ARCHBISHOP DIARMUID MARTIN has said the Catholic Church must “do more” to help victims of sexual abuse.
He was speaking earlier this evening in Rome after Pope Francis met with survivors of clerical sex abuse for the first time, and asked for their forgiveness.
Martin said that the church “must not just be transformed into a place where children are safe”, but also “a privileged place of healing for survivors”.
“We need to develop a new awareness that what has happened has wounded the entire Church and that now the entire Church is called to put right what has happened.”
The Archbishop stressed that “abuse can and does still take place”, and that the church must works towards ensuring that all survivors achieve the “personal healing” they deserve:
“The crisis of the sexual abuse of children in the Church is not a chapter of the past history of the Church.”
“The Church can and should ensure adequate counselling for victims and their families. But it must do more. Healing cannot be delegated.”
The meetings were hotly anticipated by victim support groups who have criticised the Pope for not acting sooner on an issue which has dogged the Church for over a decade.
While he had branded the sexual abuse of children by clergy as a crime comparable to a “satanic Mass” and promised “zero tolerance” earlier this year, survivors questioned why a pontiff famed for his compassion had not met with victims.
The mass came after Pope Francis had earlier hosted, for the first time, an official meeting with six survivors of clerical sex abuse – two Irish, two British and two German.
Marie Kane, from Bray, Co. Wicklow was joined by an Irish man – another abuse survivor – as well as Marie Collins, herself an abuse survivor and campaigner with One In Four, who was recently appointed to the Vatican’s commission for the protection of minors.
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’ Malley was also present at the meeting in the Pope’s private guesthouse.
- Additional reporting by Dan MacGuill and AFP