PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

“THE PROBLEMS addressed by the Ryan and Murphy reports, as well as the vulnerability of children to abuse in the home, are peculiar neither to Ireland nor to the Catholic Church,” President McAleese said yesterday.

In a seeming retort to comments by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, in the Vatican earlier this week, President McAleese said: “These are global problems and to assume otherwise is to offer abusers the same dishonourable secret veil which gave them protection and immunity for far too long.

“I hope the world’s children will benefit from the greater scepticism and vigilance that our experience rightly demands in order to better protect our children.”

She was speaking at Áras an Uachtaráin to members of the diplomatic corps at the annual presentation of new year greetings.

Before she spoke, the papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, dean of the diplomatic corps, conveyed “sincerest greetings” to the President in a brief address on behalf of his fellow diplomats.

Earlier this week Cardinal Hummes, a Brazilian, said clerical sex abuse scandals in Ireland were not representative of the behaviour of the vast majority of priests in the Catholic Church.

During an interview last Wednesday in the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano , he said it would be wrong to “make generalisations” as a result of the Irish experience.

“The painful Irish happenings – which by the way have seen some bishops assume their responsibilities and resign – simply do not relate to the entire episcopal ministry. The bishops are good fathers for their priests,” he said.

He continued: “Certainly, there are some unbecoming situations but they are very limited in number. Unfortunately, we are talking about situations linked to the human condition. And that’s what happened in Ireland.”

Asked whether, in his view, the credibility of priests worldwide has been undermined by such scandals, he said: “Unfortunately, in a society that has little inclination to dig deep in its search for the truth, [such scandals] damage the image of the priest. Above all because the media concentrate on these events rather than on all the good that is done by the vast majority of priests.”

In a wide-ranging address yesterday President McAleese spoke of the lessons learned about “the utter vulnerability of children in the absence of stringent vigilance and accountability of those charged with their care. Irish State authorities and Catholic Church authorities were found seriously wanting and innocent children were hurt as a consequence”.

“Thanks to victims and their advocates, we have been able to offer redress and reassurance that child protection is a high priority, infinitely more important than the status of any institution or individual, and that child abuse is, as it has always been, a heinous crime – but today it is a crime that will be pursued, not suppressed. These matters rightly absorb us in Ireland . . .” she said.

She also told the diplomats “many of you will have seen the strong, caring and generous character of the Irish people showcased in their response to this winter’s recordbreaking floods and freezes. You will also have seen the solid determination of our people to right past wrongs in the publication of the Ryan and Murphy reports into child abuse.”

When asked by The Irish Times later yesterday about the President’s remarks, Archbishop Leanza responded that he had “no comment.”

Irish Times 16th January 2010


1 Response » to “President tells envoys child abuse affects us all”

  1. barry clifford says:

    Law firms have been contacted regarding our means to an end document. The approach is to have them do it on a pro- bono basis excepting perhaps unavoidable expenses. Feedback is more than positive in their desire to represent along with more clarity about our case in moving forward. In fact most of this information was in clear and open view anyway and so obvious that because of it, everyone was looking the other way. When the choice of firms is narrowed down an interview will be set with them to convince ourselves that aside from their legal brief, it is important to know that they have integrity along with the steel to carry it all through.
    It is also important to state again and again that the drive to move forward cannot go through with the few but only with the many that will support it. What others are doing is less relevant when it comes to ‘what you are doing’ about our fight. It is not for the faint hearted or those still grieving about the past along with more recent betrayals. The only future now is the facts for anything less will only dull the edge of your sword.
    We hope to have our meeting and march to Damascus in or around the middle of February, though it has been suggested that Patrick’s day may well be preferable in order to receive maximum exposure. That is still on the table and the agenda to go with it. The agenda will also consist of a mandate for all to sign to have representation put forward on your behalf along with one very important petition.
    That petition will be started soon to help endorse Catherine Connolly in her fight to have the nuns in Galway will one of their most valuable properties in Ireland to the city. For it to be used as a memorial park and recreation centre is more than a good idea as retribution and material penance by them and the religious orders that they belong to for their years of abuse of children. Judgement day can sort out the rest of it. Thanks again Catherine for your belief in our cause, your work as a councillor, and integrity as a barrister at law.
    There is no room now at this critical stage to coyly criticize effort when those who criticize have shown no effort at all except criticism itself. For those others who have hidden agendas for varied reasons we have to be constantly vigilant. Some are a lot cheaper than thirty pieces of silver. Noel Barry took a lot more than that and he is one of many in the bunch, but it all paints a picture.
    SOCA of England has a few questions to answer along with a man called Mick Waters and will be the subject of my next article. Get out your pen or your computer and write to The Freedom Of Information office or visit their website to obtain information about similar groups. Do not take my word for it or indeed theirs in what ever defence they present to you. Always register your mail other wise it will not be registered by anybody.

    For me this in not a popularity contest for that is for the vain hearted. It is not for the egos that have worked against us in the past, or for the ones that preach a hopeless trinity of failure, dejection, and outright cowardice. It is for those that believe in themselves and those that want to. At the very least you can say you gave it all you had and more. The battlefield was abandoned before. We did not know how to fight, but now we have the means to an end to finish this one and win.
    Yes, these words are meant to inflame your anger – in a positive way – and drive you forward and further than you ever did before. They are meant to get the best out of you, to know yourself and to right a great wrong for the worst that has been done to your spirit. I will always ask as I finish: What have you done for our new cause so far, what are you doing now, and what are you going to do?
    Please do not be offended if I have upset anyone who believes in our fight for belief itself will not win the battle only the action that should come from it. Paddy Doyle has done so much with his life through no fault of his sitting in a wheelchair on that same battlefield, and all on his own for decades. What are we capable of doing now alongside him and standing up?

    Barry Clifford

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