Our first thoughts are with those who have suffered. Innocent and vulnerable children have suffered greatly as a result of a betrayal of trust by Church personnel. Their families too have been affected deeply. The Church takes no comfort from the fact that many organisations and professionals in society are affected by child abuse or that surveys tell us that one in every four Irish adults has experienced sexual abuse in childhood. Even a single case is one too many. Our concern must be to do all in our power to help those who have suffered as a result of abuse.
Great efforts have already been made in Ireland to make the Church a safe place for children. We look forward with hope to ensuring that what has happened will never happen again. The Church’s concern for the safety of children today is underpinned by the presence in every parish of trained Child Safeguarding Representatives.
Guaranteeing the safety of children is relentless and on-going. To do this, we need a strong system of inspection and oversight and evidence that the guidelines are being implemented correctly. I commend the National Board for its determination in overseeing the implementation of best practise throughout the Church.
Towards Peace is a spiritual support service for survivors whose faith has been damaged by abuse. It is one of three services that form a response to abuse by the Church in Ireland. The other two services are Towards Healing which is a confidential counselling or referral service; and the other is the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland. I am certain that this service will be availed of by many survivors of abuse in Ireland. Thank you for listening.
Bishop John Buckley
25 May 2014