Press Releases

Christmas Message from Bp Boyce, 2018

The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ provides us with a moment of reflective calm as we stand before the manger, thanking God for the gifts of the year just ending and praying for blessings of peace and good will in the year that lies ahead. I share my thoughts and hopes with you in my first Christmas season in the Diocese of Dromore.

Looking back on 2018, the visit of Pope Francis to Dublin last August must be a key moment of joy for many people. His simple proclamation of the good news for families brought joy to all our hearts, not just the thousands who met him at the World Meeting of Families, in Croke Park and in Phoenix Park. In particular, I thank him for his gestures of hope and joy to couples preparing for marriage and to the homeless whom he met at Br Kevin’s Centre for the Homeless in Dublin. His gestures challenge us to support those setting out to share life and build a family together. He also reminds us that our society continues to face the challenge to welcome the homeless just as we welcome the Holy Family this Christmas – let us not forget they were homeless and later forced to migrate to Egypt. In a time of great political and economic uncertainty, we commit ourselves in the coming year to work with all people of good will in building a just and fair society. The birth of the Word made flesh reminds us of the inalienable dignity of each human person, from conception to death, as we redouble our efforts to welcome all newcomers and to care for the weak and dispossessed.

The words of Pope Francis’ Penitential Rite at Phoenix Park continue to challenge us in the Diocese of Dromore. The revelations of the abuse of many young people by the late Fr Finnegan shocked and shamed all members of the diocese. It is easy to turn away from these revelations and say they are in the past. But we all share a responsibility towards those who carry this burden today. The Gospel calls us to show compassion and reconciliation and we must find ways to make this a reality in the life of the diocese. I apologise unreservedly for the hurt and damage caused to his victims by Fr Finnegan, and to the victims of any other priest or representative of the Diocese. Such behaviour towards children and vulnerable people is abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible, and we must remain fully committed to achieving and maintaining best practice in the area of safeguarding young people and vulnerable adults. The Diocese continues to work with victims and their representatives to establish a process which will achieve the acknowledgement and healing that victims seek to enable them to move forward in their lives and relationships.

I ask your prayers when you visit the Manger for all victims of abuse and neglect in our Diocese that they may find relief from their pain. I also ask that you remember all those active in the parishes and other organisations of the Diocese that they may continue to build up the People of God to give joyful and courageous witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this new year.

+ Philip Boyce, Apostolic Administrator

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Diocesan Statement, 23rd November 2018

DATE:            23rd November 2018
Statement of the Diocese of Dromore in response to comments by Mr Kevin Winters, KRW Law

In an article in the Newry Democrat (“Time for Church ‘to do the right thing’”, 20 November 2018), Mr Kevin Winters stated in relation to those abused by the late Fr Malachy Finegan, “Eight months on I think it’s now incumbent on the Church to do the right thing and engage in reparation in a victim-centred way to allow people to try and move on”.

The Diocese of Dromore apologises unreservedly for the hurt and damage caused to his victims by Fr Finegan, and any other priest or church representative acting under its authority. The Diocese of Dromore finds such behaviour towards children and vulnerable people abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible, and is fully committed to achieving and maintaining best practice in the area of safeguarding young people and vulnerable adults.

It cooperates fully with the National Board for Safeguarding in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCC) and statutory agencies to ensure that “we recognise and uphold the dignity and rights of all children, are committed to ensuring their safety and well-being, and will work in partnership with parents/guardians to do this” (Diocesan Child Safeguarding Policy). All Church personnel have a responsibility to safeguard children through promoting their welfare, health and development in a safe and caring environment that supports their best interests and prevents abuse.

With respect to historical cases of abuse, the Diocese of Dromore is also committed “to (i) establish the truth of what happened in the past; (ii) to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again; (iii) to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected; and (iv) above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes.” (Diocesan Child Safeguarding Policy Statement). The Diocese is committed to this journey of justice, truth, healing and abuse prevention.

The legacy of abuse is not time limited. The impact on victims is deeply personal and is carried differently by each one. We must not lose sight of the individuals involved, nor their personal journey, nor the hurt felt by those close to them, when referring to historical abuse.

The Diocese is therefore open to and welcomes the call of Mr Winters “to do the right thing”. The Diocese would welcome a process which can resolve the on-going concerns of victims of abuse within the Diocese. Such a process must be victim-centred and place the needs of the victims to the fore; it must be open to all victims of abuse suffered at the hands of representatives of the Diocese; and it must ensure that it is comprehensive, practical and successful in achieving the healing that victims need. To this end, and acknowledging the personal journey of every victim, the Diocese is willing to work with victims and their representatives to establish a process which will achieve the healing victims seek so that they can move forward in their lives and relationships.

The Diocese advises anyone who may have a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, Social Services, or the Diocesan Designated Safeguarding Officer (Telephone: 077 8991 7741).

The Diocesan Child Safeguarding Policy Statement can be accessed at:

https://www.dromorediocese.org/safeguarding/

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Diocesan Statement, 11th August 2018

Statement in response to the Sunday Times

The Diocese of Dromore does not accept the position presented that Mr Elliott was not given full diocesan files by the former bishop for a 2011 audit of the diocese by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI).

At the request of Bishop McAreavey, staff from the NBSCCC engaged in a process of reviewing safeguarding children policy and practice on June 20th 2011. The review report was published in 2011.

Mr Elliott attended at the Diocesan offices as a representative of the NBSCCCI and initially declined a request to review the files relating to deceased priests.  Bishop McAreavey pressed him to consider those files as he was anxious to ensure that all aspects of historic abuse allegations handling were reviewed.  Mr Elliott agreed. The Diocese gave Mr Elliott access to all available records and the review made reference to those files and acknowledged the work of Bishop McAreavey in the field of safeguarding.

The Diocese advises anyone who may have a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, Social Services, or the Diocesan Designated Safeguarding Officer (Telephone: 077 8991 7741).


Statement from Bishop McAreavey March 2018

Statement from Bishop McAreavey February 2018