25 OCTOBER 2005
ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH AND PRIMATE OF ALL IRELAND DR SEÁN BRADY –
RESPONSE TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE FERNS INQUIRY REPORT
“New one-Church National Board for Child Protection to be established”
I am deeply shocked and saddened by the findings of the inquiry into child
sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Ferns. The revelations make for
very uncomfortable reading. The pages retelling the pain experienced by
those who have suffered, are especially heartbreaking.
I apologise to all those people who have suffered lasting hurt at the hands
of abusers in the Church. As priests they should have been protecting and
nurturing the talents of these young people. The betrayal of trust is horrendous.
Today the Church is ashamed of its past failings regarding child protection.
I welcome the publication of the report prepared by Mr Justice Frank Murphy,
to which we will give very careful consideration. I sincerely hope that its
publication will be an important step in helping all of those who have
suffered so terribly to heal the pain they have experienced and to get the
strength to put this awful chapter of their lives behind them. The Church
stands ready to assist them in any way it can in bringing closure to their
trauma and in helping them to rebuild their lives.
I pray for the abused and their families that they will be able to achieve
healing and peace in their lives. I pray that those who have abused will
realise the terrible harm they have done and will seek pardon for their
Actions, as well as words, are now required to show our seriousness on this
issue. We are committed to ensuring that the Church at all times sets an
example of best practice in this area. The professionals who assisted us in
developing our new national policy on child protection have told us that
our new policy, Our Children: Our Church, will put us at the forefront
of national and international best practice in this area.
No one who is a danger to children is permitted to minister in the Church.
A core recommendation of Our Children: Our Church is the establishment
of a new National Board for Child Protection. The announcement of the name
of the chairperson of the Board and its composition will be made shortly.
It is our intention to implement the document from Parish level up.
Finally, I ask you also to remember in prayer the priests and people of Ferns.
This is an incredibly difficult period for them and their Apostolic Administrator
Bishop Eamonn Walsh.
May the risen Christ, who has promised to remain always with His Church,
give us hope and strength.
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
NOTES FOR EDITORS
* Our Children: Our Church expresses the commitment of the Catholic
Church in Ireland to the consistent and determined implementation of
up-to-date policies and procedures which reflect best practice in the
area of child protection. Our Children: Our Church was approved
unanimously by the Irish Bishops’ Conference last June and the document
was then sent to the Holy See for approval.
* Our Children: Our Church represents the child protection policy
of the Bishops, Conference of Religious in Ireland and the Irish Missionary
Union. This document provides a set of policies and procedures which apply
to anyone – both religious and lay – who has a responsibility for the
protection of children and young people in the life of the Catholic Church
* It is envisaged that that the new National Board for Child Protection
will include professionals from child care, psychology, theology, law,
academia, education and business and will include parents. It will
establish a National Office for Child Protection to implement its policies
and decisions. The National Board, in conjunction with the Sponsoring
Bodies, will also recruit a Chief Executive.
*Our Children: Our Church improves upon the original 1996 Church
guidelines insofar as it relates to all forms of abuse: neglect; physical;
sexual and emotional abuse.
* Maureen Lynott, who helped produce Our Children: Our Church, said of
it that the: “implementation of the principles and policies will place the
Catholic Church at the forefront of best practice – nationally and
internationally – regarding the protection and welfare of children.”