Church launches new service for victims of abuse
A NEW initiative launched by the Catholic Church in Ireland is to offer survivors of clerical and religious abuse a chance to re-engage with their faith and re-connect with the church.
Towards Peace was launched in St Joseph's parish in Wilton, Cork, yesterday by Bishop John Buckley of Cork and Ross and Una Allen, who is chair of the new service.
The service is being rolled out across the church regionally over the coming months and will be unveiled in Knock next month followed by Dublin and Armagh.
It offers survivors a "spiritual companion" to accompany them in a journey towards healing their faith which may have been damaged by the abuse they suffered.
It also seeks to help survivors find forgiveness towards the institutional church for its failings.
Speaking to the Irish Independent at the launch, Bishop Buckley said the survivors had "suffered terribly and their suffering was compounded by inadequate responses over the years by the Irish church".
He said he believed the survivors were now "very happy with what we are trying to do for them" and that was indicated by the good turnout despite the elections and the Cork game in Thurles.
However, he acknowledged that some survivors are unhappy with the new service because it is a church initiative. Towards Peace is backed by the bishops (ICBC), the Irish Missionary Union and the Conference of Religious Superiors (CORI).
He said the service was different to counselling as it dealt with faith, which was important to many survivors, particularly as they grew older and experienced ill health.
At a Mass of healing and reconciliation before the launch, concelebrated by Bishop Buckley and Bishop Kieran O'Reilly of Killaloe, deceased former residents of religious institutions were prayed for, including Christine Buckley.
The chairman of Munster Survivors Support Services, which represents 2,500 former residents of industrial schools and survivors of clerical abuse, told those attending the launch that his group would co-operate with a new initiative.