Bishops urged to consider expelling orders

 

VICTIMS OF ABUSE:BISHOPS SHOULD consider expelling religious congregations from their dioceses if they fail to adequately compensate victims of abuse at religious-run institutions, the founder of the One in Four victims’ group has said.

Colm O’Gorman said it needed to be recognised that victims of abuse would never get justice because there would be no accountability.

In an interview on RTÉ radio yesterday, Mr O’Gorman said that while the child abuse commission report vindicated what many victims had been saying for decades, it did not represent justice.

“There won’t be any true accountability and this represents a gross failure on the part of our system of justice.

“We face a situation where the only accountability possible at this stage is financial and that’s why the money is important,” Mr O’Gorman said.

Mr O’Gorman welcomed statements from Cardinal Seán Brady and the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, that there needed to be a unified response from the church to the report, describing it as “a step forward”.

But he said if the leaders were serious about asking congregations to revisit the 2002 compensation deal, they needed to be more forceful and “wield a stick” to congregations who failed to act or refused to give more money.

“We have seen in other parts of the world, particularly in the US, dioceses that have expelled orders that have caused unspeakable harm to children in the past and haven’t held themselves properly accountable for it,” he said.

Mr O’Gorman said if accountability meant bankrupting some congregations then this should be allowed to happen.

Yesterday, the One in Four group also welcomed the statements by senior church leaders but said it was concerned that the focus of public debate was on the financial responsibility of congregations when it should be the needs of the survivors.

The group’s director, Maeve Lewis, said the report’s findings were devastating, but she added: “One in Four is pleased that it has provoked our two most senior Catholic churchmen to question the actions of the religious congregations.”

Ms Lewis said the organisation’s telephone helplines had received hundreds of calls from people seeking advice and counselling services since the report’s release.

She said callers were angry that the perpetrators of abuse mentioned in the report would never face justice or have to answer for what they did.