from 1976 until earlier this year. Working there too from 1976 until 1995 was Fr Ivan Payne, a paedophile who was helped by the archdiocese secretly to settle a child abuse claim two years before this book appeared, and who was later sent to jail.
The Catholic marriage tribunal in Dublin came to adopt an interpretation of canon law that permitted it to nullify marriages for a broad range of reasons that would never be tolerated in an Irish civil court. Critics claimed that this surprisingly broad approach to the nullity of long-standing ostensible marriages helped to weaken civil demands for divorce in Ireland. They worried about the psychological consequences for children who suddenly learnt that their parents had never “really” agreed to marry and have babies.
The Canon Law says little about the care and protection of children, beyond their rearing as Catholics. Thus, according to canons 1370 and 1394-95, a priest who uses force against a bishop or who attempts to get married is automatically suspended. But a priest who rapes a child is not. That’s canon law for you.
And canon law may be the undoing of the Church’s own inquiry into sex abuse. Cardinal Connell claimed last week that the Hussey inquiry has “complete independence” and will determine what files are “to remain confidential”. But, if so, how can the bishops give files to Hussey and refuse the same files to a State investigation? The answer must be that Hussey is believed by Connell to be bound by canon law and that, under canon law, it will be refused certain files or bound to secrecy on the bishops’ terms. This would explain Cardinal Connell’s reference last week to Judge Hussey needing to receive “relevant expert advice” before making a decision.
The Cardinal also claimed last week that the Hussey inquiry is “free to amend its terms of reference in whatever way it deemed appropriate”. But its actual powers permit it only “to seek to amend or extend” its brief, presumably subject to the bishops’ approval.
The sex abuse scandal keeps coming back to the question of power. Rape itself is at least as much about the assertion of power as it is about sexual desire. Just last week, Cardinal Connell admitted that “the nub of the issue is who should have the power to decide about the issue of confidentiality and access to church files and documentation”.
Another problem for the Hussey inquiry is that it has been asked by the bishops to investigate ‘complaints’ of sexual abuse. Thanks to Prime Time, it is now clear that the word ‘complaint’ has a formal meaning, at least in the Dublin archdiocese. It does not include ‘expressions of concern’.
One must weigh the words of certain Irish bishops very carefully. Desmond Connell, as Archbishop of Dublin, claimed that no church money was spent on settling abuse claims. Then we discovered that he had merely “lent” money to priests such as Ivan Payne to settle them. Last week he promised to cooperate fully with any “inquiry set up by an appropriate authority”. At this stage, his use of the ambiguous word “appropriate” rings an alarm bell. By Friday night, he was telling RTE’s Joe Little, “I would always follow my conscience”. This was a proud but unhelpful declaration of the obvious, and it suggests that not even the words “cooperate fully” may mean full co-operation.
There is also reason to be suspicious when the word “confidentiality” is used in this context. Its relevance is a matter of opinion, not strict canon law. In a single reference to sex with children, canon 1395 says that a cleric who has offended against sexual morality “by force, or by threats, or in public, or with a minor under the age of 16 years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants”. The Canon Law says nothing about having to keep the details of such offences against minors “confidential”, never mind hiding them from the police. But the book published in 1995, on the other hand, provides a rationale for avoiding discovery of the facts.
In various other contexts, The Canon Law refers 11 times to “secrecy” and 28 times to “secret” matters. But its concept of secrecy is not at all the same thing as confidentiality and is intended to protect processes, not to allow an individual to cover up crimes. The seal of the confessional is protected, but this is not disputed at present. However, the book of 1995 which received Cardinal Connell’s ‘imprimatur’ indicates that the role of a “confessor” may be defined in a broad way to bind the hands of those who learn of child sexual abuse.
Canon 1455 permits a diocese to keep matters secret in order to protect reputations and to avoid quarrels or scandal or other “untoward consequence” (whatever that signifies). But this still does not oblige bishops to cover up crimes.
While canon law 489 requires each bishop to maintain a secret archive, there is no provision that specifically prohibits the copying of such archives for State authorities. However, canon 489 does require the destruction of evidence after the death of a perpetrator, or 10 years after that person’s offence. A spokesman for Cardinal Connell said on Friday that child abuse files are not, in fact, being destroyed as required by canon 489. This is welcome news not only because they may be required by gardai but because it indicates that even a cardinal can ignore the code of canon law.
It was Pope John XXIII who allowed The Canon Law to be translated from Latin so that anyone might read it. He announced his decision in 1959, on the very day that he also announced the Vatican Council, and he intended both as part of an exercise in reforming the institutional church.
Canon law may be interpreted less restrictively than some “relevant experts” advise. In 1983, the present Pope reminded Catholics of the fundamental fact that canon law must always be related to “the true and authentic image of the Church”, and recalled in that connection how “the Church is presented as the People of God and its hierarchical authority as service”. He wrote of the close relationship between the spirit of Vatican II and the spirit of the code.
Irish Catholics are free to support a State inquiry into sex abuse and are entitled to expect that the code of canon law will not be used to thwart such an inquiry.
Colum Kenny is a senior lecturer in communications at DCU
Diocese lent priest cash for abused altar boy
30 September 1995
THE Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin approved a loan of Pounds 30,000 to help a priest to pay damages to a young man he had sexually abused, it emerged yesterday.
Dr Desmond Connell sanctioned the loan in 1993 after Father Ivan Payne was approached by lawyers acting for the victim, who was an altar boy at the time of the offences. The sexual assaults against Andrew Madden took place between 1977 and 1980, when he was aged 11.
Fr John Dardis, SJ, a spokesman for the diocese, said that the money was not drawn from funds raised by parishioners. He said that no admission of liability was involved in Dr Connell’s payment.
The revelation about the loan comes as scores of Roman Catholic priests in Ireland face allegations of child abuse.
Last week Fr Brendan Smyth, who is serving four years for paedophile offences, was sentenced to a further three years at Belfast Crown Court after he had admitted committing a further 26 offences.
Church sources in Dublin said that Dr Connell agreed to make the loan because Fr Payne had been unable to meet the damages himself. The priest had since paid back a fifth of the loan.
Fr Dardis said that Dr Connell knew the priest had a problem in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, the priest had been given a “clean bill of health” by a psychiatric assessment.
Since July, detectives in Dublin have been investigating two allegations of child molestation against Fr Payne.
The archdiocese of Dublin defended its handling of child abuse allegations. A statement said: “The Church is often seen as reluctant to comment publicly about complaints of child abuse and has been criticised for this. The reality is that in many of these instances there are serious legal implications about speaking out too early or in too specific a way.”