Survivor’s book launched today
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland is today expected to attend the launch of a new book by a victim of clerical abuse.
In what will be seen as a highly significant gesture, Archbishop Eamon Martin has accepted an invitation to attend the launch of the book, written by Gerard Gorman.
The book, So Young: The Taking of My Life by the Catholic Church, tells the story of how Mr Gorman was abused at the age of 12 by paedophile priest Malachy Finegan, while a pupil at St Colman’s College in Newry in the early 1970s.
In the book, Mr Gorman is critical of how the Catholic Church dealt with Finegan, who died in 2002 and is believed to have abused a large number of boys at the school.
In recent years, the book’s author has met with Archbishop Martin to share his story and highlight his concerns about the church’s response to paedophiles within its midst.
A spokesperson for Archbishop Martin confirmed to the Sunday Independent that he hopes to attend today’s book launch, which will take place at the Playhouse Theatre in Derry.
“Archbishop Martin has had the opportunity to meet and engage with Gerard in the past,” the spokesperson said.
“He believes it important that the stories of survivors are heard and listened to, and he trusts that this publication will be a helpful contribution to assisting the long journey of healing for those who have been so deeply betrayed and traumatised.”
Finegan taught and worked at St Colman’s College from 1967 to 1987, spending the last decade as the school’s president.
He went on to serve as a parish priest in Clonduff, Co Down.
The cleric was accused of child sexual abuse — but was never prosecuted or questioned by police about the claims made against him.
In 2018, it emerged that the Diocese of Dromore had settled a claim made by one of his victims.
At that stage, the board of governors at St Colman’s condemned the physical, sexual and emotional abuse inflicted by Finegan during his time working there.
The priest’s picture was also removed from the school’s photographs.
At the time, the PSNI set up a team of detectives to investigate Finegan’s activities.
Mr Gorman’s new book is described as an account of how he “finally found a voice to tell his story”. He said he was so traumatised that for many years he was unable to talk about what had happened to him.
In his memoir, which he has written with the help of his brother, the renowned poet Damian Gorman, he talks openly about the abuse he suffered and the impact it has had on his life and on the lives of those around him.
He describes too his role in exposing Finegan and his long and painful battle with the Catholic Church — in and out of the civil courts — to force it to acknowledge the harm done to him, and admit the cover-up that perpetuated the abuse he suffered.
Mr Gorman, who grew up in Newcastle, County Down, but now lives in Poyntzpass, said he hopes the book will help other abuse victims.
“I just hope it lets them see there is hope, and there’s definitely help out there,” he said.
“It took me almost 40 or 50 years to realise that. I’ve met some fantastic people, and got help from some brilliant people. I wouldn’t be here today without them.
“If I can convince even a handful of other people that are living with a secret like this not to do it anymore. There’s help and it’ll be such a burden off your shoulders if you seek that help.”