Colm O’Gorman, who was abused by Fr Sean Fortune in the diocese of Ferns in the 1980s, is the first survivor to have received an invitation specifically to discuss the Church’s response to such complaints.
It’s understood that more than 100 clerical and lay representatives working in the field of child protection will attend the Anglophone Conference in Rome this summer.
Last year’s Anglophone Conference was scheduled to take place in Athlone but was cancelled and transferred to Paisley in Scotland.
Dublin Archdiocese Auxiliary Bishop Eamon Walsh will also attend as will the director of Child Protection and Safeguarding, Andrew Fagan. It’s believed six clergy and lay people will represent Ireland.
Yesterday, Mr O’Gorman, who was speaking in a personal capacity, said his speech to the conference will address “effective listening, the experience of those who have been abused by priests and their bad experiences with the Church’s response”.
“There are challenging things that need to be said. I value frank engagement and I expect the church leaders will question me so that we have a frank upright conversation. Often with church leaders, you find a strong sense of concern but that does not necessarily lead to meaningful engagement thereafter,” he said.
Last year, Mr O’Gorman was one of a number of survivors who met American Cardinal Sean O’Malley as part of Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Visitation to this country.