Thursday 17 October 2019

the heavens openfor pope's mass

John Cooney

The head of the scandal-ridden diocese of Ferns has again apologised to sex abuse victims for their "crucifixion" by priests and for the failures of his two predecessors in addressing the abuse crisis.

In his Easter Vigil sermon, Bishop Denis Brennan urged Catholics in Wexford to continue increasing their understanding of the sexual abuse of children by some local priests, and not to turn their backs on the horror.

Addressing a wider audience through national television on Saturday evening, from St Aidan's Cathedral in Enniscorthy, Bishop Brennan said the scandals amounted to "a crucifixion of the diocese", especially for those who suffered the abuse.

This was the second major public apology made by Bishop Brennan for the findings of the government inquiry into the Ferns diocese which were published in late 2005, cataloguing horrendous child abuse by 27 Catholic priests, against whom over 100 allegations had been made over four decades.


The report concluded that two previous bishops of Ferns, the late Donal Herlihy and Brendan Comiskey, placed the interests of individual priests ahead of the community by leaving them in posts where they continued to abuse children.

In his homily, Bishop Brennan, who formerly was the diocese's child protection delegate, urged Wexford Catholics to face up to the abuse horror in the same way that Christ's disciples were emboldened to return to Jerusalem after the Resurrection.

"Like the disciples, we can find a language to speak about our pain and the grace to understand and make sense of it," he said.

"Our shared prayer is that what understanding we have gained here in Ferns may continue to grow and inform us all as we go forward. This is the eternal message of Easter, this is the glory of the Resurrection."

Welcoming Bishop Brennan's acknowledgement of the abuse and his pledge to move forward, Deirdre FitzPatrick, spokeswoman for the survivors' group One in Four, complained that most of Ireland's 26 dioceses had failed to publish an audit of their handling of child abuse, despite promising to do so two years ago.

In his Easter vigil sermon, the Bishop of Limerick Dr Donal Murray urged Catholics to look at their lives as individuals and as a community, in a society that had not come to terms with problems such as violence, crime and drugs.

Bishop Murray said that everyone finds attitudes and behaviour that did not belong in the new life into which Jesus had led them.

"We will find in our communities grudges, unfairness, lack of concern for others, violence and people living in fear. We will see in our society hopelessness, crime, violence, the abuse of drugs and people frightened in their own homes."

Bishop Murray warned that some of these problems were symptoms of neglect and despair and exploitation.

"All of them are signs of a society that has not come to terms with its own problems."

He called on the members of the congregation in his cathedral of St John's to commit themselves to the process of regeneration which was seeking to bring new life to parts of Limerick which had been neglected for far too long.

Meanwhile, in his Easter sermon in Armagh, Cardinal Sean Brady noted that this Easter there were many places in the world where the peaceful light of the risen Christ was especially needed, and he urged Catholics to pray for those living in the Middle East and Iraq.

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