Raphoe bishop apologises for abuse by priest during early 1970s

The Bishop of Raphoe has this afternoon apologised to two victims of abuse by a priest in the Catholic diocese during the early Seventies.

It follows the sentencing in Letterkenny Criminal Circuit Court today of a man convicted of the abuse.

Con Cunningham was sentenced to prison for abusing two minors while in active ministry as a priest in the Diocese of Raphoe, which takes in most of County Donegal, between the years 1972 and 1975.

In a statement issued afterwards, Bishop Alan McGuckian said he apologised unreservedly to the two victims.

The bishop said he was deeply sorry that as innocent children they had to endure this devastating and destructive abuse by someone in a position of sacred trust.

The bishop also apologised to their families for what he described as ‘the terrible destruction and pain caused by the criminal actions of a priest who acted so deviously.’

Bishop McGuckian said that at this time he was very aware of the parishes where Con Cunningham worked and lived.

He was also aware of the sense of betrayal, anger and shock of all parishioners.

The bishop said he was sorry for the deep hurt that had been caused to them and he commended the two victims for their courage in coming forward and seeking justice.

Bishop McGuckian said that in the past the diocese had failed to act appropriately and expeditiously.

People who had suffered abuse had felt unsupported by the diocese and were not listened to which, the bishop said, was regretted greatly.

Bishop McGuckian also said if anyone has a concern or a complaint, past or present, they should come forward and contact the statutory authorities and the diocese.