Clergy 'appalled' at handling of abuse


PRIESTS, RELIGIOUS and bishops are among those appalled by what they have learned about “the wrongdoing of some priests”, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam said yesterday.

It was “understandable that many good and faithful Catholics experience distress and discouragement after the revelations of the mishandling of abuse cases”, he said. The archbishop was speaking during a Mass he celebrated at the top of Croagh Patrick in Mayo yesterday morning as the “Reek Sunday” climb was under way.

Mayo Mountain Rescue estimated up to 20,000 people took part in foggy conditions. About 120 rescue personnel were on duty, with a spokesman saying up to 50 people had been treated for minor ailments by mid-afternoon. There were no serious incidents.

“We are very conscious of the difficulties on life’s journey, the enormous difficulties besetting our church, chiefly in the number of innocent people who have suffered through the wrongdoing of some priests,” Archbishop Neary said. “Many are angered and appalled by what they have learnt. Indeed, these feelings are shared by priests, religious and, yes, bishops too.”

He continued: “A woman asked me last week when it would all end. The honest answer is that it will not end until every survivor has told their story and until every victim is facilitated in embarking on their journey to real healing, where true dignity is accorded. On our pilgrimage today, we bring before the Lord all those who have suffered a betrayal of their trust and a violation of their dignity.

“In the crucible of suffering it is cold comfort to hear it said, but the reality now is that literally thousands of people, the vast majority lay, are active in our parishes implementing child safeguarding measures.

“Next year, the 50th International Eucharistic Congress will take place in Ireland. At the heart of the congress is the mystery of the Eucharist and never did we need the Eucharist more,” he said.

The Eucharistic Congress Bell was taken up to the summit of Croagh Patrick by young people from Tuam archdiocese on Friday morning. It was there until 2.30pm yesterday.

Meanwhile, there has been a call for the congress to be postponed and for the Czech government not to accept the current papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, as papal nuncio to Prague, to which he has been appointed by the Vatican.

David Clohessy, director of the US-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, has endorsed a call by Fine Gael Senator Cáit Keane in the Seanad last Tuesday that the congress be postponed. Supporting a call by the Association of Catholic Priests, she said, “I believe it is not an appropriate time for an event such as the Eucharistic Congress to take place in this country. I believe that everyone will be better served, given the sensitivities around the findings of this report, that it be held at a later date.”

Mr Clohessy said the network “wholeheartedly” endorsed this view. “Somehow, somewhere, Catholic officials must learn that they can’t enable and hide child sex crimes, and then just plod along with ‘business as usual’.

“Somewhere, somehow, someone must show them that there are actual, ‘real world’ consequences when they cause thousands of innocent boys and girls and vulnerable adults to be raped and sodomised.”

He described reports that the papal nuncio to Ireland was being transferred to Prague as “terribly distressing”. It meant “Pope Benedict is sending a clear signal to church officials across the globe: ‘If you stonewall secular authorities and keep clergy sex crimes and cover-ups covered up, I’ll protect you’,” he said.