€10m for sex abuse counselling 'a waste'
AN EXTRA €10m from Catholic bishops and religious orders for counselling victims of clerical child abuse was dismissed last night as "a waste of money".
Michael O'Brien of the Right to Peace survivors' group said that the money would be better spent on providing accommodation and medical care for elderly victims living rough in Britain.
"Only one-in-three survivors has opted for counselling," said Mr O'Brien, a former Fianna Fail mayor of Clonmel.
He was reacting to an announcement by the Conference of Irish Bishops that it would co-fund a free, confidential helpline and counselling referral service.
The service will also be funded by religious orders over the next five years.
To date €20m has been spent on a service known as 'Faoiseamh', set up by the Conference of Religious in Ireland, which provides a confidential counselling service.
The new service, 'Towards Healing', expands on the work of Faoiseamh by helping victims through group work, practical workshops and a link to statutory and non-statutory services.
The announcement was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the pastoral letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland issued in the wake of the horrendous findings of clerical abuse in the Murphy and Ryan reports.
It was made public in a document, 'Towards Healing and Renewal', which was circulated in parishes across the country at Masses yesterday and Saturday evening.
Last night Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, encouraged everyone to read this "short but very important pastoral document".
"As a result of the grievous wrong of abuse, for many survivors their faith in God and the church has been profoundly damaged," Dr Brady added.