Statement of Archbishop Sean Brady and Desmond Cardinal Connell
The following statement was issued today by Archbishop Seán Brady and Desmond Cardinal Connell, President and Vice President respectively of the Irish Episcopal Conference.
The sexual abuse of children by priests is an especially grave and repugnant evil. To all victims of such abuse, to their families and to their parish communities, we again offer our profound apologies.
We offer this statement on behalf of all the bishops because we realise that the whole Church in Ireland is suffering at this time from the scandal caused by this evil and the manner in which it was dealt with at times. It is a scandal which has evoked entirely justified outrage. The sexual abuse of children by priests is totally in conflict with the Church’s mission and with Christ’s compassion and care for the young.
We believe that the protection of children is of paramount importance. The document “Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response”, was adopted jointly by the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI) and the Irish Bishops Conference in January 1996 to ensure correct procedures for handling complaints or allegations of Child Sexual Abuse by priests and religious. These guidelines, which include procedures for reporting to the civil authorities and outreach to victims, are still being followed throughout this island and are reinforced by the services of the Child Protection Office established by the Irish Bishops Conference in 2001.
We are greatly saddened by the circumstances surrounding Bishop Comiskey’s resignation. It is his own personal decision and comes out of a context of deep human suffering, both of victims of abuse and of himself. May the memory of all the good he has done in the service of his people and clergy be a source of consolation to him in the future.
We realise that the events of recent weeks have also caused great distress and anxiety to the faithful throughout Ireland, particularly those of the diocese of Ferns and the parishes affected. Not only has trust in the Catholic Church been damaged, but so too has the faith of the people and the morale of clergy.
In this Easter Season we pray that the Risen Lord will inspire all of us to bring new life and healing to victims of child sexual abuse and that He will give us the courage to renew our efforts to bring about reconciliation and peace regarding this painful issue.
1 April 2002
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