Catholic Archbishop wants church that ‘truly listens to’ women

Kieran O’Reilly says abuses disclosed in mother and baby homes report ‘total antithesis of the faith we claim to profess’

Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Kieran O’Reilly. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Kieran O’Reilly. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

 

One of Ireland’s four Catholic Archbishops has said “we must create a Church in our diocese which truly listens to, and respects, womanhood; a church which promotes a full and deep engagement with the voices of women.”

Kieran O’Reilly, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, said the church must also be one “which listens, and acts upon, equally, to the cares, concerns, hopes and joys of both women and men in our diocese”.

“I pledge to do all that I can to ensure this happens through clear leadership in this regard,” he said in a letter to his archdiocese on Thursday.

The archbishop said the report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes “has saddened me greatly”.

“The abuse and lifelong suffering inflicted on innocent mothers and children by many of those in authority at that time, including Church leadership, was the total antithesis of the faith we claim to profess,” he wrote.

Railed against

The archbishop said it must be acknowledged “that there were quite a large number of families and individual members of the clergy and religious who railed against the status-quo of the time, thereby ensuring that families remained together.

“I readily acknowledge that the practices outlined in this welcome report supporting the status-quo of the time, have blighted the lives of many fragile and innocent people in our communities,” he said.

The response in Cashel and Emly “must be to listen to, and really hear, the stories of the women and children in our diocese who suffered, and are still suffering the effects of their childhood and young lives”.

“I wish to offer a personal listening ear to any person who wishes to tell me their story,” he added.

“We will offer supportive services if they are required. I would ask that all Catholics throughout the diocese would also listen compassionately to any person who wishes to tell you their story.”

‘Death, pain and suffering’

Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, he said it had “brought death, pain and suffering to many families in our diocese and country.

“I wish to express my deep sadness and solidarity with all those affected by the pandemic. We have also seen the courage, dedication and superhuman efforts of the frontline staff in nursing homes, hospitals, the public services, and, indeed, in every parish throughout our diocese.”

Archbishop O’Reilly asked church members to join him in praying for those “affected by the virus” and for those working in frontline healthcare roles.