The Sunday Tribune article of 17 January entitled "Only a Third of Bishops Meet Deadline for Abuse Audit" was misleading and unfair. The article completely ignores the fact that the information referred to was additional information to supplement detail which has already been returned last October to the Health Service Executive, individually by all relevant bishops, in order to complete the HSE audit of management of child sexual abuse within the Catholic church.
In addition, and as serious, the article does not include the important point that the timescale given to the bishops was entirely unreasonable, thus creating an impression of apathy and intransigence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The information referred to in the article was requested by letter from Phil Garland of the HSE on 10 December. This letter requested a reply to be received by 8 January. This timeframe took no account that this period included Christmas, a period of increased pastoral activity throughout the church for bishops and priests and when support staff take leave. The fact that it was too short a period is evidenced by eight bishops formally requesting an extension. To suggest that this situation may indicate a lack of willingness on the part of some bishops to co-operate with the HSE audit is disingenuous.
Your paper's article was misleading and incomplete on the important issue of the safeguarding of children in the Catholic church.
Director, Catholic Communications Office
Irish Bishops' Conference
St Patrick's College, Maynooth