Wednesday June 02 2010
By John Cooney Religion Correspondent
TWO senior cardinals heading the Vatican investigation into the Irish Catholic Church have come under fire from abuse victims over their mishandling of paedophile clerics in their own countries.
Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, who is to investigate Cardinal Sean Brady in Armagh, resisted public pressure to resign over his mishandling of a case involving a notorious paedophile, Fr Michael Hill, when he was bishop of Arundel and Brighton in England from 1977 to 2000.
Instead of informing the police of allegations against Hill, he moved the cleric to the chaplaincy at Gatwick Airport, where he believed the priest would no longer be a danger to children.
But in 1997, Hill was convicted of sex attacks against nine children. After serving three years, he was then given another sentence of five years for assaults on three more boys.
The then-Bishop Murphy O’Connor argued that at the time little was understood of the compulsive nature of paedophilia.
He was cleared by an internal church review and set up the Nolan Commission, which established a more rigorous child-protection system.
Yesterday, Dr Margaret Kennedy, of the London-based Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, said: “Many in the UK survivor movement would wonder why a bishop with a record of mishandling his own cases could independently look at another bishop’s handling of cases.
“Indeed, he may be the worst possible candidate as it might be judged he will be unable to pronounce justice, since he himself was not called to account.”
They said: “In the diocese of Fall River MA, the district attorney in 2002 was so disturbed at O’Malley’s failure to inform the public of sexual offenders that the DA himself went public with a list of names of accused priests.”
– John Cooney Religion Correspondent