The former Bishop of Cloyne Dr John Magee has said he feels ashamed by the abuse that occurred in his diocese and that he fully accepts responsibility for the failure to fully implement the church's child protection guidelines there.
In his first interview since the publication of the Murphy Commission Report on the handling of abuse allegations in the Diocese of Cloyne, Dr Magee told RTÉ News he was truly horrified when he read the full extent of the abuse detailed in the report.
Bishop Magee later released a statement in which he 'unreservedly' apologised to all victims of child sexual abuse in the Cloyne diocese.
He said he felt there was nothing he could say now which would ease the pain and distress of victims.
He said he understood why victims were angry and that he had let them down by not fully implementing the guidelines which were available to him.
Speaking to RTÉ, he said: ‘To the victims I say I am truly horrified by the abuse that they suffered. It all came to me very clearly when I read the complete report.
‘And if by my not fully implementing the 1996 guidelines I have made any victims suffer more, in my bended knee I beg forgiveness. I am sorry.'
He said he is prepared to speak to victims privately and offer them his deepest apologies.
‘More than that I do not know what to say. Words are not sufficient.’
He said he issued the guidelines on handling abuse allegations to every priest in his diocese.
‘I endeavoured to do so (implement the guidelines), but I recognise that I didn’t go far enough to see to it that they were implemented.’
‘I feel ashamed that this happened under my watch. It should never have and I truly apologise.’
He said it was his ‘understanding’ that the guidelines were being adhered to and that most of the abuse took place long before he took up the position of Bishop of Cloyne.
When asked if he had plans to make restitution to the victims, Dr Magee said that was ‘a matter for the diocese’.
Dr Magee said he did not feel ‘compromised’ by Chapter 26 of the report where he was found to have behaved in an inappropriate manner towards a man named ‘Joseph’.
He concluded the statement by asking to be allowed to live in peace as a retired bishop after 23 years of service.
Lack of accountabilty - Madden
The latest statement issued by Bishop John Magee has failed to account in any way for what was revealed in the Cloyne Report, according to the victim who first exposed crimes of clerical sexual abuse in the country.
Andrew Madden says he wants the bishop to explain why he told the Health Service Executive that the diocese reported allegations to it or An Garda Síochána when this was untrue.
He also wants Dr Magee to explain why he told the then Minister for Children, Barry Andrews, that the Irish bishops' guidelines on reporting were being complied with when this was untrue.
‘I have just read the statement by Bishop John Magee in respect of the Cloyne Report,' Mr Madden said.
‘The statement contains repeated apologies for the sexual abuse of children by priests in the Cloyne Diocese and for “the failure of the Diocese to effectively manage allegations of child sexual abuse”.
‘It is hard to imagine such empty words being of any comfort or assistance to anyone.
‘The fact that Bishop Magee failed to account in any way for what was revealed in the Cloyne Report does not come as any surprise.
‘Catholic Bishops, in this country and elsewhere, have a track record of not wanting in any way to be held accountable for their actions and inactions as revealed in the various reports.’
the US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has said Bishop John Magee and his top staff deliberately and repeatedly choose to protect predators, endanger children, maintain secrets and deceive others.
In a statement responding to the retired bishop's latest remarks on July's Cloyne Report, a spokesman said you could not 'accept full responsibility' for intentional self-serving decisions if you were pretending they were just 'failures' to 'comply with guidelines'.