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I resent suggestion that I or other abuse victims are out for revenge

I WISH to respond to Vincent Lavery’s letter (December 7) in which he said my comment that “nothing has changed” since the publication of the Murphy report was “ridiculous beyond belief”.

If Mr Lavery had read my comments he would know that they referenced the reaction of the Catholic Church leadership. I found that we got yet more apologies — “for the umpteenth time”, to quote Mr Lavery — for the actions of the abusers, etc, but not one leader stood up and addressed the key finding of the report (1.15) in relation to the leadership of the Dublin archdiocese:

“The Dublin archdiocese’s preoccupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church and the preservation of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the state.”

If expressing my disappointment with lack of a response on this issue is “ridiculous” in Mr Lavery’s mind, then I can do nothing to change it.

I am bemused as to how he could have read the Murphy report and come to the conclusion that it “smeared every priest, brother and nun in Dublin”.

The commission was critical of the men specifically shown to have been abusers and their superiors also specifically shown to have knowingly moved these men into new parishes to abuse more innocent children. The report most certainly did no smear the innocent. My heart goes out to the good priests, nuns and brothers who are doing wonderful work in their communities and have found themselves let down by their leadership.

I resent the suggestion that I or other victims are out for “revenge”. I have worked tirelessly for years to have the child protection measures within the church improved and to ensure that the truth of the protection of abusers by the leadership be revealed. Not to get revenge for anything but to try and ensure that the leadership of the Catholic Church could assess their mistakes and in so doing not repeat them in the future. My only aim has always been to make children safer.

I find Mr Lavery’s reference to “those people who claim to have been molested” in context of his reference to me by name. I never “claimed” to be molested. I was seriously sexually molested by a Catholic priest as a child. He pleaded guilty to his actions in a court of law and went to jail.

As for victims looking for €100,000 or more, I claimed and received £30,000 in relation to medical expenses over a period of 35 years for hospitalisations, doctors and medication to treat the illness caused by my abuse. I gave the archdiocese receipts and documentation backing every pound of this claim. I never claimed a penny for my destroyed life as money can never give you those years back. In answer to Mr Lavery’s question what do “those people” (abuse survivors) want? We want the truth to be known and hope that this will save many innocent young children from the same suffering that we endured. There are abusing men and women in every walk of life and the Catholic Church is no different to any other organisation in that unfortunate fact. What has shocked so many people is that their superiors acted in a way that left children in danger in order to protect the institution and not turned these criminals into the hands of the law.

There is a saying that there are “none so blind as those who will not see”. I will pray that Mr Lavery at some time comes to understand that these reports are not attacks on the Catholic Church. They tell the truth and no one should fear the truth. If the church leadership in Ireland can embrace the truth and work towards a better future it will be time for me and others to welcome the change.

Marie Collins

Firhouse

Dublin


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