Wednesday 26 June 2019

'Irish survivors deserve more respect' - global clergy abuse group calls for removal of three cardinals at World Meeting of Families

The group has written an open letter to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to request three things from Pope Francis, including the removal of the cardinals

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Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

A group of global clergy abuse survivors has called on the removal of three cardinals from speaking at the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) at the end of the month.

A vast line up of speakers are scheduled to speak at the event in Knock and Dublin on August 25 and 26. 

The abuse survivors have delivered a letter to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in the hopes of removing Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, Cardinal Kevin Farrell and Cardinal Donald Wuerl from the WMOF speaker line up.

The Ending Clergy Abuse Global Justice Project (ECA) believe the cardinals should be investigated for "protecting brother bishops who have committed sexual abuse".

According to the WMOF website, the event will see speakers from "all five major continents", compiled of 80pc lay people and 20pc clergy.

One of the speakers the group want removed is Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga from Honduras. Following allegations of sexual misconduct, auxiliary bishop Juan José Pineda resigned this year - who served under Cardinal Maradiaga.

The other two cardinals named are Kevin Farrell and Donald Wuerl, based in the US. In July, former Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick resigned following allegations of sexual abuse. 

Wuerl replaced him, and Farrell was ordained by him- and the ECA say they both "face questions about what they knew" about McCarrick’s alleged misconduct.

The group, whose mission is to compel the Roman Catholic Church to put an end to clergy abuse, are asking Archbishop Martin to "intensify his public efforts" in asking the pope to recognise abuse.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

"We really appreciate all the efforts Archbishop Martin has made so far, but we’re concerned about these cardinals and the message they’re sending, especially to Irish survivors," founding member of ECA Peter Isely told 

Mr. Isely, from Wisconsin, USA, said the group are “amazed” that the cardinals are featured in the lineup of speakers.

"We’re pretty amazed that they already haven’t voluntarily stepped down," Isely said.

"For the pope to come to Ireland, and to embrace these three individuals, it’s not sending the right message out there. They deserve so much respect. 

"The thing about this papal visit is that it’s not respecting them- Irish survivors deserve more respect."

The letter sent to Archbishop Martin reads:

“We urge you, Archbishop, to ask the Pope to:

  • Order that three cardinals facing serious questions and public outcry about protecting brother bishops who have committed sexual abuse be removed from their prominent speaking roles at the WMOF. They should be investigated instead. 
  • Acknowledge and meet publicly with survivor leaders of Ireland during his visit.
  • Announce that the next WMOF will be dedicated to the impact and prevention of sexual violence, particularly clergy sexual violence, on families."

According to ECA, the group echo the calls from supporters of Irish victims for Pope Francis to address the issue of clerical abuse in public, rather than in a private meeting.

"Private meetings with anonymous survivors are always welcome if conducted properly but they are no substitute for a public dialogue with survivor leaders on how to address the crisis both in Ireland and worldwide," they said.

"The suffering of Irish survivors has moved the world and will again, when the Pope visits your country.

"These three actions by Francis before his arrival, urged on by you, will honor their historic and valiant efforts and grant them a measure of the respect and gratitude they deserve."

Last week, abuse survivor and Executive Director of Amnesty Ireland, Colm O’Gorman, told about plans for an event for other survivors to attend during the papal visit. 

"I want to create a space where collectively we can say it matters, that we stand in solidarity and that this is a different Ireland. We want to stand and recognise the dignity harmed and lives destroyed, and the people that died, because not everyone survived it," he said.

The ECA confirmed that members of their group from all over the world will fly into Dublin to show their support during the week leading up to Pope Francis’ arrival.

"We’re going to be joining a number of these events to let Irish survivors know that we stand with them," Mr. Isely said. 

"Survivors in one country often feel like they’re struggling alone and they’re not. People from all around the world have taken such inspiration from their struggle."

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