Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Abuse victims in plea to pope

Abuse victims in plea to pope
PATSY McGARRY Religious Affairs Correspondent and PADDY AGNEW

Tue, Feb 09, 2010

A letter has been sent to Pope Benedict by abuse victims in Dublin calling on him to remove the Bishop of Galway, Martin Drennan, as he “still refuses to accept any responsibility for his part in supporting a culture of cover up during his time in Dublin”.

It also urges the pope to accept “without any further delay” the offers of resignation from bishops James Moriarty, Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field.

The letter, sent in advance of the pope’s planned meeting with the Irish bishops in Rome, is signed by victims of clerical abuse Andrew Madden and Marie Collins, as well as the executive director of One in Four, Maeve Lewis.

They say that “other bishops throughout Ireland who engaged in this culture of cover-up in their own dioceses should resign from their positions instead of waiting to see the extent to which they are criticised in any future reports should the commission of investigation be expanded to include their dioceses”.

Writing “to ensure that the voices of the survivors of abuse by Catholic priests have a place” in deliberations between Ireland’s bishops and Pope Benedict in Rome next week, they say that “survivors find it incomprehensible that the Vatican and your representative in Ireland, the Papal Nuncio, saw fit to hide behind diplomatic protocols to avoid co-operating with the Murphy commission.”

Pointing out that “responsibility for child protection properly rests with the civil authorities”, they asked the pope “to instruct the Irish bishops to comply fully with civil child protection guidelines, including the mandatory reporting of all concerns or complaints to the civil authorities for investigation”.

They have further asked him to write, in his forthcoming pastoral letter, “not only to Irish Catholics, but to all people of Ireland, accepting fully the harm that has been caused by the acts of omission and commission of the Catholic Church and its priests and bishops in Ireland”.

They asked this as “the lives of thousands of Irish people have been devastated by sexual abuse by priests”.

Separately, representatives of people abused as children in residential institutions run by religious orders had a meeting in Maynooth yesterday with representatives of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.

Afterwards Bishop John McAreavey said the “meeting was constructive and helpful to us as we prepare to meet the Holy Father next week . . . We intend to relay these concerns to Pope Benedict both verbally and in the form of written submissions which were presented to us today by survivors and which directly represent their views.”

In Rome yesterday Pope Benedict promised that the Catholic Church would never fail to “deplore and condemn” the abuse of children by priests. Speaking to delegates at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, he said that throughout the centuries the church had “protected the dignity and rights of minors”.

He added: “Unfortunately in some cases, some of its [church] members, acting in contrast to this commitment, have violated these rights. This is a behaviour that the church has not and will not fail to deplore and condemn.”

© 2010 irishtimes.com

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