Two hundred priests who gathered for the annual meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland discussed the inconsistency in the way priests are treated by their bishops or major superiors when accused of sexual abuse.
According to a summary of the meeting posted in the National Catholic Reporter (Dec. 4, 2017), Fr. Tim Hazelwood of Cork, a member of the leadership team, was falsely accused of sexual abuse by an anonymous complaint in 2009. He was vindicated by Ireland’s High Court in 2016 and his accuser was ordered to pay compensation to a charity for his false allegation. According to Hazelwood, there is no consistency across dioceses and religious orders in the way accused priests are treated.
At the meeting a wallet-sized information card was unveiled by the association’s leadership that is primarily aimed at priests who find themselves the subject of an abuse allegation. The card reminds priests of their basic rights.
The issue stems from the fact that a a43-page guidance on the Care and Management of Respondents, which was drawn up as one of the seven safeguarding standards produced by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, hasn’t been ratified by the Irish bishops and religious orders, and therefore remains only a guidance which can be ignored.
For the entire NCR Summary, click here.