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Catholic group warns: Let Church fall rather than pay abuse cash

A GROUP set up to support Catholic religious orders urged parishioners to refuse to help with compensation payments to abuse victims.

On Monday, the Bishop of Ferns Denis Brennan asked that his 100,000 parishioners contribute to the diocese's massive legal and compensation bills.

The Let Our Voices Emerge (LOVE) organisation yesterday said it would prefer the downfall of the Catholic Church.

The group's call came as Bishop Brennan said he did not want to "burden" the Vatican with a request for financial help, while singer Sinead O'Connor predicted the Catholic Church would not survive the 21st century.

LOVE spokesperson Florence Horsman Hogan said yesterday that the church would not manage without selling some of its assets: "If people want the church to survive in its present state, they need to contribute to ensure survival. If people don't want the church to survive in its present state -- don't."

She said she had spoken to members of religious orders as well as abuse survivors who felt in the past that the Catholic church was being unfairly targeted by people with agendas.

"They now state that it would be preferable to see the downfall of the church as it stands, and the rebuilding of a more humble and truthful entity."

LOVE was established by former industrial school pupils to support religious orders who were being slammed because of abuse allegations. However, the group spoke out against institutional child abuse and withdrew its support for the orders in the wake of the publication of the Ryan report last year and yesterday repeated its call for atonement.

"We have seen brave people -- nuns, priests and brothers -- give selflessly to care for us in the industrial schools. But we've also collectively seen a corruption that must be atoned for," Ms Horsman Hogan said.

In a letter published in today's Irish Independent, singer Sinead O'Connor speaks about her astonishment at Bishop Brennan's request to his flock to pay bills arising from the horrific sex abuse in his diocese.

The outspoken singer says the Vatican has always put its business interests before the interests of children.

Ms O'Connor says that: "If Christ was here he would be burning down the Vatican. And I for one would be helping him."

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Bishop Brennan has ruled out a request to the Vatican for financial help for the abuse victims' compensation fund. "I am not familiar with the finances of the Vatican," he said.

"I do not want to burden others," he added. "This is our responsibility and we would like to discharge our responsibilities ourselves."

Speaking yesterday on local radio, Dr Brennan said it was up to the parishes to decide if they wanted to sell an asset or donate funds and denied he had made a specific request for additional donations. "We have not ruled anything in or out. We need to get people's reactions. We are trying to be as transparent as possible," he said.

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