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Saturday 14 December 2019

Victims want bishops to quit as Pope 'ducks issue'

Fergus Black

ABUSE victims and campaigners say they will go on demanding the resignations of bishops after the Pope ducked the issue in his pastoral letter.

Clerical abuse victim Andrew Madden said the letter had failed to address the issue of clerical sexual abuse of children.

He was given a standing ovation when he addressed delegates at Fine Gael's national conference at the weekend.

Mr Madden said the letter was not the way to respond to the Ferns, Ryan and Murphy reports detailing the rape, abuse and sexual abuse of children by priests and religious and its cover-up by church authorities.

"As I had anticipated, the letter also fails to address any of the issues raised by myself and others in our open letter to the Pope last month in advance of the Irish bishops' trip to Rome," he said in a statement.

This included calls for the Pope to accept the resignations of Bishops Moriarty, Walsh and Field without delay and that he remove Bishop Martin Drennan from office.


"There has been no owning of the Catholic Church's part in causing the sexual abuse of so many children by protecting paedophile priests. Instead, Pope Benedict has repeated his apology for the hurt caused to those abused, but the church's role is referred to only as failing to deal with criminal and sinful acts."

The One in Four organisation said it was also disappointed with the pastoral letter.

"Pope Benedict has passed up a glorious opportunity to address the core issue in the clerical sexual abuse scandal: the deliberate policy of the Catholic Church at the highest levels to protect sex offenders, thereby endangering children," One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis said.

Her organisation was also "astounded" at the Pope's assertion that the roots of clerical sexual abuse lay in the secularisation of Irish society, the falling off of religious devotion and failures to adhere to canon law. "This shows a complete misunderstanding of the dynamics of sexual violence, and creates little hope that the church will ever respond effectively to the problem."

Another abuse victim, Marie Collins said that while the Pope's response was a good letter and the apology for the abusers was sincere, there was no apology for the subsequent cover-up of clerical sex abuse within the church.

There was also no indication in the pastoral letter that Pope Benedict would accept the resignations of several bishops. "He criticises the bishops for not following canon law but he doesn't criticise them for not reporting the abusers to the civil authorities," she said.

Christine Buckley of the Aislinn centre for survivors of institutional abuse said she was bitterly disappointed that there was no apology to the 155,000 children who were incarcerated in religious-run institutions and who endured sexual abuse and torture.

"We victims still need to meet the Pope and he needs to hear what it was like for us. Only then can we say that justice has been done," she said. "We need to hear him admonish these monsters for what they did."

Irish Independent

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