A little background reading
From the Murphy Report:
In addition to their clerical education, many of those in authority in the Archdiocese had civil law degrees or occupied prestigious appointments in third level education…Despite their participation in civil society, it was not until late 1995 that officials of the Archdiocese first began to notify the civil authorities of complaints of clerical child sexual abuse. In this context it is significant, in the Commission’s view, that every bishop’s primary loyalty is to the Church itself. At his consecration every bishop, as well as making a profession of faith, must take an oath of fidelity to the Apostolic See. [p 7]
1.27 Most officials in the Archdiocese were, however, greatly exercised by the provisions of canon law which deal with secrecy. It was often spoken of as a reason for not informing the Gardaí about known criminal offences.
1.28 A similar ‘culture of secrecy’ was identified by the Attorney General for Massachusetts in his report on child sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese.5 In the case of that diocese, as in the case of Dublin, secrecy “protected the institution at the expense of children.” [p 8]
the highest priority was the protection of the reputation of the institution and the reputation of priests. The moving around of offending clerics with little or no disclosure of their past is illustrative of this. [p 9]
Another consequence of the obsessive concern with secrecy and the avoidance of scandal was the failure of successive Archbishops and bishops to report complaints to the Gardaí prior to 1996. The Archbishops, bishops and other officials cannot claim that they did not know that child sexual abuse was a crime. As citizens of the State, they have the same obligations as all other citizens to uphold the law and report serious crimes to the authorities. [p 9]
As can be seen clearly from the case histories, there is no doubt that the reaction of Church authorities to reports of clerical child sexual abuse in the early years of the Commission’s remit was to ensure that as few people as possible knew of the individual priest’s problem. There was little or no concern for the welfare of the abused child or for the welfare of other children who might come into contact with the priest. [p 10]
And so on. I recommend reading the first 28 pages, at least, if you haven’t already. The whole horrible mess is laid out there. They protected the institution at the expense of raped children.