donderdag, augustus 07, 2014

Mark Vincent Healy: ‘Monumental shift’ in Rome on clerical child sexual abuse issue

Monday, August 4, 2014, 20:06
Irish Times

There ought to have been a sense of huge importance noted about Pope Francis’s first meeting with six survivors of clerical child sexual abuse in Rome on July 7th last. The survivors came from Ireland, the UK and Germany.
Stories of decades of clerical child sexual abuse and cover up were represented in that moment for those nations. I was especially pleased to meet survivors from the UK and Germany. There was an immediate affinity between us, which I hope to one day harness into a council of survivors to give voice to the many issues of survivors from around the world.

My experience of abuse by members of the Holy Ghost Fathers, or Spiritans, informed my message to the pope. I am pressing the State and the Catholic Church for research into self­harming and suicide and the provision of rescue services and safe spaces.

Marie Kane and I would not have been standing in Rome but for those amazing Irish survivors who led the way, supported by people such as the late Mary Raftery and the late Christine Buckley.

Special mention must go to Andrew Madden, who in 1995 was the first to go public in Ireland facing the legal, religious and social obstacles of criticism, diminishment and denial that characterised the defence of the church and the State in answer to this scandal.

Collectively, Irish survivors forced a reluctant world to grasp what had been happening on such a scale in the lives of children in Ireland and overseas on missions for decades at the hands of religious.
State indifference Here it took place in a largely indifferent State on behalf of which then taoiseach Bertie Ahern apologised in 1999 for “our collective failure to intervene, to detect your pain, to come to your rescue”. A similar apology was tendered in 2009.

How the State will truly respond to this scandal lies in the answer it must give to Louise O’Keeffe following the European Court of Human Rights decision last January that the State was liable for the welfare of all Irish school­ going children.

Battles by survivors to be believed and to secure accountability on the part of a Catholic hierarchy that knew about and allowed spread vile crimes against children rage on.

Special mention must be reserved for Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady, whose leadership can best be described through the admission of his “failings” yet a refusal to tender his resignation.
Doing so he brings disgrace on an office that ought to be above reproach if it is to have any meaning or set a standard that Irish Catholics can trust. I agree with Marie Kane and others: he ought to have stepped aside with grace and an apology for the grievous offence caused.

Some would hold him liable for avoidable crimes committed on Irish children.
Shattered illusions
It was against this background that two Irish survivors met the pope last month. What happened in Rome was a monumental shift. In his acknowledgement, the pope shattered any illusions left about the lifelong, intergenerational and appalling reality faced by survivors.

My message to him, however, was not helped by a failure to assist me when I had wished to have access to the world media assembled on the day in Rome. This failed to offer me the recognised healing of being seen and heard there too rather than hidden and silenced.

Parsing the pope’s homily at Mass in Santa Marta that morning before he met us is to see illustrated a great shift in perspective in response to clerical child sexual abuse. Indeed, church legal advisers around the world must have gone into shock when they heard his words.
He tore down so many of the legal defences used to insult and hurt survivors and their families, so deserving a clear acknowledgment of their pain and suffering, including self­harm and suicide. In Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin’s words, Pope Francis is the one willing to leave the comfort of the 99 and reach out the one who was lost.

The pope is disarming the deceit of false argument and acknowledging the awful truth of the effects of clerical child sexual abuse on the dignity of the person, a person made in the image of the living God

Geen opmerkingen: