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Thursday 19 September 2019

Survivors are outraged at 'extraordinary move'

Fergus Black

ABUSE survivors last night accused the Vatican of lacking compassion and accountability as anger raged over its decision to reject the resignations of auxiliary bishops Raymond Field and Eamon Walsh.

The Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) organisation said the decision to reject their resignations would do nothing to help victims.

One in Four described it as an "extraordinary move" that only served to raise questions about accountability in the church.

And a US group -- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) -- urged the Pope to fire both bishops.

Survivor Andrew Madden, who was abused as a child by paedophile priest Ivan Payne, said the announcement came as no surprise.

"Today's announcement also shows how utterly meaningless the instruction was that Pope Benedict gave to Irish bishops to identify steps that would bring healing to victims of clerical child sexual abuse.

"Victims asked for those who were part of the governance of the archdiocese when sexual abuse was being covered up to resign, and this is ignored," he said.

John Kelly, of SOCA, said he was "bitterly disappointed" the bishops' resignations had not been accepted by the Vatican.

"It will do nothing for the church and it will do nothing to help bring closure for the victims, especially in the Dublin Archdiocese," he said.

Survivor support group One in Four described the Vatican decision not to accept the resignations as "an extraordinary move" given both bishops had said they hoped their action to resign would bring some sort of peace to abuse victims.

"This move will undo and raise questions about accountability," advocacy director Deirdre Kenny said.

"It seems the bishops have been told their resignations are not accepted, which is contrary to their wishes in 2009. An explanation would be appropriate, certainly to those who have been affected by the inaction of the auxiliary bishops as detailed in the Murphy Report."


Christine Buckley, director of Aislinn, the group for survivors of former industrial schools, said the decision illustrated the Pope's total lack of compassion towards abuse victims.

"Given that the Pope is going to England on August 15 and that he has not used the opportunity to come to Ireland and meet victims further compounds my reading of him that he is in total denial and that he is dismissive of us," she said.

"He seems to think if bishops didn't actually commit these acts of paedophilia then that is okay and the fact that he has not accepted the resignations of Bishops Field and Walsh, who were implicated in that they did nothing, seems to be absolutely fine with this Pope."

SNAP said the Pope's decision was "rubbing more salt" into already deep and still fresh wounds of thousands of child sex abuse victims and millions of betrayed Catholics.

"If the Pope really wants to stop clergy sex crimes and cover-ups, he'd fire these two bishops, not let them resign," president Barbara Blaine said.

"But he's again putting the preferences of powerful Catholic officials above the safety of kids and the healing of victims."

Irish Independent

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