- 26 Mar 19
It has been confirmed by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland that payments of redress were made to victims who were sexually abused by the late Bishop of Galway, Eamon Casey. Plus: Hot Press comments on the implications of the revelations for Irish Roman Catholics.
It has been confirmed that the former Bishop of Galway, Eamon Casey was accused of sexual abuse – and that payments were made by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland to at least in part compensate the victims of that abuse.
Until now, Bishop Eamon Casey had been best known as the father of a child, conceived when he was a Bishop, with Annie Murphy, a U.S. citizen who lived in Ireland and with whom he had a long-term sexual relationship. Eamon Casey's son, Peter Casey, was born in 1974 in Dublin. Despite pressure from the Bishop, Annie Murphy refused to give Peter up for adoption, and returned to the U.S. with her son to live.
It is understood that at least three women made allegations that they were sexually abused as children by Eamon Casey. Two of these victims received compensation, before his death, as a result.
In one of the cases, Bishop Casey, who died in March 2017, admitted the abuse when he was serving as a priest in the south England diocese of Arundel and Brighton.
Speaking back then to the English diocese’s child protection officer, Fr Kieran O’Brien, Bishop Casey said, according to a diocesan document “that there was another historical case dealt with by his solicitors in Dublin."
The document went on: “Name of alleged victim was (redacted). She made a claim through the Residential Institutions Redress Board and was awarded compensation."
One of the three women who have accused him of abuse was his niece, while another received a settlement under the controversial Residential Institutions Redress Board.
Documents obtained by the Irish Mail on Sunday confirmed the Redress settlement, and a second settlement was confirmed by the Limerick Diocese when the paper asked them.
Casey's niece Patricia Donovan, has claimed in an interview with the Mail that she was raped and sexually abused by him from the age of five for more than a decade.
She said: "It was rape, everything you imagine. It was the worst kind of abuse, it was horrific. I stopped being able long ago to find any words in the English language to describe what happened to me. It was one horrific thing after another."
These allegations become even more stark considering what Eamon Casey had to say to Hot Press during an interview back in 1986 - before his sexual relationship with Annie Murphy was revealed in 1992.
Hot Press says: These revelations are a reflection of just how endemic child sexual abuse was in the Roman Catholic Church. In many ways, as evidenced in the Hot Press interview from the 1980s, Bishop Eamon Casey was one of the ostensibly more sympathetic characters in the Irish church at the time. He certainly gave the impression of having a conscience and of being concerned about social justice. And yet, lurking in the background, apparently, were abusive actions of extraordinary vileness.
If this information is hard to stomach even now for ordinary Irish citizens, then consider how appalling it must have been – and in so many ways doubtless still is – for the victims themselves.
What it reveals is the utterly pernicious stench of corruption, which hangs over the clerical function in general within the Roman Catholic Church. There are good men who became priests and who meant – and still mean – well. But the nature of the institution, its assumptions of superiority and of moral authority, and its sick culture of male privilege are impossible to separate from what it is – and from the power structures that underpin and support it, in the Vatican.
This is why Hot Press believes that it is incumbent on all Irish Catholic church-going people to re-examine their relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. These are the kind of questions that might be asked:
• What is it really and truthfully that you believe in, or adhere to, that makes you ‘Catholic'?
• And if you do believe that a man called Jesus of Nazareth was the son of God, born of a virgin birth, crucified, died and was resurrected three days later, and ‘ascended’ through the clouds presumably, into ‘heaven’, and is really present physically in the host which is eaten by people who go to ‘holy communion’ every time a mass is held – do you really believe that the philosophy expounded in the ‘gospels’ attributed to this same man are represented even remotely by what is called the Roman Catholic Church, with its all-male hierarchy under its leader, the Pope, resident in the Vatican?
• Why do you attend Masses that are still run by, and reflective of that age-old, discriminatory clerical caste?
• Why do you put money into the coffers of the Roman Catholic Church, when it has proven itself so utterly incapable of recognising its history of abuse and of making recompense in a way that is transparent and adequate to its victims? And anyway, when it is – here in Ireland as well as in the Vatican – sitting on vast wealth in the form of land, property and buildings?
• Why contribute money to an organisation that still seeks to impose its so called ‘moral’ agenda on everyone else in Ireland, irrespective of their beliefs – most specifically by refusing to relinquish control of schools and hospitals paid for by the State?
And finally, and in many ways most tellingly:
• Why remain part of an organisation that systematically discriminates against women, point blank refuses them equality and in fact, in every way, treats them as lesser human beings?
Not to ask oneself these questions is to abdicate one of the most important responsibilities we have as citizens. Everything we do affects those around us. In which context, it can be argued that everyone who sat back and accepted the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, in the way it was exercised in Ireland since the foundation of the State, helped to create the conditions in which the likes of Bishop Eamon Casey could abuse innocent and defenceless children. Helped not knowingly. But inescapably nonetheless.
Hot Press entirely accepts that people are entitled to believe what they want to believe. The same freedom must be extended to Roman Catholics, Protestants of various denominations, Muslims, Jews, born-again Christians, Buddhists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Moonies, Scientologists, Mormons, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and any other cults and religions that have yet to be invented alike – not to mention atheists, agnostics, humanists, and so on.
Where religious or related cultural beliefs specifically put children at risk – for example the refusal by Jehovah’s Witness parents of a blood transfusion that would be life-saving for a child; or the female genital mutilation which is practiced by certain Muslim, Christian and animist groups from parts of Africa – then these cannot be tolerated in a civilised society, in which the rights of children are taken seriously and respected fully. But beyond that, the freedom to believe – or disbelieve – is fundamental.
However, to afford privileges of any kind to religion, or to any religious creed, is fundamentally wrong and discriminates against those who are non-believers or opposed to the incursion of religion into the official life of the State.
In memory of the crimes of Bishop Eamon Casey, that practice should end – or be ended – now.