Four Dublin archbishops were aware of complaints against priests for sexually abusing children over 35 years, a damning report has revealed.
The four Catholic archbishops who proceeded Dr Diarmuid Martin -- John Charles McQuaid, Dermot Ryan, Kevin McNamara and Desmond Connell -- did not reveal their knowledge of widespread sexual abuse by the clergy to the gardai.
Yet the Archbishops, who presided over the Dublin diocese from the 1960s, were aware of allegations of sexual misconduct by priests of the diocese. The Child Abuse Commission Report reveals that a desire to protect the Church meant the horrific crimes were not reported to the gardai.
The report did not find any evidence of a paedophile ring operating in Dublin, but it did find some connections between more than 40 priests serving in the Archdiocese.
The Commission says Cardinal Connell was shocked at the extent of the of child sexual abuse within the diocese but he was slow to recognise the seriousness of the situation, took bad advice from legal and medical counsel and failed to realise that clerical sex abusers could not be dealt with in secret.
It says his dealings with complaints were legally acceptable, but added to the trauma and grief of abused children.
The long awaited report of the Commission, set up in 2006, will be published on Thursday, but majority of clerical child sex abusers will not be identified by their real names for legal reasons.
As directed by the High Court, parts of the report will also be withheld to avoid jeopardising any prosecutions or ongoing investigations.
Gardai and the Director of Public Prosecutions are already pursuing cases against identified offenders.
The report found that the church authorities covered up clerical child sex abuse in Dublin and that this was facilitated by its structures and rules. It also found that this was helped by State authorities who allowed the church to be beyond the reach of normal law enforcement processes with some gardai making inappropriate contact with the archdiocese about allegations.
Victims and support groups last night expressed their shock at the leaked findings.
One in Four director Maeve Lewis said some people may be surprised to read that members of the gardai often dismissed abuse claims or said they didn't fall under their remit.
Dr Martin reacted angrily to the leaking of the report, based on a representative sample of 46 priests from 1975 to mid-2004, last night. He called for sensitivity to be shown to victims while they waited for its release.
"It is regrettable that several months after the completion of the report, selected sections of it, or a draft thereof have been published. However, all involved should be mindful of those most in need of help."
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern will bring the report to Cabinet tomorrow for final approval for publication before its release on Thursday.