These views are not ‘just’ the views of Christopher Heaphy(survivor); they are the views expressed by over 2000 survivors spoken to this past year.
Presentation to the “Bishops Response to Survivors Initiative”. Wed 23 March 2011
The presentation was delivered verbally at there Headquarters in Abbey Street in Dublin.
Please find below the presentation given today by Mr. Christopher Heaphy, to the committee of the ‘ Bishops Response to Survivors Initiative’ : in direct response to the Irish Bishops pamphlet ‘Towards Healing and Renewal’, issued at Mass on Sunday 20 March 2011.
Present at the meeting were:
Mr. Christopher Heaphy. Chairman of ‘Voices Of The Existing Survivors’ ( V.O.T.E.S. )
Mr. Michael O’Brien. Chairman of ‘Right to Peace’.
Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork & Ross
Bishop John Fleming, Bishop of Killala
Bishop Colm O’Reilly, Bishop of Ardagh & Clonmacnois
Ms Lucy McCaffery. Facilitator for the group, ‘Bishops Response to the Survivors Initiative’
Ms Brenda Drumm. Communications officer.
“Irish Catholic Bishops Pastoral response, written in block letters”
Towards Healing and Renewal
A pastoral response from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to mark the first anniversary of the publication of the Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland
The abuse of children by some priests and religious was an Appalling wrong. The inadequate response by some Church Leaders has left a deep wound that may never be fully healed.
“Response from Survivors written in Italics and Bold text”
There are 128 Institutions listed in the Residential Institutions Redress Act of 2002. 84 of them are named after Saints.
In all the Industrial School a parish priest would celebrate mass every morning.
By ignoring what they saw and heard, by refusing to speak out in defense of innocent children, they conspired with the abusers. They gave evil consent to reign with terror and fear. Not only did they commit heinous crimes but they colluded with others in the perpetration of those crimes.
So to begin this Pastoral Response from the Irish Catholic Bishop’s with the above paragraph shows that evil still exists within the Church today. The Hierarchy of the Church are still in total denial, of the extent to which they are accountable for the crimes committed against us and, to which we hold them answerable.
No apology, no gesture of repentance or sorrow can ever make up for the hurt that has been caused to those abused and to their families: they have been grievously harmed and let down by people who
professed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are deeply ashamed of this and we are profoundly sorry for any failures on our part.
“Response from Survivors”
There is no admission of guilt or recognition of the serious crimes committed by priests and religious. To say we were grievously harmed and let down, and that you are ashamed and sorry for failures, is deeply insulting to survivors.
Let the truth set you free, “Your Eminence, Your Grace and My Lord Bishops : we were Sexually, Physically and Psychologically Abused. We were Dehumanised: by men and women of God “.
Today we wish to give expression to that sorrow by expressing our commitment to existing initiatives as well as to a number of new initiatives.
Our hope is that these initiatives will enhance the personal, pastoral, spiritual and practical support available to survivors of child physical and sexual abuse by some priests and religious in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Just like Peter, the Church is in denial once again, to the Extent, of the criminal acts committed upon us, by men and women of God.
In the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, ‘No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly’.
His Holiness describes our agony and suffering as a painful situation.
“We were persecuted because of our poverty: tormented, abused, lashed and spat on: by men and women of God”. As children we journeyed on the road to Calvary with our Lord Jesus Christ.
What is set out here today represents only part of a wider response and a longer journey to be undertaken by the Church in helping to bring healing and peace to survivors of abuse. Part of that journey is the challenge of restoring confidence and hope to those many young people, parents, parishioners, priests and
religious, who feel angry, let down or despondent because children have been abused in the care of their Church and because so many in leadership failed to give priority to the love and care of children in
their response to such heinous crimes.
Again there is denial of guilt for the crimes committed by men and women of God.
There is acknowledgement that the crimes are heinous and that many in leadership failed.
It is our hope that the initiatives we are announcing today will go at least some way to rebuilding that trust and to restoring hope. The steps we are taking have been shaped in large part by our conversations as individuals and groups of bishops with survivors of abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
They involve a commitment to transparency and to continuing to implement best practice in safeguarding children into the future. They include a commitment to continue to listen and respond and to make available
a wider range of spiritual and liturgical resources to assist in healing.
These commitments form part of a wider effort being made at diocesan and parish level to ensure best practice in child safeguarding and to bring about healing for those who have been abused.
They complement the extensive work already being undertaken by the Conference of Religious of Ireland, the Irish Missionary Union and individual religious congregations in the provision of training, counselling and child safeguarding services as well as spiritual support for those who have been abused.
“ Strong Response from Survivors”
By denying the existing of past crimes committed by priests and religious orders. By shifting focusing on to putting into practice, child protection procedures that are recommendations of the Ryan Report: actions, which are of a statutory obligation; these will not absolve Mother Church of her crimes, or endear the people of Ireland to return to mass.
The ‘Collective’ Body of the Church, from the Cardinal all the way down to: priests, nuns and brothers : as of today; they have thwarted and denied the Survivors of the Industrial Schools, financial reparation and restitution, for crimes they committed. Their obstinate refusal to engage with us, the survivors of their crimes , on these most serious and personal matters, shows the hypocrisy surrounding any additional contributions made by the religious orders to government. The Church, as of today, have offered the Survivors of the Industrial Schools NOTHING, for the crimes they committed against us .
It is to the Survivors of the Industrial Schools that the ‘Collective’ Body of the Church should make its financial reparation to and NOT to Government. After all, it is we, who are the victims.
Taken together with this wider effort of the Catholic community at every evel, our hope is that the initiatives outlined today will constitute further important and helpful steps on the journey to healing and
renewal signposted to us by survivors of abuse. It is a journey to which we are wholeheartedly committed.
The steps that will be taken are noted in the following pages.
What started out as a ‘journey of hope’ seventeen months ago, has, for the 2000+ survivors spoken to, become, a ‘message of despair’. They see no end in sight for reconciliation, justice , closure and finally a day of atonement.
We come to you seeking help: you offer us platitudes and despair.
1. PRAYER FOR THE SURVIVORS OF ABUSE
For the Christian community prayer is an essential part of the journey to healing and renewal. Our prayer is all the more truthful in its formulation, and healing in its effect, when it is an authentic expression of the reality in which we find ourselves.
We do not understand; what ‘reality’ does this mean??
Many survivors have told us how much they value the prayers that are offered for them by individuals and parish communities.
We specifically invite contemplative orders in Ireland to dedicate part of their daily life of prayer to pray for those who have been abused by priests and religious. We have committed ourselves to dedicating the
first Friday of each month to prayer and fasting in reparation for abuse by clergy and for the failure of leadership in the Church to respond to it effectively.
Survivors have asked the Cardinal, Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland for financial reparation and restitution.
We did not ask for ‘Acts of Reparation’ but for financial reparation.
With justice comes closure, with closure comes reconciliation, with reconciliation comes atonement and peace.
We encourage all parish communities to offer public and private prayer for all who suffered abuse as children.
Just as all Catholics in Ireland have been encouraged to do by Pope Benedict XVI, we will also renew our commitment to the tradition of Friday penance with a particular emphasis on remembering the
suffering of those who have been abused.
The Christian community has a particular appreciation of the power of liturgy involving Scripture readings, prayers, music, symbols and reflection around a particular theme to bring consolation, healing, support and renewal to those who have experienced pain and loss.
Many survivors of abuse have told us how much they would like to see such liturgies take place at an appropriate time and in an appropriate way. We will therefore ask a group at national level to outline how this proposal for liturgies of lament, atonement and healing can be progressed. The group will include survivors of abuse, and others with scriptural, theological and liturgical expertise along with representatives of parish life. It will make recommendations about the types of liturgies that would be most
appropriate as well as where and when such liturgies might most helpfully take place.
All of the 2000+ survivors spoken to, gave a negative response to any participation in, Liturgies of Lament and Repentance.
Give us what we deserve and want, ‘ justice and financial reparation’.
Then we will bring closure to past decades of abuse by the Collective Church.
Reconciliation and Atonement will then swiftly follow.
2. LISTENING WITH SENSITIVITY AND CARE
One of our greatest failures in the past was our failure to listen to the distressing cries of those who were abused as children by priests or religious.
Your greatest failure is that for decades, the church knew of the evil crimes committed on innocent children in the industrial schools and did nothing.
(Read the Ryan Report and your own archival records. )
Many who were courageous enough to speak about what happened to them found that no one would listen. The voice of the vulnerable so often went unheard. We renew our commitment today to listen with openness, sensitivity and care to those who have been abused. Each of us will continue to make
ourselves personally available to meet with survivors of abuse and to listen attentively to their experiences.
You do not listen to us when we ask for financial reparation.
It is also vital that parish communities become places of welcome, listening and support for those who have suffered physical and sexual abuse by Church personnel.
What has happened within the Church has to be acknowledged openly and honestly by all. We
invite priests, religious and parish communities to reflect on how they can bring their social, pastoral, spiritual and liturgical resources as well as their known capacity for practical care to help in the
process of healing for those who have been abused and their families.
Parish communities have a key part to play in giving expression to the commitment of the whole Catholic community to addressing the failings of the past and bringing healing and renewal to all who have been harmed.
Why shift the burden of guilt for crimes committed by the church, on to the faithful.
The yoke of guilt has, for far too long, been dispensed from the pulpits on to the hard working shoulders of the mums and dads of this country .
Please Stop trying to psychologically condition the good people of Ireland again.
They know what is right from wrong and they can recognise the difference between good and evil.
Some survivors of abuse have also spoken to us about the importance of having their stories properly heard and remembered for future generations. We pledge ourselves to continue to explore with survivors of abuse how this might best be achieved.
3. SPIRITUAL SUPPORT TO INDIVIDUAL SURVIVORS OF ABUSE
Abuse by clergy or religious often has a profoundly negative impact on the faith of those abused and on that of their families. Many survivors have spoken to us about their struggle with faith and their sense of belonging within the Church as a result of this and how it was responded to. In particular, they have told us how the Church has failed to offer sufficient help to work through this particular consequence of their abuse. As a response we have begun to prepare a structure of spiritual support for those dealing with issues of faith following the trauma of abuse by Church personnel.
Over 2000 survivors of abuse spoken to, made it clear, that they would not avail of any spiritual support services offered by the church in dealing with issues of faith.
They have lost total respect for all issues in relation to the institutional church. They see nothing but the evil within.
4. CREATING A SAFER FUTURE FOR CHILDREN IN THE CHURCH
In his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, Pope Benedict XVI said ‘Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people
towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives’.
Over the past twelve months every bishop in Ireland, together with the superiors of religious congregations, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI). This commits all of us to full implementation of the Safeguarding Children Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland, published and updated by the NBSCCCI. These can be accessed at http://www.safeguarding.ie. It includes a commitment to full cooperation with the Gardaí and HSE in the South as well as the PSNI and DHSSPS in Northern Ireland in respect of all allegations of abuse against Church personnel. In addition to implementing the Standards and Guidance material published by the NBSCCCI, each bishop is providing financial and other resources for the training of personnel at diocesan and parish level in the implementation of the NBSCCCI Standards and
Guidance material. We restate our commitment today to ensuring that all priests and religious as well as sufficient numbers of lay people working in our dioceses are trained in and promote best practice in the safeguarding of children. We also commit ourselves to continue to participate in the vetting
procedures made available by An Garda Síochána.
The church is implementing the recommendations of the Ryan Report but for survivors this has come a century too late.
We embrace all practices that give priority to the safeguarding of our children in every environment.
5. THE REVIEW OF DIOCESES, RELIGIOUS CONGREGATIONS AND SOCIETIES BY THE NATIONAL BOARD
FOR SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN:
Honesty about the response to past, present and future allegations of child sexual abuse by priests in our dioceses is essential to restoring trust and moving forward on the journey to healing and renewal. The Irish Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland and the Irish Missionary Union have tasked
the NBSCCCI with monitoring, reviewing and reporting on an annual basis on the compliance of each diocese and religious congregation with best practice in child safeguarding as set out in the NBSCCCI’s Safeguarding and Guidance material. This includes the ability of the NBSCCCI to monitor and report on the response of each bishop and each leader of religious congregations and societies to allegations of abuse which may arise.
As part of a specific commitment by the bishops to transparency about the past, the NBSCCCI has also initiated a review of current and past practice of all twenty-six dioceses in Ireland. This review
will also be extended to each religious congregation.
Your governance policies do nothing for survivors of the Industrial Schools but may boost your public image..
6. FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR FUTURE SAFEGUARDING AND CARE
Many dioceses have invested heavily in local safeguarding initiatives, including training and the provision of counselling and other forms of assistance to those who have been abused. Today in Ireland, as with other organisations, the financial resources available to dioceses are limited and subject to ever-increasing
As a sign of our commitment to addressing the failures of the past and their consequences, we pledge today to continue to provide financial resources to the structures for safeguarding children and young people in the Church and to the ongoing care of those who have been abused. We will do so in a number of ways.
• Funding of the NBSCCCI and related safeguarding activities. Since the founding in 2006 of the NBSCCCI by the Bishops’ Conference, CORI and IMU, each of these, through subventions from individual dioceses and congregations, has contributed substantial sums to its operating costs.
Your funding to put in place the practices of Safeguarding Children and the substantial sums you have to pay to train professionals to implement those practices, though commendable, will do nothing to alleviate the pain and suffering of survivors of the Industrial Schools, but may ease the conscious of the Bishops and may also mislead the public into believing that you are actually helping survivors. This is shallow and crass.
• A five-year funding commitment from the Bishops’ Conference to provide an enhanced counselling service co-funded by religious congregations and societies. As we listened to survivors of abuse many spoke to us of the importance of the services provided to them by Faoiseamh, the independent helpline and counselling
service established and largely funded by religious congregations.
Today the Irish Bishops’ Conference announces that it will, over the next five years, co-fund with the religious congregations and societies the newly founded agency ‘Towards Healing’, which will continue the work of Faoiseamh while extending it to provide an enhanced range of professional counseling options.
Very Strong Response.
The 2000+, survivors of the Industrial Schools, when asked if they would avail of counseling services paid for by the Church or Religious Orders, responded by saying that the idea was repugnant and vile.
Their reasoning is that if a child is sexually abused by an adult, and then, that adult offers to give that child counseling to overcome the psychological injuries sustained ; most Mothers and Fathers in Ireland would reject the notion as extremely repugnant and totally unacceptable.
There is a free ‘National Counseling Service’ set up by the government for survivors of abuse.
Faoiseamh, now renamed ‘Towards Healing’ , serve only one purpose, and that is to add to the pain and suffering of the survivors of the Industrial Schools. The Church, this time, in collusion with the Religious Orders will now give a million euro each, per year, for the next five years; to an organisation we do not want: yet, the Church will not contribute a single cent to financial reparation for survivors. How very deceitful, and hurtful to survivors.
• Spiritual Support.
We also announce today the introduction of a new initiative for survivors whose faith has been damaged and who want to work through this particular consequence of their abuse. A number of religious congregations and societies with experience and expertise in this area will be asked to make
some members available for this work. Together with trained lay people and diocesan priests, it is hoped that they will assist those dealing with issues of faith following the trauma of abuse by Church personnel. An experienced spiritual director will be appointed to form and lead this initiative. Initially, this service will be located throughout the island of Ireland. However, discussions have already commenced to extend this service to survivors resident in Britain. Details of the spiritual support service will be publicised within the coming months.
CONCLUSION: THE PATH TO HEALING AND RENEWAL
In his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, Pope Benedict XVI invites us to journey together on the ‘path of healing, renewal and reparation’. He asks for honest self-examination and a committed programme of renewal. Specifically, he says that ‘a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to
treasure the gift of our common faith’. We hope that the initiatives we have announced today will make a significant and helpful contribution to this journey towards healing, renewal and reparation. We also pledge to continue the process of dialogue with survivors of abuse and with lay faithful, priests and religious about
how the Church in Ireland can inspire present and future generations to a new vision of faith in the light of the guidance and support offered by the Apostolic Visitation. In conclusion, we commit ourselves to working with Catholics and all people of good will to ensure that every child on this island is properly cared for and kept safe from all forms of abuse and harm.
Finally the collective response from over 2000+ survivors spoken to, these past 17 months, on our journey with the Church :-
We thank you for your prayers and your deep concern for our well being.
Your prayers will not give us justice and financial reparation for the crimes you committed.
Your concern for our well being, adds only hypocrisy and insults to the many crimes you committed against us.
Every day, we travel this road of suffering with Jesus Christ, and the cross’s we carry are made unbearable by those professing to be our pastors.
A clear message from the 2000+ survivors is voiced in the following sentence:-
The Roman Catholic Church of Ireland and Religious Orders are directly responsible for the Genocide of so many young innocent Irish children’s lives. Survivors want full accountability for the crimes committed by priests, nuns and brothers and they hold the Catholic Church and Religious Orders directly answerable for those crimes, as testified by Survivors in the Ryan Report .
It was Genocide because, in the opinion of survivors the following is irrevocably true:
We were shoveled into the Industrial Schools and whilst there we were subjected to severe psychological conditioning which lead to the destruction of lives.
We Quote from Deputy Enda Kenny’s speech to the Dáil on the 11th June 2009.
Deputy Kenny, who is now our Taoiseach, a good Father, and a strong Family man, understood what we went through in our childhood.
Michael O’Brien and I wept in the Dáil that day, as we sat and listened to him read out his speech.
“We stand complicit in the criminalising of little children as a consequence of their poverty. But that’s just the beginning. This State was responsible for the destruction of life itself. It was responsible for the destruction of that precious, formative gift: childhood”
“We should all be haunted by what Ryan has found out. Because he revealed a Great Famine of compassion. A plague of deliberate, relentless cruelty.”
It was Church and Religious Orders who managed and ran the Industrial Schools. It is to them we direct our charge.
Our personal security, liberty, health, and dignity was totally destructed.
We were forced to live in a culture where no value was placed on our human lives.
The regime we lived under was tyrannical in the extreme, and bordering on a totalitarian society ( we had to be subservient), with its assumed superior ideology.
Our captures reigned a campaign to dehumanize us.
Because of the strong centralised authority in the Religious Organisation, which was infested with perpetrators of child abuse, who committed criminal acts on us children: We had no option but to conform and to capitulate to terror.
If we had at our disposal the enormous wealth and influence of the Church and Religious Orders; then, we would hire a Barrister and take our plea to the Courts of Human Rights in the Haig to be heard.
Maybe one day, some kind person will do so, on behalf of the 170,000 innocent children who went through the Industrial School system in Ireland.
The survivors of the Industrial Schools want financial reparation from the Catholic Church in Ireland.
The survivors of the Industrial Schools want the Religious Orders, to use their influence and power, to do What is right and just; pay financial reparation directly to the survivors of the Industrial Schools and NOT as demanded by government.
Any other option only makes a mockery of justice.
Chairman of V.O.T.E.S. ( Voices Of the Existing Survivors)
If anyone needs to discuss any matter relating to the above, Christopher may be contacted at the email above, and below.
Categories: Another Apology