Statement from ACP Leadership re Fr. Liam O’Brien

The Association of Catholic Priests is delighted that Fr. Liam O’Brien’s name has been cleared, and that his long nightmare is over.
We wish to sincerely thank the great work done by solicitor, Robert Dore, and our legal team, in this case.
For us in the ACP this case hightlights two matters of great concern.
1. The reality of false allegations against priests. We have known of this for some time. Priests are now an easy target, and there are a considerable number of false allegations being made against individuals.
2. The absence, in most cases including this one, of any real support from Church authorities for a priest who find himself in this terrible situation.
We wish Fr. Liam well in the future.

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  1. ALAN WHELAN says:

    Thank God for Fr O’Brien, his strength and his brave decision. Priase be to God that justice has been served. Thanks to Mr Dorr and to ACP. I was sad to hear that the Dioce of Kerry did not support one of our priests (from my next door parish) as I believe that it should. As a retired English Catholic school principal responsible for over 100 staff, I was often called upon to make decisions in respect of allegations my colleagues. Thanks be to God the decisions I made always proved to be for the best. I often had to take responsibility for not following the strict letter of various codes and I told the relevant authorities that I was taking these actions. Systems were in place to give pastoral support to both accuser and accused. We have got things very wrong in respect of some aspects of Irish church policy.

  2. Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh says:

    I am glad to hear that Fr O’Brien was falsely accused and that the accuser has apologized. However, in my experience as a physician who has met many who have been abused by clergy, most accusations of being abused by a priest turn out to be true.
    False reports are unusual. True cases can be difficult for the victim to prove, because many predators are expert at lying and denial. I have met many good priests in my life and I am sorry that they too are under a shadow, because of the poor policies in the Vatican, causing a scandal that has been perpetuated by the hierarchy for years, even for centuries, throughout the world.
    Sincerely, Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, Chicago, Illinois, USA

  3. When a person is accused falsely, it is heartening when they are able to clear their name. Yes, it is true that priests abused minors and those who did so are responsible for doing so. The Church must also bear some responsibility due to its teaching on sexuality and due to the fact that it promulgated a culture which claimed that celibacy was a “higher state”.
    The Fr. O’Brien case is indicitive of some change. Up until the Fr. Reynolds situation, it was virtually impossible to make a distinction between an allegation of abuse and confirmation of abuse. Until these cases, both of which would never have seen the light of day but for the legal team of the ACP, an allegation was tantamount to being found guilty.
    Well done to Fr. O’Brien for sticking to his guns, in the absense of any hierarchial support.

  4. It is really a difficult time for the Catholic Church in recent years you hear of so many atrocities but this case is a separate matter. Well done to the legal team and Fr. O’Brien. If you are truly innocence you must have faith in the legal system and fight tooth and nail to clear you name.

  5. I am surprised to see that here are only 5 comments here to date, yet there are 35 on the topic “There is Too Much Emphasis on Mass as a Sacrifice”. I think there is too much emphasis on the latter somewhat esoteric topic!
    Regarding Dr McHugh’s comment on the supposed rarity of false allegations I recently posted the following on the website
    It is indeed very difficult to say what percentage of rape allegations are false but here is some anecdotal evidence
    (1) In 1994 Pat Rabbitte brought down the government of Albert Reynolds by falsely claiming that Archbishop Cathal Daly had tried to prevent the extradition of Fr Brendan Smyth to Northern Ireland.
    (2) In 1999 John Cooney published a book in which he claimed that Archbishop John Charles McQuaid had been a paedophile. His claims were rejected by every Irish historian and by nearly all journalists including anti-clerics. (One reviewer REGRETTED that they would create sympathy for the late Archbishop!)
    (3) In 2006 a California court found that there was no evidence to show that a previous Archbishop of Cashel Thomas Morris had ordained Fr Oliver O’Grady while knowing that he had a propensity to molest children.
    There are only FOUR Archbishops in Ireland. That’s THREE who have been falsely accused – including ONE accused of being a paedophile. It’s hardly a scientific survey but it does suggest that false allegations are NOT a minor issue!

  6. Again I am somewhat bemused to see how few comments this issue has engendered. Does it represent a real change for the Catholic Church in relation to falsely accused priests or is it just a flash in the pan?
    For a PREVIOUS flash in the pan – remember the case of Paul Anderson who was sentenced to four years in jail in 2007 for a false allegation of sexual assault against a priest? The following extract from a report in the Irish Independent illustrates the role played by the victims’ group One in Four AND the Dublin Archdiocese in this fiasco. Has anything really changed since?
    The case raises many questions – not least for the organisation One-in-Four whose good work on behalf of victims has been tainted. The organisation’s unwitting complicity in championing Paul Anderson in his bid to extort money from the church has reduced its standing in the eyes of many.
    The powerful testimony of the priest in his Victim Impact Statement makes salutary reading and bears repeating: “To me personally, this was like a case of armed robbery. The accuser was using my name and reputation in order to extract money from the church.
    “As I said at the outset, and I repeat again: I would honestly have preferred if the perpetrator had shot me through the head rather than put me and my family through the pangs of anxiety and the profound sufferings we have endured over the last four years.
    “When he went with One-in-Four to Archbishop’s House armed with his accusation it hair-triggered the church’s guidelines – with immediate devastating effect on me and on the practice of my priesthood.
    I was instantly and publicly suspended from my ministry. So without any due process, my diocese, in this Guantanamo Bay reaction, had me stand aside from my work as a priest. I had to leave my home and stay with family and friends and I lost almost a year out of my pastoral work,” the priest said.

    Did the Archdiocese or One in Four learn anything at all from this case? I can’t recall seeing any evidence that they have.

  7. Bob Hayes says:

    Rory, you may well find you are banging your head against the proverbial brick wall here. Many regular contributors appear interested only in that which is damaging to the Church, the People of God and our priests. This is surely evidenced by the paucity of responses to this and the related topic. In fact, quite a few seem to have supped from the same cup as the one-time Orthodox seminarian Josef Djugashvilli, who went on to embrace nihilism to the cost of so many.

  8. I would not ascribe the silence Rory noticed to people being interested only in what damages the church. People are just afraid to say anything about these topics.

  9. Bob,
    As one of those “regular contributors” here, and therefore maybe to be numbered by you among those who appear “ interested only in that which is damaging to the Church, the People of God and our priests” I`d like to say that I certainly do not want to damage it. Far from it. But I definitely am interested in knowing about damage to it, and identifying its various causes. On this site I read contributors who regularly have shown sensitivity and conscience about that very damage, who are motivated by a desire to protect the church in reforming it, and who have shown courage in speaking out when the perpetrators of the damage have been none other than those who should have been guarding it all along, in the last places you`d expect it, in the hierarchy, and in the Vatican itself. Damage to it has come from various sources: clericalism, hierarchical aloofness, unaccountability, desire for power and control, and resistance to or refusal to act on the clearly expressed intentions in the Documents of Vatican 2. It`s the critics of bad policy and bad practice who are doing service to the church.

  10. Evolverman says:

    Rory Connor, since 1994 you have been comparing journalists and academics who have written about clerical sexual abuse to Nazis as you did in a conversation with the late Joseph Dunn of Radharc fame that is on record.
    Rather than the Smyth scandal (late 1994), Dear Daughter (1996), States of Fear (1999) and all of the subsequent reports having brought you to amend this position, it appears your response over the years has been to see in all of these revelations only a confirmation of your pre-existing views.

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