Catholic Church tried to ‘fix’ paedophile priests
LONDON: The Catholic Church in Scotland has admitted it made a “huge mistake” by sending paedophile priests away to be “fixed” rather than prosecuting them.
A senior cleric said recently that abuse was seen as a “sin” and the church focused more on “treating” child molesters than on helping their young victims.
He said there were occasions when prosecutors turned a blind eye and agreed not to bring charges on the condition abusers received therapy, with their crimes seen as a “moral fault that could be fixed by prayer and retreat”.
Some abusers were sent to a hospital in Ireland, he revealed.
Monsignor Peter Smith, former chancellor of the archdiocese of Glasgow, told a hearing of the Scottish child abuse inquiry in Edinburgh that abuse had “always been seen as a serious sin for a cleric” and that there was an internal court process for accused priests. But he said the “reality was these processes were seldom used” because the abuse was seen as a “sin” that could be “sorted”.
He acknowledged that was a “dreadful misunderstanding” and when asked by the inquiry’s lead counsel Colin MacAulay QC if a criminal trial was “relatively rare”, Monsignor Smith said: “It was (seen as) better to fix the person, to redeem them – and that was a huge mistake.”
Monsignor Smith, of St Paul’s Parish Church in Whiteinch, Glasgow, said some or shared by bishops” because of those accused were sent to a it was “embarrassing”. “hospital facility in Ireland”, He said: “It still is horrendously where they embarrassing that such were treated by things could have been done to psychologists. an innocent party.”
Some He insisted that there was alleged abusers “most definitely an assessment were of risk” posed by alleged abusers removed from and it had “not been an the church for amateur arrangement”. good but others But he admitted: “Many were considered to be “fixed” of these places thought that and returned to the ministry, therapy was sufficient. We he said, adding that cases of know sadly and to the cost of abuse were not “talked about many innocent people that that wasn’t true.”
Monsignor Smith insisted prosecutors did believe at the time that the most appropriate action was treatment and that “a year in prison might not be as helpful as a year in therapy”.
The matter was discussed between the prosecutor and the bishop, but the families of victims were not consulted “as a routine”.
Canon Thomas Boyle, former assistant secretary of the Bishops’ Conference, who last week issued an apology to victims on behalf of the Catholic Church, said they had let victims down.
He said: “We didn’t hear them. We didn’t understand the nature of abuse – that it wasn’t a moral fault that could be fixed.”
Judge Lady Smith asked: “Could it really have been the case people were not aware that some people were a risk? That there was something about their familiarity with children that wasn’t right?’
Canon Boyle said that the church was determined to “learn from past mistakes”.
The inquiry continues. – Daily Mail
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