Monday, December 20, 2010

Rise in calls to support group
Support groups report rise in calls

Mon, Dec 20, 2010

ORGANISATIONS SUPPORTING victims of childhood sexual abuse have reported a high volume of calls for help over the weekend, following publication of the Murphy report chapter about paedophile former priest Tony Walsh.

Publication of the chapter was approved after Walsh, who was previously jailed for sexually abusing six boys, was sentenced to 16 years for abusing a further three victims.

In Rome, the Holy See yesterday had no wish to comment on the previously redacted Murphy Report chapter. Senior Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said: “I have nothing to add to the comments made by the Archbishop of Dublin . . .”

Labour education spokesman RuairĂ­ Quinn has renewed his call for the congregations to hand over the title deeds of their schools while maintaining patronage.

This follows confirmation he received in a parliamentary reply that Irish religious congregations have handed over just €20 million of the €348 million promised last year following publication of the Ryan report. In addition, more than €26 million remains outstanding from the original indemnity deal done with the orders in 2002.

In Ballyfermot, where many of Walsh’s victims were abused, Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin spoke on December 12th in advance of the publication of chapter 19 and apologised to the people of the parish.

One of the organisations supporting victims of abuse, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said there had been a “steady flow” of calls not just from victims of abuse but from the family members and friends of victims.

Chief executive Ellen O’Malley Dunlop said “some of the most harrowing calls actually have been from parents of victims who didn’t believe their children when they told them they had been abused.

“These parents are absolutely heartbroken.” In some of those cases “their children have taken their own lives”.

Maeve Lewis, director of the One in Four organisation, said there had been “a big increase” in calls on Friday. Ms Lewis said “a lot of people calling were very upset and distressed and angry”. The telephone counselling service Connect was open over the weekend and experienced an increase in calls.

In Rome, Vatican insiders said yesterday that there was nothing very unusual about one of the most controversial aspects of the chapter, namely that the Roman Rota (Vatican Appeal Court) in 1994 initially partly overturned the Dublin canon law court’s 1993 ruling that Walsh should be laicised.

Canon law experts point out that the Rota, then as now, is extremely reluctant to annul sacred vows, be they marriage vows or be they a priest’s vows of ordination. The court may have been guilty of seeing paedophilia as a “disease”, comparable to alcoholism. It may also have felt that Walsh would be more controlled and supervised if he remained in the priesthood.

Whilst the Murphy commission points to the scandal of the 17-year-long failure of the Dublin Archdiocese to deal with Walsh, Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, took only two months to have him laicised following Cardinal Connell’s intervention with Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop Martin, who served in the Vatican from 1976 to 2001, has also said any awareness he had of clerical child sex abuse in Dublin while he was abroad came from the media.

“The Archbishop [of Dublin] I knew best was Archbishop Dermot Ryan when he was living in Rome, where he was for a year before he died,” he said. “He [Archbishop Ryan] never once mentioned anything about abuse,” he recalled.

© 2010 The Irish Times

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