Thursday 17 October 2019

Cardinal's plea for healing

CARDINAL Sean Brady was right to put the plight of those abused by the Church at the top of his prayer list.

Coming three months after the publication of the Ryan Commission's horrific findings of systematic abuse in orphanages and reformatories run by religious orders, it shows the impact is still being felt deeply at the highest level.

That is as it should be. At first glance, calling for Catholics to pray constantly for the victims of the 'shameful legacy' of abuse might jar with those who suffered that abuse, and with those who sensed a cynicism within the religious orders over their initial unwillingness to offer more substantial practical compensation.

It was like inflicting further hurt upon injury and relayed an insight into a calculating, rather than caring, mentality.

That has left a sour taste in the mouths of many, but there is little to be served now by reheating the debate.

Cardinal Brady has, bravely it must be said, elevated the matter of dealing with the abuse aftermath agony to a level where the Catholic community is being asked to participate in the healing process in a manner befitting their faith. The Cardinal was also bringing the spotlight back on the report on the abuse of thousands of children by paedophile priests in the archdiocese of Dublin that is down for mention in the High Court next month.

Until the High Court clears its findings in full, it would be fruitless to comment on the extent of abuse in the country's largest diocese. However, it underlines the massive challenges facing the Church and the prospect of further alienation within our society.

Cardinal Brady's sentiments nonetheless mark something of a watershed in a church painfully coming to terms with the holocaust of abuse. It is appropriate he should use the occasion at Knock to make his appeal: "I invite all of you to pray now and often for the complete and total healing of all who have been hurt in any way by this shameful legacy of abuse within the Church and in society."

We can only hope it will be received in the spirit in which it was delivered.

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