Leading article

Fr Finegan abuse victims deserve full disclosure

While the resignation of Bishop John McAreavey is a significant development, it must be recognised that it is by no means the end of the matter in relation to the scandal of paedophile priest and teacher Fr Malachy Finegan.

Dr McAreavey made the right decision in stepping down on Thursday following 'media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and further afield.'

He had already apologised last month when it emerged that the diocese of Dromore had reached a settlement with one of 12 abuse victims, saying he regretted officiating at Fr Finegan's funeral in 2002, despite knowing since 1994 that he was an abuser.

A BBC Spotlight investigation subsequently provided distressing testimony from some of Fr Finegan's victims and raised serious questions about the actions of the Catholic Church and how this disturbing case was handled.

When the parents of some children at three Catholic primary schools said they did not want the bishop officiating at confirmation ceremonies, it was clear there was a deep sense of disquiet at what people were hearing.

And when the Nolan TV programme this week revealed that the bishop concelebrated Mass with Fr Finegan in 2000, leading some victims to call for his resignation, Dr McAreavey's position became untenable.

No doubt Bishop McAreavey has reflected on how he has dealt with this entire issue and it is important that Church leaders take responsibility for their actions.

But it is also inevitable that victims and members of the wider Church will feel let down at the failure, once again, to take firm and appropriate action in relation to a known child abuser.

The PSNI has now set up a dedicated team to investigate the allegations against Fr Finegan as questions grow about what the police and Church authorities knew more than 20 years ago and what action was taken.

For years the appalling and criminal behaviour of Fr Finegan was kept in the shadows.

Those who suffered at his hands are now seeking a public inquiry.

They are entitled to full disclosure about this troubling case - and openness and candour from the Catholic Church.

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Leading article