Saturday, December 12, 2009

Victims angry at Pope's 'empty' letter

Independent.ie
Victims angry at Pope's 'empty' letter
By Jason O'Brien
Saturday December 12 2009

VICTIMS of clerical abuse last night dismissed the Pope's statement as "inadequate" and "meaningless", with one man vowing to take legal action because of the slow response from the Church.

Mervyn Rundle, who was abused while serving as an altar boy, had been vociferous in his calls for Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray to resign over criticisms contained in the Murphy report.

But Mr Rundle said yesterday that he was now tired of waiting for the "appropriate" response.

"They've riled me up so much that I can safely say I'm taking it further, taking it to the criminal end of things," he told the Irish Independent.

"I'm pushing the gardai now to get a criminal case, and if I don't get any satisfaction from that I'm going to the European courts."

Mr Rundle was abused by Fr Thomas Naughton. The Murphy report branded Bishop Murray's failure to properly investigate Naughton following complaints as "inexcusable".

However, legal sources said last night that it is unlikely Mr Rundle would be able to bring such a case.

The legal offence under which clerical abuse victims could bring such a case has been abolished.

Instead the 'misprision of felony investigation' offence was replaced by a stronger 'reckless endangerment' charge introduced in 2006.

But that charge could not be levelled retrospectively against authority figures in the Catholic Church.

Another survivor, Andrew Madden, said yesterday that Pope Benedict's statement -- where he said he was deeply disturbed and distressed by the contents of the damning report into clerical abuse -- meant nothing.

"What I'm expecting is for five bishops to resign, and whether I hear it from the Vatican or Twitter I don't care," he said.

"That would be the appropriate response from the Church. Words and prayers and offers to pray for the victims are just meaningless drivel.

"Most victims say that the five bishops that are still in place and who were in place at the time of the abuse should resign," Mr Madden said.

Survivors' groups also criticised the statement, with Maeve Lewis of One in Four saying that an apology for the Catholic Church's culture of secrecy and cover-up was required.

"To say that he is disturbed and outraged by the accounts of clerical abuse is disingenuous at the very least, given that the files of the clerical sex abusers have been routinely sent to the Vatican over the years," she said.

Aware

"He must have been aware of the extent of the problem when, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he presided over the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith."

Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said that the Pope's statement didn't instill any confidence, and the lack of real action meant the statement could only "be heard with scepticism".

However, other survivor groups who met with the Irish Bishops' Conference in Maynooth said that there had been positive feedback, and put it down to the publication of the Murphy report.

"We found a significant change in attitude," John Kelly of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse said.

"They were amenable, more cordial, more open to suggestions as to what they could do in the community and institutions, and for victims' needs and restitution.

"We only had a short time with them... (but now) hopefully we can go into detail (in the future)."

Meanwhile, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Colm O'Reilly said: "Our task was to devise a road-map for the future and that is what we have done."

Yesterday's meeting followed the historic first encounter between the groups in October and was attended by four bishops.

- Jason O'Brien

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