12 August 2021, The Tablet

Irish Jesuits admit failure on abuser fuelled trauma

Irish Jesuits admit failure on abuser fuelled trauma

Belvedere College, a private Jesuit Secondary School for Boys which James Joyce attended from 1893-1898.
Alain Le Garsmeur James Joyce Ireland / Alamy

The head of the Jesuits in Ireland has said the order must take full responsibility for the wrongdoing of Fr Joseph Marmion, whom a number of former students say sexually, physically and psychologically abused them in the 1970s when he taught at Belvedere College in Dublin.

In a 50-page report, Joseph Marmion – The Jesuit Response, Fr Leonard Moloney SJ says that while Marmion’s actions inflicted severe trauma on individual pupils, this was “magnified by the failure of the Jesuits to recognise the danger he posed to schoolboys in our care and in later ministries or to understand and respond to your needs as his victims”. He said that the Jesuits did not grasp the destructive effects of his abuse.

The report was compiled following a request from a past pupil who alleged the priest, who died in 2000, was physically violent and sexually abused students prior to his removal from the school in 1978. The victim requested that the Jesuits make a public statement naming the priest.

More than 40 people who had not previously shared their stories about Marmion with the Jesuits’ safeguarding office did so in the wake of a Jesuit statement in March this year.

The report, which has not been made public, highlights the lack of documentation around concerns raised in the 1970s about the priest’s behaviour.

“The paucity of documentation reflects a culture that, out of a misguided notion of respecting the institution and the perpetrator rather than the victims, regrettably did not record the concerns expressed about his behaviour. This is manifested in the absence of records of his removal from Belvedere in 1978 and the decision not to remove him immediately from the College in September 1977 when concerns were confirmed about his behaviour during a trip to Vienna that summer.”

Former pupils quoted in the report described Marmion as a “predatory monster who systematically abused the trust of boys” and they recounted how he lured pupils away from others to isolated parts of the school to abuse them.

They have called for a redress scheme to be established. They also want Marmion’s actions in Vienna to be further investigated, including the allegation that he drugged some students and kept them in his bedroom while they were not conscious. Marmion died in 2000 at the age of 75.

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99