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Pope’s sorrow for sex abuse victims is a beginning

Change has come at last. Anybody reading Pope Francis’s homily at a Mass for clergy sex abuse victims in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae cannot but feel the sorrow in his words and his determination to change the culture within the Church that failed to protect children.

This meeting will position awareness of abuse by clergy at the heart of the Church. The Church has also done a service to survivors in inviting Marie Collins onto its panel, ensuring that survivors’ voices will be heard.

If there is a criticism it is that nobody from the institutions was invited. Thousands of young people left the Church as a result of the failures of the congregations to properly ensure their safety while in care.

It is now ‘business as usual’ for some of these congregations, while many of their former residents still suffer the trauma of depression, ill-health, and marital and relationship breakdown. Some are still on the streets, here in Ireland, but mainly in England.

References to redress, statutory funds or other entitlements mean nothing to these sad people and their families. It would be helpful if their suffering, and the lack of acknowledgement of their plight, be recognised now, as they move towards life’s end, still in hope but without the sacraments they crave before they die.

Groups such as ours, the Alliance Support Group, still have a role, though I challenge myself at times as to how effective we are, and whether or not we should fold now, without the funding given to professional bodies that have developed a ‘cottage industry of support’.

Tom Hayes

Castle Gardens


Co Armagh


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