Abuse of children by priests 'cause of the gravest regret'


The Catholic Bishop of Derry has said that the abuse of children by priests was a cause of the gravest concern and remorse. Dr Seamus Hegarty also told a meeting in Derry organised by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools that it was imperative to ensure the safety of children.

Dr Hegarty said the current debate on child sexual abuse was and must remain an issue which engaged the attention of everyone interested in education.

"We all have reason to be shocked, shamed and repelled by the abuse of children," he said.

"This abuse, as we know, occurred in homes, in schools and in churches and by priests. This is a cause of the gravest regret and remorse for all of us as we try to come to terms with the breach of trust with children especially placed in priests.

"Our first concern must be for victims of sexual abuse. Our next concern is for the family and friends of both victims and perpetrators. On many occasions the first tell-tale signs of upset or trauma in the behaviour or emotional state of children can be noted, perhaps for the first time at school. Vigilance by teachers can be crucial in identifying possible victims. In such cases, prudent and swift action should be taken by invoking the school's child protection protocol," he said.