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Catholic Church rejects claims ‘very few’ abuse victims received support

Church authorities highlighted counselling services, public apologies and compensation paid after victims came forward.

Sheila Hollins, left, speaks at the conference with abuse victim Marie Collins
Sheila Hollins, left, speaks at the conference with abuse victim Marie Collins
Image: Andrew Medichini/AP/Press Association Images

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH in Ireland has hit back at claims that few victims of clerical child abuse received sufficient support after coming forward.

Church authorities highlighted the “ongoing outreach” and compensation paid to abuse survivors, and said 20,000 counselling sessions were given annually by its Towards Healing support service.

The statement came in response to a speech by psychiatrist Baroness Sheila Hollins, who addressed a Vatican-sponsored conference on child abuse yesterday. She said:

In Ireland it is said that very few victims have had any counselling or therapy.  It is believed that very few had received an apology and hardly any had received compensation.  But in my experience the lack of an admission of guilt and of an apology is usually the biggest barrier to healing and recovery.

The Catholic Communications Office said bishops and congregational leaders have “apologised publicly and privately to survivors [...] and to all in civil and religious society outraged and let down by the Catholic Church’s failure of moral leadership and accountability”.

Abuse victims in the Dublin diocese have also been paid €9.3million in compensation settlements, with the Church paying out an additional €4.2million in legal costs for both sides, the statement said.

It added that €20million has been spent on the Towards Healing service to the end of 2011, and bishops had also paid for other counselling services.

“In the context of this reality, it is difficult to understand how Baroness Hollins would consider such a service as a service to “very few””, the statement added.

More: People ‘should be grateful to Pope for handling abuse scandal’ – cardinal>

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Michael Freeman

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