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Top Chilean priest held over allegations of child abuse…

Prominent Chilean Catholic priest, Oscar Munoz, who held senior positions in the archdiocese of Santiago, has been detained over allegations that he sexually abused seven children.

The alleged abuse by Fr Munoz, 56, took place from 2002 in the capital Santiago and the southern city of Rancagua, prosecutor Emiliano Arias said.

Fr Munoz was vice-chancellor and then chancellor in the archdiocese of Santiago from 2011, before he was removed two months ago after admitting in January, days before Pope Francis' visit to Chile, that he had abused a minor.

He was initially investigated by the Chilean church, which then referred the case to the Vatican.

The abuse was uncovered by Chilean prosecutors when the church's case file was seized during a June operation.

Mr Arias confirmed the investigation included a possible cover-up involving senior members of the clergy, among them the two most recent archbishops of Santiago,

Francisco Javier Errazuriz and Ricardo Ezzati.

Archbishop Ezzati said the archdiocese is available to cooperate "in everything that is required."

Chilean police also set up an email address appealing for any other allegations related to the case.

The Chilean church has been hit by child abuse scandals implicating dozens of priests.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of five bishops, four of whom were accused of turning a blind eye to abuse or covering it up

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1/2...Tuam home survivors demand inquest from Leo Varadkar…

Survivors of the Tuam mother and baby home have written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the attorney general, and the coroner for north Galway calling for an inquest to be opened into the deaths of children at the home.

The letters come in the wake of the report of a public consultation process carried out by Galway County Council and which followed an expert technical group report that put forward five options about what should be done with the site.

The report found former residents and residents of the Tuam home were overwhelmingly in favour of a forensic excavation of the site and DNA analysis of all remains.

The consultation has been heavily criticised by survivors and relatives who said it was designed to delay and prevent a decision being made as to what to do with the site.

Tuam Home Survivors Network chairman Peter Mulryan, whose sister is recorded as having died in Tuam, has written to the Taoiseach, the attorney general, and the coroner for north Galway to express frustration at the delays and calling for an inquest to be opened immediately.

In letters to the coroner for north Galway sent in June and July, Mr Mulryan calls on the office to “begin the formal process of convening an inquest into the deaths of the Tuam children, without further delay”.

He also hits out at the fact that such an inquest has not been ordered before now, labelling the delay “inexcusable”.

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2/2...In a letter to Mr Varadkar earlier this week, Mr Mulryan said he regarded the attitude of Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone to the matter as “an outrage”.

“I have no expectation that either you or any member of your government will exert themselves in this matter and kindly do not send me the usual pro-forma reply acknowledging my letter,” wrote Mr Mulryan.

“You need to inform yourself if you have any comprehension of how important this matter is”.

“No more public hand-wringing or apologies thank you, those are of no value to us.

Just be assured, we the survivors of this Irish holocaust are not going away.”

In his letter to the attorney general Mr Mulryan states that if the coroner for north Galway does not convene an inquest, another coroner must be appointed.

To date, no other excavation work has been carried out at any other site other than Tuam despite the HSE confirming in 2012 that there had been a higher infant death rate in Bessborough in Cork.

A death register for this institution maintained by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary has been held by the HSE (and now Tusla) since 2011 and records that 478 infants died in the home between 1934 and 1953 a higher infant death rate than recorded in Tuam.

An Irish Examiner investigation in 2015 revealed the HSE informed the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs about serious concerns about infant mortality rates at Tuam and Bessborough in 2012.

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Thomas Garvan (65), Corbally Glade, Westbrook Glen, Tallaght, Dublin, was jailed for four-and a-half years last year reduced on appeal to three years-and-nine months after he pleaded guilty to abusing the boy 20 years ago.

Garvan, who was a trusted family friend of the boy, admitted seven sample charges of sexually abusing him on dates between December 1996 and October 1999. The boy was between 11 and 14 years old when he would stay on Friday and Saturday night in Garvan's then home.

Garvan, the High Court heard, had groomed him from the age of ten and engaged in masturbation of the boy and himself. He threatened the boy he would kill both him and his mother if he told anyone.

The now 33-year-old man never told anyone of the abuse and went "off the rails" leaving school at 14 and abusing alcohol and narcotics from the age of 17.

In 2013, he told his then partner what had happened to him and a prosecution ensued with Garvan pleading guilty.

The court heard however that Garvan wrote a letter to him, after he was prosecuted, telling him he was lying and that he was "in danger of losing your soul" because of it.

The man told the court he was "disgusted" by this.

He sued over the abuse and last year judgment in default was entered against Garvan who is still in prison, was not represented in the civil proceedings, and took no steps to defend them. He owns his own home outright, the court heard.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan assessed damages to date at €200,000 plus €100,000 for damages into the future.

The judge was satisfied what he described as the horrific abuse suffered by the plaintiff, although not at the extreme end of the scale, resulted in lasting damage to his life and education.

He suffered severe emotional trauma which will affect him for the rest of his life, he said.

The judge earlier congratulated the young man on getting his life together after going to live in the UK where he was re-united with his father who left when he was a four-year-old boy.

He was now employed by his father in a responsible role. The abuse of alcohol and narcotics to try to block out the memory of his abuse had ended, and he had been clean for over a year, the judge said.

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1/2...Full probe of illegal adoptions branded ‘onerous’…

Evidence of illegal birth registrations exists in the records of multiple adoption agencies but a full inquiry into the scale of illegal adoptions would be “onerous” and require “massive resources”.

The revelation is contained in a note of a meeting between representatives of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), Tusla and the Adoption Authority (AAI) held in April.

At the meeting, which was attended by department secretary general Fergal Lynch and was prepared by the DCYA adoption policy unit, there is an acknowledgement that evidence of illegal registrations was not confined to St Patrick’s Guild.

However, it was stressed that a full investigation of these issues would be “onerous, requiring massive resources”.

“It is feasible that illegal registrations exist in the balance of SPG [St Patrick’s Guild] records but only a comprehensive audit would verify this matter.

It was noted that while individual cases of illegal registrations have been identified in other agencies any attempts to quantify the issue would be onerous, requiring massive resources,” said the note released under freedom of information.”

The confirmation that a full audit of records would quantify the scale of illegalty contained on the records stands in contrast with the department’s publicly stated view for many years.

In response to numerous queries by this newspaper over a number of years, the DCYA has repeatedly stated that an audit of adoption records would be “of very limited benefit” and yield “little useful information”.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has said that “a validation exercise is under way” with respect to some 140 cases of illegal registrations reported to her department by the Adoption Authority.

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2/2...However, the vast majority of these cases were uncovered as part of a 2010 audit carried out by the AAI following the exposé of the Tressa Reeves case by this newspaper.

These cases were reported to the department at that time.

The authority has also reported concerns around illegal registrations, including hundreds of cases relating to St Patrick’s Guild to the department on numerous occasions since then.

In a report prepared for the department in June 2011, the AAI pointed to the need for a more comprehensive audit of the cases it uncovered, but because of the transfer of senior personnel and the “pressure on resources of the imminent establishment of the Adoption Authority no further action was taken”.

In 2015, the Irish Examiner revealed an Adoption Authority delegation again told the department, in June 2013, of there being “at least 120 [confirmed] cases” of illegal registrations found as the result of the 2010 audit.

It specifically named St Patrick’s Guild as being “aware of several hundred illegal registrations”, stating the agency is “not seeking the people involved” but rather, “waiting for people to contact” it.

The AAI said this could be the tip of the iceberg and that there “may be thousands” more.

Just five months after the June 2013 meeting, then children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil she “had no plans to initiate an audit of all [adoption] files”.

A 2014 note of a meeting between two nuns from St Patrick’s Guild and representatives of Tusla acknowledged the agency’s records contained “some illegal registrations” and that “full details are available on the majority of cases”.

Late last month, the Irish Examiner revealed that Tusla has raised concerns about a further 748 adoption cases from St Patrick’s Guild which contain evidence of names being changed, cash payments, and other “irregularities”

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1/2...Australian archbishop sentenced for concealing child abuse…

An Australian archbishop who was convicted of covering up child sexual abuse has been sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, however he could avoid jail after a court ordered that he be assessed for home detention.

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson was found guilty in May of covering-up abuse by notorious paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in New South Wales during the 1970s.

The 67-year-old is the most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse.

He denied the charges and his legal team made four attempts to have the case thrown out, arguing Wilson suffered from Alzheimer's and so should avoid trial, even though the diagnosis did not prevent him retaining his position in the church.

The archbishop has not resigned, despite standing aside from his duties in the wake of his conviction last month.

He was ordered to be assessed by prison authorities for home detention, instead of jail, and will face court again next month for a decision on where he will serve the sentence.

Wilson will be eligible for parole after six months, court documents show.
In sentencing, Newcastle Local Court magistrate Robert Stone said: "There is no remorse or contrition showed by the offender.

"I am of the opinion the sentence should not be suspended. It does not support the terms of general deterrence.

"On that basis, the only available remaining option is full-time imprisonment or home detention."

The judge justified the home detention option due to Wilson's age, prior good record and that he was unlikely to re-offend.

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2/2...There was no dispute during the trial that Fletcher, who is now dead, sexually abused an altar boy, with the hearing focused on whether Wilson, then a junior priest, was told about it.

Wilson served as a priest in New South Wales before Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Wollongong in 1996. Five years later, he became the Archbishop of Adelaide.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, a national body used by bishops to address issues of national significance, said it hoped the sentencing could "bring some sense of peace" to those abused by Fletcher.

"It takes great courage for survivors to come forward to tell their stories," it added in a statement.

"Survivors have been vital in helping us learn the lesson of our shameful history of abuse and concealment.

"The church has made substantial changes to ensure that abuse and cover-up are not part of Catholic life and that children are safe in our communities."

Like elsewhere in the world, Australia has been plagued by accusations that the Catholic Church ignored and covered up child abuse.

A national inquiry into the issue was ordered in 2012 after a decade of pressure to investigate widespread allegations of institutional paedophilia.

The royal commission, which ran for five years, spoke to thousands of victims and heard claims of abuse involving churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools.

Last month, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agreed to deliver a formal apology to victims of institutional child sex abuse one of the inquiry's key recommendations.

Another recommendation was that a redress scheme be set up to support victims with counselling, psychological care and financial payments.

All of Australia's state governments have now signed up to the programme, which came into effect on Sunday and offers victims up to Aus$150,000 (€94,000) in compensation.

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