DUBLIN, Ireland, NOV. 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- In response to the publication of a report about sexual abuse of children by clergy, the archbishop of Dublin is stating that “no apology is sufficient.”
The report, which details abuse cases in the Dublin Archdiocese from 1975 to 2004 and the response of Church and state authorities to these accusations, was published Thursday by the Commission of Investigation.
The investigation began three years ago, under the leadership of Justice Yvonne Murphy, a High Court judge from Dublin.
The publication of this Dublin report comes several months after the Ryan report, which detailed widespread child abuse in Catholic schools throughout the country.
In a statement posted on the Dublin archdiocesan Web site after the Murphy report’s public release, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin affirmed, “It is difficult to find words to describe how I feel today.”
“What can I say,” he continued, “when I have to share with you the revolting story of the sexual assault and rape of so many young children and teenagers by priests of the archdiocese or who ministered in the diocese?”
“No words of apology will ever be sufficient,” the prelate said.
He thanked Murphy for the “diligent and professional work in producing this report” which, he affirmed, “will provide an invaluable framework for how we can better protect the children of today and the future.”Traumatic
No report, the archbishop acknowledged, “can give an indication of the suffering and trauma endured by the children, and indeed the suffering also of their family members.”
He continued: “Many survivors have not yet been able to speak about abuse they experienced. For them the publication of the report must be truly traumatic.”
Archbishop Martin urges these victims to “turn to some trusted friend, to a counselor or counseling service of their choice,” or to the Diocesan Child Protection Service in order to seek help.
This report, he said, “highlights devastating failings of the past” that “call on all of us to scrupulously apply clear guidelines and norms.”
“One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the report,” the prelate affirmed, “is that while Church leaders — bishops and religious superiors — failed,” many parents worked hard to try to stop the abuse.
He explained that “almost every parent who came to the diocese to report abuse clearly understood the awfulness of what was involved.”
Archbishop Martin continued: “Almost exclusively their primary motivation was to try to ensure that what happened to their child, or in some case to themselves, did not happen to other children.
“Their motivation was not about money or revenge; it was quite simply about that most basic human sense of right and wrong and that basic Christian motivation of concern for others.
“The survivors of abuse who courageously remained determined to have the full truth heard by all deserve our recognition and admiration.”
The archbishop acknowledged that “excuses, denials and minimizations were taken from priest abusers who were at the least in denial, at worst devious in multiple ways, and decisions were taken which resulted in more children being abused.”
Thus, he said, efforts to “protect the Church” and “avoid scandal” have only resulted in “bringing this horrendous scandal on the Church today.”
“The damage done to children abused by priests can never be undone,” the prelate affirmed.
He offered “to each and every survivor, my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened to them.”
Archbishop Martin noted that there are many priests in his archdiocese that share his “sense of shame” about this “offense to God and affront to the priesthood” by the perpetrators.
He added, “I hope that all of us — bishops, priests and lay persons — working together can rebuild trust by ensuring that day after day the Church in the Archdiocese of Dublin becomes a safer environment for children.”
The archbishop concluded: “Today, it must be unequivocally recalled that the Archdiocese of Dublin failed to recognize the theft of childhood which survivors endured and the diocese failed in its responses to them when they had the courage to come forward, compounding the damage done to their innocence.
“For that no words of apology will ever be sufficient.”
Healing and hope
Cardinal Desmond Connell, who served as archbishop of Dublin from 1988 to 2004, acknowledged that the report was “severely critical of the diocesan response” to the “appalling problem” of child sexual abuse, “particularly in my earlier years in office.”
“From the time I became aware of this history,” he said, “I have experienced distress and bewilderment that those placed in a position of sacred trust could be guilty of such heinous offenses and cause such appalling harm to vulnerable young people.”
“The abuse of children is an unspeakable crime,” the prelate added.
He said, “I wish to express without reservation my bitter regret that failures on my part contributed to the suffering of victims in any form.”
The cardinal concluded: “I apologize again now from my heart and ask the forgiveness of those who have been so shamefully harmed.
“It has long been my prayer that they may be able to rebuild their lives and find healing and hope for the future.”
In another press release, the archdiocese reported that its Child Protection Service is currently working to “minimize the possibility of abuse happening, and if it does to maximize the possibility of detection.”