'Disappointment' at Vatican outcome


Abuse survivors' groups have expressed disappointment at the outcome of the meeting between the Irish bishops and Pope Benedict at the Vatican.

The One in Four group said expectations had been high that the Vatican and the Irish bishops would fully acknowledge the role of the institutional Catholic Church in protecting sex offenders at the expense of vulnerable children and that a clear plan for the future would be offered.

"We are also disappointed that the Pope has offered no explanation for the failure of the Vatican and the Papal Nuncio to cooperate with the Murphy Commission," its director Maeve Lewis said.

"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."

She said while the bishops' commitment to co-operation with the State authorities was welcome "the response is otherwise extremely inadequate.

There seems to have been very little progress in the course of the meeting".

Ms Lewis also criticised Pope Benedict's reference to the weakening of faith being a contributing factor in the phenomenon of child sexual abuse. "It is deeply insulting to survivors to suggest that they were abused due to failures of faith, rather than because sex-offending priests were moved from parish to parish, and those in authority looked away while further children were sexually abused."

Mr Andew Madden, who in 1995 became the first in Ireland to go public with an abuse lawsuit against the church, said it appeared that

that submissions made by some survivors of sexual abuse by priests have been "completely ignored".

"It would appear that self preservation and damage limitation for the Catholic Church is still a higher priority for Pope

Benedict and the Bishops than the concerns and wishes of people who had been sexually abused as children by priests in

the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin over many decades, and that hardly represents change."

"I can only conclude that the Catholic Church remains a disgraced, discredited organisation that seems to be entirely incapable of responding in any intelligent, meaningful way to the findings of the Ferns, Ryan and Murphy Reports", Mr Madden said in a statement issued this evening.

Christine Buckley of the Aislinn support centre said she was "dismayed, hugely, profoundly upset and disappointed" at the outcome of the bishops' visit.

Speaking on Lunchtime with Eamon Keane on Newstalk, she said the bishops' visit was "a charade".

"[It was] a collection of 24 bishops who appear to have been lectured about the tensions and the disunity of their members rather than trying to find out why these abuses happened and how to resolve them".

Ms Buckley also criticised the focus of the meetings on diocesan abuse, rather than on abuse in Catholic-run institutions.

"I'm normally an optimist and for some unknown reason I really thought that the Pope was going to say 'let's start with Ireland. I will go to Ireland. I will meet with the victims of institutional and clerical abuse. I will unveil a memorial. I will start a first world conference for victims of institutional and sexual abuse'. Instead he has washed his hands of it, he thinks it's okay and that a Lenten pastoral letter is going to help our pain. No, it is not."

She urged the Pope to include Ireland in his visit to Britain in September.

A US-based abuse survivors' group has criticised the outcome of the meeting between Pope Benedict and the Irish diocesan bishops that was held today.Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said it was "heart-breaking" that the resignation of bishops was not even discussed at the meeting.

"Words come easy to Vatican officials, who time and time again tell us they're allegedly upset about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups," she said. "But if they were as upset as they claim about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups, there would be more than just words."

She said the resignation of bishops would not suddenly fix everything but it would be a long-overdue, tangible step in the right direction.

Ms Blaine said the Church hierarchy in the United States went through a similar process in Rome eight years ago but it resulted in little real change."It's time that the Church's ongoing and devastating crisis be effectively addressed on a global scale."

Pope Benedict told Ireland’s Catholic Bishops during two days of crisis talks over a paedophilia scandal that sexual abuse of children by priests was a "heinous crime" that they must address with resolve, the Vatican said today.

The pope "observed that the sexual abuse of children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image," the statement said.