Countrywide audit would reveal many more abuse ‘skeletons’: Dublin priest

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The Irish Examiner

Thursday, September 06, 2012 – 08:28 AM

A Dublin priest has said that if an audit were done of every religious congregation in the country, many more cases of child abuse – and their cover-up – would be revealed.

The reports of seven audits of religious congregations and dioceses by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church were released yesterday.

They found more than 330 allegations of abuse against 146 priests and members of congregations.

Records dating back to 1975 were examined in the dioceses of Clonfert in Galway, Cork and Ross, Limerick and Kildare and Leighlin, as well as the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Dominicans and the Congregation of the Holy Spirit.

Augustinian priest in Meath Street in Dublin Michael Mernagh said many still refused to acknowledge the nature and extent of abuse carried out by members of the Church.

“There is that culture of denial there. It is at the heart of the cancer which is at the heart of the institutional Church,” he said.

“If an audit were done on each religious congregation, especially male congregations, in the country, one would find an awful lot of skeletons in the cupboard and the cover-up that has gone on.”

He said the “culture of denial” extended to all levels within the Chruch, and was not confined to senior members.

“Laity, clergy, bishops…All are in a state of denial. We buried our heads in the sand,” he said.

Asked how it were possible to still be in a “state of denial” given years of reports and revelations detailing abuse within the Church, he said: “There is a fear that if we admit it, we’re afraid of the consequences for ourselves and for the institurion,” he said. ” “But we need to come to grips with this.”

The 73-year-old Augustinian has previously walked from Cobh in Co Cork to Dublin in atonement for the church’s response to clerical child sex abuse.

This morning, he said he still recalled the messages of support he received on that walk, and the stories abuse victims shared with him along the route.

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