The country’s bishops would support the holding of a national day of atonement where the Church, State, and citizens seek forgiveness for the legacy of abuse in industrial schools.
A spokesman for the bishops last night said they would not be against the idea once it was “sensitively organised” and not a rushed exercise.
Standing at the altar of a Co Waterford church during Mass on Sunday, 67-year-old survivor Christopher Heaphy raised the idea of an annual day of atonement which he said would act as an “everlasting reminder for everyone that such disgraceful treatment of the weakest in our society must never again be allowed to happen”.
He also expressed a fear that the bishops were trying to “shrug off” survivors and may be “locked into a mindset by which they will attempt to wash their hands, and try for closure, where there is none”.
A spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference said: “Such a day of atonement could not be rushed. It would have to be sensitively prepared. The Church has a moral duty to apologise, to ask for forgiveness and seek healing from those hurt by the actions of another member. It is hoped that liturgies of atonement, reparation, and reconciliation — which are appropriately and sensitively prepared — will contribute towards the healing of survivors”.
According to the Catholic Communications Office, the Church is examining “suggestions and recommendations” on how best to undertake religious ceremonies which will “bring consolation, healing, support, and renewal to survivors of abuse”.
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