Vatican tried to keep Irish child rapist as priest
(AP) – 2 hours ago
DUBLIN (AP) — The Vatican tried to stop Dublin church leaders from defrocking a particularly dangerous pedophile priest and relented only after he raped a boy in a pub restroom, an investigation reported Friday.
Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said he fully accepted the findings of the latest chapter in Ireland's investigation into child abuse by Catholic Church figures.
Martin called Tony Walsh an "extremely devious man" who should never have been ordained a priest, and said the report highlighted how the church had grown too powerful and arrogant in 20th century Ireland.
A state-ordered investigation into Dublin Archdiocese cover-ups reported last year that Catholic officials had shielded scores of priests from criminal investigation over several decades and didn't report any crimes to the police until 1995. The findings sent shockwaves through the church and forced three Irish bishops to resign.
A chapter dealing with Walsh was censored from the original report because he was still facing a criminal trial. The Department of Justice published the chapter Friday following the 56-year-old Walsh's Dec. 6 conviction for repeatedly raping three boys three decades ago. He received a 12-year prison sentence.
The investigators — a judge and lawyers acting independently of the Irish government — concluded that Walsh actually raped and molested hundreds of boys while serving as a Dublin priest from 1978 to 1996, a rein of terror that church leaders never effectively stopped.
They described Walsh as "probably the most notorious child sexual abuser" of the 46 cases they investigated covering the years 1975-2004. Walsh often performed as an Elvis impersonator in a traveling Catholic song-and-dance production popular with children called the "All Priests Show." The report found this increased his easy access to so many victims.
The fact-finders based their conclusions on previously confidential Dublin and Vatican documents and interviews with key church figures that took five years to gather. They found that Dublin Archdiocese leaders spent several years arguing over whether Walsh should be defrocked, sent to counselors in England, or assigned to duties that kept him away from children.
They finally expelled him from the priesthood at a 1993 canonical trial — the first in Ireland in three decades. But Walsh successfully appealed the verdict to the Vatican, which ordered him to be sent for 10 years to a monastery instead.
The investigators documented how Rome relented only after police finally opened a 1995 criminal probe into the mountain of abuse reports — including Walsh's recent sexual assault of a boy in a pub restroom following the funeral of the victim's grandfather.