Opening remarks by Bishop Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns at the event in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford:
Two/three years ago I was one of a small group of bishops who had a series of meetings with representatives of survivors of clerical and institutional abuse. The purpose of these meetings was to hear the stories the survivors had to tell, and to see what the Church could do to try to make amends for the terrible suffering that had been inflicted on them by some of its members.
As the meetings progressed two issues began to emerge:
- The need for a Counselling and Support Service to support survivors of institutional, clerical and religious abuse.
- The need for a Spiritual Support Service for those whose faith had been damaged by abuse and who wished to continue their search for meaning and for God.
To respond to the first issue, the need for Counselling and Support, the Church set up Towards Healing in 2011. To date this service has provided counselling and support to over 5,000 clients.
To engage with the second issue, the need to help those whose faith has been damaged by abuse, the Church has now set up Towards Peace.
These two services are survivor-led, in that they are a direct response to what the survivors said they would like to see happen, a direct response to help survivors come to terms and cope with what happened to them.
It is now my privilege to declare ‘Towards Peace’ begun in the Diocese of Ferns.
+Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns