Abuse victims protest at service

 

YESTERDAY’S LITURGY of lament and repentance in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral had its origin in a letter to The Irish Timeson June 19th, 2009, following publication of the Ryan report the previous month.

Signed by 22 Catholics of the Dublin archdiocese, including three priests, its sentiments were repeated in a letter published in this newspaper on December 1st, 2009, following publication of the Murphy report in November. It was signed by the same 22 people.

The Ryan report dealt with the abuse and neglect of children in institutions from the 1930s to the 1970s, while the Murphy report concerned the handling of child sexual abuse cases involving priests of the Dublin archdiocese.

Among the signatories to both letters were abuse survivor Fr Paddy McCafferty and Catholic activist Paddy Monaghan who, along with survivor Marie Collins, set about preparing a liturgy in consultation with survivor groups. The liturgy content was agreed with the archdiocese in February 2010 which suggested excerpts from the two reports be included.

After the service yesterday, Ms Collins said church authorities had asked for forgiveness for covering up the abuse of children. This was “something that has not happened before”, she said.

Among a small group of protesters outside as the service took place was well-known survivor Paddy Doyle who described the liturgy as “a stunt”. It was “getting to the stage where apologies are becoming cliches”, he said. Survivor Mary Smith said she “cannot forgive them”. She recalled how a parish priest put her mother in a Magdalen home while pregnant with her and how her own life had been a series of industrial schools and a Magdalen home.

Michael O’Brien of the Right to Peace group said the Catholic bishops, who had met him and other members of a committee of survivors three times, had been refusing to do so recently.