Brady asks for forgiveness
CARDINAL Sean Brady yesterday asked God for forgiveness for the times when "we as individuals and as a church" failed to seek out and care for children suffering abuse.
In an open-air Mass in heavy rain at the International Eucharistic Congress, the All-Ireland Primate said it was a matter of deep shame that the needs of victims were not responded to.
The Primate has faced calls to consider his position after the broadcasting of a BBC documentary last month focusing on the handling of child abuse concerns relating to paedophile cleric Brendan Smyth.
In his homily, Cardinal Brady said what had happened in the church was a "stark warning" that there "can be no passing by on the other side, no room for half-heartedness in our care for the vulnerable and the young".
"May God forgive us for the times when we as individuals and as a church failed to seek out and care for those little ones who were frightened, alone and in pain because someone was abusing them," he said.
"That we did not always respond to your cries with the concern of the Good Shepherd is a matter of deep shame.
"We lament the burdens of the painful memories you carry. We pray for your healing and peace for those whose suffering continues.
"I want to take this opportunity of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress to apologise for the times when some of us were blind to your fear, deaf to your cries and silent in response to your pain."
His homily received a round of applause from the pilgrims attending the Mass, which was taking place on the fifth day of the congress.
Cardinal Brady described the healing stone, which was placed in the RDS arena on Sunday, as a reminder of those children who were "hurt by a church that first betrayed their trust and then failed to respond adequately to their pain".
Victims of abuse met papal legate Cardinal Marc Ouellet earlier this week in Lough Derg, but yesterday the Congress general secretary Fr Kevin Doran was unable to provide details.
He said it was an arrangement between the cardinal and survivors.
He said it had been preferable that individual survivors instead of groups would be invited to the congress to respect their privacy and avoid the appearance of a "PR exercise".
The theme of yesterday was Reconciliation in our Communion. As well as the outdoor Mass, there were also a number of workshops and talks.
Richard Moore, founder of the charity Children in Crossfire, gave a personal testimony at the congress. Mr Moore was blinded as a child by a rubber bullet fired in Derry by a British soldier.
At a press conference, he was asked what advice he would give the hierarchy and he said the most important position to adopt is one of openness and honesty.
"I think many, many people within the church possess that and I think acknowledging what happened is very important," he said.