Pope Francis tells Curia: ‘Spare no effort’ in bringing abusers to justice
Courtney Grogan/CNA
21 December, 2018

Pope Francis strongly condemned clerical sex abuse in his annual Christmas speech to the Roman Curia Friday, promising that the Church leadership will never again cover-up abuse or treat such cases lightly.
“Let it be clear that before these abominations the Church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes. The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case,” Pope Francis said in Vatican’s City’s Apostolic Palace on December 21.
“It is undeniable that some in the past, out of irresponsibility, disbelief, lack of training, inexperience, or spiritual and human short-sightedness, treated many cases without the seriousness and promptness that was due. That must never happen again. This is the choice and the decision of the whole Church,” he continued.
The 40 minute address to the cardinals and members of the Roman Curia largely focused on the “scourges of abuse and infidelity.”
The pope delivered a decisive message to those “consecrated men, ‘the Lord’s anointed’, who today “abuse the vulnerable, taking advantage of their position and their power of persuasion.”
With his hands visibly shaking as he read from his prepared text, the pope addressed abusive clergy directly, telling them to prepare to face justice.
“To those who abuse minors I would say this: convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice,” Pope Francis said.
“Remember the words of Christ: ‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it is necessary that scandals come, but woe to the man by whom the scandal comes!’” he added.
The pope chose to focus his Christmas address on the struggles the Church faced in the past “turbulent” year. “This year, in our turbulent world, the barque of the Church has experienced, and continues to experience, moments of difficulty, and has been buffeted by strong winds and tempests,” he said.
Francis outlined what he perceived to be the different reactions from Catholics around the world in response to the sex abuse crisis.
“Many have found themselves asking the Master, who seems to be sleeping: ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ Others, disheartened by news reports, have begun to lose trust and to abandon her. Still others, out of fear, personal interest or other aims, have sought to attack her and aggravate her wounds. Whereas others do not conceal their glee at seeing her hard hit,” he said.
“Many, many others, however, continue to cling to her, in the certainty that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against her,’” he added.
The pope also thanked the journalists who shed light on the cases of sex abuse within the Church, “who were honest and objective and sought to unmask these predators and to make their victims’ voices heard.”
“Even if it were to involve a single case of abuse (something itself monstrous), the Church asks that people not be silent but bring it objectively to light, since the greater scandal in this matter is that of cloaking the truth,” Francis added.
He urged, “Please, let us help Holy Mother Church in her difficult task of recognizing real from false cases, accusations from slander, grievances from insinuations, gossip from defamation.”
In a possible indication of the scope of the Vatican’s February meeting to address the abuse of minors and other vulnerable adults, the pope said that the Church must confront the root causes of sexual abuse, both within itself and in the wider society.
“The Church will not be limited to healing her own wounds, but will seek to deal squarely with this evil that causes the slow death of so many persons, on the moral, psychological and human levels.”
“An effort will be made to make past mistakes opportunities for eliminating this scourge, not only from the body of the Church but also from that of society. For if this grave tragedy has involved some consecrated ministers, we can ask how deeply rooted it may be in our societies and in our families,” he commented.
At the February meeting, the heads of all of the international bishops’ conferences “will question, with the help of experts, how best to protect children, to avoid these tragedies, to bring healing and restoration to the victims, and to improve the training imparted in seminaries,” Francis said.
Pope Francis said he wanted to “stress the importance of a growing awareness that should lead to a duty of vigilance and protection on the part of those entrusted with governance in the structures of ecclesial and consecrated life.”
“The strength of any institution does not depend on its being composed of men and women who are perfect (something impossible!), but on its willingness to be constantly purified, on its capacity to acknowledge humbly its errors and correct them; and on its ability to get up after falling down,” he said.
The pope used the Biblical story of King David to analyze the sins of “abuses of power and conscience and sexual abuse.”
“Today too, there are many Davids who, without batting an eye, enter into the web of corruption and betray God, his commandments, their own vocation, the Church, the people of God and the trust of little ones and their families. Often behind their boundless amiability, impeccable activity and angelic faces, they shamelessly conceal a vicious wolf ready to devour innocent souls,” he said.


No one can reasonably disagree with Francis’ words to the Roman curia.

But we know that the vast majority of paedophiles would never hand themselves over to the police.

So Francis needs to put his money where his mouth is and:

  1. Dismiss ex cardinal McCarrick from the clerical state and make him a layman.
  2. Do the same to Pell if his conviction stands.
  3. Excommunicate all clerical child abusers. If you can be excommunicated for becoming a bishop without Rome’s permission surely you can be excommunicated for sexually abusing a child?
  4. Make crimes against children one of the most serious crimes in canon law.
  5. Set up national tribunals consisting of prosecutors, policemen, judges and social services to conduct investigations into accused bishops and priests.
  6. Hand over all files on bishop and priest abusers to the police.

When Francis does these things we will know he is serious.

Words are just too easy without accompanying actions.

Angel Boligan / El Universal, Mexico City

The Pope Didn’t Go Far Enough in Urging Predatory Priests to Turn Themselves In
BY HEMANT MEHTA – Friendly Atheist

In a speech made this morning to Vatican administrators, Pope Francis urged priests to do what the Catholic Church has proved incompetent at doing: Weed out the abusers in their midst. He told predatory priests to “convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice.”
That might be great advice if anyone actually took the threat seriously. But if the priests didn’t follow the “Don’t rape kids” rule, it’s hard to imagine they’re going to fall in line with the whole “Turn yourselves in” approach.
It didn’t help that the pope also used his speech to go after critics of the Church who called out the abuse beyond merely reporting on it.
The pontiff also suggested that some critics of the Church are taking advantage of the scandals to inflict additional damage on it.
“Others, out of fear, personal interest or other aims, have sought to attack [the Church] and aggravate her wounds,” he said. “Others do not conceal their glee at seeing her hard hit.”
Dude. The critics (hello) who condemn the Church’s inaction aren’t throwing victory parties. We’re angry and appalled and infuriated that a giant crime ring has been able to continue functioning all because it’s dressed up in religion. If we weren’t talking about the Catholic Church, an organization with this many credible allegations of abuse and people at high levels covering it all up would’ve been shut down decades ago.
At no point did the pope go into detail about how individual churches would be punished for not being fully transparent with government officials investigating them. He didn’t say the Church was changing the intractable doctrine that leads priests to groom children instead of finding partners their own age. He didn’t call for a change in Vatican guidelines that call for bishops to turn abusers in to civil authorities only if the local law requires it.
Instead, he just claimed the Church would “never again” cover up sex abuse by religious leaders… which implies that, yes, they covered up sex abuse by religious leaders up until this very moment.
Keep in mind this comes the same week we learned that the discrepancy between abusers reported by the Church and abusers being investigated by law enforcement in Illinois was more than 500. While not all 500 will turn out to be credible allegations, it’s hard to imagine all of them will turn up nothing. Which means the cover up is still going on.
The speech might have been useful a few decades ago. Right now, it’s quite literally the least he could do. It was the equivalent of Republican Sen. Jeff Flake admonishing Donald Trump. We hear the words, but we see no meaningful action to back it up. At some point, the rhetoric itself just becomes a running gag.






Tony Walsh possibly ‘most notorious clerical child sexual abuser’ in Dublin

Murphy report said it was ‘likely that he has abused hundreds of children’

Tony Walsh’s abuse of one boy in Ballyfermot from 1978 to 1983 was so extreme that he was sentenced in December 2010 to a total of 123 years.

Patsy McGarry The Irish Times

Updated: Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 16:38

Former priest Tony Walsh, who was jailed on Wednesday for indecently assaulting a boy 35 year ago, was described by the Murphy Commission as “the most notorious child sexual abuser” to have come to its attention.

“It is likely that he has abused hundreds of children,” its 2009 report said.

It also found that Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese did not report child sexual abuse allegations against Walsh to the Garda for 17 years after it first received such a complaint about him.

The report also revealed that in 1989 it had been suggested in the archdiocese that Walsh, then an admitted (to the archdiocese) child sex abuser, be appointed to the regional marriage tribunal, which dealt mainly with annulments.

This was not done but, as the Murphy report put it, there were then “two known abusers . . . in the regional marriage tribunal . . .”

Those were Fr Ivan Payne and a priest referred to as ‘Fr Cicero’ in the report.

The commission investigated how clerical child sexual abuse allegations were handled in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese between 1975 and 2004.


Walsh’s abuse of one boy in Ballyfermot from 1978 to 1983 was so extreme that he was sentenced in December 2010 to a total of 123 years.

Five of the 13 counts, for buggery, attracted sentences of 10, 12, 14, 16, and 16 years each. The remaining counts, for indecent assault, brought sentences ranging from four to nine years. As Walsh was to serve his sentences concurrently, 16 years was the maximum time he would spend in jail for those crimes.

Four years were suspended as a psychologists report said it was unlikely he would offend again. It was the most severe sentence ever imposed on a clerical child sex abuser in the State.

According to that boy’s victim impact statement, prepared by psychiatrist Prof Ivor Browne, Walsh raped him with his wrists tied to his ankles as he lay over a coffee table at the presbytery in Ballyfermot, which the then priest shared with Fr Michael Cleary and his housekeeper Phyllis Hamilton.

The boy was “crying loudly” and “hysterical”.

Walsh, who had turned up the music to drown out the boy’s cries, took “about an hour to calm me down. I then went home,” the boy said. This assault led to one of the 16-year sentences.

Another incident took place at Enniscrone, Co Sligo. About 50 children from the Ballyfermot were taken there by Walsh and three other priests, including Fr Cleary. Walsh took the boy to the sand dunes where he raped him. Sand caused the boy to bleed, so Walsh brought him to the sea where he washed the blood off and saltwater stung the child’s wounds.

The boy was also raped by Walsh in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Afterwards Walsh wiped him with “a purple sash (stole) he had with him”. When Walsh picked up his jacket “a small receptacle for holding Holy Communionwafers fell out of his pocket”.

He brought the boy back to the presbytery in Ballyfermot, “put on Elvis records . . . and gave him a glass of Coke”.

He then showed him “a Bible with pictures of Hell and said if he told anyone he would burn in hell and never go to heaven. Then he let him go home.”

One evening the boy told his mother an edited version of what had been happening. She went to the presbytery and knocked, accompanied by the boy’s aunt. Phyllis Hamilton answered and denied Walsh was inside.

The mother insisted he must be in as his car was there. They thought they had seen him at a window. Hamilton went inside, and Walsh came to the door.

He denied everything.

As Prof Browne puts it, in the victim impact report, “then knowing the game was up, Walsh stopped abusing D altogether and terminated their relationship”.

Walsh spent eight years trying to stop his trial, exhausting the judicial review process. He failed. He had failed similarly in another case in 1997. Then, after another round-the-houses judicial review process, also under free legal aid, he pleaded guilty and served time.

Denied all charges

However, he forced the December 2010 trial, denying all charges. The jury found him guilty, unanimously, after just 94 minutes and on the 13 counts.

Tony Walsh was born in 1954 and ordained in 1978. Even as a seminarian in Dublin’s Clonliffe College, as emerged years later, he abused children and at the home of another abuser, Fr Noel Reynolds, to whose house he had a key.

In July 1978, two days after Walsh took up his first appointment as a curate in Ballyfermot, a complaint was received in Archbishop’s House that he had sexually abused an eight-year-old boy. That was alleged to have taken place in June 1978 at Fr Reynolds’s house.


The next complaint was in 1979 when a mother went to the parish priest of Ballyfermot, the late Canon Val Rogers. Fr Cleary was despatched to educate the woman’s son on male sexuality. In 1985, Canon Rogers admitted this case had been “hushed up”.

Sometime between 1980 and 1982, there were complaints to Archbishop’s House about Walsh’s abuse of young girls at a summer camp.

In June 1985, Walsh began attending a psychiatrist. In October 1985 of that year, he denied indecently assaulting a young girl earlier that month.

Even after he was moved to the Westland Row parish in the south inner city in February 1986, complaints kept coming from Ballyfermot. A housekeeper at his house in Ballyfermot said there were always children there and on one occasion, she saw two boys coming from his bedroom.

In January 1987, the housekeeper at Westland Row claimed to have found underwear of hers in Walsh’s room. She also found condoms and syringes and said “a number of boys had slept overnight in his bed and a boy from Ballyfermot had been visiting”.

Walsh denied all of this and protested he did not know what condoms looked like. In April 1988, a woman alleged her son was in Westland Row with Walsh. The following month, parents claimed Walsh had interfered with their daughter.

Once a fortnight

In May 1988, Walsh admitted to then chancellor of the Dublin Archdiocese Mgr Alex Stenson that over the eight years he had been in Ballyfermot, “he was involved with boys about once a fortnight”.


It was then 10 years after the first complaint about him was made to the archdiocese. Walsh was sent to the Stroud treatment centre in England. He returned to Dublin in November 1988 and was appointed chaplain at a hospital for older people.

He signed a contract of good behaviour with the archdiocese and nominated Fr Cleary as his spiritual director. He continued to receive counselling.

In August 1989, there were complaints about his dealings with a boy at Dublin’s All Hallows College. Walsh was returned to Stroud.

Management there notified the archdiocese that Walsh intended accompanying the All Priests’ Show (with whom he had a spot doing an Elvis impersonation) on a UK tour.

He was refused permission.

In April 1990, then Archbishop of Dublin Desmond Connell and Msgr Stenson gave Walsh until May 1st to decide on either dismissal from the priesthood or voluntary laicisation. Archbishop Connell also formally ended Walsh’s public ministry.

In March 1991, there were further reports of Walsh’s contacts with children. The Dublin bishops decided to begin canon law proceedings against him. In August 1991, and for the first time, a parent complained to gardaí about Walsh’s attempt to pick up her son.

Psychiatric hospital

The following month, Walsh was ordered by Archbishop Connell to go to the St John of God psychiatric hospital in Stillorgan. The night before he did so, he attempted to pick up another boy and gardaí were alerted.

Walsh returned to Stroud in January 1992 where he posed in nearby streets as a priest counsellor at the clinic and agreed to babysit for a family. By chance, the father of that family found out who he was.

Back in Dublin, in July of that year, he befriended a 15-year-old boy. One of the boy’s parents contacted gardaí, who contacted the archdiocese. More parents complained about Walsh’s activities in December 1992 and again in May 1993.

In August 1993, a Church tribunal in Dublin decided Walsh should be defrocked. The following October, he appealed this to Rome.

While that appeal was in train, he abused a boy at the child’s grandfather’s funeral in west Dublin. The boy’s mother contacted gardaí, alleging Walsh had also abused her son a year earlier.

In late 1994, there were media reports about this.

Early in 1995, Walsh admitted to gardaí that he abused two boys in the 1980s. He was charged in connection with his abuse of the boy at the funeral in 1994 and sentenced later to 12 months. It was the first of many such sentences.


In May 1995, the archdiocese provided gardaí with other complaints about Walsh.

Meanwhile, Rome decided on Walsh’s appeal. It rejected his laicisation, decided he should remain a priest but also spend 10 years in a monastery.

That November, Archbishop Connell petitioned Pope John Paul to dismiss Walsh from the priesthood.

In January 1996, Pope Benedict XVI, then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued a decree confirming Walsh’s dismissal.

Acknowledging the role of the archbishop, subsequently cardinal, in this, the Murphy report said it was he who decided to have Walsh laicised “and he pursued this course in spite of the advice and, indeed, interference of his judicial vicar (Msgr Gerard Sheehy) and in spite of the Roman Rota (Appeal Court).”

In December 1997, Walsh was sentenced to consecutive terms of six years and four years for assaults on six boys. On appeal, this became six years. He was in prison until 2001 on that occasion.

He was sentenced to 16 years in that December 2010 case. In 2013 he pleaded guilty to two more cases and in 2015 was convicted by a jury in relation to the sexual abuse of a girl.

In July 2016 he was jailed for seven and half years for raping a boy three times, once with a crucifix.



I was in Clonliffe Seminary, Dublin for one year – 1972 – 1973.

As a very young man he was unremarkable. I am shocked at his depravity as he abused over 200 children.

To rape a child is unspeakably evil. To rape a child with a crucifix is not only depraved – its satanic.

There is no punishment short of the death penalty that  would be severe enough for the crimes Walsh committed. But we do not have the death penalty. 

By the looks of it he will be out of prison in 2022?

He will then be 68.

I don’t know how any doctor can say he will not reoffend. 

There has to be an argument for keeping people like Walsh locked away from children?

Oh! And it is a shame that it took the Archdiocese of Dublin 17 years to report Walsh to the proper authorities.