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Former bishop of Cloyne Diocese breaks silence

Bishop John Magee says he feels ‘horrified and ashamed’ by abuse in his diocese

Bishop John Magee, the former bishop of Cloyne, Ireland, has said he feels ‘horrified and ashamed’ by abuse in his diocese, breaking his silence on the subject since his resignation.

In his first public statement since publication of the Murphy Commission report into the diocese’s handling of child abuse, he said: “I accept full responsibility for the failure of the diocese to effectively manage allegations on child sexual abuse.”

He has been accused of having little interest in how child sex abuse cases were handled long after guidelines were adopted.

“I am particularly saddened when I read the accounts of the complainants describing the effects of the abuse, knowing that I contributed to their distress,” he added in a statement yesterday.

“I am sorry that this happened and I unreservedly apologise to all those who suffered additional hurt because of the flawed implementation of the church procedures, for which I take full responsibility.”

Bishop Magee, who lives in Mitchelstown in Cork diocese, made the statement after he was tracked down by the media. He offered to meet victims privately but said he realised that nothing he can say will ease their pain and distress.

The bishop, whose resignation as bishop of Cloyne on March 9 2010 was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI on March 24 that year, went on to say: “I let the many good priests of the diocese down. So many priests do such good work and by not addressing the issues which confronted me I made their important work more difficult.”

Maeve Lewis, executive director of One In Four, a support group for abuse victims, said that while questions remained, any further attempts to hold the former bishop to account could be seen as a witch-hunt of an elderly man.

“He doesn’t really understand the dynamics of abuse, the abuse of power that’s involved and the enormous impact that sexual abuse in childhood has on a person’s life,” she said.

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