Cardinal willing to go to jail rather than release files
Feb 07, 2008
Cardinal Desmond Connell has told friends that he is prepared to go to jail rather than release confidential diocesan files.
(independent.ie, February 07 2008) The cardinal is said to have told friends in Rome that he would risk prosecution, and was prepared, if necessary, to go to jail rather than breach the confidentiality of Dublin diocesan files relating to victims of alleged abuse, as well as some accused priests.
A report in today's edition of 'The Irish Catholic' says that the 81-year-old cardinal acted as a man of principle rather than covering up secret files about his handling of complaints by victims of paedophile priests.
The newspaper also challenges claims that Cardinal Connell is very unwell.
The Irish Independent has learned that Cardinal Connell suffered a hairline fracture to his pelvic bone, while in Rome last week.
After being admitted to hospital, his injury was found to be minor, and on Friday morning he was transferred to the Pontifical Irish College.
The cardinal was well enough to dine out on Friday evening with friends, and returned over the weekend to Dublin, where he was admitted to a Dublin nursing home, but was allowed to return to his Glasnevin residence on Monday evening.
The report suggests that Cardinal Connell took his controversial High Court case last week against disclosure by the Government Commission of Investigation in the Dublin archdiocese, as a desperate move, following an apparent breakdown in communication with his successor, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
But last night 'The Irish Catholic' editor Garry O'Sullivan said that he could not ascertain from the Dublin diocesan communications office whether Archbishop Martin told Cardinal Connell, between December 19 of last year and late January, that all the files were being handed over to the Commission.
"The diocesan communications office cannot clearly say when the cardinal was informed," Mr O'Sullivan added.
Last night, in response to questions from the Irish Independent, there was no comment from Archbishop Martin's media office on the newspaper's claims.
Questions about the leadership of the Catholic Church's largest diocese by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, as well as his handling of events leading to the two prelates' public conflict, are raised by an accompanying editorial.
"Cardinal Connell has been painted as the bad old face of the Church versus the new 'can do' persona of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin," the paper says.
"Cardinal Connell has remained silent, Archbishop Martin has not. In fact, he went as far as implying that Cardinal Connell was interfering in his ministry and that the cardinal was not well."
Last night Mr O'Sullivan told the Irish Independent that several abuse victims approached Cardinal Connell when he was Archbishop of Dublin and confided in him on the condition of strict confidentiality.
These victims had continued with their lives and didn't want to be part of any garda or health service inquiries, but wanted the archbishop to know what had happened to them.
"The cardinal is also concerned about priests who were accused of abuse but whose cases have been left in a legal limbo or who have been accused but not convicted. It is believed that he feels a direct and personal responsibility to those to whom he gave assurances of strict confidentiality," he added.
Last night a spokesperson for Archbishop Martin said that the only matters of fact the archdiocese could verify as accurate in 'The Irish Catholic' was that Archbishop Martin provided to the Commission all those documents relevant to the investigation.
"This includes all the documents in respect of which there is a claim of privilege, including those in relation to insurance," the statement said.
"A separate matter we can verify is that Archbishop Martin informed Cardinal Connell of his intentions and motivations with regard to the legally privileged documents."