Clerical sex abuse survivors to review Rome meeting with archbishop today


DUBLIN CLERICAL child sex abuse survivors are to meet Archbishop Diarmuid Martin this morning to discuss the outcome of this week’s meetings in Rome between the Irish bishops, Pope Benedict and senior Curia figures.

Included will be Marie Collins, Andrew Madden, One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis and others who do not wish their names published.

Speaking last night, Marie Collins said “I hope we get some positive news from Archbishop in the morning.”

Following the statement by Pope Benedict after the meetings last Tuesday, Ms Lewis expressed disappointment “that the pope has offered no explanation for the failure of the Vatican and the papal nuncio to co-operate with the Murphy commission”.

She said that “instead, the Vatican has accepted no responsibility for its role in facilitating the sexual abuse of children, referring only to the Irish church, and only vague declarations of intent for the future are included”.

Mr Madden repeated his demand for the resignation of Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan in a statement yesterday. “I can only reiterate that the archdiocese of Dublin continued to mishandle cases of child sexual abuse against priests long after Bishop Drennan became an auxiliary bishop in 1997. The extent to which Bishop Drennan is mentioned in the report or not is irrelevant. Like Bishop Moriarty he was part of the governance of the archdiocese and therefore should have challenged the culture that existed there.”

He said: “It should also be remembered that resignations are not just about ‘healing’, they are also about taking responsibility for what one has done, or failed to do, in a way requested by those you have offended against, not on one’s own terms.”

In an interview with Galway Bay FM yesterday, Bishop Drennan said of Archbishop Martin: “I think he’s satisfied now that I have taken responsibility for my actions. I responded to his letter and he did mention that ... not on this occasion in Rome, but on other occasions, that he felt I had taken responsibility for my actions so I think I’m satisfied on that score, yes.”

Bishops Drennan also said that “it would be actually inappropriate for him to be writing to me about my behaviour at this stage. That would be inappropriate diplomatically, it would.”

He had pointed this out to Archbishop Martin. “Indeed, I have, yes, and I don’t think he’s going to go public. I think at this stage it would be difficult for him and I respect his difficulties in that area too. He has his own pressures.”

All the other bishops had been “very supportive and have been all the way through”, he said.

It is understood that Dr Martin plans to send a letter to priests of the archdiocese to be read at Masses over the weekend. Among topics it will address on the first Sunday of Lent will be the visit of the bishops to Rome and clerical child sex abuse.

Pope Seemed ‘very Angry And Distressed’

BISHOP WILLIAM LEE:A BISHOP who met with Pope Benedict earlier this week in Rome has said that the pope seemed “very angry and distressed” about the handling of clerical child sexual abuse in Ireland, writes Ciarán Murphy.

Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Dr William Lee said yesterday that the survivors of clerical abuse “and their hurt were at the very heart of the meeting” with Pope Benedict.

Survivors of clerical abuse have in recent days been calling on Pope Benedict to resign for failing to respond to an open letter sent to him prior to the meetings with the bishops.

However, speaking on WLRfm yesterday, Dr Lee said that the pope would be issuing a letter.

“The meeting was unprecedented; the pope invited us out to discuss this crisis in Ireland,” said Dr Lee.

“I do believe that there was very genuine listening by the pope . . . survivors and their hurt was at the very heart of the meeting.

“The pope noted it; he was listening to each of us as we spoke – he seemed very angry and distressed, it seemed to me.”