Ireland's Child Care Institutions during the 20th. Century. Fo'T: The most vivid and passionate stories - banished babies, cruel orphanages, old abuses of power - have concerned things that went unnoticed, or at least unarticulated, at the time. News has often had to be redefined, not as the latest sensation but as that which everybody knew all along yet could not say.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Victims deplore early release of Brother

Victims deplore early release of Brother

By Eithne Donnellan

A religious brother given the longest sentence for child sex abuse in the history of the State was released from the Curragh Prison on Saturday after serving just three years of a 36-year sentence. James Kelly (76), otherwise known as Brother Ambrose, was taken from the Kildare prison by his order, the Brothers of Charity, to an unnamed institution in the State where he is to receive therapy and counselling.

The name of the institution is known only to the Brothers of Charity and Cork Circuit Criminal Court, where earlier this month Judge Patrick Moran told Kelly's victims that the Brother would, on his release, be housed in a place where he would not be in a position to reoffend.

He said he was happy the institution to which Brother Ambrose would be taken was "the appropriate place for him". However, he did not name it, saying the management at the institution were entitled to privacy. Brother Ambrose, who is in poor health, admitted he could not remember the names of all the boys he abused. He was jailed for 36 years in 1999 for sexually abusing boys in his care in the 1950s and 1960s in Galway and at the Lota children's home in Glanmire, Cork.

Mr Eoin Little of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse yesterday described Brother Ambrose as "the Adolf Hitler of abusers, the worst on record in Ireland". He criticised Judge Moran for releasing him and suggested that if Mr Justice O'Flaherty resigned over the Sheedy affair, Judge Moran should also consider his position. A man abused by Brother Ambrose, Mr Alan Carroll, said the decision to release him was a major blow to child sex abuse survivors throughout the country.

"I will never rest easy as long as that man is out there. Nobody knows what that man is capable of. I fear for the safety of children," he said.

© 2002 The Irish Times

Saturday, May 18, 2002


The document came to light because it was referenced in a footnote to a May 18, 2002, letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, to the bishops of the world regarding new procedures for sex abuse cases.

Crimen sollicitationis is a secret document issued by the Holy Office of the Vatican (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) in 1962, instructing bishops about how to handle cases in which priests were accused of using the privacy of the confessional to make sexual advances to penitents. The document also instructs bishops on how to handle cases of the "worst crime", in which a priest is sexually involved with an animal, child, or man. Canon lawyers disagree about the extent to which the document is still in force.

The document calls for such cases to be handled in secret, and extends that secrecy to the document itself. The document imposes secrecy even upon victims of sexual abuse. Extreme penalties for violations of secrecy, including excommunication that can only be dismissed by the pope himself, are imposed. Perhaps as a result, some bishops claim not to have known of its existence.

Crimen sollicitationis came to light in 2002, in the context of new procedures for handling accusations that priests had sexually abused minors. Lawyers involved in cases against the church have argued that the document is evidence of obstruction of justice. In response, defenders of church policy have argued that the policy of secrecy extended only to Canon law actions up to and including defrocking of a priest, and would not have prevented a bishop from reporting accusations of child molestation to the civil authorities. They also argue that, because the document was a secret, it is unlikely to have influenced the actions of church officials.