Irish man shares story of sexual abuse by priest who later moved to Canada
Warning: This story contains graphic details of sexual abuse.
DUBLIN, Ireland -- An Irish man is speaking out about the childhood sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest – a priest who later spent three decades in Canada.
Mark Vincent Healy says he is still tormented by the way Father Arthur Carragher fondled him in a locker room when he was only nine years old.
“He took my trousers down and he was fondling and masturbating me, and I said, ‘What are you doing to me?’ But I couldn't get away. There was this authority figure that is now playing with you in away -- ‘playing’ is a terrible word -- was criminally assaulting you.”
Healy says he shut the memories out for decades. Then he had a nervous breakdown.
He went on to campaign for other victims of assault and was the first male survivor in Ireland to meet Pope Francis, who is under pressure to act on the growing global abuse scandal as he visits Dublin this weekend.
But now Healy is turning his attention to Canada, specifically, St. Joseph’s Parish in Guelph, Ont., where Carragher was transferred in 1971.
According to The Congregation of the Holy Ghost, nothing in Carragher’s file explained his transfer to Canada in 1971. It was also the same year a Dublin mother told school officials he had assaulted her two young boys.
The Congregation of the Holy Ghost, also known as the Spiritans, claims priests were sent to various parts of the world at that time. Victims say that is a convenient explanation, just not the actual one.
Carragher retired in 1995, one year before the formal accusations began to emerge.
In 2001, after Carragher confessed to molesting two Dublin boys in the 1960s, the congregation sent him for a six-day psychological assessment at Southdown, a facility where other priests accused of preying on children had been treated.
His victims say he told them, "this is what it feels like to be a man."
There came a point when he was wanted in Dublin, but with no extradition treaty between Ireland and Canada, Carragher, even as a self-confessed child molested, lived out his last days in Toronto. He died in 2011.
Healy says he thinks more victims are out there and he doesn’t believe a word that Canadian church officials have told him.
He also feels he let his nine-year-old self down, but he is trying to seek his forgiveness.
“I didn’t help him,” he says. “It took a time for me to get over the guilt of all of this.”
Carragher had a particular “reprehensible interest in prepubescent boys,” Healy added, “perversely interested in forcing a child to a sexual awakening they hadn’t a clue about to which they had not even physically developed and to which they would never recover from psychologically.”
Healy doesn't hold Canada responsible for "granting Carragher refuge." He says Canada was also a potential victim of this man.