Abuse survivor comes under fire

A VICTIM of clerical sexual abuse has been urged to stay in Britain, not to return to his native Wexford and not co-operate with the BBC in its follow-up documentary to the ‘Suing the Pope’ expose.

Person of the Year Colm O’Gorman said neither he nor anyone else wanted Bishop Brendan Comiskey to resign. And he said the Church has to be responsible for its own action. But nobody wants to bring it down, he insisted.

His comments came in the wake of a handful of highly critical calls to South East Radio, his local station in Wexford yesterday. Mr O’Gorman featured on the morning chat programme with Alan Maguire yesterday.

While the majority of calls were positive and supported his stance and his plans to move back to Wexford, others were highly critical. Threatening letters were received by the same station, just days after the BBC documentary ran earlier this year and the same anchorman interviewed Colm O’Gorman live on air.

“I asked Brendan Comiskey not to resign,” Colm O’Gorman said. “Since 1995, I sought answers from him and from the Church. It has not been a pleasure to expose what happened to me in the way I had to publicly.

“It has been a difficult and painful process. This is my diocese too, my town too. And if anyone doesn’t want to listen to this, don’t listen. That’s fine. I’m not looking for a platform. All I’ve ever done is tell the truth of what I’ve experienced and hopefully provided a voice and a platform for others.

“To somehow blame individual victims, myself or anyone else, for the pain and the distress that rape and abuse perpetrated by clerics is causing wider society is absolutely ridiculous.”

BBC was right to doorstep Bishop Comiskey. For seven years he refused to answer questions on the matter, Mr O’Gorman said. And the bishop did not resign. He was instructed to do so by the Vatican because in their opinion, he was not fit to hold office.

“We asked the Vatican not to accept his resignation and urged Dr Comiskey to stay in office and deal with this issue. We have never sought resignations.

“We did not want Cardinal Connell’s resignation, when others sought it. We are not out for a pound of flesh. We are not casting stones. This is not about sin. It is about responsibility,” he added.

“A lot has been happening in the past few months. It’s all heading in the right direction and we are waiting for the inquiry in Ferns to be set up. It has been busy, but good,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“The reaction has been really supportive. We have had very few negative comments from people. Some people, obviously and understandably, feel very upset about the stress that some of this has caused. I can really understand that and see why people are disturbed by what is happening. It is disturbing. Even a lot of people who are approaching us looking for support are saying they’d wish this would all go away.

BBC journalist Sarah McDonald was back in the south east yesterday, filming a follow up to the documentary which spurred Dr Comiskey’s resignation.

More in this section