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sabato 21 gennaio 2017

Paedophile priest's child sexual abuses 'ignored to protect church'

Paedophile priest Brendan Smyth's sex crimes were ignored to protect the good name of the Catholic Church, a public inquiry found
Fr Smyth attacked children "far and wide" at residential homes in Northern Ireland from the 1940s and was eventually convicted of more than 100 offences.
But Smyth was allowed a car to roam the country even after he was eventually charged by police in 1991, and over many years his Norbertine religious order and others failed to stop him harming more youngsters.
After his arrest in 1991, Smyth fled to the Republic, where he spent the next three years on the run, staying mostly at Kilnacrott Abbey in Co Cavan.
The report noted a "deliberate decision" to withhold information about Smyth when he was sent to dioceses around the world - and he was given medical treatment as a "cure".
Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Seán Brady was present at meetings in 1975, when he was a junior cleric, where two teenage victims of Smyth were sworn to secrecy.
"There was a shroud of secrecy and confidentiality with a view to...about not destroying the good name of the Church," he later said.
The report by Anthony Hart did not make findings of systemic failings in relation to the conduct of the interviews, because that could not be said to be relevant to Smyth's abuse.
However, it said the response at the time was "wholly inadequate" police or social services in the Republic or Northern Ireland were not informed.
Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said: "I welcome the publication of this report and I accept its findings. I apologise unreservedly to all those who suffered from their experience in Church-run institutions, and to their loved ones."

Smyth sex crimes were ignored by the Church to protect its name Michael McHugh 21/01/2017

The full extent of the serial sex abuser's offending has never been revealed.

However, Smyth himself believed the number of victims he abused could be in the many hundreds.
In his own words, during a hearing of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, Smyth told a doctor in 1994: "Over the years of religious life it could be that I have sexually abused between 50 and 100 children. That number could even be double, or perhaps even more."
The inquiry heard that Smyth received psychiatric treatment many times during his time in the priesthood.
Smyth was convicted of more than 100 indecent assaults against children across Ireland, offences which took place over a 40-year period. He died in prison in 1997 after a heart attack.
The inquiry heard he distanced himself from the severity of his crimes and the effect they had on his victims.
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During a police interview in the 1990s with RUC detectives, he said that "in some cases" the abuse "will have hurt or damaged" his victims "somewhat psychologically".
He added, however: "In some cases it hasn't done any harm."
Fr William Fitzgerald of the Norbertine Order, of which Smyth was a member, said that the "inexcusable actions of Brendan Smyth have caused incalculable damage".
In a statement provided to the inquiry he added: "Suspicions should have been reported immediately to the police authorities. Brendan Smyth should not have been permitted to exercise ministry after it had become known that he was perpetrating acts of child sex abuse."
Fr Fitzgerald said there did not appear to have been any real appreciation of the harm Smyth was causing.
The Archdiocese of Armagh said in a statement that the "single greatest failure in this appalling saga was not reporting these matters to the civil authorities in both Northern Ireland and Republic so that they could investigate the allegations and monitor the movements of Brendan Smyth in order to minimise the risk to children".
The statement continued: "There was a failure to exert vigilance over Brendan Smyth and ensure he was not free to continue this abusive behaviour. The Church today can only look back on all of this with shame and in disgrace.
"The diocese acknowledges that Brendan Smyth perpetrated the most heinous and deplorable crimes against children on a prolific scale."
Fr Timonthy Bartlett of the Diocese of Down and Connor said in a statement that the "consequences for the children has been catastrophic".
The hearing was told yesterday that Smyth abused children in Northern Ireland and the Republic and also faced similar allegations in Scotland, Wales and the United States.
Background
Several allegations of child sexual abuse were brought to the Church's attention throughout the 1970s, the inquiry was told yesterday.
In 1974 a senior priest confronted Smyth about a complaint from a Belfast family of child sexual abuse.
Smyth did not deny the complaint.
However, it was another 20 years before he was eventually jailed.
Instead, he was moved between parishes, dioceses and even countries where he would prey on victims as young as eight.
Belfast Telegraph

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