Irish Catholic church paid child abuse victims to keep quiet

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Pastor Dale Morgan

Mar 18, 2010, 8:30:49 AM3/18/10
False Churches, False Brethren, False Gospels

Irish Catholic church paid child abuse victims to keep quiet

News of deal overseen by Bishop of Derry adds to abuse scandals surrounding Catholic churches in Europe

The Catholic church in Ireland was today embroiled in another child abuse scandal after revelations that a victim was paid to keep quiet in a deal overseen by the Bishop of Derry.

Bishop Seamus Hegarty has been named among the defendants in an out-of-court settlement after an then eight-year-old girl was abused by a priest for more than a decade until she was at least 18.

The legal papers show that £12,000 was paid in compensation to the victim on condition that she kept the agreement confidential.

The settlement between the Archdiocese of Derry and the young woman, who was eight when the abuse, began, contained a silence clause preventing her from discussing the case.

Her ordeal began in 1979, lasting for a decade before she revealed, during her 18th birthday party, that she had been repeatedly abused by the priest.

He had been invited into the home by her parents, who had no idea he was a child abuser. He told her God would "punish" her if she spoke out about her ordeal.

After she spoke out, her family approached the diocese in Derry, and the victim claims the cleric was moved to another parish in the diocese despite meetings with Hegarty in 1994 during which he told her family he would deal with the problem.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph today, her family described Hegarty as neing "totally unsympathetic" during their initial meetings.

Her father said: "He just glared at me and scowled that this priest was seriously ill, as if I should feel pity for him. "

Despite reporting the allegations to Hegarty, the family say they found out the priest was in Derry and had access to other young girls.

Six years later, on 13 December 2000, a legal document was drawn up, naming Hegarty, along with Edward Daly and the victim, in an out-of-court settlement. The victim received £12,000, with a handwritten apology from the priest.

A spokesperson for Hegarty said: "They [the diocese] will not be making any comment until they have read the story fully and gone into the parish files and read all the details."

The scandal comes amid calls for national inquiries in Germany and Ireland to uncover the detail and extent of sexual abuse by priests.

With abuse allegations affecting Catholic churches across Europe, an Austrian priest today took the unusual step of criticising the pope, saying he should have take a stronger stance against abusers a long time ago.

Father Udo Fischer, who heads a parish in the lower Austrian village of Paudorf, said Jesus would "certainly not" have stayed silent and called on the pontiff to apologise and reform the church.

Yesterday, the head of Ireland's Catholics, Cardinal Sean Brady, apologised for his role in covering up abuse after admitting being present at two closed tribunals to discuss abuse allegations against Father Brendan Smyth.

Smyth died in prison while serving 12 years for 74 sexual assaults on children.

During those meetings, two children were made to sign an oath of silence to the Catholic church, stating that they would not talk about their claims with anybody other than a priest.

Brady is coming under increasing pressure to resign from his post as the most senior Catholic cleric in Ireland.

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