Saturday 18 November 2017

Church abuse survivors voice dismay over 'deafening silence'

Marese McDonagh

SEX abuse campaigner Marie Collins said yesterday the priests of Ireland had let many people down "by their abject failure to speak up" about the revelations in the Ryan and Murphy reports.

"Their deafening silence has been a huge disappointment," she told the Humbert Summer School in Co Mayo.

She stressed that while many good men were willing to express their dissatisfaction with the hierarchy in private, they would not speak out because of fear of their superiors and reaction from Rome. Ms Collins said that while her priest abuser had done great damage to her life, the hierarchy had succeeded in destroying the respect she once had for the institution.

"I believe it is time for a second reformation if the Catholic Church is to survive," she said.

The Humbert School's 2010 Outstanding Merit Awards were presented by school director John Cooney to Ms Collins and fellow campaigner Andrew Madden yesterday.

Mr Madden said it was vital in the context of past failures to protect children, to put mandatory reporting of child abuse on a statutory footing and to ensure the proposed amendment to the Constitution to safeguard children's rights is not allowed to be watered down by the Government.

"Garda vetting of people working with children needs to be extended to facilitate the passing on of soft information, as recommended by the Ferns Report five years ago," he said.

Former Mayor of Clonmel Michael O'Brien told the gathering that 70 years after his abuse in Ferryhouse industrial school, he still woke up at night "shouting and roaring", but the Catholic Church, religious orders and Government had done nothing to help survivors since the Ryan Report.

Meanwhile, survivors of clerical sex abuse in Ireland are being urged to join survivors from all over the world at a Day of Reformation at the Vatican on October 31. The event is being organised by an Irish-American, Bernie McDaid, who was abused as a 12-year-old altar boy in the Boston Archdiocese more than 40 years ago and who met Pope Benedict in Washington in 2008.

Mr McDaid believes the event will be an opportunity for people to change the church. "We have had a year for priests. This could mark the start of the year of survivors," he said.

Ms Collins said she hoped the event would not be another opportunity for the Vatican to ignore survivors. "I am not criticising it; I think it is a wonderful idea and hope to be there myself," she said.

Irish Independent

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