Cardinal Brady urges everyone to read bishops’ pastoral response ‘Towards Healing and Renewal’

19 Mar 2011

Cardinal Brady urges everyone to read bishops’ pastoral response Towards Healing and Renewal

  • Towards Healing and Renewal outlines initiatives to enhance the personal, pastoral, spiritual and practical support available to survivors of abuse.
  • €10m co-funding over the next five years for Towards Healing, the expanded counselling service for survivors.  Opening hours extended this weekend.  Statistics and free phone contact numbers for the Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain below.
  • Meetings and dialogue between bishops and survivors of abuse to continue.
  • Pope Benedict’s 2010 pastoral letter prompts the reflections of over 3,000 people on renewal in the Church in Ireland .

To coincide with the first anniversary of the Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland, Irish bishops have published the pastoral response Towards Healing and Renewal.   Copies of this pastoral response are available in parishes across the country and online from7:00pm this evening.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has encouraged everyone to read this short pastoral response to key issues raised by the Pope’s letter of March 2010.

Cardinal Brady said “Towards Healing and Renewal – which has been published to mark the first anniversary of Pope Benedict’s Pastoral Letter – is a short but very important pastoral document.   It represents part of a wider response and longer journey by the Church in offering its support to survivors of abuse on their journey to healing and peace, and in committing itself to renewal.  I urge everyone to read Towards Healing and Renewal.

“The publication today of Towards Healing and Renewal, along with our five-year undertaking to continue funding of the new and expanded Church counselling service for survivors of abuse, are both tangible signs of our commitment to work with all people of goodwill to ensure, as best we can, that every child on this island is properly cared for and kept safe from all forms of abuse and harm.”

Cardinal Brady continued, “As a result of the grievous wrong of abuse, for many survivors their faith in God and the Church has been profoundly damaged.  Many have expressed a hope that this damage can be addressed.  In Towards Healing and Renewal we commit trained pastoral personnel to this delicate challenge of healing and renewal.”

In his 2010 Pastoral Letter Pope Benedict XVI apologised to victims of abuse and suggested that the Church in Ireland work towards healing, renewal and reparation.  He called for “a new vision [to] inspire present and future generations to treasure our common faith.”  Since Pope Benedict’sPastoral Letter the following has taken place across Ireland:

  • Bishops met with, and listened to, survivors of abuse and their representatives. These meetings will continue with survivors and their representatives to hear their views on Towards Healing and Renewal.
  • Listening and consultation on the subject of renewal in the Church has also taken place.  Over 3,000 people contributed responses addressing renewal: just over a quarter of these came through diocesan channels, a fifth from lay associations and almost half from religious communities.

Towards Healing and Renewal expresses the bishops’ commitment to existing initiatives as well as to a number of new initiatives.  It focuses on:

  • Prayer for survivors of abuse
  • Listening with care and sensitivity
  • Spiritual support to individual survivors of abuse
  • Creating a safer future for children in the Church and
  • Review of dioceses, religious congregations and societies by the National Board for Safeguarding Children.

Cardinal Brady said, “Pastoral outreach to survivors is a necessary Church response to abuse, but so too is the offer of professional assistance to those in need.  Last month the Irish Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland, and the Irish Missionary Union launched an expanded counselling service for survivors of abuse.  Towards Healing is a free, confidential helpline and counselling referral service and it continues the important work of Faoiseamh.  It provides survivors with a professional and caring environment along with a wide range of support services.

“For Christians, prayer is an essential part of the journey to healing and renewal.  We, as bishops, renew our commitment to the tradition of Friday Penance with a particular emphasis on remembering the suffering of those who have been abused.  Towards Healing and Renewal also refers to the vital role of parishes in assisting the process of healing for survivors of abuse.”

Cardinal Brady concluded, “A colossal breach of trust occurs when a child is abused.  If the abuser is a priest or religious then an even greater betrayal has been perpetrated.  The mismanagement of abuse allegations by church authorities compounded this damage.  As we continue on our journey of renewal, the Church resolves to repair the breach of trust which has taken place.  We ask humbly that we be given this opportunity.”

Notes for Editors

Requests for media interviews can be arranged by contacting Martin Long of the Catholic Communications Office 00 353 86 1727678

  • The bishops’ pastoral response Towards Healing and Renewal is available in churches throughout Ireland this weekend and in the English, Irish and Polish languages.
  • About Towards Healing, the Catholic counselling support service:

–         Towards Healing is a free, confidential helpline and counselling referral service, which is a Catholic Church response to abuse by clergy and religious.  The service was originally provided through an organisation known as Faoiseamh, established by Conference of Religious of Ireland in 1997 and also supported by dioceses over the years.

–         Faoiseamh solely provided a counselling service.  Towards Healing meets the needs of survivors in a more comprehensive manner through group work, practical workshops and a bridging service to link clients of Towards Healing with other statutory and non-statutory services relevant to the needs of the client, including: psychiatry, addiction services, services for the homeless and general medical, dental and welfare services.  As before, the service is entirely confidential.

–         The Towards Healing service has a new board and structure, and it commenced its operation on 1 February 2011.  Towards Healing will operate to best practice under the supervision of its clinical director, Dr Melissa Dermody.

–         When people initially make contact with the Towards Healing helpline they will speak to a trained telephone counsellor.  A decision will then be made involving the counsellor and the client as to whether to proceed to face to face counselling. The new service will also provide a bridge to other services if required.

–         €20m has been spent on the confidential helpline and counselling referral service to date and a further €10m is available to support the new Towards Healing service over the next five years.  The €10m contribution will be divided equally between dioceses and religious orders.

–         On average Faoiseamh provided 20,000 counselling sessions a year.  Between 1997 and 2010 Faoiseamh provided face to face counselling to over 4,000 individuals and helpline support to over 15,000 survivors of abuse by clergy.

–         The Towards Healing service can also provide assistance to family members of survivors. This will be considered, if requested, on a case by case basis.  Towards Healing has extended its opening hours for this weekend as follows:

Saturday 19 March – 12pm to 12 midnight

Sunday 20 March –  12pm to 12 midnight

Monday, back to normal opening hours 11am to 8pm

–         The normal opening hours for the Towards Healing service are: Mondays and Wednesdays, 11am to 8pm and on Fridays 11am to 4pm.  Its free phone helpline numbers are: from the Republic of Ireland 1800 303416; from Northern Ireland and Britain 0800 0963315.


Media contacts: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444