Survivors of abuse hit out at church support service

Surprised: Marie Collins

Sarah Mac Donald

CLERICAL abuse survivors claim that they have been excluded from consultations over the establishment of a Catholic Church support service aimed at catering for their spiritual needs.

According to some high-profile survivors, they have been not been given a proper opportunity to advise on how the service, backed by the bishops, the Irish Missionary Union (IMU) and the Conference of Religious Superiors (CORI), should be structured.

Last December, the bishops announced that the 'Towards Peace' support service would be launched this year and would offer spiritual support to victims who suffered abuse at the hands of clerics or religious if their faith in God and the Church had been affected by their experience of sexual abuse.

The soon to be launched service will be free to clients, as the costs will be borne by the Bishops Conference (ICBC), CORI and the IMU.

An awareness campaign will be launched later this year, and the operation of the service will be reviewed in 2016.

However, Marie Collins who was abused by a Dublin priest as a sick child in the 1950s, told the Irish Independent that she was surprised that the service was so close to launch and alleged that she and other victims had expected greater consultation.

She claims that survivors have not been consulted since one meeting to explore what was needed on March 30, 2012, at Manresa House in Dublin.


According to Mark Vincent Healy, who was abused while a student in Rathmines, Dublin, survivors are concerned that a service is going to be "foisted on them" rather than being tailored to meet their very specific spiritual needs.

Mrs Collins was unable to attend the March 2012 meeting and has been anxious to highlight issues which she believes must be addressed. "The context of the abuse tends to be very different and the needs of the survivors also would be different.

"Have survivors, diocesan or residential, been included in the planning of this service and, if not, why not? If it is being set up to help survivors, then surely no one knows their needs better than survivors themselves," Marie Collins said.