The quotations cited below should serve to correct erroneous media reports on the subject of the handling of child abuse allegations:
The safeguarding children policy in the Diocese of Meath clearly outlines the practice of referring information relating to child abuse to the Statutory authorities –
“Anyone who brings any suspicion, concern or allegation of current or past abuse of a child to the notice of the Church will be responded to sensitively, respectfully, actively and in a timely manner, in line with Statutory child protection procedures. All allegations that reach the threshold for reporting to the Statutory authorities (apart from those received in the sacrament of reconciliation) will be reported to the appropriate Statutory agencies. This will be done irrespective of the status of the person (lay, religious or cleric) who is suspected or believed to be or to have been abusive to a child. All Church personnel will cooperate with the Statutory authorities in all cases and demonstrate accountability through establishing effective monitoring and audt structures. In responding to complaints of child sexual abuse relating to clergy and all those in forms of consecrated life, Church authorities will act in accordance with canon law and the law of the State”.
Similarly, in recent days, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, issued this statement:
“We, the president and the members of the commission, wish to affirm that our obligations under civil law must certainly be followed but, even beyond these civil requirements, we all have a moral and ethical responsibility to report suspected abuse to the civil authorities who are charged with protecting our society”.