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Interim Guidance on Leave from Ministry

A ten-page booklet with Interim Guidance on Leave from Ministry in cases of allegations of sexual abuse of children has been issued by the National Board for Safeguarding Children. It is dated January 2012. It is available on the website of the Irish Catholic Bishops:
Pádraig McCarthy

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  1. Page 5:
    “As part of a risk management plan, the making of a public statement is a matter of necessity where the respondent remains resident in the parish/congregation.”
    Why is this? If a lay school teacher is suddenly accused of molesting a minor, say 20 years before, and continues to live near the school, does the headmaster call a public meeting to broadcast the fact that an allegation has been made? Does any other organisation outside the Catholic Church behave like this?
    Appendix 1
    Note on canonical procedures
    “When an allegation or concern has been received, and a referral to An Garda Siochána/PSNI/HSC/HSE has been made, a preliminary investigation should be initiated when the Ordinary receives information which has at least the semblance of truth regarding an offence (canon 1717; canon 695).”
    What does “at least the semblance of truth” mean IN PRACTICE? Does it simply mean that the priest was in the country (or at least the Continent) at the time the allegation refers to?
    There was a case in Australia couple of years ago, in which a senior Vincentian was accused of abusing a child 20 years before. The police arrested him amid huge publicity. By producing his passport he was able to prove that he was not in Australia at the time! Presumably this type of allegation would lack “the semblance of truth” as per the The National Board For Safeguarding Children? Are there any OTHER circumstances in which the semblance of truth would be considered to be lacking?

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