Thursday, February 18, 2010

Irish victims slam talks in Vatican 'Insulting to survivors' of child abuse, critic says

ReutersFebruary 18, 2010

Irish victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy yesterday condemned the outcome of a two-day Vatican meeting on a series of scandals that have rocked the mainly Catholic country.

Pope Benedict XVI urged 24 of Ireland's bishops to restore the church's "spiritual and moral credibility" at the end of the meeting on Tuesday.

The pope called child abuse a "heinous crime" and a "grave sin" and the meeting recognized that the "grave crisis" had led to a breakdown in trust in the church's leadership.

But Fiona Neary, executive director of Ireland's Rape Crisis Network, expressed "deep disappointment" at the tone of the meeting, describing it as an "opportunity wasted."

"It is shocking to the rape crisis sector that the systemic failures of the institutions of the Catholic faith are not mentioned as being a significant contributory factor in the sexual abuse of minors," she said.

"It is clear that the most senior levels of Catholic institutions remain unable to take responsibility for their collusion with the abuse of children in Ireland."

Maeve Lewis, executive director of the One in Four group, said expectations for the meeting had been high but little progress appeared to have been made.

"The Vatican has accepted no responsibility for its role in facilitating the sexual abuse of children, referring only to the Irish church, and only vague declarations of intent for the future are included.

"It is deeply insulting to survivors to suggest that they were abused due to failures of faith, rather than because sex offending priests were moved from parish to parish, and those in authority looked away while further children were sexually abused," Lewis said.

Leading anti-abuse campaigner Andrew Madden said the meeting had offered "nothing intelligent, nothing coherent, nothing new."

He said submissions from victims' groups had been ignored by the Vatican and he would ask Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin why he had come back from Rome "empty-handed."

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