Bishop of Derry apologises for sexual abuse in church homes
THE Bishop of Derry has apologised to victims of physical and sexual abuse at the Sisters of Nazareth homes in Northern Ireland.
Dr Seamus Hegarty offered his apology after a three-hour meeting with two women and three men who each told him their harrowing experiences while in the care of the church.
The five, Margaret McGuckin, Frances Reilly, John McCourt, John Meehan and Brian Doherty, declared after the meeting that they believed Dr Hegarty's apology to be sincere and that this was the first step on a painful road that will bring recognition to all those abused by the church.
Dr Hegarty met the Justice for Survivors/Victims of Institutional Abuse group with two other priests after Ms McGuckin wrote to Pope Benedict about remarks the bishop had made in 2009 following the release of the Murphy report into clerical sex abuse.
At the time Dr Hegarty had caused controversy by claiming that pursuing legal cases had been more traumatic for some sex abuse victims than the actual abuse itself.
Speaking after the meeting Ms McGuckin said: "At the beginning of this meeting we were not hopeful at all but we now have a different aspect of Bishop Hegarty. He was very genuine and he has believed everything we said."