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Pope Urged To 'Repent' Over Abuse

Irish Times, December 22, 2009 by Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

One of Ireland’s leading child abuse campaigners has issued an open letter calling on Pope Benedict to visit Ireland and spend seven days in repentance here.

Christine Buckley, of the Aislinn Centre in Dublin said he should do so also to assist Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in a “major spring-cleaning” of the Irish Catholic church.

While he is here, Pope Benedict should invite abuse survivors to tell him directly “their harrowing tales in the presence of those responsible for their suffering or the leaders of those organisations that were responsible,” said Ms Buckley, who spent time as a child in the Goldenbridge orphanage in Inchicore

“I am utterly dismayed at your apparently apathetic approach to heinous acts of depravity perpetrated on children by priests, nuns, Christian Brothers and members of other religious orders as outlined in the Ryan and Murphy reports and covered up by Cardinal Desmond Connell and the bishops mentioned in the Murphy report,” she said in her letter.

“Following the Ryan report you met Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for 30 minutes,” she said. “In God’s name Pontiff what aspects of that five-volume report did you have time to discuss given the brevity of that meeting?”

She said the former Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray wasn’t so privileged. “He travelled to Rome to hand in his letter of resignation. He never laid eyes on you; instead he had to wait seven days to meet your stand-in- the Protector of the Faith, Cardinal Re.”

That, she felt illustrated three things.

“Not alone are you detached from the laity but you are equally detached from your religious leaders who govern in your name. It reaffirms what we have known for a long time – that the protection of Church assets is paramount over the slaughtering and raping of children by the holy men and women.

“Is it any wonder that Cardinal Desmond Connell behaved in such a flawed manner?” she asked. “How could such a man advise archbishops, bishops, priests, Christian Brothers and nuns when there was no moral leadership from Rome?”

Cardinal Connell, she said, should have no further involvement in church matters here or in Rome and that “all bishops mentioned in the Murphy report should have stood down on the day the report was published”.

Addressing the Pontiff directly, she said: “Pope Benedict it is time that you came to Ireland . It is time that you listened to the pain of all victims of abuse. In addition you have a responsibility to the laity. Many feel betrayed and confused particularly those who have worked tirelessly and voluntarily for the good of the Church.

“Just as we as children slaved in institutions to produce wealth for the religious orders, so too did many laity who raised millions of euros over the years to swell the coffers of the Catholic Church and spread its influence around the world

“Now you should spend seven-day repentance here – that is the time that the former Bishop Donal Murray had to wait to meet the Protector-of-the-Faith, Cardinal Re.”

She said Benedict had sent Dr Martin back to Ireland to clean up the church image. “Now it’s time, Pope Benedict, that you also came to assist in this major spring-cleaning. Come to Dublin and Armagh and invite survivors to tell you directly their harrowing tales in the presence of those responsible for their suffering or the leaders of those organisations that were responsible.

“This is the least you should do Pontiff. Donal Murray’s resignation has at last shown that bishops are beginning to see some sense of accountability. Now our young people and others in positions of responsibility need to see that this accountability goes all the way to the top.”

She concluded by saying she awaited the Pope’s response.