Voice of the Faithful 10th Year Conference By John Morgan, Chairman National Board for Safeguarding Children in the

Catholic Church in Ireland I’m very honoured to participate in this most committed and concerned gathering. Among our common interests are the challenges of protecting children and young people from abuse in our communities and the need to heal our Church through developing a culture of accountability. I want to share how we currently address these issues in the Church in Ireland and my perception of the similarities and differences with which the Church – at least the institutional dimension of the Church – addresses them in the United States. The Irish Experience Any understanding of the current Irish situation necessitates consideration of the effects of four public enquiries into child abuse, instituted by our civil authorities. They were the Ferns Report (2005), the Ryan Report (2009) the Murphy Report (2009) and the Cloyne Report (2011). The Ryan and Murphy reports, delivered in 2009, created the deepest shock waves through the Irish Church, reverberating as far as the Vatican. The effects were analogous with the consideration of your trauma of 2002 when the Church in the United States experienced a crisis without precedent in our times. The Ryan Report dealt with individuals who had suffered abuse in childhood, in institutions mainly managed by a range of Religious Orders. It found widespread abuse of children and young people had occurred over many years. The Murphy Report dealt with the response to allegations of child sexual abuse made against Catholic clergy operating under the aegis of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin from January 1975 to May 2004. It found, at least until the mid 1990’s, a culture of secrecy and cover-up designed to protect the reputation of the Church and its assets, and subordination of the welfare of children and justice for victims. It also found a policy of double avoidance – in the application of the Church’s own canon law rules and in the application of civil law. The cumulative effect of these reports – coming as they did in the wake of a 15 year period going back to 1994 when the activities of the infamous Fr. Brendan Smyth first became public knowledge (and led to the collapse of an Irish Government over the failure to extradite him from Ireland to answer similar charges of child abuse in Northern Ireland) set in train a sequence of events which culminated in the meeting of all acting Irish diocesan Bishops with His Holiness, Pope Benedict, over two days in February 2010, and the issue of a special pastoral letter by the Pope to the Catholics of Ireland in March 2010 – a unique and most significant event. This was followed by an Apostolic Visitation to the Irish Church in co-operation with relevant Roman curia offices and the Irish Bishop’s Conference. During the Visitation the report of the fourth State appointed enquiry was issued – this time relating to the diocese of Cloyne. The Cloyne Report differed significantly from the Murphy Report into the Dublin Archdiocese in that it deals with allegations made in the period 1 January 1996 – 1 February 2009 – that is the period after the Catholic Church in Ireland put in place detailed procedures for dealing with child sexual abuse. It found that despite public declaration that it was following Church guidelines, the diocese certainly was not. This Report brought into the public domain the contents of a confidential letter, circulated to


every Irish bishop in January 1997 by the then Papal Nuncio to Ireland, effectively giving Vatican reaction to the 1996 Framework Document which had put in place detailed procedures for dealing with clerical sexual abuse, including mandatory reporting of credible allegations to the civil authorities. The Papal Nuncio’s letter described the Framework Document as merely a study document. It also said the document’s advice on mandatory reporting, “gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature”. The Enquiry Report stated that the reaction of the Vatican was entirely unhelpful to any bishop who wanted to implement the agreed procedures and greatly strengthened the position of those in the Church who did not approve of the Framework Document. These revelations directly created the environment for the Irish Prime Minister’s extremely aggressive speech criticising the Vatican and, almost certainly, directly affected the Government decision to close Ireland’s embassy to the Vatican last year. It should be borne in mind that the Apostolic Visitation was pastoral in nature – Pope Benedict had said in his letter to the Catholics of Ireland that it should “assist the local Church on her path of renewal”. The Visitators met with many as they carried out their work in dioceses in the four metropolitan sees and in the seminaries and finally in the Religious Institutes. The Visitation was also intended to determine whether the structures and procedures put in place by the Church in Ireland are now adequate to ensure that the tragedy of the abuse of minors will not be repeated. Eight specific observations are recorded – including favourable mention of the National Board for its work, which the Visitators noted as “thorough and far reaching”, and for which reason it should be supported by the whole Church community and should continue to receive sufficient personnel and funding. The Visitators asked that the Church in Ireland, in collaboration with the National Board, should examine and develop guidance in three areas for handling the varied cases of those who have been accused of abuse of minors but in whose case the civil authorities had taken a decision not to proceed with any prosecution under the civil law; for formulating policies regarding the falsely accused and their return to ministry and, thirdly, formulating policies regarding the pastoral care of those who are convicted of abuse and the appropriate settings and conditions under which such offenders should live. This last issue is one we share in a real way with the American Church and you are probably further down the road on this than we are. I note a specific recommendation from your 2011 Audit period regarding the monitoring of what you refer to as “chartered” priests has been raised by the auditors as an issue that needs to be addressed by your bishops here in the United States. The National Board - Ireland Our National Board established in 2006 took over the activities in the area of child protection and safeguarding previously in place in the Irish Church and operated through a Committee of the Bishops Conference and a separate but similar structure operated by the Religious Institutes. It was set up to promote a “one church” approach to child safeguarding and is sponsored by three key church authorities – the Bishops Conference, the Conference of Religious in Ireland and the Irish Missionary Union. It covers the 2 legal jurisdictions – Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Board is a separate legal entity being constituted as a Company limited by guarantee. The members of the Company are representatives of its sponsoring bodies - the 4 archbishops on the island of Ireland and the episcopal secretary of the Bishops’ Conference representing that constituency, with the acting secretary generals of the Conference of Religious and Irish Missionary Union respectively augmented by an additional nominee from each of these two sponsoring bodies to


make up the nine members of the Company. They appoint the Board of Directors, seeking to ensure that various and relevant skill-sets are represented. As a Board we meet monthly. We are supported by a C.E.O. – Ian Elliot – a leading professional with national standing in the whole area of child safeguarding and former advisor to the Northern Ireland Government. He leads a small dedicated team of considerable skill, experience and expertise. We are financed by our Sponsoring Bodies. The Board’s remit is 3 fold: To assist the development of policy, procedures and practices leading to the creation and adoption of National Standards and Guidelines. To offer advice on best practice as a resource to all dioceses and religious congregations, which leads us on into an extensive training and training advisory role to ensure consistency in implementation of National Standards and Guidance and to best practice where National Guidelines are not yet developed. To monitor the practice of child safeguarding across the Church on the island of Ireland – and this leads us into our audit role – of which more later.


At least bi-annually, meetings between the Directors and Members of the Company discuss relevant issues including budgetary matters and Board objectives. Whilst we, from time to time, interact with victims and survivors of abuse, a separate company – called “Towards Healing” – sponsored by the Irish Church, provides counselling and victim support work to victims and survivors. At CEO level there is close contact between the organisations. That is the national structural architecture set up by the Church in Ireland to respond to the abuse problem and ensure that children in any Church settings are in safe environments. The United States Structures Here in the United States, your Bishops have designed structures to ascertain diocesan compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, through an Audit process in all dioceses. Your 17 article Charter breaks down into 4 key components. It is in the Accountability Articles (8 through 11) that the structures instituted by the U.S. Church are spelt out. These structures flow from a Committee of your Bishops Conference – The Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. This committee is charged with advising Conference on all matters related to child and youth protection. It is constituted so that it oversees both the development of the plans, programmes and budget of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the co-ordination of the efforts of this Secretariat. The Secretariat is also charged with being a resource for dioceses in two specifically named areas – for the implementation of “safe environment” programmes and for suggested training and development of diocesan personnel responsible for child and youth protection programmes. Superimposed on such structure is The National Review Board, established in 2002, a consultative body, reporting to the President of Conference who appoints its membership. This Board is charged with reviewing the annual report on the implementation of the Charter, which is itself based on the Audit process, the responsibility of the Secretariat. As you know the public annual report is to include specifically the names of dioceses which the audit shows are not in compliance.


Distinguishing Features – Ireland and U.S. We can distinguish between the two sets of structures – that of your Bishops’ Conference and the situation in Ireland. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature is the relative independence of the National Board in Ireland – it is not a part of the Committee structure of the Conference but a separate legal entity, albeit financed by the Irish Church. It has in practice I suggest a slightly wider remit than that of the combined Secretariat for Children and Youth and your National Review Board. It is in practice more than advisory in certain areas. An example of this is that we, in Ireland, under the Board structure have created a National Case Management Reference Group. This group was initially designed to fill a gap in small dioceses and congregations with few members – Church Authorities who had not the level of work or the range of skill-sets necessary to support a standing diocesan or congregational Review Board that would function as a confidential consultative body for a bishop or congregational leader. It has been hugely successful, is now being consulted by dioceses and congregations in particularly difficult and complex cases, and is shaping up to be a national “Fitness to Practice” forum. Its strength lies in the high levels of experience and expertise employed, and in the consistency and quality of its advice to bishops and congregational leaders. Another distinguishing feature appears to be our deeper involvement in the training to ensure implementation of norms, Standards and Guidelines. We have developed a network of National Board registered trainers to develop recognised training programmes at local level across the church. The Board have now appointed tutors whose job it is to train and assess trainers and then recommend them to be registered with the Board. This strategy evolved to ensure consistency and quality of training, to imbue in our training programmes a catholic ethic and ethos and also to address patchy and frequently inadequate or even non-existent training in child protection policies and procedures undertaken by civil authorities. Distinguishing Features in the respective Audits process and their Methodology. It is in the audit area that I see key distinguishing features between our respective activities particularly in the methodologies employed. Your audit process in the U.S. is document based – with a comprehensive set of audit documents submitted, returned by the diocese and reviewed for completeness and consistency with prior audit material by the auditors. Any queries are dealt by e-mail and phone. Clearly these audits rely on completeness and accuracy of the information provided to the auditors. Every three years a diocese receives an on-site visitation by the auditors. In on-site audits my understanding is that auditors do not examine personnel files or other confidential material(s). Rather they are provided with certain documents from these files related to the audit of the Charter and the conclusions reached are appropriately qualified. In addition you add-on to the audit process a survey for the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate, based in Georgetown University, to collect numerical information on new allegations of sexual abuse of minors and the clergy against whom these allegation are made. The survey also gathers information on the amount of money dioceses have expended as a result of allegations as well as the amount they have paid for child protection. There is a similar survey of religious congregations and institutes. Aggregate figures and amounts are reported in the public annual report of the implementation of the Charter. Another feature of your overall audit strategy is to advocate parish audits – in the 2011 audit process 24 of your dioceses consented to have auditors conduct parish audits to establish the extent to which their parishes follow diocesan procedures.


Whilst our guidelines recommend that dioceses and parishes engage in internal self-auditing practices annually, our National Board does not get involved in supervising or overseeing this audit. Our audit focus is on a full-scale audit of dioceses and religious congregations. The undertaking of these audits, or “Reviews”, as we label them, have been agreed to by our Sponsoring Bodies but, as there is no compellability, each bishop and congregational leader has to invite the board to undertake a Review. A document based only Audit or Review would not be acceptable in Ireland, largely because of where we have come from. The scandalous revelations of the four civil authority commissioned audits I referred to – “Ferns”, “Ryan”, “Murphy” and “Cloyne” so destroyed the credibility of the institutional dimension of the Church that nothing less than a full examination of all files under the control of the bishop or congregational leader dealing in any way with child abuse was warranted. The precedent had been set in the governmental enquires. Nothing less would suffice for survivors of abuse, for priests and lay Faithful. Some internal and external voices initially questioned the likely objectivity of the National Board – financed as it is by the Sponsoring Bodies. However the Board has established a level of credibility for objectivity internally, and with the civil authorities, so that our audit programme is perceived nationally as an exercise delivering credibility. We have had to surmount certain legal issues in. Ireland, North and South, as quite complicated laws exist dealing with the protection of sensitive personal data, in circumstances where a subject does not provide, or is not approached to provide, their consent to make any such personal information available. Clearly for our review process, these issues had to be fully cleared from a legal perspective. This process took time, particularly as the board is constituted as a private legal entity, as opposed to a statutory body. I should also mention that the Board doesn’t control the publication of Review Reports on completion of the audit process. Audit reports are the property of the commissioning party, so from a legal perspective it has to be the decision of the diocese or congregation to publish their review. Bishops and congregational leaders, in inviting the board to undertake an audit, are now agreeing in advance to publish the results. This is courageous and is recognised as such by the lay faithful. It is also accepted by the civil authorities as satisfactory evidence that child safeguarding is being attended to, in a professional manner, subject to the implementation of any review recommendations. The purpose and objective of our audit is to ascertain the extent of all complaints or allegations, knowledge suspicions or concerns of child sexual abuse made to the diocese, from 1 January 1975 to date, against clergy or religious still living and ministering / or who once ministered under the aegis of the diocese and to examine, review and report on the nature of the diocesan response. In addition the audit reports on: Child safeguarding policies and guidance materials currently in use in the diocese and evaluates their application. Communication by the diocese with the civil authorities. Current child safeguarding risks and their management.

We follow a 14-step process outlining the work to be undertaken by the fieldwork team and those they will seek to interview. The fieldwork team will be supplied on arrival with a single case file index listing all the cases that have been created within the diocese since January 1975 (divided into two groups – allegations related to living alleged or known perpetrators and second related to accused who are deceased). Each file concerning living alleged or known perpetrators will be reviewed, analysed and assessed. They will also be assessed for compliance with agreed Church policy extant at the time


of reporting and an indication of any current risk. Interviews are undertaken with the Advisory Panel (equivalent to your diocesan Review Board), a sample of parish safeguarding representatives, the delegate, (the person who has specific responsibility for ensuring effective safeguarding procedures within the diocese), the diocesan safeguarding committee members and the Bishop himself. The purpose is to form a view of the competence and effectiveness of the safeguarding structure. The fieldwork team will also seek to speak to representatives of the key statutory civil agencies to hear their views on the quality of the working relationships between them and the diocese. When fieldwork is complete the audit team draft a Review Report which is redacted for presentation to an external Reference Group, with a membership currently headed by an acknowledged leading academic in the field of social work, together with individuals drawn from each of the statutory child protection agencies in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. They may interrogate report findings and may ask for further clarifications or explanation in respect of these. Having been reviewed by the Reference Group the draft report is presented to the bishop for a factual accuracy check. A second redacted draft omitting identifying information is also prepared and presented to him. A feedback interview with the bishop leads to the final report and the expectation of its publication at an agreed early date. The process is identical for religious orders and institutes. We have 26 dioceses and about 160 religious congregations and institutes, many with small memberships and some whose work and charisms do not involve them in dealing with children and youth. We have now completed the audits of 10 dioceses – 6 published late last year with considerable success and to the satisfaction of most of the diocesan priests and lay faithful, with four published in the last 10 days. Three large male religious teaching orders have also been audited and the results published. The Apostolic Visitation, which commended the Board for its review work, also recommended to the Irish Church that completing the review process for all dioceses and religious institutes, be promptly implemented. Following discussion with the Sponsoring Bodies additional resources have been approved, and we are planning to complete the 26 dioceses within the next year or so and all the religious institutes as quickly as possible thereafter. We would then seek to establish a 3-year cycle of regular repeat audits of dioceses and religious institutes. Once we achieve that, we will have achieved the sort of regime in child safeguarding across the Irish church that will stand up to the sort of welcome and necessary scrutiny we need from parents, lay faithful, priests and, hopefully, survivors of abuse. There is one issue we must constantly guard against - the issue of complacency – or what you describe in the U.S as “charter drift”. We need to make sure this doesn’t happen through vigilance. Our approach as a Board is to use our training programming schedules to combat its likelihood and to keep our programming fresh and current. It is appropriate for me to say that, we have found the two commissioned John Jay College Research Studies undertaken by the Church in the U.S helpful in the complex area in which we work – particularly the 2nd study – “The Causes and Context Study” delivered last year – of the phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the U.S. between 1950 and 2010. The findings, emerging from the serious steps taken by the American Church towards understanding and reducing the problem of abuse of minors by priests, have been most helpful to us in the English speaking countries, and I want to register here a heartfelt thanks for this.


Reform – Some Personal thoughts on its shape. Within a month – on 7 October next – a synod of bishops will open in Rome, dedicated to the important topic – “The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”. Its aim and challenge is to make our Hope – whose principle and source is Christ – more concrete, to appropriate it more deeply, so as to bring it more to life. It is about renewal and reform. It begins what the Pope has called the Year of Faith. It is no coincidence that it commences 50 years after the opening of the 2nd Vatican Council. Vatican 2 was described by Cardinal Ouellet, Papal legate to the recent Eucharistic Congress in Ireland as a “breath of Pentecost that freed the Church from her isolation from the modern world and her ecclesiological limits” and that “ its chief inspiration was the ecclesiology of Communion… something that is still in the process of development”. Any study of Vatican 2 automatically necessitates an evaluation of the influence on it of what are described as the “ressourcement” or “back to the sources” theologians – who had ushered in a practical theology engaged in open critique of the most pressing issues affecting contemporary society. Its key leaders included the Jesuits – de Lubac and Danielou and the Dominicans – Chenu and Congar. For more than a decade before the Council they lived under a “cloud of suspicion” in advocating an alternative to the Magisterium specified “Thomism”. As you know their influence was extensive. I would like to borrow the 4 conditions or principles of Church Reform articulated by Congar, which I believe are correct. 1st – The Reformer must love the Church whose members are of course his brothers and sisters in Christ – and so the primacy of love and pastoral concern; 2nd – The need to remain always in communion with the whole Church; 3rd – Patience – and for those who know the history of this Dominican’s troubles with the Church in relation to his theological writing from effectively the end of 2nd world war until the call for the council by Pope John XX111 will have some sense of the patience he needed thru’ those trials; and 4th – Fidelity to Tradition – with a capital T – what the French theological language would express in the word “Ressourcement.” Pope Benedict has closely tied Reform of the Church in the area of sexual abuse – most particularly in Ireland, to a wider programme of spiritual renewal. He has said the Church can survive persecutions from external forces but the greatest threat is from within – the sins and failings of its members. And the catastrophe of the clerical abuse crisis of course has come from within. Profoundly evil at root, it clearly manifests the abuse of privilege and power in all its varied forms, including spiritual abuse. For me the most apt description of what we have been dealing with is False Witness. On an institutional level, false witness translates as not practicing what we preach. In this crisis many Church leaders, in the choice between falsehood and truth, chose falsehood. What a betrayal for a people baptized into communion with God.


Cover-up in its varied forms, systematic ignoring of the rights and sufferings of victims, with responses characterised by lack of outreach, communication, sensitivity and compassion; protection of the institution as a priority over the needs of abused children and their families, lack of truthfulness, all these induce injustice, all these beget false witness. In our respective Churches a considerable amount has been done, particularly in the last decade. We have already spoken about the efforts here in the United States which flow from the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its creation of National Review Board. I have described in broad outline the steps taken in Ireland – the roles of the National Board which I currently chair and the role of the Counselling Service “Towards Healing” which has national reach. Is that enough? I don’t think so. The crisis with which we have been visited clearly indicates a deep and multi-faceted pathology – with cultural and spiritual roots. And this I believe is precisely where Voice of the Faithful have an important and indeed prophetic role. How do we set about continuing to seek to repair the injustice that has occurred? How do we set about continuing to seek to live the truth so as to counteract false witness? I have been an advocate of new organisational structures – created strictly for reasons which are spiritual - for the institutional dimension of our Church. They first need to be considered at diocesan level and their effect be allowed to bestir our parish communities – structures which I also believe would serve to deliver much improved organisational management. Speaking from my own experience there is still a gap in communications to overcome between bishops and their people, for a variety of reasons. In some instances there is also a gap between bishops and the ordained priesthood. Trust levels have taken a battering. Any organisational structural suggestions should be designed to create dialogue, to foster listening to each other, induce prayer and nourish a shared responsibility for the Mission of the Church. I made a call two years ago on every bishop to gather his people in an annual and broadly based ecclesial convention of his diocese. Such convention should be held in the Cathedral Church and filled with lay and ordained delegates from the parishes and those involved in diocesan ministry work. It should involve the local Church in becoming more a living active community in planning pastoral initiatives. It should help develop in parishes a consciousness of belonging to the People of God. It should encourage and assist parishes to become “listening centres of the Word”. It must also, critically, address adequate formation in the Faith. Those of us who are not ordained must accept a role beyond just collaboration – Vatican 2 clearly puts our role as co-responsible for the Church’s being and action. I submit also that the Non-Eucharistic role of the diocesan bishop must be re-examined – and reexamined in the light of Vatican 2’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church or “Lumen Gentium” as it is called. Any reading of paragraphs 26 to 28 of this constitution not only accurately describes and repositions the bishop’s role in a “return to the sources” or “ressourcement” sense but also significantly underlines the Eucharistic ecclesiology of Vatican 2. To achieve the true role of the bishop in contemporary Western Society at least, the Non Eucharistic administrative role should be re-examined as I believe, in co-responsibility terms, the non ordained can take on a more meaningful participation. I appreciate some complexity surrounds a suggestion like this and local circumstances such as size of diocese, urban or rural, come into play - but the dialogue needs to be engaged in. An annual ecclesial convention in a diocese would prove a helpful first step and aid in such direction. To counteract the False Witness in which the institutional dimension of Church has been engaged and to ensure it never recurs, our whole way of living the Christian life must be configured to live lives of true witness. We do this by responding to the call to revitalize and purify our faith, letting ourselves


be guided by the Holy Spirit, thereby giving impetus to his pastoral action. It is thus a question of being better believers, more reliable and welcoming in our parish and community so that no one feels distant or left out. In this way you will be more like Christ. He is what he says – there is no discrepancy between appearance and reality. His life is identical with his mission, his actions are identical with his words. Like him our interior life will be aligned with the exterior - our words and deeds will not contradict such reality – remember what he accuses the Pharisees and scribes of doing. No, our true witness, yours and mine, must be the antidote for the false witness we have learnt has been exercised by the institutional dimension of Church. And so to our Conference Contributions - What Voice of the Faithful means to the Church, means to clerical abuse survivors, means to priests, how we might connect with and go on to nurture the faith of young adults and in the broader context how we might assist in leading others along the path towards reform and healing, my message to you must be that we have now reached the era of “committed Christianity”. Such wonderful work as you seek to undertake, such crucially necessary work, will best be capable of fruition to the degree that we live our post-baptismal journey remembering the doctrine of the two ways that was fundamental in early Christianity – a way to which we say “no” and a way to which we say “yes” – in effect the choice between falsehood and truth. Thank you. John B Morgan, Chairman, National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland. September 15, 2012


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful