A paedophile priest who admitted abusing more than 100 children was allowed unfettered access to youngsters for more than two years after allegations were first made against him.
The cleric who served in Ireland, England, Australia and Rome, abused children up until at least 2004 despite his seniors being warned about him in 2002, the Catholic Church’s own watchdog has found.
After one of his own relatives came forward to say she was molested, the priest’s senior moved him on from his Dublin parish without telling the Archbishop the “real reason” for his move.
The then provincial of The Salvatorians congregation also failed to notify police, health chiefs and parishioners about the allegations – despite being duty-bound to under guidelines issued eight years previously.
The revelations are among the latest tranche of reports as part of a massive child safety audit of religious congregations by Ireland’s National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC).
Teresa Devlin, chief executive of the watchdog, has described the disclosures as shocking.
“The knowledge that he was abusing children was known in 2002 and we believe that he possibly continued to abuse for another two years,” she said.
“He was allowed to continue to do what he wanted to do and that is shocking.
“It is so recent and there are still a number of young women who are dealing with the aftermath of this abuse.”
Based on the known behaviour of serial paedophiles, the NBSCCC said the priest possibly continued his child abuse right up until he was forced to undertake residential treatment in the UK in August 2004.
The abuser – referred to only as Fr A – was eventually convicted and sentenced to prison in December 2007 for child sexual abuse over a 25-year period.
He was released from prison in early 2009 and moved to the UK where he died later that year.
The priest served as a teacher in the UK, as a parish priest in Australia and Dublin and as a hospital chaplain in Rome.
The NBSCCC said the Salvatorians, officially known as The Society of the Divine Saviour, has to date received no complaints against him related to any of the three postings outside Ireland.
But it has called on the congregation to seek to identify the paedophile priest’s victims “within and beyond Ireland”.
The watchdog warned the religious congregation of the “considerable responsibility it still carries to ensure that the devastation perpetrated on his victims by Fr A is conscientiously, compassionately and effectively addressed”.
Salvatorian case files show knowledge of nine named victims.
However, “by his own admission Fr A had abused in excess of 100 children, mostly girls in the age range 6 years to 9 years of age, in various parts of Ireland”, the watchdog report states.
It found the paedophile “did not provide the names of these children when making this admission”.
Despite his abuse, the priest is “still esteemed by some members of his congregation for his work and personal piety”, the watchdog found.
Fr A served as a Salvatorian priest from his ordination in the 1950s to the time of his death in 2009.