12th November 2020
Sadly, you have not displayed the personal or professional courtesy to acknowledge previous correspondence. Following advice, I am copying this e-mail to Grainne Sullivan at Tusla. I do, so, because, the handling of matters, thus far, by you, do not inspire the requisite confidence that you are capable, willing or competent to deal with child protection matters in the Diocese of Meath for reasons to be outlined, hereinafter. So, while you may continue to ignore the scriptor of the present; you will be less likely to ignore, Ms. Sullivan.
Yesterday, I e-mailed to the Abbot President of the Congregation of the Annunciation of which Glenstal Abbey is a constituent abbey about concerns I had about Abbot Brendan Coffey.
“The central allegation against Abbot Brendan Coffey OSB is that exercising the delegated authority of the Bishop of Meath, Bishop Thomas Deenihan, the said Abbot Coffey knowingly, deliberately, and with full-knowledge actively participated in a cover-up by attempting to solicit from a whistle-blower who is co-operating with the Charities Regulator — an affidavit/statement of exculpation that would exonerate the notorious behaviour of the current Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey. The behaviour of Abbot Coffey displayed all the aspects of what is referred to as a “joint enterprise”.
Abbot Coffey was exercising YOUR delegated authority. So, it is legitimate to enquire did you instruct Abbot Coffey to seek the statement of exculpation for Abbot Richard Purcell?
It is clear that Abbot Coffey made the request on behalf of a number of individuals. As he was exercising your delegated authority, it is not an unreasonable to infer that you as the Bishop of Meath were the conduit for these requests. So, mindful that all this can be evidenced in writing — if you are prepared to facilitate a cover-up for Richard Purcell — what else are you prepared to cover-up the Diocese of Meath?
I know you will find the following suggestion wholly offensive, however, based on the preponderance of the totality of your mismanagement of the Silverstream issue i.e., by appointing somebody known to be as compromised [Richard Purcell] — it is not unreasonable to suggest based on your behaviour you would be willing to take the requisite steps to cover-up the sexual misconduct of a favoured cleric involving a child in the Diocese of Meath. This is quite a serious charge; one not lightly made; but based on what has emerged from your handling of Silverstream Priory — it is one that is reasonable, proportionate, and justifiably asserted.
We can evidentially establish that Abbot Brendan did make the request for the statement exoneration for Richard Purcell. Was he completely naïve, stupid, and/or gravely incompetent? Is he somebody that acts unilaterally? If that is the case he is not a fit and proper person to hold the office of Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, and not an individual that is suitable to exercise oversight of a prestigious boarding school. Otherwise, Abbot Brendan was specifically following instructions/requests originating you as the Bishop of Meath in order to facilitate a cover-up. Would you ask Abbot Brendan to procure a statement if a child was involved?
Are you willing to list the people who made these requests on behalf of Purcell? Was one of these individuals the Abbot General of the Cistercians, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald? Do you deny instructing Abbot Brendan Coffey to make this request of the whistle-blower Silverstream? Are you prepared to make such a denial on oath and be subjected to cross-examination on the matter by leading counsel? Are you prepared to confirm in writing to Tusla in your capacity as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Meath that you had no hand in this nefarious course of action? Do you deny the entirety of what is asserted within the present? Be very careful about your answer, because I can evidentially defend everything I assert.
Are you willing to order the whistle-blower to return to Ireland and provide him with accommodation of his choosing and sustenance in order that he can answer questions pertaining to the investigation of Silverstream to: a) Tusla and, b) the Charities Regulator?
Are you prepared to give the whistle-blower a canonically binding undertaking, i.e., on the headed paper of the Diocese of Meath, (signed by you as the Ordinary, countersigned by the Chancellor, witnessed by an ecclesiastical notary, and bearing the seal of the diocese) that the whistle-blower is free to speak to Tusla and the Charities Regulator without fear of any ecclesiastical penalty now or in the future?
I am also copying this e-mail to the Apostolic Nuncio, because you are a bishop, and these legitimate concerns need to be addressed to him as the Nuncio in Ireland; he may wish to transmit a report to the competent Dicastery, the Congregation for Bishops; Abbot Brendan Coffey, so he may exercise his right of reply, along with the Abbot General of the Cistercians, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald; and, Pat Buckley who probably will publish this e-mail on his blog, because on-going transparency is good for the church in Ireland.
11th November 2020
Dear Bishop Alphonsus,
In yet another astounding development, I learned that Abbot Brendan Coffey, OSB of Glenstal Abbey sought from the whistle-blower at Silverstream Priory — a statement of exculpation for Dom Richard Purcell’s rampant and grossly immoral behaviour. This can be confirmed by e-mails and other correspondence. Whilst, I have not read the correspondence, I have been assured that the whistle-blower is prepared to make a sworn affidavit about Richard Purcell, along with a statement on oath before an ecclesiastical tribunal in the presence of a priest notary because the reputation of a cleric is at stake supported by this correspondence. You are advised that these matters have now been referred to Tulsa.
I am told that Abbot Brendan stated he was acting on behalf of dioceses (note the pleural); thus, I e-mail to enquire did Abbot Brendan act at your behest as the Bishop of Waterford? Would you be prepared to confirm in writing to Tulsa that you had no involvement in seeking this affidavit/statement that was exculpatory and beneficial to Richard Purcell?
As you will have inferred, this is a matter that is not going to resolve until a public denial of the allegations made against Richard Purcell is made by the aforementioned priest supported by the signature and seal of office of the Abbot General, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald and/or the resignation of Richard Purcell as the Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey.
Of course, I would not presume to tell you what to do as the bishop of the diocese; but, I would be demanding action from the Abbot General to resolve/ameliorate the situation, which is only going to get worse by inaction.
I would be grateful for an acknowledgement of this correspondence by no later than midday, tomorrow, the 12th of November.
Ex-Vatican envoy’s trial for sex assault begins without him
John Leicester Nov 11, 2020
ASSOCIATED PRESS / CRUX NOW
PARIS — A sexual assault trial for the Vatican’s former ambassador to France went ahead without him Tuesday after he produced a doctor’s note saying it was too dangerous for him to travel from Rome to Paris in the midst of France’s resurgent coronavirus epidemic.
Lawyers for the accusers of retired Archbishop Luigi Ventura asked that the trial be pushed back because he wasn’t present. But the court ruled against a postponement and then heard detailed testimony from multiple men that Ventura groped their buttocks in public settings.
The testifying witnesses included a former seminarian, Mahe Thouvenel, who said he was grabbed repeatedly by the clergyman when they celebrated Mass in December 2018.
“These are facts that happened to me, that hurt me, and I suffered a lot,” he said.
Asked in court what he would have said to Ventura had the former envoy attended the trial, Thouvenel replied: “Monseigneur, why did you do that?”
Represented by his defense team, Ventura was tried in absentia on five counts of alleged sexual assault. Three of his alleged victims who filed police complaints of groping and inappropriate touching on their buttocks were in court.
Ventura has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. Sexual assault is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and fines in France.
Exceptionally, the Vatican last year lifted the ambassador’s diplomatic immunity, allowing for his trial.
But during Tuesday’s hearing, the prosecutor, Alexis Bouroz, produced a Vatican letter in court that said Rome still reserves the right not to apply any eventual punishment for Ventura, if he is convicted.
The prosecutor agreed that the trial should proceed without Ventura. He said he didn’t believe the retired archbishop would come for any future court hearings, and so delaying it would just waste time.
Lawyers for the alleged victims seethed at what they viewed as contempt for the proceedings.
“The Holy See doesn’t give a hoot for your deliberations,” Thouvenel’s lawyer, Edmond Frety, said.
Thouvenel said his seminary kicked him out after he filed a police complaint. Under questioning from Ventura’s defense lawyer, he put his right hand on the top of his right buttock to show one of the spots where he was allegedly groped.
“It’s violent,” Thouvenel said. “It sticks in your memory.”
Defense lawyer Solange Doumic told the court that his doctor deemed it “completely unreasonable” for Ventura to travel at age 75 during the pandemic, as Paris hospitals are again struggling to cope with coronavirus cases.
The lawyer suggested that the plaintiffs’ request for a delay was to milk publicity for the case.
Another of the accusers, Mathieu De La Souchere, alleged that Ventura touched his buttocks repeatedly during a reception at Paris City Hall.
The judge said that, during prior questioning, Ventura explained his behavior by saying he had a “Latin” temperament and that there was nothing sexual about his gestures.
“Mr. Ventura is lying,” De La Souchere told the court.
“There is talk of a hand on a buttock,” he said. “It was more than that.”
The Vatican recalled Ventura last year and he later retired. The Vatican has recalled other diplomats when they get into trouble during overseas postings.
Ventura did wrong and he knows it.
We all must observe boundaries and touching another person sexually without their agreement is an assault.
Ventura has a history of this type of behaviour.
We await the outcome of the French hearing.