The Archdiocese of Dublin and other Catholic Church authorities covered up clerical child abuse until the mid-1990s, according to a government-commissioned report released Thursday.
The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation’s 720-page report said that it has “no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities” from January 1975 to May 2004, the time covered by the report.
“The Dublin Archdiocese’s pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets,” the report said.
“The welfare of children, which should have been the first priority, was not even a factor to be considered in the early stages,” it said.
“Instead the focus was on the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of the good name, status and assets of the institution and of what the institution regarded as its most important members — the priests.”
The commission did credit Connell, who took over the archdiocese in 1988, with giving Irish authorities in 1995 the names of 17 priests against whom complaints had been made — although it called the number incomplete, saying that there was “knowledge within the Archdiocese of at least 28 priests against whom there had been complaints.”
They said he was “slow to recognize the seriousness of the situation.”
Connell also gave authorities permission to access the archdiocesan files in 2002.
Connell, a cardinal, apologized in a written statement. “I wish to express without reservation my bitter regret that failures on my part contributed to the suffering of victims in any form,” he said