Monday, January 2, 2012

Fr. Sean Cahill: Priest of the Diocese of Down and Connor, Restored to Full Priestly Ministry

Fr Sean Cahill, Priest of the Diocese of Down and Connor

Restored to Full Priestly Ministry

Statement by Bishop Noel Treanor

St Malachy’s Church, Castlewellan

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Feast of Mary, Holy Mother of God

I am delighted to be here today to welcome Fr Sean Cahill back to ministry in the Diocese of Down and Connor.

Together with you I welcome him back to full priestly ministry in which he served you, the people of Castlewellan / Kilmegan parish and the Diocese with dedication and commitment as a priest for almost fifty years – I welcome him back with an unblemished character.

Like you, I was shocked by the allegations conveyed to me in February 2010. In accordance with the requirements of both civil law and of Church policy, as set down by the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church, advice was sought at that time from the Police, Social Services and the Diocesan Safeguarding bodies. Fr Sean Cahill decided to step aside voluntarily from ministry during the police investigation.

After thorough and lengthy investigation by the police and the Public Prosecution Service, an investigation with which Fr Sean Cahill and the Diocese co-operated fully, the PSNI, the Public Prosecution Service, the Social Services and I, as Bishop of this Diocese, are satisfied that there was no basis for the allegation. The preliminary canonical enquiry was completed and Fr Sean Cahill has resumed priestly ministry, the same innocent priest he was when he voluntarily stepped aside in February 2010.

Unfounded allegations have a devastating effect on any person, but the allegations levelled against Fr Sean Cahill, who has dedicated his life to selfless service of Church and community, damage not only his life but also his family, his parish, his diocese, the Church and wider society. In addition, such baseless allegations do colossal damage to the cause of the genuine survivors of abuse, including clerical abuse.

Today however is a day for joy at the start of a New Year. Fr Sean Cahill now resumes ministry in the Diocese of Down and Connor in the knowledge that his suffering over the past two years, borne with such personal courage and strength, supported by his family, by friends and by you, his parishioners, is at an end. He has asked me to thank you the parishioners of Kilmegan for your unflinching support for him through your prayers, thoughts and acts of kindness. In his name and on his behalf I do so with profound gratitude to you.

Speaking on matters related to the safeguarding of children and young people I have on several occasions emphasized and encouraged a culture of vigilance in the area of safeguarding. It is incumbent on all of us as individuals, as communities, and as a society to ensure that our safeguarding practices with children and young people are of the highest standard: our codes of conduct, our behaviour and our interaction must always be beyond reproach.

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