Irish Jesuits Apologize for ‘Shameful’ Mishandling of Abuse Case

The Irish Jesuits confirmed in March 2021 that Father Joseph Marmion had abused boys “sexually, emotionally and physically” at the school in the 1970s.

Belvedere College, Dublin, where Father Marmion allegedly abused students in the 1960s and 1970s.
Belvedere College, Dublin, where Father Marmion allegedly abused students in the 1960s and 1970s. (photo: Pjposullivan via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0) / Pjposullivan via Wikimedia)

Following the leak of the Irish Jesuits’ draft inquiry into sexual abuse committed by a deceased member, the order on Monday acknowledged its “shameful” mishandling of the case. 

“Decisions were made that should never have been made and decisions that should have been made were not. There are no excuses,” a July 26 statement from the Irish Jesuits reads. 

Father Joseph Marmion, SJ taught at Belvedere College in Dublin from 1969 to 1978, and died in 2000. The Irish Jesuits confirmed in March 2021 that Father Marmion had abused boys “sexually, emotionally and physically” at the school in the 1970s. 

Following that announcement, the order said it engaged with survivors and intended to find a detailed chronology of Father Marmion’s abuse, as well as the order’s response.

In a statement this week, the Irish Jesuits admitted that Father Marmion’s case was mishandled, and called it “shameful."

“What has emerged in terms of the story of Marmion’s abuse, and subsequent handling of his case is shameful for us Jesuits and must be very difficult for survivors to read,” the Society of Jesus in Ireland stated.  

“We are profoundly sorry for the terrible wrongs that were done to survivors. We again ask forgiveness of all those impacted by Joseph Marmion’s abuse.”

A victim who was 13 years old at the time of the abuse contacted the Irish Jesuits in 2019, the order said. Father Leonard Moloney SJ, Provincial of the Order, met with the man, who asked that his abuser, Father Marmion, be named publicly. 

The order said it has been in contact “over many years with others who were abused” by Father Marmion as young students. The survivors wanted “a robust process that would address the whole truth of what happened and how it was allowed to happen,” the Jesuits said.

The order engaged two “independent restorative justice practitioners,” Barbara Walshe and Catherine O’Connell, to help aid former students who had suffered abuse. The order also prepared a report on the Jesuits’ “knowledge, actions and omission” related to the abuse case. The Irish broadcaster RTE obtained a copy of the draft report this week. 

According to the Irish Times, the draft states that a “credible” allegation of abuse was brought against Father Marmion as early as 1977, but the gardaí, or Irish state police, were not notified. 

Father Marmion was given other assignments after the allegation came to light, including being appointed chaplain to St. Vincent’s Private Hospital in Dublin in 1990. 

“We recognise that these subsequent appointments should not have been made,” the Irish Jesuits said in their March statement. 

The full contents of the confidential report has not been released, though the Jesuits said “it may be published at a later date,” the Irish Times reported.

While acknowledging the inadequacy of words, the order stated its hope that “acknowledging fully the role we played as an Order in allowing this abuse to happen and go on for so long, will be the beginning of a new way for us of taking responsibility for our failings.”

The March for the Martyrs in Washington, D.C., Sept. 25, 2021.

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