'Overdue' apology to pave the way for healing
SOME abuse victims appeared ready yesterday to seek closure for the suffering of victims of clerical and institutional abuse.
Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA), the organisation representing people who were in industrial schools, said the pastoral letter represented a long- overdue apology from the Pope and the Vatican.
"Victims desperately need closure for what happened to them. We are fed up being victims and don't want to remain victims," said SOCA co-ordinator John Kelly.
"This letter is a possible step to closure and we owe it to ourselves to study it and to give it a measured response."
The Pope's letter was an unambiguous acknowledgement that the Irish Catholic Church sinned against the young over many decades.
"We are heartened by the pontiff's open acceptance that the abusive behaviour of priests and religious were criminal acts," he said.
They also welcomed the Pope's recognition of failings at hierarchical level within the Irish Catholic Church and were heartened at his instruction for the church to continue to co-operate with civil authorities.
SOCA will be seeking an urgent meeting with Cardinal Sean Brady to discuss demands for a commission or consistory court of the Holy See to examine the "historical misconduct" of Catholic religious orders in Ireland as well as priests who "betrayed their most sacred vows freely made before God".
The Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI) also welcomed the contents of the letter.
"For all of us, this pastoral letter is an important part of the ongoing process of confronting the mistakes of the past, encouraging healing and reconciliation and ensuring that the safeguarding of children is an absolute priority at all times," CORI director general Sr Marianne O'Connor said.