Thursday, 27 November 2014



Cardinal Raymond Burke

Chief among these right wingers is Cardinal Raymond Burke who has taken upon himself the role of opposing Pope Francis as he struggles to purify a Vatican and a Church that is, sadly, corrupt to the very core.

Recently Burke has been claiming that the Vatican Curia comes from Jesus himself and cannot be reformed !!! What utter nonsense.

Jesus did not come into the world to found a new religion. He came into the world as a Jew - to bring Judaism to it's completion; to rescue it from the legalism of the Pharisees; to be the pinacle of God's revelation and to show us how to live.

Jesus lived, prayed and worshipped as a Jew. He died a Jew. The sign above his cross read: "The King of the Jews". 

The early followers of Jesus were mainly Jewish and after his death they continued to worship in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and meet together in each others homes for the "Breaking of the Bread" as instructed by Jesus.

It was not until the early disciples were persecuted in Jerusalem and were forced to move to Antioch that they were called "Christians".

If Christianity has a "Mother Church" it is the church in Jerusalem. Antioch would have a second claim. Rome has no claim to be the Mother Church of Christianity - apart from the claim that the emperor Constantine made it the "Mother Church" of the West and Constantinople the "Mother Church" of the East.

Burke & Co have no basis for claiming that the Vatican, Rome and The Curia are from Jesus. In fact everything that the Vatican and the Curia stand for is - under proper examination - anti Christian; anti Gospel - and therefore in a real sense the anti Christ!

The "church" in each place should resemble the "church" that Jesus and his disciples practiced and the church that we find in the earliest of Apostolic times.

That "church" is small, powerless, democratic, compassionate and non-judgemental.

It had very few structures. Structure only began to emerge as numbers got bigger and as people began to teach things that were contrary to what Christ taught. But even then the elders, presbyters, overseers and deacons and deaconesses were SERVANTS and mot masters.

The early church was truly "ruined" when Constantine (who himself did not embrace Christianity in his lifetime) decided to make Christianity the religion of his empire. Thats when the rot set in. That's when the "powers of darkness" high-jacked the Body of Christ. And those same powers of darkness have been hijacking it ever since. Burke & Co are either knowingly or unknowingly on the side of the powers of darkness.

The church under the powers of darkness have been responsible for wars, persecutions, mass murder, crusades, witch hunts and inquisitions ever since. The same spirit which inspired all of those evils still inspires the so called "Curia" of today. It is all about control, power, lies, intrigue, riches etc. And it is a terminal cancer on the Body of Christ. 

The whole issue hinges around the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960's.

The Council was called by Pope John XX111 to open the windows and renew the Church after more that 400 years of stagnation.

The Council documents were agreed by the Council Fathers - all the bishops of the whole world.

One of the big changes was to change the Liturgy / Mass from latin into the "vernacular" so that each nation could celebrate the Mass in its own language.

But almost immediately the Council ended there were "dark forces" within the Vatican, the hierarchy and the Vatican Curia who wanted to undo all that had been done by the Council.  They began to steadily resist changes and to try and turn things back by 400 years.

These people were helped by the pontificates of John Paul 11 - a conservative and autocratic Pole - who was a PR master mind but who was in fact a medieval type pope.

That line was continued by Benedict who had been John Paul's "enforcer" in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the old "Inquisition".

John Paul1 - the 30 day pope - wanted to reform the Curia. He ended up dead!

Currently Pope Francis is set on renewal. The "medievals", headed by Burke are against him. If they got the chance he would be dead too!

But the time has come for a definitive showdown between Pope Francis and those against reform.

The Old Latin Mass is the rallying place for all these right wing medievals.

I think that for the sake of unity and discipline Francis needs to temporarily BAN the Latin Mass to deprive the medievals of a rallying place.

I think that Francis should remove Burke's "red hat" and demand that he withdraw from public life within the church and from going around the world stirring up trouble.

If Burke and the right wingers do not accept this then let them head off and join the Le Febreve-ites or set up a Tridentine church of their own. We need to see the back of them. They need to be given this ultimatum. Francis is trying to maintain unity by half humouring these banana cases. But they are not reasonable and rational people. They are ignorant militants who want to take the whole church back to the Middle Ages.

Burke is a laughing stock going around dressed up like some kind of an ecclesiastical transexual relic from the 1600's.

I don't know why he is so out to get gay people. Anyone who dresses like him, to my mind, has serious psychosexual problems.

We are at a cross roads. We need to fight for the simple Community of Faith that Christ intended. The enemy are these medievalists who want a militaristic church militant that is totally out of touch with the real world and that is in defiance of rationality, reason and Gospel values.

+Pat Buckley

Sunday, 16 November 2014



Fr Strain owes £ 1.6 million

The "administrator" of Holy Family Roman Catholic parish has announced to parishioners that the parish owes Bishop Treanor and the Diocese of Down and Connor 1.6 million - and that money has to be paid.

Bishop Treanor looks to see when his £1.6 million is coming back

Father did say that the "good news" was that Bishop Treanor's interest rates are much more humane that those charged by the high street banks.

Father Strain explained that any surplus money in the parishes goes to Bishop Treanor - and then Bishop Treanor lends that money to parishes that need it.

I thought that odd? Does that not mean that parishes are borrowing their own money back from money they already gave to the bishop?

I wish people would give me money that I could then "lend" back to them.

That stunt is worthy of the most astute member of the Jewish and Scottish communities :-)

But the good parishioners of Holy Family were not happy with Father Strain's explanation.

In fairness to poor Father Strain he is between a rock and a hard place. He is caught between his bishop and his people.

But the Holy Family problem is bigger than that again.

Father Strain explained that the parish has a number of presbyteries (priest's houses) in disrepair as well as 3 churches that need ongoing repair and renovation.

Why has Holy Family three presbyteries when they only have one or two priests? Can those priests not live together in one house? Its not as if they all have wives and kids that would fight with each other.

Fr Daniel Delargey Adm, Holy Family - 2025 - 2035

And why, in these days of dwindling congregations and priests do they need 3 churches?

Would one church and a couple of minibuses for those without cars not do the job?

The other problem is that Father Strain is not the PARISH PRIEST of Holy Family parish.

Holy Family is a "mensal parish" and therefore it is Bishop Treanor who is the parish priest.

And he lives in another house in the parish that he has just finished renovating for between £ 1 million and £ 4 million. The uncertainty about this figure is down to that fact that Bishop Treanor is not willing to tell us how much exactly he spent on his palace.

If it was £ 4 million would that same money not have paid off Holy Family's debt and repaired all the other parish property?

And all this comes on the heels of it becoming public knowledge that Bishop Treanor is in fact an ABSENTEE BISHOP - spending a great deal of his time travelling around Europe and the world instead of being in his diocese doing his primary job.

In the last 6 years since he became bishop I wonder how much money Bishop Treanor has spent on flights and hotel expenses?

Rumours have reached this Blog that Bishop Treanor is planning world wide trips in 2015.

This Blog recently addressed the general crisis in Down and Connor.

Now we are beginning to see other crises developing in individual D&C parishes like Holy Family.

People like Father Strain, who is doing his best, should not be having to take the flack for the bigger monkeys higher up the tree. 

I think that it is high time the people of Down and Connor stopped giving to Sunday collections and started channeling their donations to causes like the Ebola crisis, world hunger, hospices etc.

+Pat Buckley

Friday, 14 November 2014



Bishop Treanor at Verdun (2nd from left)
The Catholic Diocese of Down and Connor is drifting deeper and deeper into crisis - a crisis called mainly by it's "absentee" bishop Noel Treanor.

A D&C priest writing to this Blog in the past few days said:

"The Holy Spirit is everywhere and Bishop Treanor is everywhere except in Down and Connor"

Bishop Treanor recently called ALL his clergy together to a meeting at a religious venue just outside Newry. So disillusioned are the clergy that only half of them bothered to turn up!

This caused a furious Noel Treanor to send an email to all the priests lamenting the poor turn out and being critical of what he called the "Carryduff Question".

This Blog has had a copy of Bishop Treanor's email sent to it by one of the priests of the diocese.

What was the "Carryduff Question"?

The question was addressed to Bishop Treanor at the Newry meeting by a senior priest of the diocese with geographical connections to the Carryduff area of Belfast. Again his name is known to this Blog but out of respect for his privacy we are not naming him.

The question was: "Bishop Noel, is the poor turn out at this meeting not a sign of the fact that the priests of the diocese have lost confidence in your leadership"?

Treanor was apparently furious at this question and having floundered about for a brief period Noel decided that attack was the best form of defence. It seems to me - and to many others - that the faithful priest who asked this question has now been firmly put in the folder that is marked: "enemy" or "trouble maker".

Apparently Bishop Treanor's main theme at the gathering was how important it was for priests to look after Church funds and finances.

This prompted another question from the floor:

"Which particular Gospel imperative asks priests to look after Church funds and finances"?

Again Noel was enraged.

Had I been there I think I might have pointed out to Noel Treanor that the only Gospel precedent for priestly money managing was the precedent of Judas Iscariot!

Noel is now on the financial war path and is apparently planning a number of other clergy gatherings at various venues in the coming months.

Fathers!  Bring your parish accounts and your cheque books with you!


Noel Treanor came to Down and Connor in 2008 - 6 years ago.

The belief is that he came here reluctantly - as he was very happy in his Church desk job in Europe.

He was only supposed to be passing through Down and Connor on his way to Armagh and a cardinal's hat.

However he messed up his chances of Armagh in various ways - especially by choosing to have a very public row with Mr Ian Elliott - the former head of the Church's Child Safeguarding Board.

Ian Elliott

He is not supposed to be happy in Down and Connor. He does not like the place. He does not like the priests and regards them all as "problems".

He has infuriated clergy and people alike by spending a reported £ 4 million on restoring his palace in Belfast - replete with door handles costing £350 each and wallpaper at £100 a roll.

He has either an unfortunate personality or is a rude snob. His conversational and preaching style is to make people feel that they are being talked down to.

He is avoiding celebrating Confirmation ceremonies as often as he can and is sending out his ailing auxiliary bishop Tony Farquhar (70's) and the retired and nearly done Bishop Walsh (84) to represent him.

Paddy Walsh

He is appointing "vicars" to deal with other matters he should be dealing with personally - clergy, social affairs and education.

He is either not answering correspondence at all or taking months to reply to letters from clergy and laity.

In spite of the fact that he is now living (since last week) in a £ 4 million mansion he is never there.

He is away at the drop of a hat - on pilgrimages, trips to Europe, holidays, meetings, conferences etc - all of which are being payed for by the donations of the People of God.

Rumour has it that he has several long distance and world wide trips arranged already for 2015.

"I keep an overnight bag at the ready"

Its not unknown for people to call his mobile telephone number and be told by him that he is in a foreign country.

As a result of all these matters the Diocese of Down and Connor is basically leaderless. The Barque of Peter in Down and Connor is rudderless. The boat has no captain.

As a result it is quickly and definitively heading for the rocks!

The good priests in the Diocese - of which there are many - are very worried and concerned about this and are gradually losing heart.

The cynical and irresponsible priests are delighted. They are enjoying being mice in a household that has no resident cat!

They are having a great time - never in their parishes and always with their boyfriends (most common) or girlfriends (less common). They are also treating their parishioners like dirt. Any why not? If the Bishop can defecate on the priests surely the priests can do the same to the lowest form of Church life - the laity.

The sad thing about all of this though is that:

1. The Gospel is not being preached.

2. The sheep are without shepherding

3. The clergy are lost in a mist.

4. The Body of Christ (the Church) is being severely wounded.

Something must happen to stop this decline. That "something" must happen NOW!

Noel needs to change from being an aloof and absentee pastor into a good shepherd.

If he cannot - or will not - do that then -

He should immediately resign - and allow his scattered and frightened sheep to be cared for by a shepherd after the Lord's heart.

+Pat Buckley

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


British archbishop who claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing documents to paedophile investigators is promoted to third highest role in Vatican by the Pope

  • Archbishop Paul Gallagher appointed by Pope Francis as foreign minister
  • Refused to hand over documents on two priests who abused 100 children
  • He was asked about Father Denis McAlinden as Church was aware of crimes
  • Also requested to give evidence about paedophile Father James Fletcher
  • But cited diplomatic immunity to avoid handing in response to requests 

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, 60, claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing documents to prosecutors investigating two paedophile priests
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, 60, claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing documents to prosecutors investigating two paedophile priests. A British archbishop, appointed by Pope Francis as his new foreign minister, claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing over Vatican documents to prosecutors investigating two paedophile priests.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, 60, from Liverpool was promoted on Saturday to the third highest position in the Vatican as part of a reshuffle by Francis.
But the appointment of the former papal envoy to Australia to the Vatican's most senior hierarchy will be a blow for campaigners against clerical sex abuse.

Earlier this year the United Nations said it was 'concerned' after Mr Gallagher cited diplomatic immunity in response to repeated requests by prosecutors for documents on two priests that abused more than 100 children over 40 years.
A report by the UN Committee against Torture reported that the Holy See was still 'resisting the principle of mandatory reporting of allegations to civil authorities', and withholding information, citing Gallagher by name.
Only after months of bureaucratic wrangling and an embarrassing diplomatic standoff did the Archbishop eventually agree to turn over some of the documents which were wanted as part of an inquiry into Australia's worst abuse scandal.

The Maitland-Newcastle diocese has been described as the country's 'epicentre' of Catholic clerical abuse with 400 known victims.

Gallagher was asked for information on Father Denis McAlinden, an Irish priest who preyed on pre-pubescent girls was known to the church as a paedophile since the 1970s but for decades he was moved from parish to parish in Australia and posted overseas to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

He was eventually defrocked in a secret process in exchange for 'keeping his good name'.
The documents requested also referred to Father James Fletcher, who was convicted of abusing four victims over three decades including the rape of an altar boy, a crime for which he was sentenced to almost eight years prison, where he died in 2006.

Copies of correspondence released by the New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry show prosecutors requested documents from Gallagher on 30 August 2013.
The nuncio sent an interim response, stating that he was submitting the request to Rome but after no response almost two months later the prosecutors were forced to write again to both Gallagher and the Vatican to follow up the request.

Pope Francis recently appointed Mr Gallagher as his new foreign minister, the third highest position in the Vatican
Three weeks later Gallagher eventually replied reminding the commissioner that his office was 'the high diplomatic representative of the Holy See to the Commonwealth' and cited 'the protections afforded by international agreements, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations'.

The convention states that the archives and documents of a diplomatic mission 'shall be inviolable at any time and wherever they may be'. 

Without this 'high principle of international relations' 'diplomatic missions would no longer be able freely to carry out their domestic and international responsibilities', he claimed.
He was asked about Father Denis McAlinden, an Irish priest who preyed on pre-pubescent girls and was known as a danger   since the 1970s
He was asked about Father Denis McAlinden, an Irish priest who preyed on pre-pubescent girls and was known as a danger since the 1970s
He said his office would consider 'specific requests' for information, 'bearing in mind the expectation that it would not be appropriate to seek internal communications'.
On 14 November the NSW crown solicitor, Ian Knight, wrote to Gallagher for a third time.

In his letter Knight reminded the nuncio of a guarantee by Cardinal George Pell that 'every document the Vatican had' would be made available to a separate inquiry into child sexual abuse in the same year.

'Of course, this Commission is separate and distinct from both the Royal Commission and the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry,' Knight wrote, '
'But I trust that the sentiment of co-operation would similarly extend to this Commission's processes.'
Eventually on 6 December 2013 Gallagher forwarded copies of correspondence between the Bishop of Maitland−Newcastle and the then Nuncio, as well as other letters, which the commission already had copies of.

But he declined to forward any 'internal communications', between the Vatican diplomatic missions in Australia and in the Philippines saying 'Such communications are confidential, as is the case for those of the diplomatic missions of any country.'

Gallagher was appointed following the demotion of ultra-conservative American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has led open opposition to Pope Francis' leadership saying the church is 'without a rudder'. 


I'm truly disappointed that Pope Francis is taking another "wheeler and dealer" Catholic bishop to work in the Vatican :-(

Gallagher is obviously loyal to the RC institution BUT has no loyalty to Jesus Christ and His Teachings.

He was quite prepared to shield at least 2 priest paedophiles in Australia and thereby make it more difficult for the Australian authorities to achieve justice for abused children.

It is quite obvious to me that the RC Institution is guided by the Spirit of Darkness and not by the Holy Spirit.

The Vatican / so called Holy See is nothing but a ROGUE STATE.

They are in the same mould as the Mugabee's and Putins of this world.

Maybe there should be a Cardinal Mugabee and a Cardinal Putin?

+Pat Buckley

Sunday, 9 November 2014



O Lord help me resist Fairy Cakes"

Recently, Fr Timmy Bartlett, the media adviser to the disgraced cardinal, Sean Brady, issued a statement to the BBC which read: "I will be writing today to those groups from the gay community, with whom I have had a very constructive and ongoing engagement in recent years, to say that I am withdrawing my engagement until the right of all people, in this case Christians, to freedom of conscience is vindicated and respected by the Equality Commission and the gay community.

Father Bartlett has broken off all relationships with gay people because the Northern Ireland Equality Commission is taking legal action against Ashers Bakery for refusing to fulfill an order to bake a cake for a gay event.

Ashers refused to bake the cake because it offended their "Christian" principles!

I always knew that we called those little cakes "Fairy Cakes" but I thought that bakeries were in the business of baking cakes to their customer's requirements? 

It does not seem to me to be good business sense to refuse to bake a cake for a particular community.

It would be like Ashers saying that they were refusing to bake a cake for a Roman Catholic Christening ceremony because it offended their Reformation principles!

It would be like Ashers refusing to bake a cake for  Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day because the Jews killed Jesus!

It would be like Ashers refusing to bake a cake for a Roman Catholic Bible Conference because the Catholic Bible has more books in it than the Protestant Bible!

I find it very difficult to believe that Ashers is being genuine in this matter. If they are being "genuine" then it means that Ashers is being run by people who are blinded by a very non Jesus like type of Christianity.

To me their decision smacks of homophobia posing as religion - a pretty awful and disgraceful type of religion.

Would ASHERS make a BOMB CAKE for the British Army Bomb Squad?

Would ASHERS make a CONDOM CAKE and would Father Bartlett support their civil right to make a condom cake?

Would Ashers make a GENETIC ENGINEERING CAKE and would Father Bartlett support their civil right to do so?


Has Father Bartlett nothing to worry about except the Equality Commission taking Ashers to court for refusing to make a gay cake?

Would it not be a better use of his time for Father Bartlett to worry about some of the following:

1. The fact that his former boss, Cardinal Brady, has just resigned after covering up for the serial sex abuser Father Brendan Smyth?

2. The fact that, at the latest figure, some 115,000 US priests have sexually abused minors.

3. The fact that the majority of Roman Catholics in Ireland, especially in the cities and towns, have little or no respect left for his corrupt institution.

4. As a Vicar for Roman Catholic Education - the fact that the vast majority of so called "Catholic" teachers do  not believe in his precious Catholic doctrines and dogmas.

5. As a Vicar for Roman Catholic Education the vast majority of the children he is pushing through his school sausage system will only use his church buildings to facilitate their social celebrations of baptism, communion, marriage and death.

Also Father Bartlett needs to be reminded that his stance is very much at odds with the position of Pope Francis who has told the world he does not want to judge gay people!

If Pope Francis came across the celebration of a Gay Wedding and was offered a piece of the wedding cake I am quite certain he would accept and eat it.

Does Father Bartlett want to be more Catholic than the Pope?

Those of us clergy who know / know about Dear Father Timothy would be quite certain that the same gentleman would like to be Bishop Timothy some day - preferably as soon as possible.

Does he think that being more Catholic than the Pope will get him that mitre?

Is the cake pictured just below the cake he longs to eat?

I know that Father Timothy is just too virtuous ever to be tempted with the temptations of the flesh.

But I wonder if he were tempted what would be his preference - THE FEMINA ERECTA or THE HOMO ERECTUS ?

Now there's an interesting question!

Timmy, if I were you I'd stay out of the kitchen and the pastry shop and concentrate on the priesting" and I'd leave the poor Gays alone.

Ashers have plenty of lawyers and supporters. You do not need to be getting your soft hands all messed up in the mixing bowl. It will play havoc with your cuticles!


Tuesday, 4 November 2014



The Big Bang, which scientists believe led to the formation of the universe some 13.8billion years ago, was all part of God's plan, Pope Francis has declared.
The Pope said the scientific account of the beginning of the universe and the development of life through evolution are compatible with the Catholic Church's vision of creation.
He told a meeting of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Sciences: ‘The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.’
But he said Christians should reject the idea that world came into being by chance. Likewise, evolution was all part of God’s plan, he explained.
The development of each creature’s characteristics over millennia ‘does not contrast with the notion of creation because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve,’ he said.
Reading Genesis we imagine that God is ‘a wizard with a magic wand’ capable of doing all things, he said.
‘But it is not so. He created life and let each creature develop according to the natural laws which he had given each one.’
Francis praised his predecessor, Benedict, who initiated attempts to shed the Catholic Church’s image of being anti-science, a label that stuck when it condemned the astronomer Galileo to death for teaching that the earth revolves around the sun.

The Catholic Church no longer teaches creationism - the belief that God created the world in six days - and says that the account in the book of Genesis is an allegory for the way God created the world.

Right Wing Catholic (first on left)

During the meeting, bishops failed to reach consensus on two emotive issues - concerning gays and divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. The failure to reach an agreement leaves those two open sores festering for a whole year before another meeting next October.

Conservative bishops and commentators have been highly critical of the synod, saying it sowed confusion for the faithful about what the church really teaches about homosexuality and the indissolubility of marriage.
Progressives have hailed it as evidence that the church is responding to the signs of the times, allowing issues that were previously taboo under Benedict to be open for discussion.
The Vatican has dismissed reports that a group of conservative bishops visited Benedict during the synod asking for his intervention after it appeared a much more progressive approach was being advanced.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the reports were 'hardly credible.

Thursday, 30 October 2014



John Magee

Misrepresentation by Bishop Magee

In February 2008, the Irish Government referred two allegations of child sex abuse to the National Board for Safeguarding Children, an independent supervisory body established by the Irish bishops, led by Mr Ian Elliot. When the chief executive of that body made contact with the diocese on the matter, he was met with lack of co-operation. Meetings held with Bishop John Magee and representatives of the diocese in March failed to elicit his full co-operation with the National Board for Child Protection's investigation. As per BBC News, "The report found that Bishop John Magee falsely told the government and the health service that his diocese was reporting all abuse allegations to authorities. It also found that the bishop deliberately misled another inquiry and his own advisors by creating two different accounts of a meeting with a priest suspecting of abusing a child, one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files".

         The Cloyne Report: Chapter 26          Bishop John Magee              2011.                          


26.1 On 30 December 2008, while the fallout from the recent publication of the Elliott report (see Chapter 6) was still reverberating throughout the Diocese of Cloyne and indeed beyond, the diocesan delegate, Fr Bermingham, received a telephone call from Joseph.[1]  Prompted by the contents of the Elliott report, Joseph had reviewed his own interactions with Bishop John Magee during a period when he had been contemplating entering the priesthood.  He was concerned that the behaviour of the bishop towards him, which had not perturbed him at the time, was, on reflection, disquieting. 

Meeting with Fr Bermingham

Father William Bermingham

        26.2                After a number of telephone calls, Fr Bermingham arranged to meet
Joseph on 2 January 2009.  This was an awkward assignment for Fr Bermingham as the report concerned his bishop, to whom he owed respect and obedience.  Fr Bermingham told the Commission that he was apprehensive about having to deal with the matter as none of the procedures in either the Framework Document (1996) or Our Children, Our Church (2005) set out how a delegate is to deal with a complaint against his bishop or a superior despite the fact that experience in other countries suggests that complaints against bishops are not unheard of. 


26.3 At the meeting, which was also attended by Joseph’s father, Joseph gave a history of continuous involvement with the Church throughout his youth, first as an altar boy, then as a reader and latterly as an aspirant priest.  In all of these capacities he had encountered Bishop Magee.  He had attended annual vocations’ meetings organised by the bishop in the period under review when he was aged between 15 and 17.  Following assessment, Joseph was accepted as a candidate for the priesthood for the Diocese of Cloyne.  He was approximately 17½ years old at that time but could not take up his place in the seminary until he was aged 18. By this stage, Bishop Magee and Joseph had each other’s mobile telephone numbers.  If either wished to speak to the other, texting was usually used to arrange the appointments.  

26.4 Later, because of changed family circumstances, Joseph decided not to take up his place in the seminary.  Just before the start of the seminary year he met Bishop Magee to notify him of his decision.  The meeting took place in the reception room at the bishop’s residence.  It was the first time that Joseph had spent time alone with Bishop Magee.  According to Joseph, that meeting marked a change in the bishop’s behaviour towards him, both in word and deed.  Joseph reported to Fr Bermingham and has told the Commission that, in the course of this particular meeting, the bishop embraced him tightly and at the same time inquired of him as to whether that “felt good”.  Joseph reported that this embrace was protracted; it lasted for approximately one minute.  He stated that the bishop also kissed him on the forehead.  Joseph had a number of further meetings alone with the bishop, some when he was under 18 and some when he was over 18. In the course of those meetings there were similar prolonged tight embraces and kisses on the forehead.  There is some ambiguity about the precise age Joseph was when some of the alleged behaviour occurred.  According to Joseph, the bishop declared that he loved him and told him that he had dreamt about him – this may have happened before he was 18 or soon thereafter.  

26.5 It is important to note that Joseph’s contemporaneous reaction to the bishop’s behaviour was that his words and actions were “paternal”.  Neither the words nor the gestures had made him feel uneasy at the time.  As already stated, it was the publicity surrounding the publication of the Elliott report that had caused Joseph to review his interactions with the bishop.  Following that publication, Joseph had read in the newspapers general details about the kind of inappropriate behaviour that a boy had experienced at the hands of an unnamed priest before he was abused by that priest.  Joseph told the Commission that he began “to interpret what had happened between us from a fresh perspective and I began to think that maybe it wasn’t as innocent as I originally thought or assumed it was”. 

26.6 Joseph was anxious to know how Fr Bermingham viewed the behaviour and the words which he had described.  Fr Bermingham’s response was that, given the actual details revealed and Joseph’s age at the time, the behaviour described did not constitute an allegation of child sexual abuse.  He did express the view to Joseph that the behaviour described was inappropriate to the occasion and to the relationship.  He assured Joseph and his father that Church procedures in relation to these matters would be followed and that he would keep them advised as to developments.

Involvement of Mr Elliott

Ian Elliott

Following the meeting on 2 January 2009, Fr Bermingham telephoned Mr Ian Elliott of the Catholic Church’s National Board for Safeguarding
Children, who was temporarily acting as the advisory panel for the Diocese of Cloyne, to notify him of the concerns raised by Joseph and to seek his advice in the matter.  Mr Elliott agreed with Fr Bermingham’s assessment that what had occurred was not child abuse and was accordingly not reportable either to the HSE or the Gardaí under the guidelines set out in Our Children, Our Church.  He also agreed with Fr Bermingham’s assessment that what had occurred amounted to a boundary infringement and constituted inappropriate behaviour as outlined in paragraph 8.9 of Our Children, Our Church:  

Inappropriate Behaviour and Misconduct

There may be instances where, in the judgement of the Director of Child Protection, the complaint does not constitute ‘reasonable grounds for concern’ that child abuse has occurred, but rather indicates inappropriate behaviour, misconduct, or a breach of standards on the part of the person in question. In such instances, it may be necessary for the bishop, religious superior or chairperson of the Church organisation to take further action and/or implement disciplinary procedures. Such action might include obtaining a professional assessment of fitness to carry out duties; advice and counselling; a requirement to undertake special training or seek specialised assistance.”

26.8 Mr Elliott and Fr Bermingham agreed that the guidelines required that Joseph be informed that the matter would not be reported to the civil authorities and further that he be informed of the reason for this decision. They also agreed that procedures required that the person complained about, Bishop Magee, and his superior be informed of the fact and detail of the complaint. This placed Fr Bermingham in the awkward and unenviable position of having to confront his own bishop with an allegation of inappropriate behaviour.

26.9 On the following morning Fr Bermingham sent an e-mail to Mr Elliott containing the text which he proposed to read to Bishop Magee and sought his approval for that course.

Fr Bermingham meets Bishop Magee

26.10 On 3 January, Fr Bermingham met Bishop Magee.  According to Fr Bermingham, he told the bishop that he had a very difficult task to perform and that he was going to read a text to the bishop.  He told the Commission that he first of all cautioned Bishop Magee that he did not need to make any response to what was going to be read out. 

26.11 Fr Bermingham told the Commission that, following the reading of the statement which contained details of Joseph’s concerns and of Fr Bermingham’s meeting with him, Bishop Magee stated words to the effect that he would never harm that young man.  Fr Bermingham noted that the bishop was shocked at the interpretation placed on his actions.

Involvement of Archbishop Clifford

Dermot Clifford

26.12 Following his brief meeting with the bishop, Fr Bermingham telephoned Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Bishop of Cashel and Emly, who was the metropolitan archbishop[2] for the Diocese of Cloyne.

26.13 Later that same day, Archbishop Clifford met Fr Bermingham.  Fr Bermingham gave Archbishop Clifford a copy of the written account which he had read out to Bishop Magee.  He also told him that he had been in touch with and taken advice from Mr Elliott.  Archbishop Clifford inquired about Bishop Magee’s reaction and was told that Bishop Magee had admitted to the gestures but had not said whether or not he had uttered the words as written down.   

26.14 On Monday 5 January 2009, Fr Bermingham wrote to Joseph informing him that he had reported the matter to Archbishop Clifford, that he had sought the advice of Mr Elliott, and that, on the basis of the information supplied, the interaction between him and Bishop Magee did not constitute child sexual abuse.  Joseph was invited to contact Archbishop Clifford if he wished to follow up his concerns further and he was also told of his option to bring his concerns to the civil authorities. The letter concluded: 
“I should add that Bishop Magee, on being informed of your concerns, wishes to assure you that any words or actions of his were never intended to hurt, embarrass or injure you in any way and he continues to wish you well in your studies and in your future career.”

26.15 In the same week Archbishop Clifford contacted Mr Elliott seeking advice about the discharge of his obligations under paragraph 8.9 of Our Children, Our Church.  He also asked Mr Elliott to recommend an expert on boundary issues to whom he could ask Bishop Magee to go for instruction.  Also that same week, the Government decided to refer the issue of the handling of complaints of child sexual abuse in the Cloyne diocese to this Commission.  

Informing Papal Nuncio and Cardinal Brady
        26.16              On 7 January, Archbishop Clifford telephoned Cardinal Sean Brady,
Archbishop of Armagh, to tell him of the complaint.

Cardinal Sean Brady

He also told Cardinal Brady that Mr Elliott considered the behaviour to be inappropriate but that it was not reportable to the civil authorities.  He then sent a copy of Fr Bermingham’s report about the complaint, the actions he had taken and the views of Mr Elliott, by fax, to Cardinal Brady.  At the end of that week, on 11 January 2009, Archbishop Clifford went to see the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Leanza.   

Archbiahop Leanza - Papal Nuncio

Archbishop Clifford told the Commission that he gave the Papal Nuncio a copy of the young man’s complaint as recorded by Fr Bermingham. The Nuncio advised him that he would forward the details of the complaint to the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, Cardinal Re.   

26.17 On 13 January 2009, Cardinal Brady gave an interview to RTÉ Radio in which, among other things, the problems in the Diocese of Cloyne were discussed.   Cardinal Brady accepted that public trust had been damaged by the revelations in the Elliott report and he went on to describe the steps needed to rebuild that trust.  When asked specifically about the position of Bishop Magee, he said that he was heartened that the bishop had accepted responsibility for what had happened, had apologised and had committed himself to changing the structures and eliminating the deficiencies in the diocese.  He said that he accepted the word of the National Board for Safeguarding Children that great strides had been made in Cloyne.  He said that, in his view, Bishop Magee should not resign but should stay in order to ensure that the safeguarding of children was a total priority in the Diocese of Cloyne.

Sean Brady - "Bishop Magee should not resign"

Cardinal Brady was, as already described, aware of the complaint of inappropriate behaviour against Bishop Magee.  He told the Commission that he had noted and accepted the statement in Fr Bermingham’s report that Mr Elliott had judged that the conduct in question was not sexual abuse and was not reportable to the civil authorities.  

26.18 On 15 January, Mr Elliott wrote to Archbishop Clifford recommending a specialist in “boundary issues” who might be willing to advise Bishop Magee on appropriate behaviour in pastoral ministry.

Archbishop Clifford meets Bishop Magee
26.19 Around this time, Archbishop Clifford spoke to Bishop Magee about the complaint.   Fr Bermingham had already told Archbishop Clifford that Bishop Magee had earlier admitted the gestures.  Archbishop Clifford told the Commission that he asked Bishop Magee whether he had said the words attributed to him by Joseph and, if so, what he meant by them. Archbishop Clifford also told the Commission that, in that interview, Bishop Magee denied that he had kissed Joseph on the forehead but stated that he had made the sign of the cross on his forehead.  He admitted that he had stated to Joseph that he dreamt of him and explained this by saying that he dreamt of him as a lovely priest.  According to Archbishop Clifford, Bishop Magee acknowledged that he had told Joseph that he loved him but, at this meeting, he did not explain or elaborate on why he said it.  Archbishop Clifford explained to the Commission that he “felt it would not be wise to say any more because I wasn't in an investigative role”.   Later, in April 2009, Bishop Magee explained to Archbishop Clifford that his intention, in saying that he loved Joseph, was to comfort the young man who was upset by family problems. 

Joseph contacts Mr Elliott

26.20 On 21 January 2009, Joseph forwarded details of his concerns directly to Mr Elliott.  This e-mail contained more detail of the interaction between Joseph and Bishop Magee than had been noted in the report of Fr Bermingham.   The purpose of the e-mail was to ask Mr Elliott’s view as to whether the behaviour of the bishop amounted to sexual abuse and whether the Gardaí should be notified.

26.21 Having forwarded the e-mail to Archbishop Clifford, Mr Elliott responded to Joseph’s e-mail on 23 January.  He offered counselling to the young man and then addressed his questions stating:
“With the regard to the incidents that you describe, the critical issue is how they made you feel then and afterwards. If I am right in my assessment, you were a young adult when they happened and you did not communicate your discomfort to the Bishop when you were in the situation. You viewed what happened as you described it, as a breach of proper boundaries and social relationships. This breach would not be abusive in itself and therefore would not be a matter that you would need to report to the Gardai. The assessment that I have offered to you is based on the information contained in your e-mail.” 

Contact with boundary counsellor

26.22 On 22 January 2009, Archbishop Clifford contacted the boundary counsellor who had been recommended by Mr Elliott.  Archbishop Clifford raised concerns about Bishop Magee’s behaviour and requested that the boundary expert meet him.  According to Archbishop Clifford, the expert was willing to meet Bishop Magee as a pastoral supervisor rather than as a therapist.   He saw his role as being to inform Bishop Magee about what constituted appropriate boundaries in dealing with matters relating to touch in personal relationships.   According to a note of the conversation between Archbishop Clifford and the expert, Archbishop Clifford expressed concerns that Bishop Magee might at some future date infringe these boundaries again because he appeared to be in a vulnerable state.  The expert was sent the email from Joseph to which reference is made above.  Bishop Magee was asked to make contact with the boundary counsellor. 

Joseph goes to solicitor and Gardaí

26.23 Meanwhile, not being fully satisfied with the response of Mr Elliott and being concerned that Mr Elliott was acting on behalf of the Catholic Church, Joseph brought his account, together with Mr Elliott’s response and the letter of 5 January from Fr Bermingham, to a solicitor for the purpose of seeking advice as to whether Mr Elliott was right in his assessment of what had happened.    According to Joseph’s evidence to the Commission, the solicitor advised him that the bishop’s behaviour was “weird” and that if he wanted to pursue it further he should either speak to a garda that he knew, off the record, or he should bring it to the attention of a barrister.  Joseph’s father arranged for him to meet a detective garda.  Joseph met the detective garda on a number of occasions throughout the month of February and early March 2009.  The detective garda, according to Joseph’s account to the Commission, sought the opinion of other Gardaí experienced in the area of child sexual abuse and all came to the same conclusion, that is, that the behaviour of Bishop Magee was unprofessional and inappropriate but that it was not sexually abusive. 

26.24 Joseph said that, during the course of his meetings with the Gardaí, inquiries were made of him about the steps being taken by the Church in relation to his complaint.  Having being assured by the Gardaí that there was no criminal offence involved, he reverted to the Church authorities to inquire what had been done on foot of his complaint. He had heard nothing from the Church authorities since the e-mail from Mr Elliott on 23 January 2009.  Unknown to him, Church authorities had taken certain steps in relation to his complaint.

Bishops’ meeting, January 2009

26.25 At the end of January 2009, there was an extraordinary general meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference in Maynooth.  It was called for the purpose of discussing child protection issues.  There were more than 20 bishops present including Bishop Magee, Archbishop Clifford and Cardinal Brady who chaired the meeting.  The minutes of the meeting do not record this but, during the course of the day, an informal meeting took place at which there was a general discussion as to whether or not Bishop Magee should resign in the context of the revelations contained in the Elliott report and in light of the referral of the Cloyne diocese to this Commission of Investigation.  

Archbishop Clifford and Cardinal Brady each gave accounts of this part of the meeting to the Commission.   As already described, each was aware of the complaint of inappropriate behaviour against Bishop Magee. The Episcopal Secretary has confirmed that Joseph’s complaint was not discussed at either the formal or the informal meeting.      

26.26 Archbishop Clifford told the Commission that Bishop Magee outlined the fall-out from the Elliott report and described the stress under which he had been living since its publication.  He told the other bishops that he had received a death threat on Christmas Eve.     Archbishop Clifford said that there were strong opinions on both sides.  The stronger arguments in favour of resignation were made by Archbishop Martin and three or four others.  Archbishop Clifford’s own view at the time was that, as the HSE and Mr Elliott had expressed the view that they were satisfied that complaints were being handled correctly in the Diocese of Cloyne, there was no need for Bishop Magee to resign.  He also told the Commission that he had subsequently changed his initial view that Bishop Magee should not resign and had come to agree with Archbishop Martin.  

26.27 Cardinal Brady told the Commission that Bishop Magee raised the Elliott report at the meeting, commented on it from his perspective and then offered to absent himself from the meeting to allow the issues to be discussed.  He said that the bishops who were present were “not at all of one view on what Bishop Magee should do next”.  Cardinal Brady said that his position at that stage was that there was an interim position between resignation and maintenance of the status quo.   Cardinal Brady said he was not, at that point, in favour of the continuance of the status quo – this was because of the Elliott report and not because of Joseph’s complaint of inappropriate behaviour by Bishop Magee.  He told the Commission that he was concerned that child safeguarding practice in Cloyne be prioritised and implemented and considered that Bishop Magee should be available to fully assist this Commission.  After the Bishops’ Conference had concluded, Cardinal Brady convened a meeting with Bishop Magee and two other bishops, Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore and Bishop Colm O’Reilly of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.  They discussed the position and asked Bishop Magee to consider various options including standing aside as bishop to allow an administrator to take over.  Bishop Magee agreed to think about this.

26.28 The Papal Nuncio who, as described above, was aware of the complaint was at the meeting and had a private session with Bishop Magee while the other bishops were having their informal meeting.  The Commission does not know what was said at that meeting but it appears, from a later letter from Bishop Magee to the Papal Nuncio, that the Papal Nuncio also suggested to Bishop Magee that he should step down as Bishop of Cloyne for the duration of this Commission’s work.  Four days later, on 4 February 2009, Bishop Magee requested the Pope to appoint an apostolic administrator to the Diocese of Cloyne.   In his letter, Bishop Magee suggested four possible candidates; two of these were priests and two were bishops; none of those suggested was ultimately appointed.

Changes to Cloyne practices 

26.29 There was considerable activity relating to the issue of child sexual abuse and child protection in the Diocese of Cloyne in late January/early February 2009.  This is documented in more detail in other chapters of this report.  On 27 January, Bishop Magee stood down the Cloyne members of the inter-diocesan case management committee.  On 31 January, the diocese retained specialists in child protection, Mentor (see Chapter 4) to review four cases relating to priests of the diocese about whom there had been allegations of child sexual abuse.  On 8 February, Bishop Magee submitted files on three priests to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.  On 18 February, he asked Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan and
Monsignor James O’Donnell to step down as vicars general of the Diocese of Cloyne which they readily agreed to do.  On 19 February, Bishop Magee attended a meeting of several agencies whose purpose was to review all matters touching on child protection in the diocese. In attendance were representatives from the diocese, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, the HSE, the Gardaí and the child protection specialists. On the same day, Bishop Magee wrote to the boundary expert seeking an appointment for a consultation.  Due to the illness of the expert, that consultation did not take place until 3 April 2009.     

Archbishop Clifford takes charge of Cloyne


26.30 On 28 February, Archbishop Clifford received a telephone call from the Papal Nuncio inviting him to accept the position of Apostolic Administrator
of the Cloyne diocese.  Archbishop Clifford agreed to the request.  Having allowed Bishop Magee a week to forewarn his priests about the imminent appointment, Archbishop Clifford was named as apostolic administrator on 7 March 2009. The official reason given was the need for Bishop Magee to devote himself to preparing for and co-operating fully with this Commission’s investigation.

26.31 Soon after his appointment, Archbishop Clifford met the five Vicars Forane (see Chapter 3) in Cloyne.   He told the Commission that he informed them of the complaint against Bishop Magee and that, in response, “they all stayed stony silent”; none made any comment in relation to the matterArchbishop Clifford also notified the pastoral co-ordinator of the fact of the complaint. He stated that he informed the pastoral co-ordinator because he was the person in daily contact with the bishop.

26.32 Within days of his appointment as apostolic administrator, Archbishop Clifford received a letter from Joseph who had heard nothing from the Church authorities since 23 January.  Joseph’s letter of 10 March 2009 repeated the substance of the behaviour about which he had made complaint and concluded with a request for “An account of all the efforts you made to investigate this serious issue”.  Archbishop Clifford responded on 16 March setting out the various steps that he had taken:
       he had taken the advice of Mr Elliott when he had first learned of the complaint; 
       he was aware that Joseph had been offered the support of a member of Mr Elliott’s staff should he consider that helpful; 
       as metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Cashel, he had met
Bishop Magee and informed him of the complaint; and finally 
       following his appointment as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne, he had requested Fr Bermingham, the diocesan delegate, to report his concerns to the civil authorities.  
Joseph has pointed out that he was not informed of one very significant fact – that the matter had been referred to Rome.  

26.33             Fr Bermingham reported Joseph’s concerns to the HSE and the local garda superintendent on 14 March 2009.  The notification to the civil authorities was done following further consultation with Mr Elliott.  Having concluded in January that the complaint made by Joseph did not amount to a disclosure of sexual abuse and was therefore not reportable, Archbishop Clifford and Mr Elliott decided that the better course was actually to report.  Archbishop Clifford told the Commission that he accepted that, on one view of the behaviour, it could be considered as grooming: “One interpretation could be that it was grooming, another could be that he felt very sorry for him”.  He accepted that it was inappropriate behaviour.

26.34             At this stage, Archbishop Clifford had notified the details of Joseph’s complaint to the Papal Nuncio who, he was told, reported it to the Congregation for Bishops; to the vicars forane in the Diocese of Cloyne; to Cardinal Brady; to the HSE; and to the Gardaí.  He told the Commission that his purpose in doing so was to ensure that the substance of the complaint would be on file should any further complaints or concerns arise in relation to Bishop Magee. 

Archbishop Clifford meets Joseph

26.35 Archbishop Clifford met Joseph on 21 March 2009.  Fr Bermingham was also in attendance.  Joseph’s perception of the meeting was that both Archbishop Clifford and Fr Bermingham “put a lot of energy into defending the Bishop’s actions. They said that the embrace was an Italianate gesture, that the Bishop served for many years in Rome and these are habits that he picked up in Rome”.  Joseph was not impressed with this explanation and pointed out that Bishop Magee had been living in Cobh for 22 years and was therefore familiar with how people in Ireland behaved.  According to him, he also pointed out to Fr Bermingham and Archbishop Clifford that he had seen the manner in which Italian men embraced and that what he had experienced was different.  His recollection is that he pointed out to them that “Bishop Magee held me close to him. It wasn’t a hug. It was a full embrace. … I think it was peculiar and it really can’t be explained away as something as innocent … as something he picked up in the Vatican”.  Archbishop Clifford denies that either he or Fr Bermingham put a lot of energy into defending the bishop’s actions.  He informed Joseph of Bishop Magee’s response.  He considered the bishop’s actions to be inappropriate and always dealt with them as such.

26.36 Archbishop Clifford’s recollection of the meeting is that Joseph was “a very nice young man, you would take to him. He is pleasant”.   Archbishop Clifford was particularly impressed that Joseph never added anything to his written account of what transpired between himself and Bishop Magee: “I mean he could have put this over a boundary, he didn’t. And even though he did say he spoke to the Guards, he didn’t give a statement and he wanted this solved within the Church”.

26.37 All parties are agreed that, during the course of the meeting, there was a discussion on how the matter might be resolved within the Church.  Joseph sought some sort of acknowledgement from Bishop Magee as to the fact of the behaviour complained of and its inappropriateness.  Archbishop Clifford did not consider that to be feasible as it might constitute an admission and by that time in any event he thought that Bishop Magee had retained a solicitor.  A meeting with Bishop Magee was offered but declined by Joseph.  Joseph was informed of the notification of the complaint to the civil and Church authorities but was not given any details as to what was to happen with Bishop Magee.  He was told however the effect of the appointment of an apostolic administrator.  An account of the meeting was prepared by Fr Bermingham.  It was submitted to Joseph for his agreement as to the veracity of the contents.  After two further drafts, the account was signed by Fr Bermingham and Joseph.  


26.38 Fr Bermingham wrote to the childcare manager for North Cork, on 14 March, notifying him of Joseph’s complaint.  Following this, a meeting was held on 20 March 2009 between Fr Bermingham, the principal social worker and the childcare manager.  This was the day before the Archbishop’s meeting with Joseph. The HSE note records: 
“Bishop Magee has not disputed the actions described to Bill Birmingham on the 03/01/09.  Delegate liaised further with Ian Elliott who suggested that Bishop Magee should be seen by a counsellor in […]. He has agreed. Purpose – to be advised about boundaries. He made no reply to the version of events where certain statements were attributed to him. Bill has been to AGS[3] to discuss – [named garda], [Joseph] has already gone to the AGS but would not make a signed statement and therefore AGS would not proceed. 

Bishop told Delegate that the Pope often greeted in this fashion and that the Italians were a very demonstrative culture.

[Joseph] has been in touch with Ian Elliott. Ian offered to meet him but as yet he has not taken this up.

Bishop has always had a keen interest in promoting vocations, holding of parties with candidates around Christmas time.  [Joseph] attended these which was quite unusual. He had access to Bishop Magee sometimes texting him on way home arranging to visit Diocesan Centre.” 

26.39 On 23 March 2009, the principal social worker wrote to Joseph inviting him to meet “in order to establish if any further safeguarding action is required to be undertaken by the HSE in relations (sic) to the concerns you raised and to discuss whether you wish to attend for counselling or psychological support as a result of your experiences”.  

26.40 The childcare manager prepared a memo for an assistant national director, entitled “Significant events report” setting out what was then known by the HSE and that it was intended to meet Joseph.    

26.41 The meeting took place on 6 April 2009.  According to Joseph, the principal social worker’s general opinion of the incident complained of was very much the same as that of Mr Elliott and of the Gardaí to whom he had spoken, namely, that Bishop Magee acted inappropriately but was not sexually abusive and that no safeguarding action was required.  Joseph stated that he was pleased with the overall handling of the meeting.  He pointed out that he was pretty keen to avoid anything that would bring attention on himself and he was therefore happy that the HSE view was that there would be no need to go further with this.  Joseph remarked that, during the course of the meeting, the principal social worker told him that he worked with many children around the Cork area and that, if he had behaved in such a way towards them, he would be suspended. Joseph considered this to be
an acknowledgement of the inappropriateness of what he had experienced and the propriety of his complaint about it.  Approximately three weeks later, at a meeting between the HSE and the diocese on 1 May 2009, attended by Archbishop Clifford, Fr Bermingham, the childcare manager and the principal social worker, Joseph’s complaint was on the agenda. The HSE note of the meeting states: 
“The HSE has enquired into the matters raised by [Joseph] and has concluded in respect of Bishop Magee there is no complaint of child sexual abuse or of acting in a sexually inappropriate manner. However he clearly breached both personal and professional boundaries in his conduct towards [Joseph].  HSE will not be interviewing Bishop Magee as he has

1                      Admitted his actions
2                      Acceptance that they were inappropriate  
3                      Co-operation with Church officials
4                      Remedy is in place through attendance at [boundary  expert].”

26.42 At the same meeting, the principal social worker advised that there would be no further action from the HSE on foot of the information received in meeting directly with Joseph.  

Boundary counselling

26.43 When Archbishop Clifford received details of Joseph’s complaint he had a number of options under paragraph 8.9 of Our Children, Our Church (quoted above).  These options included obtaining a professional assessment of fitness to carry out duties, advice on counselling, a requirement to undertake special training or seek specialised assistance.  As described above, having discussed the matter with Mr Elliott and having taken his advice, Archbishop Clifford contacted the boundary counsellor personally to ask him to advise Bishop Magee in relation to appropriate pastoral boundaries.  Because of an intervening illness, the boundary counsellor did not meet Bishop Magee until early April 2009.  Following the meeting, Archbishop Clifford telephoned him for a report.  Archbishop Clifford noted what he said in his diary:  
“Bishop Magee had not contested the substance of [Joseph’s] complaint but he stated that his intention was purely to comfort a young man who was distraught at [the family problems] and his consequent decision to abandon his plans to enter the seminary and to study for the priesthood. […] He advised Bishop Magee to be extremely careful to avoid the kind of behaviour which had led to the present difficulties for him and for the young man.  He said that he had told Bishop Magee that he should be careful that his words and actions might be construed as satisfying his own personal needs, as much as to console the distraught young man, the bishop accepted the advice.”

26.44  In a brief written report provided at the request of Archbishop Clifford for the  benefit of this Commission, the counsellor said: 
“… initially I clarified to Bishop Magee how I saw my role as a pastoral supervisor. In line with that role I had instructed Bishop Magee as to what constituted good practise in the area of touch in the context of pastoral relationship. I said that I would also supply him with reading material on this topic. Bishop Magee communicated to me his willingness to abide by these guidelines in all future pastoral contact. He seemed to be under a great amount of stress and I recommend that he should avail of counselling. I expressed a willingness to meet with him again if he thought it would be helpful.”

26.45 Nothing further is proposed by the local Church authorities in relation to this matter.  As a bishop, Bishop Magee is answerable to the authorities in Rome who have been notified. Bishop Magee resigned as Bishop of Cloyne in March 2010.  The civil authorities have been notified and the details of the complaint are on Church files should anything further emerge.  The senior priests in the diocese and the pastoral co-ordinator have also been notified of the fact and substance of the complaint.

The Gardaí

26.46 Joseph’s complaint was formally notified to the Gardaí by the diocese on 14 March 2009.  Of course the local Gardaí were already aware of the matter as Joseph had been in contact with them from late January and they had already advised him that the complaint did not amount to a criminal offence.  

26.47   On 11 May, Joseph made the following statement to the Gardaí:  “I have met with Detective Garda […] of […] Garda Station more than once and informed him of my concerns regarding inappropriate actions and words directed towards me by Bishop John Magee. Subsequent to our meetings I requested that an internal investigation be held by the Church authorities. Due to this, I do not want the Gardai to get involved or to investigate this matter.”

26.48 The garda file was forwarded to the DPP who directed that there be no prosecution as no criminal offence was disclosed. 

Commission’s assessment

26.49 The Commission considers that this case was dealt with appropriately.  In general, the case raises issues about soft information, who is to receive it, where it is to be filed, when is it to be accessed, and who has access to it.  The Commission understands that this issue is to be addressed in the proposed Bill dealing with vetting.  

        26.50            The Commission recognises the difficulties this case presented for Fr
Bermingham and considers that he dealt with it very well.  However, as Fr Bermingham himself pointed out to the Commission, it illustrates the need to have a clear mechanism for dealing with complaints against bishops and the desirability of having a person independent of the diocese as the designated person/child protection officer.

[1] This is a pseudonym.
[2] See Chapter 3 for an explanation of the status of the metropolitan archbishop.  As is explained there, under canon law, the metropolitan has virtually no authority over a suffragan bishop.  However, Our Children, Our Church provides that the metropolitan has a role in relation to concerns or allegations of child sexual abuse against a suffragan bishop.  
[3] An Garda Síochána. 


This is the first tme I have read Chapter 26 of the Cloyne Report - the chapter on Bishop Magee.

What a long, roundabout way the whole affair took.

It seems to me that Father William Bermingham of Cloyne did a very good job in a difficult circumstance.

There was obviously, especially in the beginning, an attitude of saving Bishop Magee by the Church.

I wonder why a bishop in his 70's needs lessons and counselling in maintaining boundaries in pastoral relationships?

I hope "Joseph" is well and has put everything behind him.

But - are there other cases of Bishop Magee crossing boundaries with him seminarians, young priests of Cloyne Diocese or others - especially during his long time in Rome?

There are many stories on the circuit.

+Pat Buckley