Gathering for Eucharistic Congress
Sir, – I would like to share with your readers my experience of the opening day of the Eucharistic Congress. I was one of the few survivors of sexual abuse committed by the clergy, who were holding a silent vigil outside the gates of the RDS on Sunday. I was not connected to any organisation, and stood outside one of the main entrances.
Most of the pilgrims passed by with averted eyes and were non-committal, others were verbally abusive. Towards the end of the protest I stood with two other survivors of abuse to have photos taken as a memento of the day. We are no longer young, one of us is in a wheelchair. Unknowingly, we were two feet inside the gate and were immediately pounced upon by Congress security guards who pushed us through the gate and ordered us in no uncertain terms off the premises.
They had no uniforms or name identification tags. I objected and tried to capture them on camera, some ran off and others tried to hide their faces. Then gardaí were called to deal with us and they warned us not to trespass on private property. All two feet of it.
While the whole incident only lasted a few minutes, it gave us a clear insight into what the Catholic Church thinks of survivors of clerical abuse who dared to turn up and embarrass the church in its moment of celebration. How dare we rain on their parade!
Meanwhile, in another part of the RDS, Archbishop Martin talked about “the darkness of sinful and criminal abuse in our society” and finished with “we recall all those who suffered abuse and still bear the mark of that abuse and may carry it for the rest of their lives”. While he was uttering his homily, three survivors of his church’s abuse who happened to stand two feet on the wrong side of the entrance to the RDS were being expelled. You couldn’t make it up.
Jesus wept. – Yours, etc,