Words can be powerful tools for good but they also have the capacity to wound.
Co Offaly priest Fr Tom Coonan has denied he said at Mass yesterday that some of the children sent to the nearby Daingean reformatory were "ruffians" who had not been wanted by society.
However, he admits that in an aside he said that not all the boys sent there were angels. If that caused offence, Fr Coonan says he regrets it and withdraws it. He also says that he totally condemns all the abuse that happened.
Many of the children sent to church-run insitutions, where abuse was endemic, were indeed treated as society's outcasts. Many were incarcerated simply because their poverty-stricken families were unable to care for them.
We all must be very careful in our use of words to ensure that those who suffered -- and still suffer -- are not needlessly hurt once again.