Cardinal says any new deal must focus on victims


BISHOPS' RESPONSE:CATHOLIC PRIMATE Cardinal Seán Brady has said any new compensation deal for victims of abuse in religious-run institutions should be centred on the needs of victims.

Cardinal Brady said while the congregations needed to fully acknowledge “the terrible wrong” that had been done to people in these institutions, a new deal would have to consider the potential of congregations to pay.

In an interview on RTÉ radio yesterday, the State’s most senior Catholic cleric said: “The goal has to be the healing of those who have been hurt.”

This would demand a unified response from the whole church in Ireland which entailed “not just saying sorry, but also seeing what can be done practically”.

He said there were aspects, other than just financial, to meeting the needs of those who had survived abuse, such as counselling and other services “to help them put their lives back together”.

As senior bishops met in Maynooth yesterday to consider their response to the report of the Commission on Child Abuse, Cardinal Brady said the controversial 2002 deal to compensate victims should be reviewed.

He said any new deal should have at its heart the needs of victims and “if that entails revisiting the agreement with the Government, then so be it”.

When asked why the counselling service of the Conference of Religious of Ireland (Cori) failed to arrange extra hours or late night telephone services for people to call on the day the Ryan report was published last week, Cardinal Brady said any failure or delay in responding to the needs of victims was to be deplored.

In a separate interview on RTÉ radio, the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, said the “integrity and honesty” with which the congregations respond to the Ryan report would determine their legacies.

Dr Martin said if they wanted the charism of their founders and the good work done by members of their orders to survive, they had to ask serious questions about what went wrong in these places.

He appealed to the congregations to consider the horrors contained in the report and “consider whether it was worse than they admitted to themselves when agreeing the deal, and if so then they have to look at the consequences”, he said.

When asked about groups like the Christian Brothers which have handed over property to independent trusts since the deal was agreed, Dr Martin said other avenues could be explored.

“The trusts could do something, not necessarily give money, but provide something special to help those who have been through these institutions, maybe even help the children of those who have suffered and return to their original charism of looking after the most neglected in society”.

He appealed to the congregations to look into their hearts and come forward “with something which they feel is the right way to go”.

Bishop of Killaloe Dr Willie Walsh said he had a personal sense of shame about being part of a society which let these abuses take place.

Dr Walsh told Newstalk’s Breakfast Showyesterday there was a need for “calm discussion” on the issue of further compensation for victims.

He said the revelations contained in the commission’s report raised questions for bishops, priests and anybody who belongs to the Christian faith about how “we got so far away from the values which we claim to follow”.

“It is a very difficult thing to understand, especially for younger people, but many people grew up in this country in a culture where boldness was beaten out of you.”

When asked about attempts by certain congregations to cover up abuses, he said one of the most hurtful acts that can be perpetrated upon victims was denial. “One of the first things victims need is to be believed,” he said.