Focus must be on victims, C of I bishop says on Ryan report


IRELAND IS in trauma following publication of the Ryan report, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork Most Rev Paul Colton has said. But he went on to remind all that in the midst of this trauma, the only people who matter are the victims. “They must be the centre of all our concerns and efforts.’’

In what is believed to be the first public comment by a Church of Ireland bishop following publication on May 20th of the Ryan report on child abuse in Catholic-run institutions, he warned against impetuous responses and told those using it to further their own agenda, to set those agendas aside.

Speaking at the diocesan synod of Cork, Cloyne and Ross in the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork at the weekend, he said the nation’s trauma was as nothing compared to the interminable suffering of the victims. “As we have seen again and again, their tears continue to flow,’’ he said.

“In the midst of a national trauma, there have been too many impetuous responses without the humility of sufficient pause for thought and reflection. Many of these are tangential to the needs of the victims. All other agendas should be set aside. Some people in Ireland have used this report as a springboard towards a secularising agenda,’’ he said.

He continued that “others have called unthinkingly for the withdrawal of all churches from their modern-day engagement with education in a country, which, according to the last census, is still manifestly religious in its affiliation. Still others use an old-fashioned and distorted republicanism and link what happened with injustices in the pre-independence era.

“Some commentators expose the limitations of their own understanding of the modern, pluralist Ireland by speaking as if, even now in 2009, there is only one Christian denomination or religious grouping in this State.’’

He went on to say that “in the midst of this trauma, the only people who matter are the victims: they must be the centre of all our concerns and efforts. In the aftermath of the report, people who were abused should be the priority of this nation, its institutions and of all of us.

“What I would say is that this shame must prompt us all in every church and in every institution in society to take a good hard look at ourselves, and to ask what abuses or inhuman injustices we are responsible for perpetuating or exacerbating today.”