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Wednesday 24 January 2018

A credible response to victims? I'm still waiting

Andrew Madden

IT was simply more of the same. When the Pope addressed the grand finale of the Eucharistic Congress, his failure to deviate from the church's inexorable message on child sex abuse can hardly have come as a surprise to anyone.

What has been in train since the publication of the Murphy Report in 2009 -- this carefully orchestrated avoidance of accountability -- was simply continued last night.

The Eucharistic Congress, from the off, has been about moving the church past the scandal, not moving it any nearer the truth.

This all goes back to the publication of the Murphy Report when we should have seen two levels of response.

Firstly, the installation of safeguards against the abuse of children today. Secondly, an honest and credible response to those who suffered in the past.

This response should have included the resignation of bishops who had been in the governance of the Dublin Archdiocese at a time when the sexual abuse of children by priests was being covered up. I was willing to wait for that. However, it soon became obvious that none of the bishops appeared to consider resignations as a viable response. Then there were comments from the church's hierarchy that caused further insult.

Bishop Martin Drennan in Galway said it was very difficult to "move the victims beyond a position of revenge", which is to completely misrepresent the issue of resignation. Then we had to wait for the publication of the Pope's pastoral letter to Irish Catholics a month later, but that, too, delivered nothing.

There was no acknowledgement or taking of responsibility; the issue was portrayed as being a problem amongst Irish bishops; it was a quandary of secularisation and a lack of faith, not a deeply rooted crisis within the church itself.

That's when I decided we were wasting our time expecting anything from these people in terms of a credible response to victims. At some stage, you have to stop waiting.

I was not expecting anything last night because these previous expectations have been so utterly disappointed.

It has been a week of dishonest spin, an agenda to misrepresent the past ,and to minimise the truth.

It was supposed to be about the Eucharist. It turned out to be an exercise in drawing lines across the sand, to move the church once and for all beyond scandal without any real effort to address it.

ANdrew Madden is a clerical abuse survivor

Irish Independent

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