- Trying to square the circle
The opening days of the Synod on the Family have revealed distinct differences of opinion between the participants. How can their commitment to church teaching be matched with compassion for those who struggle with it?
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A former altar boy who was sexually abused by a priest in the Archdiocese of Birmingham has launched a £300,000 compensation claim.
Eamonn Flanagan, 51, has started a legal action against the “personal representatives” of the late Archbishops George Dwyer and Maurice Couve de Murville. The claim has been put in the care of the current Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley.
Mr Flanagan was abused by Fr Samuel Penney between 1975 and 1986 and argues that the deceased archbishops are “vicariously liable” for the priest’s actions. Back in 2012 the Diocese of Portsmouth unsuccessfully argued in the High Court that a diocese should not automatically be held liable for an abusive priest. This ruling has opened the Church up to claims for damages.
Penney was jailed for seven and a half years in 1993 after admitting 10 charges of indecent assault against children and was later laicised.
According to a High Court writ, Mr Flanagan claims the abuse led to psychiatric difficulties, depression and post-traumatic stress order. He also claims it hampered his health, development, and education and prevented him from achieving his potential, including the ability to earn at the best possible level.
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Birmingham said: “For legal reasons we are unable to comment at the present time.”