London, Nov.27 (ANI): Irish Roman Catholic archbishops and police covered up four decades of child sex abuse by priests in a conspiracy to protect the reputation of the church, The Telegraph quoted a report, as saying.
The damning verdict on the conduct of church and secular authorities followed a three-year investigation into allegations of child abuse by priests in Dublin going back to the 1960s.
Investigators who were given access to 60,000 previous secret church files accused four Archbishops of Dublin of deliberately suppressing evidence of "widespread" abuse.
Archbishops John Charles McQuaid, Dermot Ryan and Kevin McNamara, who have all since died, and Cardinal Desmond Connell, who is retired, all refused to pass information to local police, the report said.
Evidence was kept inside a secret vault in the archbishop's Dublin residence, with suspect clerics moved between parishes to prevent the allegations being made public.
Last night the current Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, apologised to the victims, describing their abuse as an "offence to God".
He said: "I offer to each and every survivor my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened."
In a 750-page report published yesterday the Commission to Inquire into the Dublin Archdiocese blamed the church's "don't ask, don't tell" approach for perpetuating abuse.
"The State authorities facilitated that cover-up by not fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that the law was applied equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes."
The inquiry, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, dismissed the claims of former bishops that they did not know sex abuse was a crime.
It concluded that the church hierarchy was preoccupied with "the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets".
The commission looked at a sample study of allegations made by 320 children against 46 priests between 1975 and 2004.
One priest admitted to sexually abusing over 100 children, while another accepted that he had abused on a fortnightly basis over 25 years.
he publication of the report, which was submitted to the Irish government in July, is expected to prompt a wave of new child abuse allegations against Catholic priests. (ANI)