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Irish bishops donate £9m to support abuse victims

By on Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Cardinal Sean O'Malley and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin lie prostrate before the altar during a liturgy of repentance in Dublin (CNS photo/John McElroy)

Cardinal Sean O'Malley and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin lie prostrate before the altar during a liturgy of repentance in Dublin (CNS photo/John McElroy)

Ireland’s Catholic leaders have pledged a further £8.7 million to provide support services for victims of clerical abuse and announced plans for spiritual support to people whose faith has been damaged by abuse.

In a pastoral letter, “Towards Healing and Renewal”, the bishops acknowledged that “the inadequate response [to abuse] by some church leaders has left a deep wound that may never be fully healed”.

While reiterating an earlier apology for the suffering of survivors, the letter said: “No apology, no gesture of repentance or sorrow can ever make up for the hurt that has been caused to those abused and to their families: They have been grievously harmed and let down by people who professed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“We are deeply ashamed of this and we are profoundly sorry for any failures on our part,” said the letter, released to mark the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the Catholics of Ireland dealing with the abuse crisis.

The bishops’ conference and the Conference of Religious of Ireland, which represents 136 religious congregations, agreed to fund the “Towards Healing” counselling service for another five years. They have already spent €20 million (£17 million) on the service over the past 14 years.

In addition, the bishops said they would set aside the first Friday of every month to pray and fast in reparation for the sins and crimes of abuse, and they encouraged the faithful to do the same. Plans were also unveiled for a new programme of spiritual support for “survivors whose faith has been damaged and who want to work through this particular consequence of their abuse”.

Initially, the service will be located throughout Ireland. However, Church officials are considering extending this service to Irish survivors who live in Britain. As many as six million people in Britain were either born in Ireland or had a parent or grandparent who was.

The bishops renewed their commitment to continued dialogue with survivors of abuse as well as “lay faithful, priests and religious about how the Church in Ireland can inspire present and future generations to a new vision of faith”.

Cardinal Seán Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, said the letter “represents part of a wider response and longer journey by the Church in offering its support to survivors of abuse on their journey to healing and peace and in committing itself to renewal”.

The Church in Ireland has been struggling to come to terms with abuse after two separate judicial reports uncovered mishandling of abuse going back to the 1950s. The Murphy Report, which investigated the handling of allegations made against 46 priests in the Dublin archdiocese between 1975 and 2004, revealed that bishops often placed the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal ahead of the protection of children. The Ryan Report, which investigated institutional abuse, found that sexual abuse was “endemic” in some Church-run institutions. Four Irish bishops have resigned in the past decade over claims they had failed to tackle abuse.

  • Anonymous

    I am not skeptical of the intent, as no doubt many will be. This is a valid move to try and improve the situation and move things on. This situation will never be fully resolved, however, until all those involved are put on trial in front of the law.

  • Dcruz

    This situation could have been avoided if the concerned bishops took timely and correctative action on first coming to know of the iincidence.Very sad indeed

  • AgingPapist

    the bishops acknowledged that “the inadequate response [to abuse] by some church leaders has left a deep wound that may never be fully healed”
    Pay up my Lords, you can do much better than 9 million pounds. This is a pittance compared to the depth and length of the damage you’ve done. Let’s end the public relations show of penitence and get down to real justice and reparations to Irish families.
    The primate of Ireland should resign and the College of Cardinals should go immediately into consistory to demand Pope Benedict’s resignation, or send him into exile. Then elect archbishop Martin of Dublin as his successor. Then, we will start to see real reform and true reparations made to sexual abuse victims throughout the world.

  • AgingPapist

    I thought you would be impressed by this totally inadequate gesture.

  • Lee

    It seems thou likest taking a dig at people Aging Papist. What one has to remember is no size of a reward in this case could be enough considering that it was not these two who done the acts but merely failed to act upon an absent good. Also, what else dost thou suggest that these two men who have offered themselves up for penance and forgiveness do, mortification or something ? as the proverb goes ‘ When the wicked are increased, transgression increaseth: But the righteous shall look upon their fall. Proverbs 29. 16.
    Just remember we are called to righteousness in the sense that we know we have done wrong and are fallen battered and sick, not because we are haughty, boastful and proud of what we have done or what has been done !

  • Anonymous

    These Church leaders will become credible only when they place in fron’t of the People of God the ones against whom they have taken action by way of just punishment; mere words and dramas are only timess-pass.

  • Anonymous

    The Aging Papist is losing control over his mind, it looks. Or has he lost his soul! “..demand Pope Benedict’s resignation”! We shall make you, sir the next Pope. Agreed?