Irish church reports reveal horrific child abuse
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Irish church reports reveal horrific child abuse

A new series of reports into Catholic dioceses north and south of the Irish border today revealed horrific child sex abuse by priests and mistakes by church authorities in dealing with them.

Audits of abuse in six dioceses by the Church's own National Board for Safeguarding Children were published by bishops, providing fresh evidence of a widespread cover-up of sexual abuse.

In Raphoe in the northwest of the Republic, Bishop Philip Boyce said horrific acts of child sex abuse were carried out by priests in his diocese over the last 35 years.

"We are truly sorry for the terrible deeds that have been inflicted on so many by a small minority of priests," Boyce said in a statement.

"During the past decades there have been very poor judgements and mistakes made.

"There were horrific acts of abuse by individual priests, that should never have happened, and if suspected should have been dealt with immediately in the appropriate manner," Boyce said.

The Raphoe report said 52 allegations of abuse by a total of 14 priests were made to police between January 1975 and August 2010.

"It is clear that significant errors of judgement were made by successive bishops when responding to child abuse allegations that emerged within this diocese," the Raphoe report says.

"Too much emphasis was placed on the situation of the accused priest and too little on the needs of their complainants.

"Judgements were clouded, due to the presenting problem being for example, alcohol abuse and an inability to hear the concerns about abuse of children, through that presenting problem.

"More attention should have been given to ensuring that preventative actions were taken quickly when concerns came to light," the report says.

A report on the diocese of Derry in Northern Ireland says that 31 allegations of abuse were made against priests. The allegations involved 23 priests.

"Priests about whom there were clear concerns were not robustly challenged or adequately managed and problems were often 'handled' by moving them to postings elsewhere.

"There is evidence that abusive behaviour continued to be exhibited by priests who were moved on in this manner," the Derry report says.

Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, has been rocked by a number of landmark reports on child sex abuse stretching back decades, and on Church leaders' complicity in covering it up.

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