Mundabor asks some rather pertinent questions about the O'Brien affair, basically "who knew", in his post he poses and answers these questions:
Let us think this further: is it probable no one had noticed? No.Is it probable no one had noticed?
Is it possible no one ever sent notes and warnings to his superiors? Extremely unlikely.
Is it possible that such warnings were sent and given, and were ignored by the competent authorities without much thinking, or because of the wrong thinking? You can draw your own conclusions, but I think it probable almost to the point of certainty.
I am told there were rumours in the Archdiocese about a relationship but rumours are not facts. Although rumours about all sorts of things abound amongst clergy, they often prove groundless. And although clergy do gossip about things happening within the Church it tends to be within small groups of trusted friends.
The great problem of the clergy, is that we tend to be naive about both scandal and sex. I really am convinced that the "cover-ups" of the 1980's and much of the mishandling of sexual abuse that emerged at that time was a result naivety and confusion on the part of Bishops rather than wilful wickedness. We tend to be guarded about calumny, even calumnious thought. Especially today when we clergy live solitary lives, it is more than likely we are completely in the dark about what a priest is doing in the parish next door and even more so what our bishop is up to..
Is it possible no one ever sent notes and warnings to his superiors?
I think this is extremely likely, clergy tend to be masters at keeping silent about their suspicion. There is no mechanism for reporting suspicions to superiors, and certainly not if ones suspicion is about a bishop. Until the appointment of Archbishop Memini there was always the feeling that his predecessors were both unlikely to forward ones concerns to Rome and were more than likely to copy any letter to the Bishop concerned. The Church is an institution based on law, without concrete evidence very few would make a complaint based on rumour, opinion, or circumstantial evidence, and without concrete evidence no superior can legally act against an inferior.
Is it possible that such warnings were sent and given, and were ignored by the competent authorities without much thinking, or because of the wrong thinking.
If complaints were made it is very likely complaints to previous Nuncii were ignored. Before Mennini the Nuncio was a remote figure, who was hardly soken to by ordinary clergy, and really wasn't trusted by most priests, I can't think of anyone who would nip around to Wimbledon for a cup of tea and a chat about a bishops shortcomings.
As far as complaints made to bishops or other superiors they are unlikely to act on mere suspicion or rumour. Sexual crimes especially always tend to happen in private, and there tends to be little evidence, and generally it is one persons word against another and without evidence their must be a presumption of innocence.